Diarrhoea in dogs

Diarrhoea often occurs in dogs and is often no cause for concern. You should consult a vet in case of doubt. Here you will find out how to correctly interpret symptoms, find the cause and which dog food really helps in case of diarrhoea →

What exactly is diarrhoea in dogs?

The medical term for the runs is “diarrhoea”, and in most cases it is clear that your dog is suffering from this: The faeces is mushy or even liquid and smells different to usual. It may present a different colour (usually yellow) as well as blood or mucus. The frequency of defecation may remain the same with diarrhoea, but is usually increased. A common accompanying symptom is a constant grumbling in the stomach. These noises tell you that the gastrointestinal tract is impaired. In some cases, your dog will do its business before being able to get outside. Do not tell him off if he has a mishap. Your dog already feels bad enough as it is and his behaviour is certainly not intentional. If possible, leave the terrace door open or increase the amount of times you go walkies. The chances are high that this nightmare will come to an end after one to three days. In this case, the vet refers to acute diarrhoea, which normally disappears as quickly as it appeared. However, if it is recurring, we refer to chronic diarrhoea. In many cases, we recommend having the dog examined by a vet in order to find the cause. That especially applies to puppies who are at risk of dehydrating in no time at all, which can turn into a very serious problem.

What is the cause for diarrhoea in dogs?

There are a number of causes that can lead to diarrhoea in dogs. Sometimes the search for a trigger proves to be very tedious, but in most cases the culprit is clear to see. So in many cases it is not even necessary to consult a vet:

Spoiled food ➔
Has the dog eaten carrion, waste, an old chew bone or faeces while on walkies or roaming around in the garden?
Was the (wet) food lying in the bowl for several hours and could now be slightly spoiled?

Food that cannot be tolerated ➔
Did he help himself at the kitchen table and consumed something he cannot tolerate such as chocolate, nuts or grapes?
Was his food ration too large or too cold?
Did you soften dry feed and it was not immediately eaten? If so, it could have started to ferment.

Change of feed ➔  
Have you suddenly changed his feed?

Poisonous substances ➔  
Could your dog have come into contact with cleaning agents, chemicals, poisoned bait or fertiliser?

Gastrointestinal illnesses ➔
Is your dog suffering from a pancreatitis?
Doe he perhaps have a bacterial and/or viral infection?
Was your dog correctly wormed or could he have worms?
Is your dog suffering from anxiety, stress or excitement? That can also trigger diarrhoea.

Medication ➔ 
Some medication such as antibiotics may induce diarrhoea.

Symptoms such as diarrhoea in dogs

Diarrhoea is not an illness but rather a symptom that presents itself due to an illness or problem. Liquid faeces is not the only classic symptom – there are many others accompanying diarrhoea:

 

  •     Yellow, green, bloody or mucous faeces
  •     Defecation occurs more suddenly and far more frequently
  •     Dog is weakened or unsettled
  •     Constant stomach grumbling and/or bloating
  •     The puppy rapidly loses weight
  •     Stomach pain and abdominal cramps
  •     The dog has no appetite
  •     More than 40 degrees fever
  •     The dog is dehydrated

When do I have to take the dog to the vet?

You cannot safely say whether the diarrhoea requires a visit to the vet or not. There is no one-size fits all here. As long as the animal is in a good general condition, you can usually abstain from a vet for the time being. Depending on the animal’s condition, you shouldn’t wait too long to consult a vet in the event of diarrhoea. The picture is somewhat different for puppies, weak, ill or old dogs, which should always be immediately examined by a vet in case of diarrhoea. The same applies if a dog presents the following symptoms:

 

  •     Blood in the faeces
  •     severe stomach pain
  •     very listless or unsettled
  •     diarrhoea + vomiting
  •     dog will not drink
  •     over 40 degrees fever

    
If possible, present the vet with a sample of your dog’s faeces and think about what information could be useful for finding the cause of the problem.

Reasons for frequent diarrhoea in dogs

Recurring diarrhoea in dogs should be clarified by a vet in any case. If diarrhoea lasts longer, recurs again after a few days or is accompanied by vomiting, there needs to be a wider search for possible causes. For instance, it is definitely possible that the dog has an upset stomach for psychological reasons. Perhaps he is being constantly irritated by another animal or member of the family. Perhaps he cannot eat in peace. Or perhaps there was a death within his immediate environment? Such situations can lead to gastrointestinal problems.  

Another trigger for diarrhoea are parasites. A vet is needed to help detect these causes. Possible culprits are worms that have become embedded within the bowel. A worm therapy offers relatively promising results. The fight against giardia is often more difficult. The tiny single-cell organisms often require prolonged treatment.  

Reasons for chronic of more prolonged diarrhoea may be due to viruses or bacteria. Another possible cause is a gastrointestinal illness, autoimmune disorder organ illness or hormonal disease. The underlying reason may also be a (food) allergy. Here, a precise analysis is needed to track down the trigger of the food intolerance.

Correctly treating diarrhoea in dogs

If the dog’s general condition permits, you can actively provide your four-legged friend with relief for his diarrhoea. These first aid tips will certainly enable you to help your dog in no time at all:

Tip 1

First aid in case of diarrhoea

If you suspect your dog simply ate “the wrong thing”, you can treat the diarrhoea yourself at first: Don’t give him anything else to eat for the time being! Fasting is a good idea so that the bowel can recover. Fasting for 24 hours is not in any way harmful for an adult dog. Abstain from any treats. Adhere to a zero diet, just don’t forget to always keep the water bowl full. By no means you should present your dog suffering from diarrhoea with his favourite food “because he is feeling so unwell.” He could be that he then associates this food with feeling unwell. What’s more, the gastrointestinal tract needs to recover at first and “work” as little as possible.

Tip 2

Home remedies in case of diarrhoea

If your four-legged friend is merely suffering from mild diarrhoea, home remedies can also be used following or in addition to a temporary diet. These include coal tablets, a peeled apple or carrot soup. Another remedy for the gastrointestinal tract is fibre, which binds moisture. It can be introduced in the form of psyillium husk, for instance.

Tip 3

Bland diet in case of diarrhoea

Following the zero-diet, the gastrointestinal tract should be slowly reactivated but not overburdened. A light bland diet of rice and chicken has proven to be helpful here. Alternatively, you can also opt for potatoes and chicken. You can cook them both yourself and can be offered to your dog in small portions throughout the day. Those of you who don’t want to cook, are in the best of hands with MERAVITAL gastrointestinal special dog food to prevent diarrhoea. Alternatively, MERA offers cereal-free dog food with rice and turkey or potatoes and chicken. These varieties are also very well tolerated and recommended in case of mild diarrhoea.

Which food helps with diarrhoea in dogs?

Especially if your dog has acute diarrhoea and for sensitive dogs, it is better to give them a bland diet for a few days. Ideally the dog food will relieve the sick digestive system and help to reconstruct any damaged parts. Vets and nutritionists developed MERAVITAL GASTRO precisely for this purpose. It contains particularly high-quality ingredients and is easy to digest, making it the ideal dog food when your four-legged friend suffers from diarrhoea. Essential Omega-3 fatty acids also ensure that inflammation is inhibited, intestinal flora is restored and the immune system is activated. During the acute phase, MERAVITAL GASTRO INTESTINAL is the method of choice for quickly gaining control of your dog’s diarrhoea and relieving the gastrointestinal tract in a healthy way.

Preventing diarrhoea in dogs

Tip 1

Feed with cereal-free dog food

 

If the dog has an increased tendency towards diarrhoea, you should opt for dog food that is particularly gentle on the gastrointestinal tract. Food-sensitive dogs, which increasingly suffer from diarrhoea, may have problems digesting cereals in dog food. That’s why you should choose particularly high-quality dog food without cereals, like that provided by MERA. With the extensive range of cereal-free dog food, you can provide your dog with a very light diet and thus reduce the likelihood of diarrhoea recurring. As an alternative to cereals, with the potato for example you offer your dog a healthy substitute that is easy to digest. That may be important especially for large dogs because they have a smaller bowel in terms of percentage compared to small breeds. Potatoes contain vitamin C, B1 and B2 as well as magnesium, calcium and potassium.

 

Tip 2

Find the trigger for diarrhoea

You can reduce the probability of your dog suffering from diarrhoea but there is no complete protection against it. You can only decrease its occurrence if you know exactly what the trigger was. Perhaps you need to be more vigilant during walkies or at home to ensure your four-legged friend doesn’t devour anything that is out of bounds. Perhaps you can avoid certain feeding mistakes or have recognised that you need to take hygiene measures more seriously. Another important step is to let the vet examine your dog on a regular basis. Many people recommend cereal-free dog food and regular deworming treatment to avoid diarrhoea and problems with the gastrointestinal tract. Pay particular attention to a responsible and correct deworming. You will learn exactly how to deworm your dog in our companion article: "Correctly Deworming Dogs".