Diarrhoea can be a major annoyance in the house, especially when it comes to our dogs! Accidents may signal that something is not quite right with your dog’s GI tract. While this is a common issue most every dog owner will go through, there are a variety of reasons why your dog may be having diarrhoea. Here are some of the most common causes, remedies that can be used to resolve it, and when it’s time to see the vet instead.
WHAT IS DIARRHEA?
Most owners may think of diarrhoea as a bowel movement that is very soft or completely liquid, however, diarrhoea can signify a range of stools from liquid, to semi-solid, to just having more than three bowel movements every day. In the below chart, anything above a 4 is likely in the diarrhoea category or leading to it. Diarrhoea also often comes with accompanying symptoms such as urgency, gas, bloated or tender abdomen, loss of appetite, weight loss, and even vomiting . Depending on the cause, your dog’s additional symptoms may vary.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF DIARRHEA IN MY DOG?
Diarrhoea is a very common and vague symptom, meaning there can be quite a number of causes behind it. However, four common issues are often the most likely reason for diarrhoea and the first checked by your veterinarian. This includes Illness (viral or bacterial), internal parasites, food allergies, and ingestion-related illness. For a very thorough list of possible causes of diarrhoea, check out this article by Pet Education: Diarrhea in Dogs .
Illness: Illness is another broad category, but can be divided into illness caused by bacteria, and illness caused by viruses. Illnesses caused by bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella will often cause a variety of symptoms such as vomiting, tender abdomen, bloating, loss of appetite, lethargy, and diarrhoea. Illnesses caused by viruses such as parvo can cause similar symptoms along with blood in the stool or vomit.
These cases are often treated with antibiotics in the case of bacteria, as well as IV therapy and medications to stop symptoms and replenish lost fluids. Diarrhoea in these cases is usually severe, sudden, and very dangerous to young dogs or those with underlying health issues.
Metabolic illnesses can also cause diarrhoea such as with pancreatic insufficiency or changes to the liver or GI tract. These stools will often have strange colours, odours, and changes in consistency in addition to diarrhoea and other symptoms.
Parasites: Parasites can sometimes cause diarrhoea, though symptoms will vary greatly on the type of parasite present, and its location. Some parasitic organisms can cause symptoms similar to bacterial or viral illness such as with giardia, while other parasites may cause a more long-term, less serious diarrhoea such as with tapeworms or roundworms.
With larger parasites, worms may be present in the stool, however, other parasites may only show up with a faecal exam under a microscope. These cases can usually be resolved with a deworming medication, antiparasitic, and additional meds to treat any extra symptoms.
Food Allergies: Food allergies are a growing category as a cause of many symptoms including itchy skin, rashes, sneezing, vomiting, tender abdomen and diarrhoea. Skin-related allergies are often a cause of eating grains or other highly allergenic ingredients while intestinal symptoms can signify an intolerance to proteins in the diet. In some cases, the food allergy is caused by an autoimmune reaction to food such as with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Ingestion Related: Ingestion related diarrhoea covers a broad range of causes, and can include the ingestion of toxic or GI-upsetting substances such as chocolates, poisons or fatty foods, as well as the ingestion of obstructive objects such as a bone, stick or another foreign body. Diarrhoea can change over the course of the ingestion, starting off watery, full of blood or even ceasing completely if the bowel is fully blocked off. These causes are often seen with many other symptoms signalling that something is very wrong.