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Most pet parents are alarmed when their dog suddenly has acute diarrhea.
Their first response to their dog having diarrhea might be that something is wrong or to contact a veterinarian immediately. However, many causes of diarrhea in dogs aren’t necessarily an emergency, and pet parents may be able to treat it with over-the-counter products.
Diarrhea is loose, watery, or liquid feces. Pet parents should first try to determine the cause of diarrhea before rushing to the vet. There are many benign as well as severe causes of diarrhea in dogs. In some cases, a combination of things can cause a dog to have diarrhea. The most important thing a pet parent can do is not panic.
There are countless reasons a dog could have diarrhea, and many of these reasons aren’t emergencies and often clear up on their own. Anytime something “new” is introduced to the dog’s environment or food, pet parents can expect their dog to experience some diarrhea.
Non Emergency causes of diarrhea in dogs include:
Stomach upset from something they ate
New food or treats
Anxiety or stress
An antibiotic or other new medication
Change in environment
Pet parents always hope the reason for their dog’s diarrhea is minor. However, there are many emergent reasons dogs get diarrhea.
Emergent causes of diarrhea in dogs include:
Poison or toxin
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
A vet can do diagnostic tests to help determine if a serious condition or disease is causing diarrhea. In addition, pet parents can look for distinct clinical signs many dogs display when the cause of diarrhea is more serious.
The following clinical signs can help a pet parent determine if their dog’s diarrhea is an emergency.
Black or tar-like diarrhea
Dehydrated (dry nose, sunken eyes, and sticky gums)
Loss of appetite
Foaming at the mouth/ excessive drooling
Parasites in the stool
Pet parents should contact a veterinarian if they notice additional clinical signs in conjunction with diarrhea. The vet can run various diagnostic tests such as blood work and X-rays to help determine the best course of action.
Determining the cause of diarrhea in dogs will help determine the best treatment plan. In many non-emergent cases, antidiarrheal supplements or probiotics for dogs may help.
If a pet parent knows the cause of their dog’s diarrhea is due to eating bad or new food, then a supplement might be the best course of action. Antidiarrheal supplements, such as DoggyStat, can help firm up a dog’s loose stool. This type of supplement helps promote normal dog gut health by normalizing the dog’s digestive system after eating something bad.
Additionally, antidiarrheal supplements can help if the diarrhea is caused by stress, anxiety, or a new environment.
Another over-the-counter option is probiotics for dogs. Probiotics aid in dog digestion and are especially helpful if antibiotics cause a dog’s diarrhea.
An antibiotic is excellent for treating and killing diseases caused by bacteria. However, a dog’s gut contains many good flora or bacteria that aid dog digestion. An antibiotic kills all bacteria, including the good bacteria necessary for good dog gut health.
A pet parent may be able to prevent their dog from having diarrhea caused by an antibiotic by giving their dog probiotics. The probiotics can be given to the dog while on an antibiotic and afterward.
Giving a dog antidiarrheal supplements should only be done if there are no other clinical signs. In addition, pet parents should stop giving their dogs supplements if diarrhea continues for more than a day or two. Additionally, the pet parent should contact a vet if diarrhea immediately returns when the dog stops taking the antidiarrheal supplement.
For more specific guidance, pet parents can reach out to the Fuzzy Veterinary Team, for 24/7 online support.