One of the most common problems seen in veterinary offices: tummy (GI) upsets that result in diarrhea. It’s a messy, sometimes painful, and always a bad all around experience for dogs and their people.
The runs can be caused by a very long list of problems, but below are some common causes:
Stress – just like with people, stress can cause GI upset in pups
Parasites – intestinal worms
Diet changes – new food can upset tummies
Infections – viral or bacterial
Metabolic disease – problems with liver, pancreas, or thyroid
Inflammatory disorders – like inflammatory bowel disease
Dietary indiscretion – eating something they should not have
What is the best way to treat the runs?
If you think your pup is just going through a bad patch, you can try and treat the runs on your own. Vets always used to suggest fasting for a dog with diarrhea; nowadays vets seem to be split on this 50/50. It won’t hurt a dog with no other medical problems to go 8 – 10 hours without food to try and calm their tummy down, but always make sure they have plenty of fresh water around. If your pup isn’t interested in drinking plain water, try offering some chicken broth and water (50/50 mix).
Keep your dog quiet and in a spot where you can keep an eye on them. If your dog’s bed is usually on a carpet in your house, this is a good time to move it to a location with a hard floor where an accident will be easy to clean up. Remember not to scold your dog for an accident!
When it is time to feed them, start small with a meal of boiled white chicken meat (no bones or skin) and cooked white rice. Give your dog a couple of hours, and then you can try a tiny bit more chicken and rice.
When should you take your dog to the vet?
If your dog is very young, very old, very small, or has another medical problem, you should see your vet right away. Diarrhea can quickly turn into a life-threatening problem for pups in those categories.
If you know that Fido ate something potentially deadly you need to go to a vet immediately. For example, a lot of non-digestible items that may have been mixed with food in the trash (tinfoil, plastic) or anything toxic (grapes, mushrooms outdoors, alcohol, medications, etc.).
If your dog isn’t drinking water, is in pain, has blood in their stool, is vomiting along with the runs, or has lethargy the vet should be your first stop!
See your vet if the runs have continued for 24 hours or more or your dog has other symptoms along with diarrhea; vomiting, weakness, pain, or fever.
Most of the time a case of simple diarrhea will respond to treatment, and your dog will make a full recovery in 24 hours.
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