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- Top 5 Dog Allergies
- Dog Food Allergies
- Diarrhea in Dogs
- Dog Nutrition
- 9 Common Dog Poisons
- Diabetes in Dogs: Symptoms, Care & Diet
- Pancreatitis in Dogs: Cause, Symptoms & Treatment
Diarrhea refers to the passage of loose, unformed stools. At one point all dogs get diarrhea; the most well-known causes of diarrhea in dogs are dietary indiscretion and intestinal parasites. Sometimes diarrhea lasts only a few days but on some occasions the dog’s loose bowels might last for longer periods. When this happens, your dog’s health is at risk and you should consult your veterinarian.
A normal digestion process takes around 8 hours at the end of which a well-formed stool, containing no mucus, blood, or undigested food should be evacuated. When temporary diarrhea appears in dogs, the transit becomes very fast and the food arrives at the rectum in a liquid state, the result being a loose bowel movement. Rapid transit can have multiple causes like dietary indiscretion or food intolerance.
Dietary indiscretion refers to the fact that dogs have a clear tendency to eat garbage, leftovers, decayed food, plastic, wood, paper, grass and other indigestible foods. These types of food lead to irritation of the stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.
Food intolerance is different from food allergy (learn more about the difference and about dog food allergies). Food intolerance appears when dogs are unable to digest some particular foods. The most common triggers of food intolerance are: beef, pork, chicken, horsemeat, fish, eggs, spices, corn, wheat, soy, salty foods, spices, fats, and some commercial dog foods.
Diarrhea in puppies is often caused by viruses and parasites. Puppies get easily dehydrated so you should check with you vet immediately, before the diarrhea becomes severe.
Types of Dog Diarrhea and Treatments
Diarrhea in dogs can be of two main types: acute and chronic.
Acute Diarrhea is less severe than chronic diarrhea. It starts suddenly and lasts for a few days, up to one week. Acute diarrhea is usually seen as a healing process, a way through which a dog’s body gets rid of toxins. As I mentioned, dogs are prone to eating all kinds of foods, healthy or unhealthy. This often leads to diarrhea and vomiting.
Acute diarrhea can be cured at home and doesn’t necessarily involves visiting your vet. You can start by reducing the amount of food and by switching to something homemade. Cooked meat (low fat) with rice can be an excellent choice for treating diarrhea.
Chronic diarrhea lasts for more than a week. It can be continual or not (some days off, some days on); the stools can be watery, soft-formed, blood coated, mucus coated; your dog might appear to be fine or, on the contrary, he might look very sick; either way he is losing weight, his coat turns rough and he becomes lethargic. Chronic diarrhea can lead to the loss of important nutrients and to the dysfunction of the immune system. If not treated on time, chronic diarrhea can lead to an irreversible cycle of deterioration. Another problem is that sometimes, the treatment suggested by vets, usually based on hypoallergenic foods and antibiotics, doesn’t work. That is why you need to be careful about this type of disease and to treat it from its first symptoms.
Most Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs
- Rapid transit. When diarrhea is caused by rapid transit, its color is yellowish or greenish, the consistency is watery, the odor is foodlike (or sour milk at puppies).
- Inadequate digestion. Diarrhea caused by inadequate digestion is large, gray, rancid, it can smell like food, its frequency is of three or four large stools in a day and it leads to weight loss in dogs.
- Malabsorption. Malabsorption can lead to greasy diarrhea, it can smell like food and its frequency is of three to four large stools per day.
- Bacterial infection. In this case, the diarrhea is foamy; it can be accompanied by vomiting. It can last for more than a week in which case don’t hesitate to contact your vet.
- Gastrointestinal bleeding. The color of the diarrhea caused by gastrointestinal bleeding is either black, tarry (upper gastrointestinal bleeding) or red, bloodlike (lower gastrointestinal bleeding).
Treating Diarrhea at Home
Acute diarrhea can be treated at home, without the vet’s intervention. The first you need to do is to withhold food for up to 24 hours. Encourage your dog to drink as much water as necessary. The absence of food allows the gastrointestinal tract to rest and the water cleans his intestines of toxins. After 24 hours you can start feeding your dog easily digestible foods, preferably homemade. I would recommend boiled chicken (skin off) with cooked rice. Other options are: cottage cheese, cooked pasta, cooked lamb, boiled sweet potatoes or a combination of these. Don’t let him eat too much, only half of the amount he usually eats and divide the food into three or four meals. Do this for two or three days. Then you can gradually switch to his old diet, although homemade food is a lot healthier (learn useful homemade dog food recipes).
Dog Training Tip #1