As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to know of the health issues that your furry friend may encounter, including diarrhea.
When is dog diarrhea an emergency? Pet owners often have this question in mind.
In this article, we’ll discuss the signs to know when dog diarrhea is an emergency and the steps you can take to prevent it.
When Is Dog Diarrhea an Emergency?
Diarrhea in dogs is a common issue caused by various factors, including dietary changes, stress, infections, parasites, and other medical conditions.
While some cases of diarrhea are treatable at home, others may require immediate veterinary care. Dog diarrhea can be an emergency once accompanied by symptoms such as blood, vomiting, dehydration, or lethargy.
Once you see these symptoms with your fur babies, it is best to contact your veterinarian for advice and treatment.
What Are the Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs?
Diarrhea in dogs, mild or severe, is caused by several factors. Here are some of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs:
1. Diet Changes
Dogs have sensitive digestive systems. Abrupt changes in their food can disrupt the balance of bacteria in their intestines, leading to diarrhea.
This can happen when switching from one brand of dog food to another or introducing new treats or table scraps to their diet.
When you want to change the dog’s food, you have to gradually introduce the changes for several days to allow your dog’s digestive system to adjust.
Serious infections require prompt treatment. If your dog has diarrhea combined with other symptoms such as vomiting, fever, lethargy, or loss of appetite, it’s advisable to see your vet as soon as possible.
Bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections can all lead to diarrhea in dogs. Some of the most common infectious causes of diarrhea are the following:
Bacterial infection: Salmonella
Dogs can become infected with Salmonella through contaminated food or water or through contact with infected animals or their feces.
Parasitic infection: Giardia
This parasitic infection spreads through contaminated water sources.
Dogs can become infected by drinking contaminated water or getting exposed to infected feces.
Viral infection: Canine Distemper
Canine distemper affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.
It’s highly contagious and spreads through contact with infected dogs or bodily fluids.
Intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms can cause diarrhea in dogs, as can tapeworms and coccidia.
These parasites can cause irritation and inflammation in the digestive tract, leading to diarrhea. Other symptoms of parasite infection may include vomiting, weight loss, and a dull coat.
Treatment for a parasitic infection typically involves medication to kill the parasites. It may also include supportive care such as fluid therapy and a special diet to help the dog recover.
Preventive measures such as regular deworming and good hygiene practices can help reduce the risk of a parasitic infection.
Just like humans, dogs can experience stress that can lead to digestive upset and diarrhea. Stressful situations like travel, adoption, or changes in routine can cause diarrhea in dogs.
In addition, separation anxiety can cause diarrhea in dogs when left alone for extended periods. It’s important to identify the source of the stress and work to reduce or manage it to help alleviate the diarrhea symptoms.
How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs at Home?
If your dog has mild diarrhea, there are some steps you can take to treat him at home. Here are some tips for treating diarrhea in dogs, including:
1. Withhold Food for a Day
Withhold food for 12 to 24 hours to allow your dog’s digestive system to rest.
You need to make sure that while withholding food, you have to provide him with plenty of fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration.
2. Reset Your Dog’s Digestive System
After fasting, gradually introduce a bland diet consisting of boiled chicken and rice.
This can help soothe your dog’s digestive system and encourage normal bowel movements.
3. Introduce Bacteria That’s Good for the Gut
Probiotics can help promote healthy digestion and reduce inflammation in your dog’s gut.
Talk to your veterinarian about recommended probiotic supplements or foods.
When to Contact Your Veterinarian About Your Dog’s Diarrhea?
If your dog’s diarrhea is severe, you have to contact your veterinarian immediately. Here are the signs and symptoms to look out for to understand that your dog’s diarrhea is worrisome:
1. Bloody or Black Stool
If your dog’s stool is black or bloody, it may be a sign of a serious medical condition such as internal bleeding, cancer, or infection.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice these symptoms.
2. Vomiting or Loss of Appetite
Once you notice your dog vomiting or that he has lost his appetite in addition to having diarrhea, it may be a sign of a more severe illness such as pancreatitis or kidney disease.
Make sure to contact the vet at once to catch underlying health issues.
Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which can be dangerous for dogs.
Signs of dehydration include:
- Sunken eyes
- Dry mouth
- Excessive panting
4. Frequent or Persistent Diarrhea
If your dog’s diarrhea lasts for more than 24 to 48 hours or it occurs frequently, it could indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires veterinary attention.
A fever of over 103°F (rectal temperature) could be a sign of an infection or inflammation.
How to Prevent Dog Diarrhea?
Prevention is always better than cure, and there are steps you can take to prevent dog diarrhea, including:
1. Stick to a Consistent Diet
As mentioned above, sudden diet changes can upset the dog’s digestive system.
Therefore, it’s best to stick to a consistent diet and gradually introduce new foods over time.
Here are some foods that should be avoided that can cause diarrhea in dogs:
- Grapes and raisins
- Onions and chives
- Spicy foods
- Sugary foods
- Xylitol (commonly found in chewing gum, candy, and baked goods)
- Dairy products (dogs can be lactose intolerant)
Also, refrain from feeding your dog raw or undercooked meat as it may contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can make him sick.
2. Practice Good Hygiene
Wash your hands after handling your dog’s feces and keep his living area clean to prevent the spread of infections and parasites.
Here are some suggestions for practicing good hygiene:
- Regularly clean and disinfect your dog’s food and water bowls as well as his toys and bedding.
- Bathe your dog regularly with mild dog shampoo to keep his coat and skin clean and healthy.
- Regularly trim your dog’s nails to prevent the buildup of dirt and bacteria.
- Check your dog’s fur and skin for signs of fleas, ticks, or other parasites, and use appropriate preventative measures to keep them at bay.
- Avoid contact with other dogs that are sick or have symptoms of illness.
3. Regular Veterinary Check-ups
Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help detect and prevent health issues before they become serious.
More so, they can reduce heavy expenses in the future!
4. Keep Toxic Substances Out of Reach
Dogs are a curious bunch. They munch on everything in their path and sniff at every nook and cranny of the house.
Most of the time, we don’t see where they choose to explore and they might ingest things they shouldn’t.
To keep your dog safe from harmful substances, place them away from his reach. It’s best to put them inside a sink cabinet or broom closet.
Here are some examples of harmful and toxic substances that can be fatal to your dog:
Many cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to dogs if ingested or inhaled. These chemicals include:
- Hydrogen peroxide
Some human medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can be toxic to dogs even in small doses.
There are houseplants, such as lilies, poinsettias, and aloe vera, which can be toxic to dogs if ingested. Other examples include:
While some cases of diarrhea can be treated at home with dietary changes and hydration, others may require immediate veterinary care.
If the dog’s diarrhea is accompanied by symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, or blood, it’s best to contact your veterinarian at once.