Diarrhea in DogsLast updated: August 02, 2016
If your pet is having more bowel movements than usual, and the stool can be described as loose or unformed, they are most likely experiencing diarrhea. In dogs, the two most common causes of diarrhea are dietary indiscretion and intestinal parasites.
Diarrhea is not always life-threatening, but it can become fatal if it's left untreated. It can start with just a simple tummy upset and soon lead to dehydration. Diarrhea is uncomfortable and can cause anxiety for any housebroken pet. Fortunately, treatment is easy and effective if started early.
When diarrhea hits, the irritated intestine struggles to absorb the fluid being lost, so dehydration is the number one concern. If diarrhea is left long-term, it leads to weight loss, blood sugar depletion, circulatory collapse, and even death. Because the severity of diarrhea isn't always apparent at first, immediate medical attention is important as soon as you see a problem.
What Causes Dog Diarrhea?In a typical diarrhea situation, bad bacteria starts to overpopulate and form colonies in the small intestine. The bacteria secretes harmful toxins that damage the lining of the gut. The cells of the villi recognize these invaders and respond by releasing fluid to flush out the bacteria. This causes loose stools, and the sudden loss of fluid dehydrates the animal. The intestine will also lose its flexibility, which disrupts its smooth pulsating movement. As a result, the intestine can thrash and cramp so vigorously that it ties itself in knots (volvulus) or folds in upon itself (intussusception). Both of these conditions can be fatal or require surgery to correct.
If the diarrhea continues, damaged tissue will be replaced with scar tissue. However, scar tissue has no ability to absorb valuable nutrients, which are especially important during diarrhea. Since so many nutrients are lost, this only leads to more diarrhea problems, further intestine damage, and chronic, lifelong diarrhea and colitis.
How to Treat Diarrhea in DogsEarly dog diarrhea treatment with surface protectants and good bacteria will resolve most diarrhea problems and restore your dog's intestinal comfort. DiaGel® helps the body remove problem bacteria and toxins from the lining, allowing the intestine to heal quickly. One dose is all that is needed, resolving 90 percent of diarrhea cases in 12 hours. DiaGel contains electrolytes, but additional electrolytes such as Breeder's Edge® Puppy Lyte can be added to the water to speed recovery. Follow with a probiotic, like Doc Roy's® GI Synbiotics or D.E.S. Health-Gard™, to re-establish the good bacteria in the intestine and restore proper digestion.
Kaolin and pectin is an old treatment for diarrhea that is being rediscovered because it is effective. Kaolin and pectin is a coating agent that soothes the gut and slows motility and irritation. In an irritated gut, using 1 cc per 2 pounds several times a day can work with the gut to slow and quiet the diarrhea issue so it can heal.
If you need help managing dog diarrhea, call us at 800.786.4751.
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival's Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.