The Pet Parents® Guide to Managing your Dog's Diarrhea

Updated: February 26, 2024

Help, my dog has diarrhea! Like us, diarrhea in dogs and some gastrointestinal upset is possible and can even be far worse. Diarrhea greatly affects your dog's stomach and every thing in it and this results in discomfort for your dog and uh-oh, probably messy cleanups for you.

So what exactly is diarrhea in dogs? What causes diarrhea in dogs? How do we know if it's actually diarrhea and not just some wet poop? And when does a dog with diarrhea become a life-threatening emergency?

In this article, we’ll go over those questions, look at what to do with a dog with diarrhea, share how you can use dog diapers for diarrhea and what you can do when your dog has diarrhea, and talk about how diarrhea in your dog or puppy affects their quality of life.

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"The salivary enzymes of our furry friends can actually kill bacteria that's why they can tolerate some things that can eventually send us to the hospital bed."

Diarrhea in Dogs

The digestive system of humans and our dogs have great differences. We have our jaws and our salivary enzymes but our dogs have their mouths, jaws, and stronger enzymes all meant to break, crush and wolf down food. The salivary enzymes of our furry friends can actually kill bacteria that's why they can tolerate some things that can eventually send us to the hospital bed.

Their stomach acids, too, are a lot stronger than a humans. That's why they can easily digest food that is still a little bit intact.

But no matter how their stomach and digestive system appear to be, an array of things can still interrupt the system thus causing loose stools and worse, diarrhea. Dogs diarrhea is not fun for any pet parent, but it can be an important warning sign.

What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs?

Our dogs are curious, adventurous, and they love to sniff, lick, gnaw, or ingest things that interest them (including non-food items!). Because of this, most pet parents will want to know what to do when a dog has diarrhea and how to treat it. Diarrhea in dogs can be because of:

Food intolerance. Dogs diarrhea happens when your dog is having trouble digesting certain foods. Food intolerance also causes them some physical reactions like bloating aside from dog or puppy diarrhea.

Dietary indiscretion. When your dog happens to eat too much food, eat garbage or spoiled food, diarrhea is always around the corner. This is usually referred to as garbage toxicosis. A dog with diarrhea has often consumed something their stomach is not used to which upsets it.

Sudden change in diet. A dog's digestive system, though tough, also needs time to adjust to a new diet and new protein. To avoid giving your dog diarrhea, it is recommended that you take it slow when changing his diet.

Allergies. Allergies in dogs (may it be food or seasonal) cause diarrhea in dogs, together with skin problems, ear infections, vomiting, and the like. Allergies are fairly common in dogs, but you can always opt to do dog allergy testing, if you are having trouble finding out what your dog is allergic to.

Parasites. Your dog can get parasites everywhere especially when he has a weak immune system and is not dewormed. So, if your dog has diarrhea, it could potentially be due to parasites. Deworming should be done as long as your dog lives since you'll never know what things they are putting in their mouths and getting in contact with their paws. Puppies must be dewormed every two weeks until they are twelve weeks old and adult dogs must be wormed every three months or so, depending on their diet and environment.

Toxic foods and harmful substances. There are human foods, substances and plants that posses great danger to our dogs, resulting in dog or puppy diarrhea or worse. Examples of these are prescription medicines for humans, household product cleaners, chocolate, grapes & raisins, tulips & daffodils, and sago palms to name a few.

Malabsorption. Malabsorption can also be one of the causes of diarrhea in your dogs. According to MSD Manual, malabsorption is the failure to absorb nutrients properly and often results in diarrhea in dogs. This is due to an issue that may be present in your dog’s intestinal cells that are responsible for absorption. Malabsorption can be caused by a number of viruses, including canine parvovirus and rotavirus. Malabsorption may also be caused by problems that limits the intestines to properly absorb liquids, or problems of the pancreatic secretions which plays a great role in effective digestion. 

Swallowing indigestible things. One of the common reasons a dog has diarrhea is when they eat something that they are not supposed to. Swallowing raw bone splinters, pebbles, plastic cellophane, or bits and pieces of your home furniture your dog has been gnawing on can cause dog diarrhea or more serious conditions.

Diseases. Diarrhea can also be a major sign that there is something not right about your dog. Diarrhea can be a symptom of diseases like distemper, parvovirus, kidney diseases, colitis and even cancer.

Tell-tale Signs Your Dog's Diarrhea is Serious

Diarrhea in your dog can be serious and needs immediate vet attention even when just one or more is observed:

  • Diarrhea is accompanied with fever, vomiting, lethargy, pale gums, etc
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dehydration (panting, loss of skin elasticity, dry nose, dry gums, dry-looking sunken eyes)
  • Dog is on medication (e.g. antibiotics)
  • Mucus in dog poop
  • Bloody diarrhea in dogs
  • Existing medical conditions (old age, kidney disease, cancer, etc)

When your instincts tell you something just doesn’t seem right anymore, there is a good possibility that something really isn’t right. You know your dog better than anyone else and you know what's normal for them and what's not. When in doubt about dog diarrhea or any medical concern, we always recommend giving your veterinarian a call.

Avoiding Messy Cleanups: Dog Diapers for Diarrhea

Diarrhea in dogs can be very dangerous and if not treated properly, it can be life-threatening. So, always consult your vet if you are worried about your dog diarrhea or puppy diarrhea. In many cases, your vet might have you monitor your dog for a day or so while to see if it passes on its own. While at home, there are a few home remedies you can do as first aid to help your furbaby feel better and recover. Here are a few things you can feed your dogs and products you can use, like dog diapers for diarrhea, to help prevent messes.

Rice water. Boil a cup of rice in water, strain the grains, and offer to your dog the creamy white soup. This is a good remedy according to the American Kennel Club since their normal dog food may be too harsh on their upset stomach at the moment.

Probiotics. Live bacteria are beneficial to your dog's digestive system during diarrhea and GI upset. You can provide your fur-baby with Probiotic SoftSupps® that contain 5.5 Billion CFU per chew. These chews also contain MS-99®, a clinically-studied Bacillus coagulans, that helps maintain gut flora in the digestive tract and provides your fur-baby a source of beneficial intestinal bacteria. Probiotics are not only for when your dog or puppy has diarrhea. These quality dog supplements should be included in your dog's daily diet to help keep a healthy gut.

Specially-formulated dog foods. Some dog food are manufactured to help sooth a dog's stomach problems. You may switch to sensitive stomach formulas for the time being or permanently.

Dog diapersWhile on your way to the vet, there is nothing stopping your dog's wet stool and upset stomach. To avoid messy clean-ups in your house and in your car, have your dog wear Pet Parents® Dog Diapers. These dog diapers for diarrhea will prevent messes from leaking. Washable dog diapers for diarrhea can also be worn around your home if your dog is having trouble making it outside or you have a puppy with diarrhea. Pet Parents® Dog Diapers are machine washable and come in packs of three, so that you can always have one on your dog, one on hand, and one in the wash so your dog with diarrhea is covered and comfortable.

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Pee pads. For added protection from dog diarrhea, place a Pawtect® Pads under their crate, bed, or on the car seat as an added barrier for any leakage. These washable and reusable pads can help prevent accidents from staining your floors, furniture, or beds. These pads are made from our WickQuick® proprietary fabric blend that traps any form of liquid fast. These are also washable, so you can use them repeatedly until your dog's diarrhea has passed and they are feeling better.

PetTergent®. To further help in keeping your home clean and avoiding messy cleanups, use pet laundry detergent. Pet laundry detergent, like PetTergent®, targets pet specific stains like diarrhea. Unlike human detergents, PetTergent® is specifically formulated to be pet-safe, and free of any harsh chemicals, scents and dyes that can irritate your furbaby's sensitive skin.

The home remedies mentioned above may work for one dog and may not for another, but are generally good places to start. Dog diapers for diarrhea can help prevent messy clean-ups while you are waiting for your dog to feel better. Puppy diarrhea and dog diarrhea can be simple fixes or the signs of something deeper. As a responsible pet parent, remember that only the vet can give your dog the correct diagnosis and prescribe proper treatment plan when your dog has diarrhea, until everything is back to normal.

"There are human foods, substances and plants that posses great danger to our dogs. Examples of these are prescription medicines for humans, household product cleaners, chocolate, grapes & raisins, tulips & daffodils, and sago palms to name a few."

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