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The Causes Of Dog Diarrhea & When To See An Emergency Veterinarian

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, it is not only messy but also can also be concerning if you don't know the cause. In today's post, our Stockton vets discuss what to do when your dog has diarrhea and when to see an emergency veterinarian.

Diarrhea in Dogs

If your pet has diarrhea you are bound to want to know why and how to stop it fast. Below our vets discuss some common causes of diarrhea in dogs and when you should consider visiting an emergency vet in Stockton.

It is common for our canine companions to experience mild diarrhea occasionally which may be caused by mild intestinal distress due to your pet eating a small amount of something that doesn't agree with them, such as table scraps, or just from the simple act of switching to a new brand or flavor of food.

That said, there are also a number of more severe health issues that could lead to your pet suffering from diarrhea. 

What Are Some of the Most Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs?

Below are some of the most common reasons for diarrhea in dogs:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Change in diet or treats
  • Eating garbage or spoiled food
  • Ingestion of foreign objects such as toys, bones and fabric
  • Ingesting toxins or poisons
  • Viral infection
  • Parasites
  • Bacterial infections
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Colitis
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Medications such as antibiotics

What are the Different Types of Diarrhea in Dogs?

There are two main types of diarrhea in dogs, they are large-bowel and small-bowel diarrhea.

Large-Bowel Diarrhea

The signs that your dog may be experiencing large-bowel diarrhea are:
  • Increased frequency
  • Small amounts of stool
  • Straining while attempting to defecate
  • Blood and mucous in stool
Blood in your dog's stool can be quite alarming. While small amounts of blood are perfectly normal to see within the stool it is a sign of inflammation in the colon and you should contact your vet.

The colon serves two main purposes:
  • containing the stool until the body is ready to expel
  • Preventing dehydration through the resorption of water

The reason why small amounts of blood in the stool is normal is due to the blood vessels being close to the surface and so with any straining and inflammation blood can easily be found in the stool. Mucous is also common as it is produced by the body to assist in the passage of stool through the colon.

If you notice that there is a large amount of blood in the stool or that the blood is quite thick then you should treat the situation with more urgency and bring your dog to visit an emergency animal hospital as soon as possible. 

Small-Bowel Diarrhea

The signs that your dog may be experiencing small-bowel diarrhea:
  • The stool may be large and goopy
  • The stool may take on a fatty or frothy appearance
  • Occasionally  red blood or mucous
  • There is typically no straining involved

The job of the small intestine is the absorption of nutrients. When there is inflammation or dysfunction, there can be a lack of absorption, resulting in fatty stools.

We can also see signs of malnutrition in dogs with small-bowel diarrhea:

  • Increased weight loss
  • Poor appearance of fur
  • Insatiable appetite
  • Sudden acute diarrhea

It is common for acute diarrhea to ease on its own without intervention from your regular vet or an emergency veterinarian.

If your dog is experiencing severe symptoms or diarrhea has lasted more than 48 hours then you should contact an emergency animal hospital immediately.

Chronic Diarrhea in Dogs

Chronic diarrhea is diarrhea that occurs frequently.

Some of the common causes of diarrhea in dogs are:
  • Parasites such as whipworms
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Hyperthyroidism or other metabolic condition
  • Cancer
  • Dysbiosis

Chronic diarrhea in dogs can sometimes lead to weight loss, a dry and unthrifty hair coat, and lethargy.

When to contact your vet about diarrhea in dogs?

If your pet has a single episode of diarrhea and is otherwise acting normal, it is likely not a cause for concern. Monitor your pet's bowel movements to see if things clear up. More than two episodes could indicate a problem, so it's a good idea to contact your vet if your animal companion has two or more bouts of diarrhea.

If your pet appears to be straining to pass a stool but only passing small amounts of watery diarrhea, they could be experiencing a painful blockage due to the ingestion of a foreign object such as a toy. This is a very serious concern and needs urgent veterinary attention, contact your vet right away or head to the nearest emergency animal hospital for care.

Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period of time could be a sign of a very serious health issue, particularly if your pet is very old, very young, or has a compromised immune system. A number of infections can be very serious, contagious, or even life-threatening. Contact your vet right away if your pet is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea.

Dogs that are showing other symptoms, as well as diarrhea, should also be seen by an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. If your pet has any of the following symptoms contact your vet right away to make an appointment:

  • Blood in stool
  • Unusual drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Signs of dehydration (Sunken dry-looking eyes, dry nose, or dry, sticky gums)

If your dog is displaying any symptoms that may be a cause for concern then please contact an emergency animal hospital as soon as possible.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Does your dog or cat have diarrhea? Contact our Stockton veterinarians today to book an examination for your four-legged friend.

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