Diarrhea is the passage of frequent loose or watery stools. Dogs are susceptible to bouts of diarrhea from time to time. A single occurrence is not a matter of concern and should not require a trip to the vet. The trip to the vet becomes a must when the diarrhea persists for more than a day. Like in humans, this leads to severe dehydration and weakness and calls for immediate attention from the vet.
The cause for diarrhea may range from a simple change in diet to the more complicated cancer or tumors in the digestive tract. A majority of instances occur from change in diet, diet intolerance or the consumption of spoiled food or garbage. The condition is rectified simply by taking measures to check the above occurrences. Once this is done, the dog returns to its normal habits and you can rest easy. Diarrhea is also caused by toxic plant material, ingestion of foreign objects (plastic bags and toys are the most common of these), bacterial or viral infections, inflammatory bowel disease, allergic reactions, stress, certain medications, kidney or liver disease etc. The vet who would suggest the future course of action would determine these causes.
When you find that the dog is suffering from diarrhea, avoid giving food while ensuring that the dog drinks plenty of fresh clean water. You would find that in most cases the bout of diarrhea is gone by the next morning. However, if you do find that the dogs fecal matter is black, take the dog to the vet immediately as the dog may be experiencing internal bleeding. Over-the-counter diarrhea medications should never be given unless your vet sanctions it.
Once you go to the vet, the dog would be examined for dehydration and for any diseases that may have resulted in the bout of diarrhea. Usually stool samples are collected to ascertain the presence of parasites, bacteria or viruses. The vet may also take a blood sample for further tests. If the dog is not responding to medication prescribed, the vet may then go for a full-fledged examination. Such an examination may involve an overnight stay in the clinic for the dog.
Given that even healthy dogs may suffer from occasional bouts of diarrhea, you should not be too concerned if your dog has diarrhea. However, you may take precautions, which would ensure that your dog does not suffer unnecessarily. Some of these precautions include not allowing your dog to rummage through garbage or feeding it spoilt food. Make sure that all vaccinations are current and follow suggestions from your vet to keep the dog free of parasites. Dogs love to play and so spend time with your dog. This would minimize stress and cut down on one of the causes of diarrhea. When you plan to change the dog’s food, do it slowly and introduce the new food along with the old one. Increase the quantity of the new food gradually. Remove poisonous plants in the house and while taking a walk with the dog, do not allow the dog to nibble at plant material or any eatables on the street.