Almost all dogs experience a bout of diarrhea of some point in their lives. Diarrhea is defined as loose stools. A normal stool is formed, with no signs of undigested food, blood or mucous. Although diarrhea can be fatal in puppies, it is usually not life-threatening unless it lasts for an extended period of time and is making the dog dehydrated.
Parasites and diet are the most common causes of diarrhea. Hookworms, roundworms, giardia and threadworms can all cause diarrhea in dogs. Since dogs are scavengers, they will frequently eat garbage, wood, plants, paper, dead animals and other items that do not digest well. Because many of these items are stomach irritants, the dog will often vomit them out, but some remnants can still pass through the bowel and come out in the form of diarrhea.
A change in diet can also trigger diarrhea. Switching brands of dog food or giving your dog a meal that is high in fat can cause a bout of diarrhea.
Diarrhea can also be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. These usually affect younger dogs who have not yet received all of their shots. The diarrhea may be accompanied by vomiting and loss of appetite.
Emotions can also cause diarrhea. These can include instances when your dog is excited or upset, such as going to the vet.
Characteristics of diarrhea
Diarrhea can range in color and formation. The color can be yellow, green, black, red or gray. The consistency can be greasy, shiny, foamy or watery. It can also have an odor resembling sour milk or rancid food.
Acute cases of dog diarrhea can be treated at home. Once you notice diarrhea in your dog, stop feeding him for 24 hours but allow plenty of water. This will give the gastrointestinal tract a rest. You should also give Pepto-Bismol every 3-4 hours. The correct dosage is 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds your dog weighs. For example, a 50-pound dog would get 5 teaspoons at a time. An electrolyte, such as Pedialyte, will also work.
On the second day, you can feed your dog again. Start by boiling a chicken breast with 1 cup rice and 2 cups water and then remove the chicken. Feed the mixture several times throughout the day. You can add yogurt, cottage cheese, cooked oatmeal or eggs. Canned pumpkin is also good for curing diarrhea in dogs.
On the third day, you can chop up the chicken and add it into the rice mixture. You may also want to add some sweet potatoes, as they are known for making stools harder. The Bark has detailed information about treating diarrhea in dogs.
By this time, the diarrhea should be getting better, if not already gone. If the diarrhea is still continuing or getting worse, contact a vet for assistance.