Dog Diarrhea: A Complete Guide with Symptoms, and Treatment

dog diarrhea

Come on, Tommy! Let us go for the morning walk! But to your utter dismay, Tommy, your dog fails to get up. His poo pot is full of loose, watery stools, his back and hind legs are smeared too. Tommy is weak, lazy, and had an episode of vomiting in the morning. Do not panic, it is still manageable, still survivable. Suddenly the consistency of the dog’s poo changes. It becomes black and tarry. Your dog is moaning with abdominal pain. Its painful cries will not let you sleep. And neither should you! Get up and rush to the emergency before it is too late. Here is everything you need to know about Diarrhea in dogs and how to cure Dog Diarrhea fast.

Keep reading if you want to know all the important details about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of dog diarrhea because this is your chance to save your beloved’s life. Diarrhea in dogs means loose motions that could either be loose in consistency or high in frequency or both. 

Facts About Diarrhea

According to numerous studies, the following data has been derived:   

  • Vomiting and Diarrhea are amongst the common reasons for bringing the dogs in a vet emergency.  
  • Diarrhea is the most common in the early months of life. Its incidence is highest during 0-3 months, and then high risk persists up to 9 months after that rate of occurrence falls, and finally, there is a rise again at the age of 5-6 years.   
  • Vomiting incidence is highest from 3-9 months; it also declines with age and slightly rises after 5-6 years of life, which means that it follows a specific trend along with the age of your dog. 
  • There are seasonal shifts in Diarrhea incidence too. The rate is highest in the summer months, especially from July to September.   
  • Multiple studies have shown higher rates of Diarrhea in male as compared to female dogs.   
  • The risk of Diarrhea is more in dogs living in inhumanly and densely populated areas as compared to those living in open spaces.  
  • It is more prevalent in urban areas than in suburban or rural areas.   
  • 90% of dogs with chronic diarrhea have primary enteropathy (inflammatory 71%, infectious 13%, neoplastic 4% misc. 2%), 10% have secondary causes (4% exocrine pancreatitis, 2% endocrine, misc. 4%).  

What are the Causes of Dog Diarrhea?  

Dietary changes

Sudden changes in diet intake, both in the food groups or quantity and frequency, may lead to tummy upset. This is particularly important when the diet is gulped in large bulk or when the protein content of the food rises and also when young dogs are fed more frequently than required.

Food allergies

These are very common. Dogs’ intestines are especially sensitive to protein overload as in beef. Gluten is often allergenic too.  

Lactose intolerance

Some dogs exhibit signs of loose stools after milk intake, mainly due to lactose intolerance. 

Food source

It is essential to determine the food source, as expired canned food, food from the garbage, and contaminated dog feed are high-risk factors for catching infections. You have to keep an eye on what exactly is the source of nutrition for your dog; otherwise, it may put the poor thing into trouble.

Intake of foreign objects

If a dog eats any foreign object accidentally, e.g., a bone or small stick, it is prone to have an upset stomach. Either can get stuck in the intestines leading to loose stools and often vomiting.

Pathogenic infections

Some bacteria and viruses cause mild to moderate and, in some cases, severe watery to bloody Diarrhea. Common pathogen includes Parvovirus, distemper, coronavirus, salmonella, or even hepatitis. But there are still others which might pose a problem for you.

Worms and parasites

Worms, e.g., roundworms, whipworms, and internal parasites, e.g., coccidian and giardia, may lead to watery stools.

Malabsorption syndrome

It hampers the intestines from food digestion or nutrients absorption or both, which leads to vomiting and Diarrhea.

IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) 

IBD usually presents with chronic Diarrhea. An underlying cause may be inflammation of the intestines because it halts the intestines from absorbing the nutrients normally from the digested food. If you see any of such things happening, rush to the vet. 


Colitis is another reason for chronic Diarrhea because it causes inflammation of the large intestine.

Protein-losing enteropathy

It is an idiopathic condition in which the body loses proteins and also presents with loose, watery motions.   


Inflammation of the pancreas hinders proper digestion and absorption, ending up in uncontrolled stool passing out, which is very clear when your poor pet is having frequent visits to poop. 


If there is an intentional or unintentional intake of poison in any form, it may present with an upset digestive tract. You have to take care of this on a priority basis to avoid any unforeseen situation lest you have to regret later. 

Acute hemorrhagic gastroenteritis

It is a life-threatening condition because bloody stools are a red flag sign for immediate measures. You need to be proactive in this situation and should seek medical assistance at your earliest.

A table showing etiological causes, severity, and most acute or chronic acute/chronic dog diarrhea:  

Main etiology   Causes   Severity   Acute/Chronic
Food group           
   Dietary changes   Mild to moderate   Acute  
   Food allergies   moderate   Acute  
   Food source   Moderate to severe   Acute  
Infections   viral   Severe   Acute  
   Bacterial   Moderate to severe   Chronic  
   Worms infestation   Moderate to severe   Chronic  
   Parasite infestation   Moderate to severe   Chronic  
Endocrine    Malabsorption syndrome   Moderate to severe   Chronic  
   IBD   Moderate to severe   Chronic  
   COLITIS   Moderate to severe   Chronic  
   pancreatitis   Moderate to severe   Chronic  
   Acute hemorrhagic enteritis    severe   Acute  
Foreign       Moderate to severe   Chronic  
Toxins   Chocolate, onions, raisins   Moderate to severe   Acute/chronic  

  *severity and onset parameters are variable depending upon many factors. 

Co-morbid factors 

These factors increase the severity of the disease and also affect the plan of treatment. It is essential to consider these factors before you take your dog to the vet.  

  • Extremes of ages like very young or very old aged dogs because the immunity is not very strong. 
  • Associated with chronic illness, but the family history of the dog also matters a lot.  
  • Sudden changes in lifestyle, including changes in eating pattern because your dog’s tummy might not take this. 
  • Psychological or physical stresses: If the owner passes away or the dog lost his favorite toy, it might get depressed. 

Signs and symptoms of dog diarrhea

  • Loose, frequent stools may be watery or bloody because there will be an infection in its body, which will show up in its poop. 
  • Vomiting: If your dog is frequently vomiting, it is a clear indication of an upset tummy because this is the nature’s way to express itself.  
  • If weight loss is evident in a given period, and it is an abnormal rate, it is a point to ponder because it may pose serious health issues for your dog. 
  • Pale gums due to some internal infection should also catch your attention because it may be one of the symptoms.
  • Weakness mainly due to lack of energy   
  • Anorexia   
  • Fever   
  • Dehydrated   

Normal dog poop

  • Colour: Normal poop color is chocolate brown.   
  • Shape: The poop should be log-shaped, which means that it should have a play-doh type of shape, especially when it is squished. 
  • Consistency: A dog’s poo should be compact, moist, and easy to pick, leaving no residue has play-doh feel when squished.   
  • Size: It is proportionate to the food intake. It increases as fiber content increases. So, if your dog ate enough food, the size of its poop will be larger accordingly. 
  • Content: The content of a dog’s poop usually is what he eats and holds importance in the case of some abnormality because the dog will poop out whatever you will feed him. This is where your attention and care come into play because your carefree approach may put your dog into trouble. 

Abnormal dog poop

  • Green—too much grass or bladder issues   
  • Orange—biliary or liver issue   
  • Red streaks—anal fissures   
  • Black—–upper GIT bleed   
  • Grey and greasy — biliary or pancreatic problem   
  • White spots —worms.   
dog diarrhea

Important factors related to dog diarrhea management

  • Onset and duration of Diarrhea: This helps in determining the causative agents, which led to the deteriorated health and condition of your dog because this is the deciding factor here.   
  • Consistency: You should refer to the Bristol stool chart, owing to its reliability, to determine the consistency and its outcomes on management.
  • Content: If there is some blood, mucus, or any foreign body contamination in your dog’s poop, you can easily figure out what you can do about it because an external object in the dog’s poop is a clear indication. 
  • Frequency means how often your dog is pooping as this is relevant to determine the further course of action  
  • Tenesmus is when your dog feels like repeatedly pooping due to bowel movements, making it uncomfortable.  
  • Are the dog’s food and water intake normal, below normal, or absent? If there is dehydration in a dog’s body, then it will be exposed to health issues, including Diarrhea.  
  • Loose stools are associated with vomiting or any other sign and symptoms because when the digestive tract gets upset, the first thing it can do is vomiting, followed by loose motions.  
  • The dog’s contact with any other sick pets or any other exposure may be one of the causes. Still, you need to look into it because you cannot stop your little one from socializing, right.   
  • Intake or playing with any tiny toys, threads, rubber bands strings, bone, etc.: If your dog has eaten something which he should not have, this will give you an idea of what to do next.  
  • Activity and alertness level of the affected dog. If it is inactive and lazy, it means that there is something wrong with it because dogs are otherwise very playful and active creatures.  
  • Any recent food modification or switching to other food plans which might not suit the dog’s digestive tract may lead to an upset tummy.   
  • Previously known comorbidities, allergies: If your dog has some history of allergies, you must pay attention to this aspect to help out the little one.   
  • Any physical abuse, stress, or ailment: When your dog faces such an incident, it might feel dejected and depressed. This may lead to an upset tummy. 
  • Psychological trauma, i.e., death of the owner or a loss of a favorite toy.  

The answer to these basic queries can help in deciding whether the current ailment is self-retaining, curable, severe, requires emergency admission, or requires isolating the affected dog from other healthy animals around, e.g., parvovirus cases.   

Red flag signs of dog diarrhea

These are signs which should not be ignored because if you do not rush to the hospital, it may cost your dog’s life.   

  • Bloody, watery, or black tarry stools: Any noticeable change in stool color should never be ignored. Keep track of your dog’s poop so that you can react in time if something goes wrong.  
  • Anorexia: Your dog stops eating food, which means a loss of appetite. This is when you should be worried, and you should take measures immediately. If you are not vigilant here, it will be only you who may have to face the consequences. It is an essential factor because the loss of appetite may lead to deterioration of your dog’s general health. 
  • Lethargic, sluggish with rough or hard skin coat: It so happens that your dog might feel lazy and lethargic. So, it may be suffering from severe dehydration and requires I/V fluids in the hospital, which you will have to be mindful of. 
  • Bloody or profuse vomiting is an important sign of trouble. Yes! This is where you need to pay special attention to your dog to treat it accordingly.   
  • High-grade fever   
  • Sudden unexplainable weight loss: It may indicate either underlying neoplastic condition or an ignored animal with Diarrhea.   
  • Dragging or constantly rubbing back: It may be scooting due to worms infection, and this is where you should show your love and affection.

Dog Diarrhea Home Remedies

Acute with mild to moderate illness and no red flag signs

It is usually not serious because sometimes, it is self-limiting and can be managed with natural home remedies. 

Diarrhea without vomiting

It mostly happens with healthy adult dogs with no associated comorbid factors. But it does not mean that your puppy can not experience this, so keep your eyes open. 

  • Give plenty of clean drinking water. Plain water can also be alternated with a little proportion of Pedialyte ORS, beef broth or low sodium chicken. Water intake will help speedy recovery as the body will flush out the germs because the water content makes it easy for the body to process it.  
  • To improve the stool consistency, add fibrous foods like pumpkin, white rice, sweet potato, or boiled chicken without bones or skin. 

Diarrhea with vomiting

It happens with healthy adult dogs when they are having just 1,2 episodes of vomiting.

  • Don’t give any food for the next 8-12 hours so that your dog does not feel heavy and bloated.   
  • Water intake should be encouraged but in frequent small sips.   
  • As soon as vomiting stops, you can give a diet to improve consistency, as mentioned above.   
  • The small meals can be gradually replaced with normal meal plans, once loose motions and vomiting settle.   

Chronic usually associated with comorbidity

Usually persists for more than 2-3 weeks. It may be due to some co-morbidity, intolerance, chronic infections or inflammations of the endocrine system, worm infestation, which requires proper examinations, stool investigations, and lab evaluations. 

  • A detailed medical examination may reveal signs of weight loss, fur changes, muscle wasting, etc. But for this, you need to see a competent vet, be sure what exactly is wrong because he is the expert to analyze the situation.
  • Laboratory evaluation includes microscopic stool examination-Rays plain or barium intake studies, blood tests food intolerance and allergy picking tests, endoscopy, and ultrasound, but in some extreme cases where a definitive cause cannot be found out on routine non-interventional examination. An interventional approach of exploratory laparotomy may be planned because the vet of your dog is the best person to decide on what approach should be taken in this respect. If you cannot manage to see a vet, do not try anything at home.  
  • Chronic cases usually require cure and proper treatment of the cause, i.e., Worm infestation is treated with deworming. If your dog has Entero-hepatic and large intestine disease, you can treat it with medical or surgical treatment, respectively. But you have to consult the vet. Food intolerances or allergies are treated by holding back those foods because this is the only solution in this situation.   

Medical Treatment for Dog Diarrhea

Routine diarrheal management starting from home remedies, as mentioned above, can be tried. Still, if they fail, we have the following options:   


According to WHO, these are live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. They are known to treat and, in most cases, prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses because they are easy to administer. The probiotics come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and packing in the form of pills, powders, pastes, or solutions. Since they usually have bifid bacterium or lactobacillus, which are known to slow down the duration of Diarrhea and nutrient absorption, respectively, they come in handy for the purpose.  

Anti-diarrheal agents

These include Metronidazole and Tylosin. They help in decreasing intestinal inflammation, which leads to improved stools. The vet recommends its dose according to the weight and age of your dog, along with the severity of his condition. 


They are usually not recommended in routine diarrheal cases, but they are indicated in cases of severe infection. Usually, bacterial or chronic comorbid inflammatory illnesses respond well to it. However, they should only be given according to the mode and dose recommended by the vet.   

You have to take care of the acute or chronic conditions, which may cause severe illness or red flag signs requiring emergency professional treatment according to the vet’s prescription. If something happens and you overlook it, it may cost you your lovely pet.  

Such cases usually require Intravenous infusion of fluids and electrolytes, but they are handled under vet doctor and nurse supervision. Be vigilant because a delay in seeking professional help in these cases may prove fatal for the animal.  

Prevention of dog diarrhea

  • Never change the amount and type of dog food suddenly because it may damage his digestive system.  
  • Give clean water and the best food for a dog to your pet.   
  • Do not ignore any persistent chronic ailment or red flag signs, as this may lead to some serious complications later on.  
  • Never let dogs play with things that can be swallowed as this your responsibility to take good care of them.
  • Do not allow them to scavenge because there might be many useless and harmful things waiting for them there.  
  • Always keep the dogs dewormed and vaccinated regularly.

Sometimes it happens that the dog has Diarrhea but acts fine. This is another situation, and you will have to handle it in another way by giving them the best food for a dog with Diarrhea. This will help the cause to a great extent because, after all, it is you who has to take responsibility. However, if it does not get better, then you will have to resort to medical treatment.