Dog Diarrhea – What Are the Culprits?

April 7, 2018 in Articles


Sweet dog feeling ill


We love our pets dearly and never want to see them sick. Dog diarrhea is something we should pay close attention to, in the event that our dog falls prey to this condition which has a negative impact on the bowels. This condition can cause your dog to become dehydrated which can be a very serious thing! We want to avoid this at all costs.

Dogs are precious creatures, and most dog parents have chosen to give much affection and take superb care of their pets. This explains why you feel disturbed, concerned and perturbed whenever your pet contracts a disease and falls ill.

Dogs are, however, prone to diarrhea as their livelihood, training, and environment play a significant role.  By taking precautionary steps, we can help prevent our dog from contracting diarrhea. This is what we will take a careful look at.

What exactly is diarrhea?

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, diarrhea is an illness that causes you to pass waste from your body very frequently and in liquid rather than solid form. It’s a health condition that makes a dog or person’s stool exit the body uncontrollably, and unceasingly.


What Are the Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs?

Dog diarrhea is caused by a disturbance of the gastrointestinal tract. The microorganisms responsible for this can be viruses, bacteria, and parasitic organisms. A list of the various ways dogs can be infected with diarrhea includes:

  • Scavenging. Dogs that eat garbage are highly prone to be infected because microorganisms breed in the dirt. When contaminated garbage is eaten, it can result in diarrhea.
  • Sudden changes in your dog’s diet can cause diarrhea because this often disrupts the structural pattern the dog’s digestive system is acclimatized to.  The dog might also be allergic to the different foods he is given.
  • Viruses, bacteria and parasitic infections which may be airborne can lead to your dog being infected with diarrhea. Examples of parasites causing diarrhea include Giardia, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms.
  • Metabolic disorders can cause diarrhea in dogs. Chronic Diarrhea may be commonly caused by Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable bowels syndrome, liver disease, kidney failure, or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.  All these metabolic diseases can be indicative of chronic diarrhea in dogs.
  • Intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms can all cause diarrhea in dogs. 


  • Dietary Indiscretion is often referred to as “garbage gut”. Essentially, if you feed your dog a lot of table scraps or things its digestive system cannot break down.  This can be the cause of acute diarrhea in dogs. Additionally, some dogs may have food intolerances, that is, allergies to certain ingredients like chicken or grains, this too can result in diarrhea.
  • Viral infections. Parvovirus, Distemper, and Coronavirus are dog diseases that can cause diarrhea in dogs.  However, these can easily be prevented if your dog is vaccinated.   
  • Intestinal obstruction. Diarrhea can also be caused by a foreign body obstructing your dog’s intestinal tract.
  • Some types of cancer.
  • Diseases outside of the gastrointestinal tract (i.e., liver failure or heart disease).


What Are the Symptoms of Dog Diarrhea?

Whenever your dog is infected with diarrhea, experts have mentioned that you will start seeing the following symptoms in your dog: loose stools are the first noticeable symptom of diarrhea; also included are vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, and lethargy.

Lethargic dog


Treatment of Diarrhea

Whenever your dog is afflicted with diarrhea, it is advisable to follow the below-listed steps. 

1. The dog must be provided with clean spring (preferred) or filtered water, at all times, to avoid dehydration. The dog needs to be prompted to drink good amounts of water. To make the water inviting to drink, add diluted chicken or beef broth to the water.  Do not give too much of the broth since it is normally very salty.  

Always have clean drinking water accessible

2. Give the dog a small meal of boiled chicken (white meat), with No bones or skin, and boiled white rice. This can be the dog’s diet until the stool consistency returns to normal. And, this will ensure the dog has strength, providing it with nutrients found in these foods.  

Boiled Chicken (White Meat)

3. If diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours, or your dog’s condition worsens at any time, call your vet and make an immediate trip to his or her office.

For dogs with diarrhea who have vomited ONLY once or twice:

1.  Do not feed the dog anything for a 12-hour period.

2.  To compensate for the loss of fluids, give your dog a small quantity of water from time to time during the day. To make the water inviting to drink, you can add chicken or beef broth and dilute it. Do not go too heavy on the broth because it usually has a high-sodium content unless otherwise noted on the label as “low” or “reduced sodium.”

3. If the dog doesn’t vomit for at least six hours, offer a small amount of boiled white meat chicken (with NO bones or skin), and add some boiled white rice. This will supply the dog with necessary nutrients and help him or her not to become weak.  If the dog doesn’t throw up for another two hours, offer an additional small quantity of boiled chicken and white rice.  

Boiled White Rice

4. Continue with this regimen by giving small portions of the above-mentioned food until you observe that the vomiting has stopped and his or her stools return to their normal consistency.

5. However, if diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours, or your dog’s condition worsens at any time, immediately call your vet.


Using Probiotic Supplements

Illustration of Probiotics

There is some evidence to suggest that the use of probiotics can be beneficial when it comes to improving dog diarrhea. Probiotics are “beneficial bacteria.” Probiotics populate the gut in order to improve your dogs’ colonic health. They help to destroy the bad bacteria and add beneficial bacteria (good flora) to fight infection and restore the condition of the dog.


Probiotics also help strengthen the immune system which will help keep your dog in good health.  I make sure my dogs take probiotics daily to sustain good health and avoid ills.  This is a high-quality Probiotic made in the U.S.A. 

It contains both probiotics and prebiotics, plus enzymes for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Click on Image to learn more and purchase Digestive Defense

Choosing a high-quality probiotic is essential to ensure that your dog gets the full benefits.  I recommend buying a brand that is made in the U.S.A.  The list of ingredients should identify the specific bacterial species and also indicate the strain, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. The manufacturer’s details should also include that the probiotics are for treating diarrhea.

The probiotic bottle’s label should guarantee the number of CFU in millions or billions per gram. Colony-forming units (CFU) is an estimate of viable beneficial bacterial or fungal numbers that the manufacturer guarantees the product contains at the time of manufacture.  This is what wards off infections.


Ways to Prevent Diarrhea in Dogs

There are several ways to reduce the occurrence of diarrhea in dogs:

  • Do not suddenly change a dog’s diet to prevent dietary allergies.  Instead, wean off the current food gradually but decreasing the current feed each day while adding a little of the new food, increasing the amount each day for a period of about 4 or so days.
  • Do not let the dog play with small objects that could be swallowed and possibly cause an obstruction.
  • Do not feed your dog table scraps that have been left without refrigeration for more than 2 hours, and not more than one hour during the summer months when it is hot.  The reason being, the food can contain bacteria or parasitic organisms.
  • Do not allow your dog to scavenge, it’s just too dangerous.  Allowing your dog to search for junk in waste bins, or dirt can might be risky.  It’s best to be safe than sorry.
  • Always keep your dog up-to-date with deworming and vaccinations.



Diarrhea is a common occurrence in dogs.  Most of the time, it will be cleared up quickly on its own.  However, if it lasts for more than 24 hours, be sure to take your dog to her vet because you do not want to risk severe dehydration which can endanger the life of your dog.

It is a good practice to give your dog a Probiotic, such as acidophilus, made for dogs, to keep their immune system healthy and also providing their intestinal tract with the necessary beneficial bacteria that help him stay healthy and strong.

Ensuring their healthy living is our responsibility as pet parents, and we should never be negligent when it comes to taking the best care of our pets!  Offer high-quality food to ensure proper nutrition.  You should be proactive, pay close attention to things that may be an indication of a potential health hazard.

Having fun with a toy

And keeping a close watch on the toys your dog plays with is also vital.  Never leave your dog unattended when playing with toys (choose ones that are safe; research and learn which ones are and which are not safe).



Dog Diarrhea – What Are the Culprits?


    1. Karen says:

      Interesting article – I have an elderly dog which suffers from time to time from stomach and gut ailments to this article was particularly interesting. I didn’t realise that there was such a thing as Probiotic (like acidophilus) for dogs… but that kind of makes sense. I’ll definitely be exploring the suggestions you have provided here. Thanks so much for sharing. Cheers, Karen

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Karen,

        You’re very welcome, and thanks for the comments!  Yes, probiotics are very helpful and actually good for our pets!  I have been taking them for years and noticed that my digestive issues have, pretty much, been resolved.  Plus the probiotics help us to have better immunity, which each and every one of us needs — our pets included!  : )  I give these to my pups, every day, to maintain a good intestinal flora.  I believe your fur baby can benefit from this, as well, especially that you’ve mentioned your dog has stomach ailments, from time to time.  Ones specially formulated for dogs would probably be a good choice.Best wishes, Cathy

    2. Kai says:

      Hi! Great post, very informative. Diarrhea is a terrible illness, but with proper care, it can definitely be prevented.
      My dog is very sensitive to oily foods. I remember a few years ago, I fed him some turkey treats I bought from Safeway, he had acute diarrhea while we were in the car and yes, it was nasty… anyways, I started giving him probiotics ever since and he is healthy now.
      Thanks for sharing these treatments and ways to prevent diarrhea!

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Kai,

        Thanks very much!  I know how unpleasant it is to deal with diarrhea, and it’s just not good for our precious dogs, either.  Some foods can wreck havoc on their digestive systems, so we need to play it by ear and see which are the offenders.  Sometimes, it is just a matter of introducing the new food or treat slowly before they’re able to adjust to them.  SO glad that you are giving the probiotics to your dog — great decision that you’ve made!  : )  You are a well-informed pet parent.



    3. Pierre Smith says:

      Great article and a must read for dog owners with dogs suffering sensitive stomachs aswell. My poor doggy Marmite was diagnosed with a spastic colon and this always ended up in vomiting and diarrhea. After trial and error we finally found a meal plan that works for him and he is much happier now. Thanks for the great advice I will keep it in mind as an extra added bonus.

      • Cathy says:

        Hello, Pierre!

        Thank you for the comment.  I’m very happy to hear that you have found a meal plan that agrees with your dog and does not cause the digestive problems Marmite had in the past!  : )  Glad that you enjoyed reading my article.



    4. Matt's Mom says:

      This is great information on dog diarrhea. I have two dogs and sometimes they do get it. I have tried the chicken and rice. They will eat the chicken, but not the rice. My vet told me about using canned pumpkin (no spices). About a teaspoon in their food. Works wonderful! Have you heard anything about this remedy?

      • Cathy says:

        Hello, Matt’s Mom!

        I also have two dogs as you do!  : )  Have you tried cutting the chicken up into small pieces and mixing it well with the white rice?  It sounds like yours are just picking out the chicken pieces. It is sometimes difficult getting them to eat (or take) certain things.  Dogs are very smart, and they are our furry kids!  : ) 

        I’ve never heard of the pumpkin as a remedy for diarrhea but will keep that in mind, thanks!  I have been giving my pups (10 months old now) the probiotics that I had mentioned in the article and they have not suffered from diarrhea.  I am a firm believer in the probiotics as they had helped my other dogs, and I have been taking them myself, daily, for the past 22 years, only a human formulation.  Thanks for the comment!


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Dog Diarrhea – What Are the Culprits?

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