What Should I Do if My Dog Has Diarrhea?

A black and white spotted dog with long hair in front of its ears lays under a blanket. He's had diarrhea and doesn't feel well.

Diarrhea is a painful and unpleasant experience for humans, and it can be just as horrible for our pets, particularly as they probably don’t understand why their body is suddenly reacting in such an agonizing and aggressive way. Nevertheless, there is usually always an underlying reason for a sudden bought of diarrhea and identifying what is causing the problem can be extremely useful in preventing recurring episodes.

What has caused my dog to have diarrhea?

Not only will identifying what has caused your dog to have diarrhea help potentially prevent another bout of loose bowel movements, it will also help you to understand the best way to help him while he has an upset stomach.

By far the most common cause of canine diarrhea is an intolerance to something that your dog has eaten. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your furbaby has an allergy. Unfortunately, dogs are notoriously easygoing about what they will eat, and will chow down on pretty much anything they come across – edible or not! Even if they don’t intend on eating something, most dogs will use their mouths to help them explore new things. Unfortunately, if they inadvertently eat something they shouldn’t, they may experience either diarrhea, vomiting or both!

Stress is another key trigger for your dog to experience diarrhea. Although they may seem quite resilient, canines are actually quite sensitive to sudden changes in their home and routine, and this can manifest in a range of symptoms including diarrhea.

Underlying illness, food intolerances and bacterial infections affecting the stomach can also cause your furry best friend to suffer from an episode of diarrhea.

How you can help your pet during an episode of diarrhea

As a loving and compassionate pet owner, you will of course want to keep your pet as comfortable as possible until the diarrhea passes. There are a number of different things that you can do to help your canine pal.

Keep him hydrated

Hydration is the single most important thing you can do to support an animal – or human – with an upset stomach. This is because the fluids being lost through diarrhea need to be replaced, otherwise his body will be unable to function properly. Nevertheless, too much water can make diarrhea worse. Consider offering ice chips rather than topping up his water bowl constantly and keep an eye on how much fluid he is taking in.

Put the food bowl away

It will help to settle his stomach if you can avoid giving him any food for around 24 hours. This should allow the natural balance of his digestive system to return as any irritants should have exited via his bowel. When do start to reintroduce food, start with dryish, bland meals such as cooked white rice and boiled chicken. Both are plain and easy for your pet to digest.

Avoid medicating

While there are some over-the-counter remedies for canine diarrhea, these should be avoided unless otherwise advised by your vet. Anti-diarrhea drugs could cause the bacteria or irritants causing the upset stomach to remain in the gut when they need to pass through to enable the digestive system to return to normal.

Digestive system emergencies

While a short episode of diarrhea is rarely anything to worry about, if it is accompanied by blood in the stools, rapid bloating of the stomach, rapid heartbeat or breathing or your dog collapsing, this should be treated as an emergency situation and you should contact your vet immediately. Equally, if your pet seems dehydrated and you are unable to get adequate amounts of fluid into his system, you should seek urgent advice from your vet. Dehydration can very quickly cause irreparable damage to your dog’s organs and in some cases, be life-threatening.

When it comes to ill health, your pet is relying solely on you to get him any medical attention that he may need. If your dog is suffering from diarrhea and you have concerns about his condition, don’t delay. Put your mind at rest by getting advice from your trusted veterinarian.