Diarrhea in Dogs: Learn about Diarrhea, including how it can affect your dog, and what options are available to manage this type of digestive condition.
Definition of Diarrhea
Diarrhea is defined as the rapid movement of fecal matter through the digestive tract, involving poor absorption of water, nutrients and electrolytes and passage of soft, watery, unformed stools. Most people are familiar with diarrhea, whether from personal experience, having kids or owning pets. Diarrhea usually is a sign that something is bothering the dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Some cases of diarrhea are caused by minor digestive distractions, such as when dogs eat people food or get into the garbage. Diarrhea can also be caused by more serious problems, like poisoning or systemic disease. Diarrhea can come on quickly, be severe and then go away. It also can happen gradually and last for a long time. Affected dogs often are nauseous and have intestinal cramping and pain. They can become dehydrated and depressed. Unless the underlying reasons for diarrhea are resolved, dogs can suffer from this unpleasant condition indefinitely.
Diarrhea is usually a symptom of some underlying medical condition; it is not a disease or illness in and of itself. Nonetheless, diarrhea in dogs does require prompt attention and treatment, both for the comfort and welfare of the affected animal and for the benefit and wellbeing of its owner. Diarrhea can be acute, which means that it comes on quickly, typically is quite severe and then goes away. It also can be a chronic
Dogs with diarrhea will have a variety of symptoms, depending upon the underlying cause of their condition and whether the disorder is acute (sudden in onset and short in duration) or chronic (slow in onset and lasting for a long time). In many cases, diarrhea is accompanied by gastrointestinal upset, which can include nausea, cramping and abdominal pain – generally, what we would recognize as an “upset tummy.” Chronic diarrhea can cause a dog to
Dogs that come to a veterinary clinic because of diarrhea may be suffering from an extensive array of underlying problems. However, the initial assessment of the animal will be the same. The veterinarian will take a thorough history from the dog’s owner, including information about the dog’s living environment, vaccination status, diet and the circumstances surrounding the onset of diarrhea. She will also perform a complete physical examination, which will include a rectal examination. Fresh
Diarrhea, as most people know, is the passage of loose, unformed stools. Both sudden-onset (acute) and chronic diarrhea can be life-threatening, especially in young puppies, older dogs, dogs with weak or compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical disorders such as diabetes, Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism) or hypothyroidism. Owners should take their dogs to a veterinarian if they have acute bloody diarrhea for more than a day or if they have had chronic bouts of