What is diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea in dogs is not a disease, but a symptom with frequent defecation and loose stool. If the diarrhoea has lasted a short period of time it is called acute. Chronic diarrhoea has occurred in weeks to months.
Why does diarrhoea in dogs occur?
There are many causes of diarrhoea and most often the cause will remain unknown as the dog spontaneously gets well. Diarrhoea of unknown cause is frequently seen in dogs, especially in puppies.
Diarrhoea in dogs can be caused by:
Something the dog has eaten. It can be too much food, sudden change of food, bad food, milk, food allergies and others. The most common cause of diarrhoea in younger dogs is something it has ingested.
Infectious diarrhoea: Infectious diarrhoea can be caused by pathogen bacteria, parasites, virus or fungi.
Functional diarrhoea: This is seen in cases of stress.
Obstruction of the intestines. If the dog has eaten a foreign body, has herniations of the intestine diarrhoeacan happen.
What are the symptoms of diarrhoea?
The symptoms of diarrhoea are besides watery and frequent defecations other symptoms as vomiting, dehydration, fever, loss of appetite, mental depression and abdominal pain.
How does the vet diagnose diarrhoea in dogs?
The actual cause of the diarrhoea can be very hard to find. Often it is not found. Your vet will maybe perform one or several of these test to find the underlying cause. The vet will listen to the disease history, anamnesis, and make a physical examination. It can be a good idea to bring a stool sample. This sample can be checked for pathogen bacteria, worm or virus.
If there is suspicion of obstructions or abdominal pain, a radiograph will often be taken.
How is diarrhoea treated?
If the underlying cause is known, this must of course be treated. In a virus infection there is no specific treatment. If there is not a known cause the treatment will be symptomatic, that is treating the symptoms as:
Recreate the fluid balance in the dog. A dog with diarrhoea is losing a lot of fluid. This is why fresh water with electrolytes is essential. If the dog gets tired and will not drink it is important that it comes to the vet for fluid therapy.
The dog is fasted (kept from food) for 12 hours. Then food is reintroduced in small servings. That can be cottage cheese, boiled chicken or potatoes. It is also possible to buy a special intestinal diet canned or dry food at your vet. The dog can gradually (over 5 – 10 days) return to normal food.
Probiotics that strengthen the normal bacteria in the intestine and out grows the pathogen, or supplements that bind the pathogens can have a very good effect on mild to moderate diarrhoea. These are given orally.
Bismuth subsalicylate protects the intestine, but is rarely need,
If the dog has a fever and the diarrhoea is caused by bacterial infections, antibiotics can be an option.
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Is your dog also vomiting? Read our post on vomiting in dogs