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Passing feces is an essential part of the digestive process. Just like humans, your pet’s waste can tell you an awful lot about his health and wellbeing and while it may be a little gross to think about, the consistency of your pet’s stools is very important. Virtually all dogs will experience diarrhea at some point during their lifetime. Nevertheless, by understanding the cause of your animal’s loose bowel movements, you can take steps to prevent further messy episodes in the future.
Diarrhea is classed as stools that are loose and watery. In some cases, a small amount of blood or mucus may also be present in the feces. This normally happens as a result of an imbalance in the normal flora and fauna of your furball’ stomach and isn’t necessarily a cause for panic. However, if your dog’s diarrhea is accompanied by symptoms such as fever, bloating, large amounts of blood or mucus in his poop, or is very lethargic and out of sorts, then you should speak to your veterinarian to check whether he needs professional attention.
Your dog could have one isolated incident of diarrhea, but more often than not, diarrhea causes a frequent need to have a bowel movement. This means that your canine pal may need regular trips outside throughout the day, and accidents inside may also occur.
Many different things can interrupt the delicate balance in your dog’s digestive system, and cause him to experience an episode of diarrhea. Understanding the cause of your canine’s diarrhea can ensure that you get him started on the right course of treatment as soon as possible. If you find that your pet’s diarrhea is attributed to food intolerances, you may be able to reduce the likelihood of future episodes by identifying the trigger foods and avoiding including them in your dog's diet.
When you change the diet that you feed your pet, it can take several days for their body to adjust to the combination of ingredients in their new food. For this reason, many manufacturers recommend that you take it slow when switching your furball to a new brand of food.
Your canine may also experience diarrhea if he decides to chow down on something that they shouldn’t. This can include rotten food, general garbage, deceased animals or feces.
It may surprise you to know that dogs are just as likely to suffer from allergies, including food intolerances, as humans are. Despite being omnivores, a large number of canines suffer from dairy, grain, soy and even meat allergies.
If your dog has diarrhea related to a food intolerance, it will probably be an ongoing problem. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just switch up your pooch’s food – in fact, this could exacerbate the problem. Instead, we recommend speaking to your vet about putting your dog on an elimination diet. This type of diet should never be attempted without professional intervention, as your vet will be able to recommend what adjustments need to be made to your dog’s diet to check for intolerances while ensuring that he still gets all of the vitamins and minerals he needs to remain healthy.
Diarrhea is a common side effect of internal parasite infestations, particularly if your dog is young or has a compromised immune system. Internal parasites can affect your pet’s ability to absorb nutrients from their food, and upset the delicate balance of their digestive system. Some of the most common internal parasite infestations include roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. While you may be able to see worms in your dog’s feces, or if they are also vomiting in their vomit, you should seek a professional diagnosis from your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to recommend the right medication to treat the infestation, and what action you can take to prevent future parasite problems.
Dogs aren’t able to distinguish poison from potentially tasty food, and veterinarians see many animals who have accidentally ingested something toxic. Some of the most common toxic substances that your dog may inadvertently have access to include human medications, cleaning products, antifreeze and toxic plants. The effects your canine companion experiences will depend on the amount of the toxin that they have ingested, but vomiting and diarrhea are common side effects. If you believe that your dog may have ingested a poisonous substance, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.
If your dog has recently started a new medication, his diarrhea could be a side effect of the new drug. If the loose stools persist for more than a few days and you believe that the medication may be causing them, speak to your vet to obtain further advice.
In some cases, diarrhea can be indicative of a much more serious underlying medical condition. These could include:
- Bacterial infections such as salmonella
- Viral infections, for example, canine distemper or parvovirus
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Kidney/liver problems
- Some types of cancer
If your dog has any of these disorders, they may also display other symptoms associated with the condition that they have. In these instances, veterinary support is essential, and you should arrange an appointment as soon as possible.
If your canine pal is suffering from diarrhea and you are feeling concerned, arrange an appointment with our veterinarian at Herschel Animal Clinic for reassurance and/or further advice.