Help! My Dog Has Diarrhea!
Dealing with dog diarrhea is one of the grosser parts of being a pet parent, but it’s bound to happen at least once.
And if it happens more than once, your pup could be dealing with diet sensitivities, parasites or another underlying issue.
The Dodo spoke with Dr. Cristina Bustamante, an associate veterinarian with Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Florida and founder of Dr. B. Vet, to find out everything you need to know about your dog’s diarrhea.
What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea is when your dog’s poop is too soft, runny or even watery. (Sorry for the visual.)
“Soft-serve ice cream consistency of dog feces is considered diarrhea,” Dr. Bustamane told The Dodo. “Diarrhea can come in many colors, contain mucus and even be described as explosive!”
It’s nasty, but you have to pay attention to every gross detail about your dog’s diarrhea in order to figure out exactly why it’s happening.
“Give your veterinarian a detailed description of your dog’s diarrhea,” Dr. Bustamante said. “It can help your veterinarian understand the severity and gives clues to what could be causing your pet’s stomach upset.” Some information your vet might want to know can include the consistency of the diarrhea and how long it’s been happening for.
Sometimes, your dog might experience diarrhea as a result of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.
“If your dog presents diarrhea with other clinical signs such as vomiting, decreased energy or appetite, you should call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment,” Dr. Bustamante said.
What does healthy dog poop look like?
Healthy dog poop shouldn’t be watery or running, like diarrhea, but it also shouldn’t be too dry either.
“Healthy dog feces should be firm with play-dough consistency, easy to pick up and not leave the grass dirty (or [leave] a smudge) after picking up,” Dr. Bustamante said.
Why does my dog have diarrhea?
There could be several reasons why your dog has diarrhea.
“Most common causes of diarrhea in dogs are changes in diet and intestinal parasites,” Dr. Bustamante said.
It doesn’t even take a major dietary change for your pup to wind up with diarrhea.
“Changes in diet can be eating something different from their regular routine — whether it is stealing a slice of pizza from the counter, to a new flavor of their regular kibble, or trying a new treat,” Dr. Bustamante said.
Your dog might wind up with diarrhea if he’s feeling anxious, too.
“Some dogs can also have diarrhea if they have stress, such as after visiting their veterinarian or being at a boarding facility,” Dr. Bustamante said.
There can be even more serious issues that are causing your dog to have diarrhea, like:
“You should be worried about diarrhea because pets can easily become dehydrated and it can be a sign of serious illness,” Dr. Bustamante said.
What can I give my dog for diarrhea?
There are a lot of things you can give your dog for diarrhea. If it’s just an isolated incident, a flavorless diet can get your BFF back to normal.
“Usually if a dog has diarrhea once, a general recommendation is to give them a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice,” Dr. Bustamante said. “If the diarrhea does not improve or if it worsens, then contact your veterinarian.”
For more serious or chronic diarrhea, you should take your pup to the veterinarian, who might recommend treatments including:
- Prescription food
In some cases, probiotics could be a huge help in managing your pup’s diarrhea, especially if he deals with it a lot.
“I recommend giving probiotics to pets that have recurring diarrhea and are taking antibiotics,” Dr. Bustamante said.
When it comes to probiotics for diarrhea, Dr. Bustamante’s go-tos are Purina FortiFlora and Nutramax Proviable.
If your dog has a serious case of diarrhea, medication may be the way to go.
“I usually prescribe medications when pets are having very severe diarrhea, diarrhea that is not improving, blood in diarrhea or dehydration,” Dr. Bustamante said. “Especially when owners describe diarrhea as being ‘explosive’ and making a mess around the home.”
Just remember to always check with your vet before giving your pup any new medicine.
“I do not recommend giving medications without asking your veterinarian first since each pet can be very different,” Dr. Bustamante said.
If diarrhea is an ongoing problem for your pet, you might want to consider a prescription diet.
“Very high-quality prescription diets help pets that have chronic diarrhea,” Dr. Bustamante said. “There are also over-the-counter pet foods for pets that have recurring gastrointestinal upset. If your pet keeps having soft stool and [is] not improving, make sure to contact your veterinarian about which would be the best plan for your pet.”
How do I prevent my dog from getting diarrhea?
“The best way to prevent diarrhea in your dog is to avoid changing their diets, be consistent on the amount and type of treats and to use high-quality parasite prevention,” Dr. Bustamante said.
Sentinel is a parasite preventative that’s designed to be effective against heartworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. (As an added bonus, it’s also supposed to protect your pup from fleas, too.)
It’s available, with a prescription from your vet, for dogs up to 100 pounds in the following weight ranges:
Diarrhea is super gross, but sh*t happens. But if your dog’s experiencing some poop problems, at least now you know what to do about it.
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