My Dog Has Diarrhea: What Should I Do?

by | Sep 20, 2021 | Dog Health


If you’re a pet parent or a “pawrent,” chances are you’ve experienced cleaning after your pooch when they experience a bad case of dog diarrhea. It’s messy, a little frustrating, and can be alarming, especially if the loose stools persist for a few days.

Dog diarrhea is one of the most common canine illnesses your pet can encounter. According to a 2019 report published by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, canine diarrhea is the most common reason pet owners take their dogs to the vet. 

While preventing dog diarrhea is difficult, you can take necessary precautions to reduce its duration, occurrence, and intensity. This blog will talk about the common causes of diarrhea in dogs, its symptoms, and how you can treat and prevent it from happening to your pet. 

Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea?

There are a host of factors that cause dog diarrhea. Some of these causes are relatively harmless, such as your pooch’s tendency to eat grass. Other symptoms may be more detrimental, as they can signal other issues such as your dog having worms or cancer.

While the causes may vary, you can attribute these symptoms to the following:

  • Sudden dietary changes
  • Eating garbage or dirty food and cause garbage toxicosis
  • Having parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and hookworms
  • Accidentally eating poisonous plants
  • Swallowing indigestible objects like toys
  • Viral infections like parvovirus and canine coronavirus
  • Bacterial infections like salmonella
  • Canine illnesses like colitis, IBS (inflammatory bowel disease), cancer
  • Certain medications
  • Stress

Symptoms of a Serious Dog Diarrhea

Cases of dog diarrhea often last for a day. It’s best to take your dog to the vet if its diarrhea lasts longer than a day or start to display these symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Whining due to abdominal pain
  • A large amount of blood in the feces
  • Rice-looking spots in the feces (may indicate tapeworms)

Dog diarrhea lasting for more than a day can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and electrolyte imbalance. They can even suffer from sepsis, which is a severe inflammatory response to infection. Dog diarrhea can also cause shock, organ failure, and even death if left unchecked. 

Dog Diarrhea and Canine Feces 

Examining your dog’s stool can tell you a lot about what’s causing their upset stomach. The color of their feces can give you and your vet an idea of what you’re dealing with. 

If you suspect that the cause of the diarrhea is serious, it’s always a good idea to take photos of the feces. This information will give your vet crucial data so their diagnosis becomes faster and more accurate and help your pet recover well.

Here are color keys to identify how serious the ailment is:

  • Green – your dog is eating excessive grass in an attempt to soothe its stomach pains
  • Red streaks – indicates bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract or colon
  • Black – this is another sign of bleeding but involves the stomach or small intestine instead
  • Yellow – indicates liver, pancreas, or gallbladder complications
  • Rice-like white spots – signs of tapeworm infestation

Apart from the color of your dog’s stool, you’ll also need to take note of the shape, frequency, and consistency of the feces. It’s always best to compile as much information as you can for your vet so they can give a quick and accurate diagnosis. 

How to Treat Dog Diarrhea

If you’ve only noticed the dog diarrhea recently, there’s a chance that a trip to the vet is unnecessary. Home treatments such as the following may be enough to address the problem:


Fasting is usually one of the most common interventions for the runs. It usually lasts between 12 and 24 hours, with a small but frequent amount of water given to your pooch. This may change depending on the size, age, and overall health of your dog. Puppies and elderly dogs, for instance, may not be suited for such an aggressive fasting approach since they need more nutrients than healthier and more mature dogs. 

Gradually introduce food after fasting

After the appropriate period has passed, you’ll need to feed your dog slower than usual. Start light like broth, yogurt, cottage cheese, and skinless boiled potatoes so you won’t shock their system. 

Once their diarrhea subsides, you can introduce more solid food to their diet. A good option is plain white rice with boiled skinless chicken breast. However, this type of diet is only suited for canines recovering from dog diarrhea. Do not make this the regular diet of your dog as it is nutritionally incomplete.

Dog Diarrhea: A Vet’s Recommended Treatment

If the illness is serious, you should let your vet intervene as soon as possible. The treatment will depend on the cause of canine diarrhea. Your vet can give your dog Tylosin and Metronidazole as anti-inflammatory treatments for the GI tract.

Your dog can also receive deworming medication if the cause of their diarrhea is worm infestation. The medicine will depend on what kind of worm is causing the dog diarrhea. As for cases of cancer, chemotherapeutic drugs will be prescribed for your dog. 

How to Prevent Dog Diarrhea

Preventing canine diarrhea is impossible, but you can still take specific steps to reduce its occurrence. For instance, if you’re changing your dog’s diet, introduce the new food gradually so their body can adjust. You can give 1/4th of the new food at first to go along with their usual diet. You can then slowly increase this ratio as your dog’s tummy adjusts, up until they’re completely accustomed to the new diet.

Clean your surroundings regularly to prevent your dog from eating garbage and other dirty materials. Give your flea pills against certain types of worms like tapeworms, and exercise proper hygiene so your dog won’t get infected by other ailments so easily.

Additionally, you’ll want to give your dog a well-balanced diet to maintain its optimal gut microbiome. A healthy gut biome is one of the first lines of defense against dog diarrhea. When this gets disrupted, you’ll start noticing the symptoms mentioned above, such as changes in the color of your dog’s feces.

Remember, a healthy dog has firm, compact, and brown stools. Keep an eye out for it every time your dog poops to spot early warning signs of dog diarrhea. Proper intervention is vital if you want to keep your pet healthy.

To learn more about dog health, injuries, and treatment, visit the TLPOInfo blog today.


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