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Diarrhoea in Dogs: 12 Reasons for Loose Motions in Dogs

by Vetic Editorial
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Loose motion in dogs!! Diarrhoea! Those are words nobody wants to hear and a topic nobody wants to broach. Nonetheless, diarrhoea or loose motions in dogs can be a sign of bigger issues. So, there is no way we can avoid talking about doggy diarrhoea since we know how much you care about your pup. 

Woman showing disgust as most would upon hearing about diarrhoea or loose motion in dogs.

So, before we get into the stinky details, let’s summarise what we are going to tell you about loose motions in dogs.

  1. What commonly causes diarrhoea or loose motions in dogs?

  2. What medicines can you give your dog for loose motion or diarrhoea?

  3. What can you feed your dog when they have diarrhoea?

  4. When should you contact your veterinarian?

  5. What does the colour of your dog’s poop tell you about his/her health?

So, let’s dive right in (figuratively, of course) to find out everything about what is the cause, treatment and diet for diarrhoea in dogs.

What are the common causes of diarrhoea or loose motion in dogs?

  1. Eating garbage or table scraps
  2. Sudden changes in your dog’s diet
  3. Intolerance towards some food or diet
  4. Parasites in the stomach (loose motion from worms)
  5. Eating something toxic
  6. Chewing on (toxic) plants
  7. Swallowing a foreign object
  8. Bacterial infections
  9. Viral infections
  10. Chronic illnesses (EPI)
  11. Antibiotics
  12. Stress and anxiety issues

Let’s explore the different reasons your dog may be having loose motions.

Eating garbage or table scraps

human feeding food to dog with a fork. Eating table scraps and human food is the most common cause of loose motion in dogs.

Dogs and garbage cans share an indestructible bond. If your dog has gotten into the garbage can and eaten table scraps, it’s no wonder they have the runs. Veterinarians do have a fancy name for this – “garbage toxicosis.” 

Sudden dietary changes

Diarrhoea due to dietary changes is more common in pups who have suddenly shifted to puppy starter food from mother’s milk or puppy formula. We have also seen loose motion or inconsistent stools in adult dogs who have started a new brand or type of food. Everyone’s digestive system needs time to adjust to new proteins and your dog’s digestive system is no different. 

Dietary intolerance

Some dogs cannot process lactose, while others cannot digest gluten. Intolerances are very common in particular breeds such as Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Pugs, German Shepherds and Shih Tzus. 

Parasites

Parasites in the GI tract including –

  • Roundworm
  • Hookworm
  • Giardia
  • Coccidia

Can cause loose stools in dogs. Puppies suffer more often than adult dogs. However, that does not mean adult dogs are immune to digestive problems caused by worms. 

Toxins and Poisons

A number of food items that are perfectly nutritious for human beings can be highly toxic to dogs. Did you know? Onions, garlic, avocado, chocolate and raisins are all highly toxic for your dog. If there’s even a slight change that your pup has eaten any of these, rush them to the 24/7 emergency vet clinic near you. 

Poisonous Plants

Shih Tzu sitting beside house plants and spray pesticides. chewing on toxic plants can easily cause loose motion in dogs.

Aloe, azalea, arum lily, begonia, and oleander are some common ornamental plants found in Indian homes and gardens. However, these are severely toxic to dogs. If your dog chews on them or swallows bits of them, don’t wait. Call Vetic and bring your dog in for an emergency consultation at any Vetic pet clinic near you

Swallowing a foreign body

It goes without saying that even we don’t know what goes through our best friends’ minds at times! We have seen dogs swallow socks, tennis balls, chew toys, parts of shoes, surgical masks, coins and pencils. You are extremely lucky if your dog passes the foreign body naturally with their poop. If not, you will need to find a vet hospital near you with advanced diagnostics facilities. 

Bacterial infections

Diarrhoea or loose motions in dogs is very common due to bacterial infections especially if they eat raw meat, eggs and veggies. While raw diet is advised by several canine nutritionists, it may not be the best choice for every dog. In India, salmonella infections are very common in dogs who have the habit of eating raw food. 

Viral infections

Sometimes, viral infections can cause stomach upsets in puppies as well as adult dogs. Several viruses directly affect the GI tract. Some of the common viruses that can cause diarrhoea are –

All these viral diseases are preventable with the right dog vaccines at the right time!

Chronic Illnesses 

Several chronic conditions can cause diarrhoea for prolonged periods. If your dog has been suffering from diarrhoea for more than a week and hasn’t responded to prebiotics, probiotics and antibiotics, they may have one of the following chronic illnesses –

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pancreatic insufficiency 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colitis
  • Cancer

Antibiotics

While antibiotics can cure stomach and other infections, they can also cause stomach upsets in dogs. Antibiotics, even in the correct dose, can disrupt the gut microbes that help in digestion. It is very common for dogs to experience diarrhoea when they are taking broad spectrum antibiotics. 

Stress and Anxiety

Yes! Stress can cause a puppy, adult or senior dog to suffer from diarrhoea. The bouts of runny poop can be sporadic or continuous depending upon the dog’s exposure to the stressor. 

What medicines can you give your dog for diarrhoea?

Has your vet given any medicine to your dog in the past for stomach upsets? If your dog hasn’t gained or lost any weight, you can consider giving the same medication until you can take them to the vet again. 

Shih Tzu sitting beside medicines. Overuse of antibiotics can cause diarrhoea or loose motions in dogs.

Do not give your dog human medication without talking to your vet. In many cases, diarrhoea in dogs responds to human medicine, but the human doses are completely different from the dose your dog needs. 

Do not give your dog common OTC meds, even if they are paediatric doses. Speak to your veterinarian and share the details for online or tele consultation, in case an in-person visit is not possible at the moment. 

What can you feed your dog when they have diarrhoea?

Firstly, we would like to clarify that you should always speak to the best veterinarian near you before you give any food to your dog with an upset stomach. Diarrhoea due to viral infections can worsen if oral food, fluid and medications are not stopped immediately. The best course of treatment and choice of diet should always be the veterinarian’s call.

However, if you cannot find a vet and you absolutely need to replenish your dog’s nutrients you should begin with an oral rehydration solution. Always use veterinary oral rehydration salts for the best results.

You can also think about including feed supplements mixed in water which help restore proper intestinal functions. Most of these contain complex sugars and rehydration agents. 

If your dog continues to poop or throw up after you give oral fluids, then you should stop immediately and opt for fasting. 

Some of the other common home remedies for dog diarrhoea include –

  • Plain white rice
  • Pureed pumpkin
  • Plain yoghourt
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Plain boiled chicken without skin and fat

You can pick one food and introduce it to your dog in small quantities after a fast. If they do not show any signs of distress, you can keep them on the simple food for a day and then speak to the vet about re-introducing their old food or any GI-friendly diet from the next day. 

When should you contact your veterinarian?

Ideally, you should contact your veterinarian immediately after you notice any changes in your dog’s stool. Viral infections call for prompt action including IV fluids and meds. These treatments are not possible at home. You need to search for “24/7 emergency veterinary hospitals” or “24/7 veterinary hospital near me” for in-patient treatment of your pup. 

Small puppy being checked by the veterinarian with a stethoscope

Sadly, what’s ideal is not always possible for pet parents. So, here are some signs that you should never ignore if your dog has diarrhoea –

  • Vomiting 
  • Fever 
  • Dehydration 
  • Blood in stool 
  • Excess mucous in stool
  • Fat or oily stool 

You should always take your dog to the veterinarian if they have coexisting conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, cushing’s syndrome, or cancer. 

You should consult your veterinary doctor within 24 hours if your dog’s diarrhoea doesn’t respond to home remedies. Frequent bouts of diarrhoea can easily dehydrate even the biggest fur babies. Do not ignore the signs of dehydration such as pale and sticky gums, dry nose, lethargy and sunken eyes. Take your dog to the emergency veterinary hospital near you immediately. 

What does the colour of your dog’s poop tell you about his/her health?

White Spots In The Poop

It can be a sign of worms in your dog’s GI tract, especially if your dog also has diarrhoea. 

Green 

Your dog may have eaten a lot of grass and leaves. If he is also experiencing diarrhoea, speak to a doctor, since he may have consumed a toxic plant. 

Yellow or Orange

If your dog’s diarrhoea is bright yellow or orange, with mucous and foul smell, it can be a bacterial infection. If it doesn’t have a foul smell and mucous, then it can be a sign of liver problems. Do not ignore. Your dog will need tests and meds to feel better. 

Black And Tarry

That is not good news at all! If your pup’s runs are black it signifies bleeding in the upper GI tract. It is a veterinary emergency and demands immediate attention. 

Brown With Red Streaks

Your dog may have fresh bleeding from their anus or rectum. It can be due to repeated bowel movements. It warrants medical attention. 

Grey And Greasy

If your dog’s runny poop is grey and oily, it signifies pancreatic or biliary issues. You will need to speak to a doctor and get blood tests done to confirm the cause. 

To summarise, diarrhoea in dogs can be quite serious. Whether it’s the first time or the millionth time; you should always consult a vet. Diarrhoea may not always be the disease. It can be the symptom of another illness. Always complete the tests prescribed by the veterinarian.

 

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