Dogs With Diarrhea Veterinarian

As a veterinarian, one of the most common things I am asked about is diarrhea in dogs. What’s causing my dog’s diarrhea? Should I be worried? What tests and treatments does my dog need? Of course, the answer to these questions will depend on why your dog has diarrhea. In the following article, I will discuss some of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs and provide some insight on common tests and treatments available.

There are, of course, many many causes of diarrhea in dogs. In order to help make this complicated subject a little more straightforward, it is sometimes helpful to divide these causes into categories.  The first of these is dietary indiscretion or intolerance. Sometimes dogs will eat things they shouldn’t from the trash or outside. Some dogs with sensitive stomachs can get diarrhea from simply switching to a new food too quickly or getting a new bag of dog treats. This is very common and the easiest cause to treat: a bland Diet and some medication and your dog will be back to normal quickly.

The things dogs like to eat are not always edible! Rocks, socks, peach pits, corn cobs, crayons, money, batteries – the list goes on and on. These “foreign bodies” will sometimes pass through the intestines and end up in your dog’s bowel movement, or they can become an obstruction or even perforate the bowel. In this case, radiographs are needed to evaluate the severity of the problem so treatment and possibly surgery can be performed.

G.I bacterial changes are another common cause of diarrhea in dogs. Some examples include Campylobacter, Clostridium, E.Coli, and less commonly Salmonella. In cases where a bacteria is suspected, antibiotics may be helpful in relieving your pet’s diarrhea.

Viruses also may be responsible for causing diarrhea. In particular, parvo-enteric virus or “parvo”. This virus most commonly attacks young dogs (under 2 yrs) or the elderly although any dog can be infected. Parvo is a catastrophic disease resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, not eating, and lethargy. Fortunately, a vaccine is available which, when given appropriately, is 99% effective at preventing your dog from acquiring this disease.

Of course, when thinking about diarrhea in dogs, worms or other intestinal parasites are often considered. There are many worms and G.I parasites that commonly infect dogs. Roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, hookworms, coccidia, and giardia are some of the most common parasites seen. For cases where G.I parasites are suspected, a routine fecal sample and test can help diagnose.  Treatment depends on which type of parasite is present then medication can be prescribed that will eliminate the parasites.

Unfortunately, there is a final category that must be discussed. This is the category reserved for sick dogs with more serious underlying diseases. There are many disease states which can result in diarrhea including intestinal masses, inflammatory bowel disease, certain systemic diseases and conditions and many more. Dogs who are systemically ill will likely have other signs including anorexia, weight loss, or lethargy. Your veterinarian is best equipped to help diagnose if your dog has a more serious underlying disease state.

Veterinarian For Dogs With Diarrhea

There are numerous causes of diarrhea. While many of these are fairly benign and easy to treat and alleviate, other causes are of much more concern. If your dog is having diarrhea, we strongly advise that you schedule a visit with a member of our Veterinary Hospital who can determine the cause and discuss the treatment options available.


Jeffrey Stupine VMD

Medical Director

World of Animals