How to Treat Dog Diarrhea
Dogs have been acknowledged as man’s best friend, and most people keep dogs as their pets for reasons of companionship. By spending a lot of time together, dog owners have grown so much affection for their pets. The consistency of effort exhibited by dog owners in taking care of their pet dog is a notable manifestation of how deeply attached they are with their dog – their most loyal companion.
But in those days when dogs get sick – may it be mild or serious – dog owners’ sense of commitment and responsibility is put to test. Since dog owners have varying attitudes towards caring for their dog, it is likely also that they have different ways of handling their sick dog.
According to the study made by Yusof et. al (2016), some dog owners do not seek veterinary help in diagnosing and treating their pets’ diseases for they tend to assume that such diseases are just mild ones.
While for some other owners, they treat their sick dogs on their own. This kind of treatment, however, can sometimes worsen the dog’s condition if the treatment used is not appropriate to the particular disease that causes the dog to suffer.
- What is Diarrhea?
- Diarrhea Manifestations
- What Actions Should You Take?
- Action Plan
- Important Things To Do
- How To Get A Stool Sample
- Home Treatment
What is Diarrhea?
One common disease found among dogs is diarrhea – a type of gastrointestinal disease which is a common cause of examination for veterinarians. A study conducted by Copeland and Hamil (2000) says that dog diarrhea can be better treated if its manifestations and implications are recognized.
A. What are the Manifestations and Implications of Diarrhea?
Here are the manifestations and implications of dog diarrhea:
1. Diarrhea Manifestations:
Diarrhea is manifested by frequent watery bloody stools or soft stools that have mucus or blood in it. These stools appear as shapeless, foul-smelling piles of stool, splattered on walls, or puddles on the ground. In some instances, dried stools are seen on the dog’s tail, hind legs, and buttocks.
When diarrhea manifestations become evident, it means that your dog could possibly be suffering from a range of digestive problems such as mild intestinal irritation, food poisoning, parasites, infectious diseases, a tumor, or a foreign body in his gastrointestinal tract.
In the study of Cave et. al (2002), bacterial-associated diarrhea is most commonly caused by these organisms: Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium Perfringens, and C Difficile. A different study made by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, it cited that diarrhea can be caused by diseases of the small and large intestines or by diseases of the organs.
Details about the dog’s diet, habits, environment, and other information related to his diarrhea can enable the veterinarian to better understand the dog’s condition and narrow down the list of the possible causes of his diarrhea.
B. What Actions Should You Take To Treat Dog Diarrhea?
Now, if you have noticed the earlier mentioned manifestations of diarrhea in your dog, the best thing for you to do is to call your veterinarian or better yet, bring your dog to the vet’s clinic so that he could be thoroughly examined.
Once you are in the clinic, your vet may need to do the following:
- Sedate your dog to get his X-rays.
- Perform laboratory tests such as complete blood work, urinalysis, and culture or sensitivity test.
- Perform an endoscopy.
- Perform biopsy if the mass is detected.
- Perform a fecal examination to detect internal parasites.
1. Action Plan
This action plan will help dog owners identify what necessary actions are to be taken by asking the most essential questions about their dog’s current condition. This action plan is adapted from the book “Hands-On Dog Care” by Copeland and Hamil (2000).
|The question to be asked||Actions to be taken and why|
1.) Is the onset of diarrhea marked by a large amount of dark or bright-red, bloody, and foul-smelling stool that may resemble raspberry jam?
Is your dog depressed?
|If you answered yes to the two questions, then you should call your veterinarian now. Your dog could be suffering from hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, parvovirus, Addison’s disease, or a bleeding disorder.|
2.) Is your dog sluggish, feverish, lacking appetite, or vomiting?
Does he chew plastic and other nonfood materials?
Does he get into garbage and dead animal bodies?
|If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should call your veterinarian right this instance. Your dog could possibly be suffering from food poisoning, distemper, parvovirus, Addison’s disease, gastrointestinal tract could be lodged by foreign bodies or other sharp objects.|
3.) Is your dog struggling to defecate?
Does he have soft tools that are constantly wet, concrete, or thinner?
Do his stools contain mucus (jelly-looking, yellow, thick, custard-like) or blood?
|If yes is your answer to all these questions, then call your veterinarian immediately because your dog could be suffering from colitis or parasite infestation.|
4.) Does your dog have large-volume, light-colored, or greasy -looking stools?
Is he unusually thin and his hair coat is dull and dry?
|If all your answers are affirmative, then you should call your veterinarian today. Your dog’s condition could be a pancreatic insufficiency, maldigestion, or other malabsorption problem.|
5.) Is your dog’s diarrhea a chronic problem?
In some instances, does your dog act normal, bright, alert, and interested in food?
|If it is a yes, then call your veterinarian today because it could be a food allergy or problem in the diet, inflammatory disease, or a mild bacterial infection.|
6.) Was diarrhea rapid or onset?
Has your dog eaten anything unusual?
Have you recently changed your dog’s food, or fed him with table scraps?
Is he bright, alert, and otherwise normal?
|You can remedy his condition through home treatment.|
2. Other Important Things to Do To Treat Dog Diarrhea
Before leaving your house to go to the vet, be reminded of these other important things:
- Isolate your dog from the other dogs in case his disease is contagious. It is highly important that you confine your dog in a warm, dry area separate from other dogs to prevent the spread of possible infectious diseases. After handling your dog and before handling other dogs, wash thoroughly your hands and disinfect your shirt and shoes.
- Pick up food and water. The digestion of solids and large amounts of liquids could further aggravate your dog’s already upset stomach. If he acts thirsty and asks for water, allow him to have a few gulps of water every half hour, or you could give him ice cubes. To be more certain about this, ask your veterinarian for specific feeding and watering instructions.
- Take a stool sample. Your vet needs to run a laboratory test of your dog’s stool to know if your dog’s diarrhea is caused by parasites or other pathogens. As such, you need to take a stool sample of your dog.
How to Get a Stool Sample
Taking a stool sample should be done in the most proper way. Otherwise, your vet cannot get his best chance at battling the parasites that are attacking your dog’s body.
- Take a fresh sample. Take a stool sample from a pile that is defecated for not less than one hour. The reason for such is that your veterinarian will be particularly looking for eggs in the stool to determine the presence of parasites. But these eggs can hatch into larvae in stool older than one hour. So, if your vet cannot find eggs in the stool sample you submitted, the result could still be a false negative reading.
- A little sample is enough. You can make use of a plastic spoon or tongue depressor to take about a tablespoon of stool. That amount is already enough to run the lab analysis.
- Store it in a clean container. Make sure to place the stool sample in a clean plastic bag or a hygienic margarine container.
- Keep it cool. You need to store the sample in your refrigerator if you won’t be going yet to the vet. This is to prevent the parasite eggs from hatching into larvae.
- Make sure to bring it. If you are now heading to your vet’s clinic, don’t forget to bring with you the sample.
3. Home Treatment
This home treatment remedy should only be done in accordance with your given answer to the questions indicated in the action plan. The action plan will determine whether home treatment is appropriate for your dog’s diarrhea.
However, if at any moment during your home treatment your dog’s condition did not improve or got even worse, you are advised to call your vet immediately.
Step 1: Check your dog for signs of dehydration. To check if your dog is dehydrated, grab a fold of your dog’s loose skin over his shoulder blades and slightly pull it an inch away from his body (don’t worry about this won’t hurt him).
Hold it for about 5 seconds and then release it. Now, if your dog’s skin instantly returns to its normal place, that means that your dog is not dehydrated. But, if the skin remains standing before it slowly falls back into its original position, it means that your dog is dehydrated. If this happens, stop your home treatment and call your veterinarian right away.
Step 2: Refrain from giving food to your dog. To allow your dog’s gastrointestinal system to rest, do not give him yet with any food to eat for 24 hours. Instead, provide your dog with plenty of freshwaters to quickly replace the water he’s losing from his body due to his diarrhea. This will help your dog not to be dehydrated.
Step 3: Give your dog over the counter medicines. You can give your dog a human anti-diarrhea medicine such as Immodium which you can buy at drug stores and grocery stores. As a general prescription, give 1 teaspoon of Immodium for every 20 pounds of dog’s body weight. For example, for a small dog, give him a teaspoon of the medicine’s liquid form; while for a medium-sized dog, give him 2 teaspoons of it, and for a large or giant dog, give him a tablespoon every 6 hours for 24 hours.
Step 4: Introduce baby food gradually. 24 hours after the onset of your dog’s diarrhea, give him small amounts of chicken and rice baby food once every hour. If your dog shows no signs of diarrhea on his baby food diet, you can now proceed to step 5.
Step 5: Introduce your dog’s regular food gradually. Give your dog a quarter of his regular food amount. If his food is in kibble form, soak it in warm water for it to soften, making it easier for your dog to digest. Feed him small amounts of food about 4 times a day for 24 hours. Then, gradually increase the amount and frequency of feeding for the next couple of days until you’re feeding your dog on his normal schedule.
However, if your dog continues to have his diarrhea during home treatment, you are advised to call your vet.
Step 6: Take a fresh stool sample (refer to the section on How to Make a Stool Sample)
Diarrhea is a leading sign of intestinal dysfunction in dogs and is a common cause of worry among dog owners. Even if dogs only suffer from mild diarrhea, this condition should not be taken lightly by pet owners. Dog owners could choose either home treatment or bring their dogs to the vet for a more complete examination.
Most importantly, when dogs show early symptoms of diarrhea, treatment should be done immediately for it could become serious and could cause severe dehydration in dogs.
Cave, N., Marks, S., Kass, P., Melli, A., & Brophy, M. (2002). Evaluation of a routine diagnostic fecal panel for dogs with diarrhea. Journal for American Veterinary Medical Association, 222 (1): 52-59. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stanley_Marks/publication/11045045_Evaluation_of_a_routine_diagnostic_fecal_panel_for_dogs_with_diarrhea/links/5723ddbe08ae262228aa751b.pdf
Copeland, S., & Hamil, J. (2000). Hands-on dog care. Doral Publishing, Inc.
Washington State University. Common pet problems. https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/common-problems/diarrhea
Yusof, M., Sariwati, S., & Teresa, P.P. (2016). Design and development of an online dog disease diagnostic system. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 6 (11): 913-916. http://www.ijiet.org/vol6/816-C1004.pdf