What Factors Cause Diarrhea?
Diarrhea doesn’t stem from nothing. There is always a cause that makes dogs have diarrhea. Examples of some of the reasons why your dog has diarrhea include…
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Parasites or stomach bugs
- Infections caused by bacteria
- Change in diet
- Side effects of antibiotics
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Adverse reaction to medications
- Heightened stress levels
- Swallowing something poisonous
- Eating something unfamiliar
- Dietary indiscretion
Every situation is different, but one of the most common causes of canine diarrhea is stress. Your dog’s diet might be causing him or her to have diarrhea as well. In order to figure out exactly why your dog is experiencing diarrhea, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dog’s vet. Only then can you know exactly what’s causing your dog’s diarrhea, and veterinary medicine professionals can instruct you on what to do next.
What Does Stool Color Have to Do With Dog Diarrhea?
While we’re on the topic of abnormal stools, why not explore what the different poop colors mean? Sometimes, diarrhea can end up being an unusual color, and the exact color might be a contributing factor of your dog’s diarrhea. Understanding what each color means can help you figure out which steps to take next. Paying attention to stool colors is always smart.
Whether normal or not, the different colors of dog stools include…
Brown is the most normal color of all when it comes to stools. Poop is naturally brown, and it tends to range from a light brown to a darker shade. Even when your dog's stools are healthy, they won't always be the same shade of brown. But as long as your dog's bowel movements produce brown stools, the coloration is healthy.
Black stools indicate a serious amount of blood is ending up in your dog's bowels. Rather than light specks or thin lines of red blood, the stools are changing color drastically because of the amount of blood present.
Blue poop is a major red flag and you should take your pet to the vet immediately. Blue stools are an indication that your dog has consumed something poisonous, and that something is often rat poison designed to get rid of infestations in your home. If your dog is pooping blue stools and you have rat traps set up in your home, then you might make the connection right away.
But even if you don't personally have rat poison in your house, blue stools show that your dog picked up rat poison from an outside source and ate it. Don't even call the vet if your dog's poop is blue. Instead, rush your pet to the nearest emergency pet hospital.
Grey poop is a sign that there's an internal issue within your dog's pancreas. It's quite easy to mistake grey stools for the white and chalky poop that is actually healthy, so pay close attention to whether it's actually white rather than grey. There could be an issue surrounding your dog's production of bile as well if your dog's stools are grey, so don't be surprised if your dog's vet explores that avenue as well.
Green stools are often a sign that gastrointestinal tract hypermotility is at play. In other words, your dog's gastrointestinal tract—or GI tract—and gallbladder are not functioning as they are supposed to, which subsequently causes problems in your dog's body. This results in the discoloration of the stools that your dog passes.
You'll need to have your dog checked out by the vet in order to understand the severity of the problem at hand. However, keep in mind that a lot of greens in your dog's diet can also cause green stools. Sometimes, this is on purpose in the case of dogs that are fed a lot of leafy greens.
But other times, dog owners might not be aware of the possibility that their dogs are eating a lot of green foods because they are not giving green foods to their dogs in the first place. This second possibility is often seen in dogs that are outside unsupervised quite often because these dogs end up eating a lot of grass while outdoors.
If your dog is outside often, keep an eye on your canine companion to see if they eat grass. This is an easy fix because it just requires that you prevent them from snacking on grass throughout the day, and then their stools should go back to a normal brown color.
Orange stools are not technically normal, but they don't necessarily indicate that something is wrong internally. Most of the time, if your dog's poop is orange in color, then it's because your dog ate something that contains orange food coloring or dyes.
In order to eliminate the orange coloring in your dog's stool, you should look at the ingredients in the food your dog eats and adjust them accordingly. When you figure out which foods contain additives like orange dyes, you can eliminate it from your pet’s diet. Usually, this does the trick and your dog's stools should go back to a normal brown color.
Other times, orange stools can indicate that your dog's poop contains blood, which is troubling. You'll have to look closely at your dog's stools in order to figure out if they are orange because of food coloring or if they are orange due to a slight addition of blood in the stools. You can always ask your dog's vet for guidance and input if you're not able to figure it out on your own.
If stools are red, it is because there is blood in your dog’s bowel movements. It's possible your dog is internally bleeding if blood appears in the stools, but there are other probable causes to pay attention to as well. Sometimes, an ulcer causes bleeding, but it could also be caused by small less concerning issues that your vet will check out.
How to Tell If Your Dog Has Diarrhea
Now that we have touched on the factors that cause diarrhea, let’s turn our focus to the signs of dog diarrhea. You might not notice that your dog’s bowel movements are different if you are not aware of the signs of dog diarrhea in the first place.
Recognizing the signs of diarrhea in dogs starts with understanding the differences between normal stools and diarrhea-related stools. A healthy stool from dogs will be slightly different depending on the dog's specific diet. Take dogs on a raw diet, for example.
Their stools will crumble a lot more easily than other dog stools, and dogs on a raw diet will usually have a white coloration to it because it's chalkier than other dog stools. But if your dog is on a raw diet, this is perfectly normal! But what about dogs that aren't on a raw diet? Dogs on other diets tend to have a more put-together stool.
Normal stools in healthy dogs will be firm but not stiff. It's the perfect middle ground between hard and soft. So what does an abnormal diarrhea-related stool look like? Dogs with very liquidy, watery, or loose stools are experiencing diarrhea. If your dog's bowel movements produce very thin stools, then it's likely your dog also has diarrhea.
Look closely at your dog's stools to see if there is any visible blood because that's an additional cause for concern. Pay attention to the frequency of your dog's bowel movements if possible. Dogs that poop more frequently than usual often have diarrhea, so multiple bowel movements per day is a characteristic of dogs with diarrhea.
Other symptoms of diarrhea that don’t relate to the size, type, or frequency of stools include…
- Loss of appetite
- Unquenched thirst
- Dietary indiscretion
- Constant dehydration
- Joint pain or weakness
- Increase in tiredness
- Dizzy spells or fainting
- Vomiting and/or nausea
- Pain in the abdomen
How to Prevent Diarrhea in Dogs
Did you know there are certain measures you can take to prevent diarrhea in dogs? Of course, these measures are not foolproof and your dog might come down with a case of diarrhea anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to try!
These same measures can be applied when you’re trying to stop your dog’s diarrhea from progressing further as well. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve combined the prevention measures into a five-step guide for stopping diarrhea in dogs. Without further ado, here are five steps to stopping diarrhea in dogs.
How to Stop Diarrhea: The 5 Steps Guide
As a pet owner, there are steps you can take to treat your dog's acute diarrhea. We thought we would compile a five-step guide to stopping dog diarrhea!
Step 1: Don't opt for antibiotics as a quick fix or treatment plan.
When your dog has diarrhea, your instinct is going to be to apply a quick fix. This is actually a very normal response no matter your pet’s health concern because you just want your furry friend to feel better instantly.
But no matter what, don’t give your dog anything right away. When we have headaches, we tend to take medicine to treat our pain. However, when dogs aren’t feeling their best, medications shouldn’t be the first step to stopping their pain, especially with diarrhea. So, try to hold off on medication and move on to step two.
Step 2: Prevent your dog from eating by having your dog fast.
Forcing your dog to fast might sound odd, but it’s likely that your dog will have a total loss of appetite anyway, so it shouldn’t be terribly difficult for your dog to go without eating. The reason for the period of fasting is so that your dog doesn’t further upset their own stomach by consuming food that worsens the symptoms of diarrhea.
This is especially necessary in dogs exhibiting dietary indiscretion. By omitting all food from your dog’s stomach for a brief period of time, the body can finish digesting anything already in its system. From there, you can carefully monitor how your dog reacts to certain foods.
Step 3: When the fast is over, only give your dog a bland diet full of flavorless food.
When reintroducing food into your dog’s life, it’s imperative that you stick to a bland diet. When you feed your dog bland foods, you ensure that there aren’t any irritants entering your pet’s system. Even the slightest bit of flavor or additive can upset your dog’s stomach all over again, so a bland diet is the way to go.
One example of the perfect food is white rice. While it still has a slight hint of flavor, white rice is very easy on the stomach. Additionally, white rice is easier to digest so your dog's digestive system will break down white rice with a lot more ease than it would take to digest something more complex.
That's the major takeaway about a diet of white rice—it's very simple, and simple is key when helping your dog recover from a case of diarrhea. White rice on its own might be a bit of a bore for your dog, so feel free to combine white rice with something like plain chicken. The protein will help your dog build up any muscles that were weakened by the diarrhea situation as well.
Step 4: Introduce both prebiotics and probiotics into your dog's life.
Small amounts of prebiotics and probiotics will help your dog as well. Both of these supplements are great for balancing the gut with healthy bacteria. Probiotics benefit the immune system as a whole whereas prebiotics help your dog's colon maintain homeostasis. It’s all about repopulating your dog’s body with everything it needs to get back to a healthy state of being.
Step 5: Apply natural remedies to the situation so that the body can heal from the diarrhea.
CBD is an amazing remedy for healing the body after dog diarrhea symptoms go away. Once the dog diarrhea passes and your dog is back to pooping normally, your pet’s body is going to be really sore. Dog diarrhea is not easy on the body, so introducing CBD into your dog’s daily routine will help your pet feel much better.
Sources:How to Stop Diarrhea in Dogs
Diarrhea in Dogs
Diagnosis & Therapy of the Patient With Acute Diarrhea
Chronic Diarrhea in Dogs