A dog’s stool can tell you a lot about his current health. Consistency, color, contents, and coating – they all play a part in determining if something’s wrong with your pooch. However, one sure sign that your dog is having some health problems are loose, liquid stools and frequent trips to the bathroom, which are all symptoms of diarrhea.
Even though diarrhea itself can be a very dangerous problem if it persists, it can also be a sign of some underlying illness. There are many reasons that cause diarrhea in dogs, and if it’s been more than a day, the safest thing to do is to take your canine to the vet to determine the cause.
Here are 10 of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs and how you can prevent them:
1. Spoiled Food
Dogs will often pick up things from trash cans or floor and eat them, and that can sometimes lead to stomach issues, including diarrhea. Veterinarians call this “garbage intoxication.” Even though most cases of the upset stomach that are caused by eating spoiled food are mild and will resolve in a day or two, in some cases, depending on the food ingested, it can lead to pancreatitis, which requires immediate veterinary care.
You can prevent your dog from eating spoiled food by keeping your garbage in a can with a lid and keeping an eye on your dog when you go for a walk so he doesn’t ingest anything unusual.
2. Toxic Substances
Frequent diarrhea is the first sign that your dog might have eaten something toxic or poisonous. In most cases, that includes numerous plants like ivy, daffodils, mistletoe, holly, bluebells, or something like wild mushrooms. Substances like sunscreen lotion, cleaning products, chalk, charcoal, human medication and vitamins can also harm your dog. If you suspect that your dog ate some toxic substance, the best thing to do is to get him to the vet.
To prevent these things from happening, keep your plants out of the reach of your dog, and your cleaning products and medications in a cabinet and not in the open.
3. Foreign Objects
Dogs are always curious and that can lead them to eat things that are not digestible at all. Diarrhea and other symptoms of an upset stomach like vomiting, lack of appetite and lethargy can be a clear sign that your pooch has ingested a foreign object that became lodged in his stomach or lower intestines.
This problem can even become life-threatening if you don’t deal with it immediately, and in many cases an operation to remove the foreign object will be necessary. Once again, to prevent this the only thing you can do is to look out for the things that your dog puts in his mouth and to keep small, sharp objects away from him.
4. Dietary Changes
Sudden dietary changes can upset your dog’s stomach and lead to diarrhea. This problem is not serious and doesn’t require veterinary care, but it can be prevented easily. Veterinarians recommend to simply change your dog’s diet gradually, by increasing his new food while decreasing his current food slowly, for at least one week. Continue to observe your dog’s reaction and health during this period.
5. Allergic Reactions
Allergies are a common cause of diarrhea. When a dog has an allergic reaction, his body will try to flush out the allergens and that’s when diarrhea kicks in. Check out if your dog also has runny eyes, itchy and red skin and whether he is sneezing, licking and chewing his paws and scratching, in order to determine whether he has an allergic reaction.
Since allergic reaction can be triggered by numerous things, it is important to work with your vet to determine what caused the reaction. The only way to prevent allergies is only after the reaction occurs and you know what substance you need to keep away from your dog. Sometimes your vet may put your dog on hypoallergenic dog food diet to eliminate the irritant.
6. Medication Side Effects
Some prescription drugs for dogs can cause diarrhea as a side effect. They include Metacam, Meloxicam and Rimadyl, as well as other NMDA receptor blockers and NSAIDs, which are used for pain relief.
Talk about the prescribed medications with your vet and ask him about possible side effects. There are always other options if you believe that your dog is having diarrhea for this reason.
7. Bacterial Infections
Your dog’s diarrhea can also be caused by bacteria from raw or undercooked meats, decaying veggies or meat left sitting out for a long time. Your dog can also get a bacterial infection if he has been kenneled with a dog that already has it, according to AVMA. Diarrhea is one symptom that could indicate the presence of bacteria and you should also check your dog’s stool to see if there is also fresh blood or shiny mucus on it.
If you notice this, then stop feeding your dog raw food. Make sure that all homemade meals are cooked properly or use commercial dry kibble, and try to give him only fresh vegetables in order to stop or prevent further bacterial infection and diarrhea.
8. Irritable Bowel Disease
Irritable bowel disease is a rather common condition both in animals and humans and it occurs when inflammatory cells constantly invade your dog’s stomach and intestines. However, the exact cause of this disease is unknown, which makes prevention nearly impossible. In addition to diarrhea, which is the most common symptom of IBD, you might also notice weight loss. It is necessary to visit your vet for diagnosis and treatment of IBD.
9. Intestinal Parasites
Intestinal parasites are usually found in water sources outdoors, like ponds, puddles and other stagnant water sources; this is known as water intoxication. They are also found in animal stools. If your pooch ate stool or drank contaminated water, it is likely that he came in contact with parasitic cysts, and that is the first step toward parasites living in his intestines. Diarrhea caused by parasites is greasy and with a lot of mucus. It also has a strong odor.
Don’t let your dog drink water from stagnant sources and always keep an eye on him so he doesn’t eat feces. If he gets intestinal parasites, veterinary care is necessary to deal with it.
10. Kidney Disease
Diarrhea is also a common symptom of kidney disease in dogs. In addition to diarrhea, other common signs of this disease include lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, lack of appetite, blood in urine and other urinary problems like increased or decreased urination.
You can decrease the risk of kidney disease by feeding your dog a nutritionally balanced diet, with access to fresh water at all times. Diagnosis of kidney disease is impossible before the symptoms occur, which means that it is really important to take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice them.
**This post was written for PooVault by Samantha Randall, from Top Dog Tips. Check out her site.