What Causes Dog Diarrhea?

Thomma Grindstaff

Dog diarrhea can be an acute condition, in which case it begins quickly and doesn't last long, or it can be a chronic condition, in which case it is a long-term problem, whether continual or recurring. Acute dog diarrhea is usually caused by the dog eating items that are indigestible. It can also be caused by a sudden change to the dog's typical diet or by food allergies. Chronic diarrhea is often caused by gastrointestinal parasites in a dog and is sometimes a symptom of underlying disease.

Changing a dog's diet might cause diarrhea.
Changing a dog's diet might cause diarrhea.

Dogs often suffer from acute diarrhea when they eat material they can't digest. The diarrhea results from the dog's system trying to clean itself out. Dogs are carnivores and scavengers by nature, and they sometimes eat items like dead animals, garbage, sticks or plastic. Such indigestible material irritates the dog's system and travels swiftly through the gastrointestinal tract, causing canine diarrhea.

Introducing a new brand of food may cause a dog to have diarrhea.
Introducing a new brand of food may cause a dog to have diarrhea.

Care should be exercised when feeding dogs. Sudden changes to a dog's diet can result in acute diarrhea, as can feeding it table scraps that aggravate the dog's gastrointestinal system. An improper diet is a major culprit in dog diarrhea, as dogs need to eat a well-balanced diet that is comprised largely of meat and vegetables. When trying a new dog food, dog owners should introduce the food to their pet gradually to minimize digestive disturbances and to make sure the dog can tolerate the food. Rarely, food allergies can cause dog diarrhea.

Drinking untreated water can cause dog diarrhea.
Drinking untreated water can cause dog diarrhea.

A major cause of chronic diarrhea is gastrointestinal parasites. Common parasites that bring on diarrhea in dogs include roundworms, whipworms and hookworms. Dog diarrhea is also sometimes caused by giardia, a protozoan parasite that affects the digestive system. Dogs can become infected with giardia by drinking untreated water. If the diarrhea is chronic and the dog has no parasites, it might be suffering from a disease such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disorder or diseases of the kidneys, liver or thyroid.

Dog diarrhea may sometimes be caused by giardia, a parasite that affects the digestive system.
Dog diarrhea may sometimes be caused by giardia, a parasite that affects the digestive system.

Sometimes dog diarrhea is the result of medications. Antibiotics can cause diarrhea in dogs, as can deworming medicines and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Dog diarrhea can also be caused by a dog's emotional state. If a dog is stressed or if it must adjust to sudden changes in its living situation or environment, it might suffer from acute diarrhea. A dog should always be taken to the veterinarian if it is feverish or dehydrated, or if blood is present in its stool.

Diarrhea that lasts more than a couple of days should be addressed by a veterinarian.
Diarrhea that lasts more than a couple of days should be addressed by a veterinarian.
Food allergies are a common cause of blood in dog diarrhea.
Food allergies are a common cause of blood in dog diarrhea.
Cooked rice is a good food for a dog suffering from diarrhea.
Cooked rice is a good food for a dog suffering from diarrhea.

Discussion Comments

anon933174

We just moved from Florida to Denver. My dog wasn't going to the bathroom regularly anymore. It changed to every other day and he was very stopped up. Now he's had diarrhea for a couple of days. Could this be emotional since he has had a complete change in environment?

literally45

@fify-- I'm sorry to hear that!

All I did was give my dog boiled rice and chicken and pumpkin puree. It helped stop the diarrhea. My dog was drinking plenty of water, so he got through it fine.

Definitely try the rice and chicken if he's eating. But you really need to take him to a vet. He might need an IV drip for dehydration and antibiotics. If the diarrhea lasts more than a day or two, that's a sign that there is something more serious going on. That's especially true if the dog is not drinking water or eating. A puppy with diarrhea can die quickly from dehydration.

My other dog had a bacterial infection once. She had diarrhea, fever and she wasn't eating or drinking. The vet put her on an IV drip with antibiotics which treated her dehydration and stopped the diarrhea.

fify

@literally45-- Did you do anything in particular to help him recover?

My dog has had diarrhea for a few days now, I'm worried too. We didn't change his food, so he either ate something in the yard or has some kind of infection. Our vet is out of town and I will take him to a different vet if the diarrhea doesn't stop. But if there are any home remedies for dog diarrhea, I would like to try those first.

literally45

I left my dog with my mom over the weekend because I had to travel. My dog only eats dry dog food and she gave him some fried chicken. The poor thing got diarrhea. He recovered quickly but I was very worried for a while. I don't think I'm going to leave him with mom again.

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