Diarrhoea in dogs

Diarrhoea is a common problem in dogs and is often accompanied by vomiting. It’s usually caused by something they ate and gets better with diet management.

Diarrhoea is characterised by soft poos passed several times a day. It’s often associated with vomiting. We call this gastroenteritis. In most cases, your dog is otherwise well and will get better within 24–48 hours. Treatment includes a special food, maintaining hydration, and probiotics.

 

What to do

What to do if your dog has diarrhoea

If your dog has diarrhoea and is otherwise bright and well, you can:

  • Feed small amounts of low fat, bland food every 2-3h, such as plain boiled chicken and rice, or white fish and potato.
  • Give free access to fresh water
  • Give a probiotic if the diarrhoea lasts for longer than 24h

 

Causes

The most common causes of diarrhoea in dogs

  • Dietary indiscretions: eating something they shouldn’t or a sudden change in food
  • Food intolerances or allergies: when they react to an ingredient in their food
  • Infections: worms, virus and bacteria
  • Gut blockages caused by foreign bodies: toys, stones, sticks, fabrics
  • Ingesting toxins or reactions to medication
  • Illnesses of other organs such as liver, kidneys and pancreas.

Find out more about other causes of diarrhoea in dogs.

 

When to worry

When to worry about your dog with diarrhoea

Seek help from a veterinary practice if:

  • Your dog has vomiting and diarrhoea and is looking unwell
  • Your dog looks bloated
  • You have seen blood in their poo
  • Your dog is showing signs of pain such as
    • hunched walking
    • laying down with their front legs on the floor and their back end up in the air
    • crying when being picked up

It may be helpful to take a fresh poo sample with you.

Joii can help if:

  • You are worried about a puppy under 12 months of age or an elderly dog
  • Your dog is well but not interested in food or water
  • You need to discuss feeding during an episode of diarrhoea
  • Your dog has had several episodes of occasional vomiting and diarrhoea
  • You think your dog might have eaten something toxic or poisonous
  • You see worms in your dog’s poo and would like to discuss worming treatments

 

Prevention

Tips to prevent your dog from having diarrhoea

  • Provide a consistent, good quality diet.
  • Keep worming and vaccinations up to date.
  • Do not allow access to food of unknown origin and avoid feeding human food
  • If feeding a raw diet, make sure it is well formulated and of a reputable provider.
  • Provide toys that are hard to chew through like Kongs

 

Diagnosis

What diarrhoea in dogs looks like

  • Stools can vary from pasty to watery
  • The colour can be normal, yellow, dark brown, red or bloody
  • It’s common to see a small streak of fresh blood mixed within the diarrhoea
  • Your dog may show urgency to go to the toilet or have accidents in the house
  • They might strain to pass poo
  • The diarrhoea may contain mucous and fresh blood – associated with large intestinal issues
  • If the diarrhoea is very dark in colour, it suggests bleeding in the small intestine
  • They may pass wind and have gurgly tummies
  • They may also be vomiting and not want to eat
  • They might show signs of tummy pain, like walking hunched, crying when being picked up or standing with front forelegs on the floor while standing on back legs. We call this “prayer position”.
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Dog normal poo
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Slightly soft dog poo
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Sloppy dog poo
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Watery dog diarrhoea
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Dog diarrhoea with blood, please take your dog to see a vet in practice
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Dog diarrhoea with mucous and some blood

 

Home treatment

How to treat diarrhoea in dogs at home

Most cases of diarrhoea in dogs are mild and caused by something they ate. These cases tend to get better on their own, but you can help by:

  • Providing access to fresh water
  • Offering rehydrating solutions for dogs. These contain electrolytes and encourage them to drink,  avoiding dehydration
  • Feeding small meals of bland, low-fat food three to four times a day for 3-5 days:
    • Bland foods include plain boiled chicken or white fish, rice, pumpkin and scrambled egg
    • Prescription commercial foods, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d: a highly digestible prescription dog food that has everything they need in the right amounts
  • Giving a probiotic for 3-5 days.

Once the stools go back to normal, you can start reintroducing their normal food over a period of at least 4 days.

 

Vet treatment

Vet treatment for diarrhoea in dogs

In order to decide what type of treatment is needed, your vet may recommend:

  • Faecal tests: the poo is inspected for worms and bacteria that need special treatment. It’s important to take a fresh poo sample with you.
  • X-rays
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound scan of their tummy

Treatment may include:

  • Wormers
  • Antibiotics
  • Pain relief or steroids
  • Fluids given through a drip
  • Special foods and supplements in the long term
  • Surgery if they have a foreign body or mass or to collect samples from the gut, if the cause isn’t obvious

 

Risk

Are some dogs more at risk of diarrhoea than others?

  • Any dog of any age can have diarrhoea.
  • Dogs that are scavengers are at a higher risk.
  • Certain breeds like French Bulldogs or Labradoodles are more prone to food intolerances.
  • Puppies and dogs that aren’t vaccinated or wormed regularly are more likely to have infectious causes of diarrhoea.
  • Schnauzers are prone to pancreatitis.
  • Certain painkillers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can also cause upset tummies.

 

Other causes of diarrhoea in dogs

Diarrhoea is often a problem on its own but can also be a symptom of several different illnesses, such as:

  • Enteritis due to dietary indiscretions:
    • Eating something they shouldn’t have
    • Sudden changes in diet
    • Eating rich foods
    • Scavenging
  • Colitis: inflammation of the large intestine. The diarrhoea may contain fresh blood and mucous.
  • Food intolerances or allergies
  • Infections:
    • Parasites (roundworms, giardia)
    • Viruses like parvovirus
    • Bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter
  • Stress, heat stroke and hot weather
  • Gut blockages caused by foreign bodies: toys, stones, sticks, fabrics
  • Drugs: painkillers (anti-inflammatories) or antibiotics
  • Toxins such as chocolate, raisins, insecticides or toxic plants.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Pancreatitis: inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that lives between the stomach and small intestine and helps with digestion.
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease

Your vet will ask you lots of questions and examine your dog. They may also ask to run blood and poo tests, take x-rays, or scan your dog’s tummy to find out the cause.

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