Dogs – Diarrhea
What causes diarrhea?
Diarrhea is not a disease; rather, it is a symptom of many different diseases. Many mild cases of diarrhea can be resolved quickly with simple treatments. Others are the result of fatal illnesses, such as cancer. Even diarrhea caused by mild illnesses may become fatal if treatment is not begun early enough to prevent severe fluid and nutrient losses.
How serious is diarrhea in dogs?
Your veterinarian will attempt to determine how sick the dog has become as a consequence of the diarrhea. When the dog is systemically ill (that is, more than one body system is involved), some of the following may be noted:
What types of tests are performed to find the cause?
If diarrhea is associated with several of the above signs, your veterinarian will perform a series of tests in the hope that a diagnosis can be made. This permits more specific treatment. Diagnostic tests may include radiography (x-rays) with or without barium, blood tests, stool checks, biopsies of the intestinal tract, and exploratory abdominal surgery. Once the diagnosis is known, treatment may include special medications and/or diets, or surgery.
If your dog does not appear systemically ill from diarrhea, the cause may be less serious. Some of the minor causes of diarrhea include stomach or intestinal viruses, intestinal parasites, and dietary indiscretions (such as eating garbage or other offensive or irritating materials).
A minimum number of tests are performed to rule out certain parasites and infections. These cases may be treated with drugs to control the motility of the intestinal tract, drugs that relieve inflammation in the intestinal tract, and, often, a special diet for a few days. This approach allows the body's healing mechanisms to correct the problem.
Improvement is expected within 2-4 days. If this does not occur, a change in medication or further tests are done to better understand the problem.
Stool is the thickness of pancake batter
Very bloody stool
Only sporadic blood present
Blood not present in stool
Bright red blood present
Dark, tarry blood present
Entire stool is soft or watery
Only portions of the stool are soft or watery
Diarrhea with each bowel movement
Diarrhea is sporadic (some bowel movements are normal)
Only 1 or 2 bowel movements per day
More than 4 bowel movements per day
Stool is dark brown in color
Stool is very pale in color
Stool is black and tarry in appearance
Thick mucus or pieces of tissue present in stool
Loss of bowel control (defecates in the house on the floor)
Severe straining when having a bowel movement