Dog with diarrhoea have lots of soft, watery faeces and need to go to the toilet frequently.
There are many possible causes of diarrhoea
Most dogs with diarrhoea will get better on their own in a couple of days.
Dogs with very severe diarrhoea, or who get severe diarrhoea, long-term diarrhoea, or recurrent bouts of diarrhoea require veterinary attention
Determining the cause of diarrhoea is important for correct treatment
Dogs can become seriously ill from watery diarrhoea as it can cause dehydration - this can very serious in puppies.
Why do dogs get diarrhoea?
There are lots of possible causes of diarrhoea in dogs. Whilst many will just recover given a little time, some are more serious, so you should visit your vet if they seem unwell in themselves or don’t recover quickly. Your vet may want to run some tests to determine the cause and choose the correct treatment. The causes of diarrhoea in dogs include:
New food - dog’s guts can be irritated by food they’re not used to, causing diarrhoea or vomiting, or both.
New medication – worming treatments, antibiotics, pain relief, and other drugs can cause diarrhoea in some dogs.
Scavenging – Dogs who scavenge can get tummy upsets from what they find and eat.
Toxins — lots of toxins cause diarrhoea, vomiting or tummy pain. Sometimes that’s all, but some progress to more serious illness.
Food allergies - certain foods can trigger a dog’s immune system to over-react (allergy) leading to inflammation of the gut. Diarrhoea from food allergies can be severe, or mild but repetitive.
Infection – This can be from parasites, bacteria, or viruses.
Parasites include worms, and tiny organisms called ‘protozoa’. Puppies are more likely to get diarrhoea from parasites which can be severe and lead to dehydration.
Dogs that eat raw diets carry greater risk of food-borne bacterial infections, like Salmonella.
Many viruses cause diarrhoea in dogs. Whilst some are mild, some viruses that cause diarrhoea can be fatal, like parvovirus.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – This is when cells from the immune system over-populate the gut wall, stopping food and water from being absorbed properly.
Cancer – sadly, dogs can get intestinal cancer – this can cause diarrhoea. This is more likely in older dogs.
Obstruction – Dogs’ intestines can be blocked by undigestible objects that have been swallowed accidentally (like bits of tennis ball) which, in some cases, can cause diarrhoea.
Diseases of other organs
Pancreas – The pancreas helps digestion. It can become swollen and not work properly, causing diarrhoea.
Liver – Dogs with liver disease can show a range of symptoms, including diarrhoea.
Kidneys – Dogs with badly diseased kidneys may have diarrhoea.
Hormone imbalances – hormones affect many things and when they are imbalanced by disease they can cause a range of symptoms, including diarrhoea. Hormonal causes of diarrhoea include Addison’s and diabetes.
My dog has diarrhoea - when do I call the vet?
Contact your vet if:
Your puppy (under 6 months) has diarrhoea.
Your dog is passing blood or dark reddish-brown diarrhoea.
Your dog’s diarrhoea is particularly watery or in large volumes.
Diarrhoea continues (with or without vomiting) for more than 48 hours.
Your dog is not eating, is dull, or seems in pain (looking at their tummy, bowing on their front legs, seeming unable to settle).
Your dog has repeated bouts of diarrhoea.