If there’s anything that can be said about diarrhea, it’s that it’s the worst possible thing that usually happens at the worst possible time. For anyone that doesn’t know, dogs can also be affected by diarrhea and for them it’s often much worse, leaving them dehydrated and, if other symptoms are present, in danger of having caught a nasty virus like parvo.
However, it’s not all bad. When diarrhea strikes it usually resolves itself in a matter of hours. In any case, we’re here today to put your mind at ease when it comes to tummy trouble and your dog!
What is Diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea in dogs is usually caused by them eating something that their digestive system doesn’t agree with or something that it’s not used to processing. On average, diarrhoea occurs most after a dog has been scavenging or having being fed scraps from the table.
As we’ve said, most cases of diarrhoea in dogs are not serious and will resolve themselves in a matter of hours. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that diarrhoea in dogs may be the result of a more serious condition such as an infection, parasites, swallowing a foreign body or a poisonous substance. Infections with common viruses such as parvovirus, and coronavirus may also trigger diarrhoea.
So my dog has Diarrhoea, what can I do?
If your dog’s diarrhoea is accompanied by other signs such as severe vomiting, loss of appetite or lethargy please consult your Vet immediately.
If your dog has diarrhoea but is not vomiting:
• Don’t withhold food.
• Make sure your dog has plenty of water to drink to avoid dehydration.
• Offer easily digestible, low-fat, high-fiber food. Store-bought diets are available but a bland diet of chicken or white fish with brown rice, wholemeal pasta or potatoes is fine. Avoid rich foods, dairy and fats. Split the daily requirements into 4-6 small meals.
• Once the stools start to harden, gradually reintroduce your dog’s normal diet over 2-3 days while mixing it with the aforementioned bland diet, increasing the proportion of normal food with each successive meal.
• Once your pet’s stools are back to normal, you can resume regular feeding.
Ok, but my dog’s poo is an unusual colour?
Dog poo should be chocolate brown in colour and shaped like a log. If your dog’s stools are black and tarry, this may be the result of internal bleeding. Be vigilant for blood or red streaks, green stools (may signify gall bladder issues), orange stools (could be liver problems) or grey and greasy stools (potential pancreas issues). If it’s not brown, it’s a frown and a trip to us!
Colitis in Dogs:
Around one-third of dogs with a history of chronic diarrhoea have colitis; inflammation of the large intestine or colon. The colon also helps dogs maintain a good balance of fluids and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, etc). When the colon is inflamed it can result in an imbalance of these fluids and electrolytes. This causes dogs to suffer colon contractions which results in the classic symptoms of diarrhoea, often with mucus or blood. Dogs with colitis often endure pain when going to the toilet.
Identifying and treating colitis:
In most cases the causes of colitis are unknown. Infections, trauma, stress, bowel disease or genetic predispositions have been cited as causes. Diagnosis of colitis usually involves a rectal examination, blood tests and microscopic evaluation of your dog’s stools. Treatment for colitis in dogs will typically involve identifying and eliminating the cause. A Vet (like us) will also advise you to supplement your dog’s diet with fibre in order to stiffen up their stool.
So, how can I prevent diarrhoea?
• Avoid sudden changes in your dog’s diet.
• Always keep your dog up-to-date with worming and vaccinations.
• Feed your dog table scraps sparingly.
• Buy appropriately sized toys.
• Monitor what your dog puts in his or her mouth.
• Try to prevent your dog scavenging when out and about.
• Ensure all food given is treated or processed to reduce harmful bacteria.
Every owner will experience diarrhoea at one point or another in their pet’s life, but it’s nothing to get overly worked up about. Nine times out of ten it’ll pass. The other ‘one’ time is why we’re always available for emergency consultations!
Before we wrap up, if you do find yourself in the middle of an emergency you really shouldn’t be reading this! Click here for our emergency contact list. Otherwise, call 01 8213189 for our Meath and North Dublin clinic, or 01 2987510 for our South Dublin clinic.
Anyway, tschüss! (Bear with me, I’m learning German...)