When we hear the word diarrhea watery stool would often come to mind. Actually diarrhea has a broader definition that encompasses abnormal defecation. This means that the dog may be straining and attempting to defecate but only passes gas; softer and watery stools, cow pie type stools that have abnormal color and odor. Diarrhea is actually not a disease but a symptom that something is wrong with the dog’s gastrointestinal system. Dogs like human suffer from bouts of acute diarrhea that often starts suddenly and lasts for a few days. Oftentimes diarrhea can be treated at home. However, if the dog has developed chronic diarrhea medical attention must be sought as soon as possible.
A dog with acute diarrhea would have soft watery discolored stool. This could last for a few days. Frequent watery defecation may be accompanied with vomiting. Acute diarrhea is actually not a disease. Most often it is caused by dietary indiscretion. Dogs are carnivorous, omnivores and scavengers. Aside from eating spoiled foods they would also eat indigestible materials such as stones and twigs. Acute diarrhea may also be caused by an abrupt change in the dog’s diet. Diarrhea and vomiting is their way of purging the body of unwanted and harmful toxins.
However, if the diarrhea is recurring and accompanied with fever, if blood is found in the stool, if the dog is obviously in pain the dog should be taken to a vet immediately. This is chronic diarrhea. Other symptoms would be loss of appetite, lethargy, weight loss and dehydration. Dogs would look really sick and grow a rough coat. Chronic diarrhea is caused by intestinal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. Other causes would be viral and bacterial infection, pancreatitis, intussusceptions, and liver and kidney diseases. Food allergies and lactose intolerance may also trigger chronic diarrhea.
Diarrhea is a common disorder but the chances of its occurrence can be lowered. First off is to ensure that the environment of the dog is kept clean to avoid infection. Dog should be given clean water to drink and should be prevented from eating spoiled or rancid food. Owners should be aware of the dog’s food allergies. Ensuring the dog’s overall health though healthy diet, sufficient exercise and intake of dietary supplements is one sure way of preventing diarrhea.
Dietary change may also cause diarrhea. Allow the dog to get used to the new food by introducing the new diet gradually. Transition to the new food must take place in several days to lessen the risk of intestinal upsets that would lead to diarrhea.
If your dog has diarrhea you can withhold the food for 12 hours for puppies and 24 hours for adult dogs. This is to give the dog’s digestive system a chance to settle and rest. Water however, must not be withheld otherwise the pet will be dehydrated. You have to watch out for dehydration. A sticky gum is an indication that the dog is dehydrated. After 24 hours when diarrhea and vomiting has stopped the dog can be given an easy digestible food such as boiled rice and chicken. Some owners would attest to the efficacy of pureed pumpkin to stop diarrhea.
If diarrhea persists for several days and the dog is vomiting blood, take your pet to a vet immediately. This is an emergency situation that would need professional help at once. Do not try to administer medication. Home treatments in this case can worsen the situation. Delay in administering the needed treatment may cause the death of the dog. The vet may administer intravenous fluids if the dog is severely dehydrated and antibiotic therapy if the cause of diarrhea is viral infection.