The following is a guest post from veterinary nurse Ellen Herrlin.
Diarrhea is very common in dogs, but it can be a difficult time for both of you. Not only does the dog experience discomfort and anxiety, but the pet owner also suffers when the dog has to repeatedly relief itself, even at night. In this post I’m offering advice on how to navigate the situation.
The correct term is gastroenteritis, which is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It often occurs suddenly (acute gastroenteritis), usually with vomiting. It is considered a chronic condition if the dog has had diarrhea for more than two weeks and some dogs have recurring problems that can be difficult to get under control. Simple cases can be quickly resolved with basic treatment at home. Puppies or older dogs suffer a little harder, and you should also act a bit faster in summer when heat waves can also complicate matters. Already losing fluids, your pet can become even more dehydrated due to the summer heat.
The causes of a dog’s diarrhea can be very many and it isn’t unusual not to discover what started it. However, some of the most common causes are:
If the dog suddenly comes down with diarrhea, but is otherwise in good health and still has a good appetite, try the following treatment at home before turning to professional care.
In a healthy and otherwise happy dog, you can give their stomach a break from food for 12-24 hours, but always allow them access to water. Then, small portions of feed specifically designed for gastroenteritis are introduced, gradually increasing in size and frequency. When the diarrhea has faded away you can return to the normal feeding pattern and portion sizes for one week. After that introduce a gradual feed transfer to move your dog from the special feed to their regular diet. Mix a small amount of the special diet with a small amount of their normal food. After a week increase the amount of their normal food in the mixture until your furry friend is 100% back on their usual diet.
Gastroenteritis feed is good for the stomach as it contains all the nutrition that a dog needs without overworking the gastrointestinal tract. The feed comes as both dry and wet food. Wet food is usually more popular with dogs and it also contains liquid. If your dog eats only dry food, it can be soaked, if your dog will accept it.
You can also make your own gastrointestinal diet for your dog by bringing together boiled cod (or other white fish) or chicken and overcooked rice. Cook the cod and rice for an extended time so the ingredients become indistinguishable. You can offer the remaining liquid to your dog if he or she doesn’t like to drink plain water. If you do not want to give your dog rice you can just skip it.
One of the risks of diarrhea is dehydration as fluid loss occurs through diarrhea (and possibly vomiting). It is not uncommon for a dog to avoid drinking as usual as the balance has been broken. If you are worried about dehydration, always contact your veterinarian. To encourage your dog to drink, you can offer the water left over from cooked rice (as described above). Soak their food in the water or feed them water by directly squirting it into their mouth with a syringe (do this only if the dog accepts it and swallows the water). Alternatively there are fluid replacements. There exist special nutritional and liquid supplement for animals that contain the correct balance of salts, electrolytes and sugar. Some also taste of chicken, which often makes a dog drink the liquid on its own.
If the dog drinks a little, but you are uncertain that they have drunk enough to avoid dehydration, you should plan about 0.5 litres of water per kilogram of body weight as the absolute minimum requirement. Bear in mind the time of year and anticipate that excessive heat, as well as the diarrhea and vomiting, will necessitate increased fluids.
With diarrhea the surface of the intestines is irritated. You can help your dog to recover by providing good gastrointestinal bacteria, probiotics, which may accelerate the recovery of the intestines. In addition to containing good bowel bacteria, they should also bind and calm the intestinal mucosa.
Bear in mind that while much research has been conducted into probiotics, there is no hard evidence that it helps with diarrhea. However, many have found that it is a good dietary supplement to aid recovery from diarrhea. Bowel normalisers may also help and can be purchased from the veterinarian or at the pharmacy.
Potato flour is an old idea that is not recommended by veterinarians. Certainly, it can help to make the dog’s stool firmer, but it doesn’t treat the gastrointestinal tract. Potato flour is not as gentle as the special gastroenteritis diet and can further inflame the intestine, and aggravate the actual problem.
Potato flour does not address the cause of the diarrhea and does not help to treat the gastrointestinal tract. Usually the diarrhea returns as soon as the potato flour has been passed, but the original problem has been aggravated in the process.
1. Your 6 month old puppy is suffering from diarrhea
2. Your elderly dog is suffering from diarrhea
3. Your dog’s quality of life has been affected
4. Your dog does not accept any liquid or vomits all liquids
5. Your dog is losing significant amounts of fluid
6. The diarrhea contains blood (hemorrhagic gastroenteritis)
7. The dog has eaten something toxic or that they cannot tolerate
8. Home treatments have yielded no improvements after 3 days
9. Your dog refuses food, or continues to eat whilst having diarrhea, but is in worsening condition
10. As well as having any of the above issues, your dog has a different body temperature (below 38 ° C or above 39 ° C)
Ellen is a veterinary nurse who also runs a fantastic blog which is full of great advice for pet owners. You can find it here: http://nursedolittle.se/. If you like what you read don’t forget to share this article and subscribe for more!