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Dog Diarrhea

Dog owners often treat their pets as if they are a member of the family. These same dog owners feel a touch of panic when their beloved pet shows signs of digestive trouble. Actually, one of the scariest problems a dog owner may face is dog diarrhea.

Dog diarrhea can take the form of anything from slightly watery to abnormally soft stools, or bowel movements resembling those of a cow. Diarrhea in a dog can indicate he or she is very sick but that doesn’t always mean you have to rush to the veterinarian at top speed while running all the red lights. In most cases, your dog’s body induces diarrhea to detoxify or purge something he or she shouldn’t have eaten, such as a dead varmint or dangerous chemicals.

Causes of Dog Diarrhea

Dogs are notorious for digging in the garbage, sniffing out dead animals in its territory, and generally chewing on just about anything that will fit in its mouth. When a dog eats something they shouldn’t (like a rock, stick or the occasional dead squirrel), diarrhea can work to get the foreign object out.

Dirty Drinking Water

However, your dog can develop diarrhea for many other reasons. Drinking contaminated water from ditches, puddles, or upside-down hubcaps is a case of dog diarrhea just waiting to happen. Standing water is rife with bacteria and parasites (such as mosquito larvae) and you should train your pet to avoid such water sources.

Don’t believe the old wives’ tale either that “a dog’s mouth is cleaner than your own”. That nonsense was laid to rest a few years back with a simple application of the scientific method. A veterinarian swabbed a canine’s mouth and grew cultures from the sample. The Petri dish confirmed there were plenty of little nasties swimming around in the medium. If that’s not enough proof for you, explain why anyone bitten by a dog must receive prompt inoculations? The point is—a dog’s mouth is filled with vile bacteria and germs and it’s no surprise considering they have to use their mouth to interact with almost everything they encounter.

Bad Food

As we’ve seen in the news recently, tainted dog food can be the cause of dog diarrhea just as contaminated veggies give us grief. These specific problems came about from dog food companies importing cheap ingredients from China that had been laced with dangerous chemicals. Whether this issue affected you or not, you might believe it’s safer to feed your dog with your own leftovers.

Despite the tendency to believe you’re being “nice” to your pet by feeding them table scraps, it really isn’t wise to do so. A dog’s stomach wasn’t designed to break down hamburgers, pizza, mashed potatoes, or bacon. Most of what we eat in the modern age really isn’t so healthful anyway because of all the pesticides, preservatives, hormones, and toxic additives used in their manufacture.

Most of the time, the dog diarrhea clears up after a few days and you’ll notice everything is back to normal. During your dog’s diarrhea, however, you may see him acting a little lethargic but that’s normal. On the other hand, your dog may not exhibit any sick tendencies other than the diarrhea.

Types of Canine Diarrhea

There are essentially two types of dog diarrhea—acute and chronic.

Acute Diarrhea

With acute diarrhea, your pet will probably act and appear as they do normally. This type of diarrhea may last for a few days or a week, and your dog may be a little tired but will seem otherwise okay. Your dog may also experience a few bouts of vomiting as they try to clear up the problem.

Don’t rush your dog immediately to the vet though. Chances are the vet will prescribe antibiotics and that could do more harm than good because antibiotics kill both beneficial and bad bacteria in the intestinal tract. With this type, your dog will probably heal after a few days.

Chronic Diarrhea

If your dog continues to have excessively watery bowel movements for more than a week, it could mean there’s a serious health problem. This condition is called chronic dog diarrhea. If you notice your dog is extremely lethargic, has a rough or dirty coat of fur, or is losing weight, they may need medical attention right away.

Some ways to determine if your dog needs medical attention include:

  • Fever (rectal temperature above 103.5 degrees)
  • Dehydration—if you pinch the skin on the nape of their neck up and it stays there, or if the dog has sticky or dry gums, they are dehydrated
  • Abdominal pain
  • Large amounts of blood in the stool

Treating Your Dog’s Diarrhea

Most cases of dog diarrhea are its weird way of colon cleansing, so there’s really not much you do other than keep them comfortable. For example, you can try a different kind of dog food to see if that could be the culprit. Provide your dog with plenty of clean, purified water and try to get him or her to exercise daily. They will probably enjoy going for a walk with you in the afternoon when the heat of the day is passed and it isn’t healthy to just lie around and get worse.

Sometimes, a new object or substance in the dog’s environment (such as a new plant or bag of weed killer) is to blame and you can notice if they seem especially energetic once you remove them to a different location.

At no time should you give your pet an over-the-counter, anti-diarrhea medicine intended for humans. That prohibition includes any dietary supplements for digestive regularity. Most pet stores stock canine anti-diarrhea tablets but they are usually unnecessary. You can pick up some doggy vitamins if you’re worried about a lack of nutrition.

Dogs are loving pets if properly trained and raised and are known for their loyalty. They deserve your respect in return. Don’t give your pet chemically made drugs to “cure” their dog diarrhea. Introducing drugs into your dog’s system is not likely to help and will probably compound their illness since their body will be trying to flush out the drugs as well. Just feed them good quality food, get them to exercise with you several times a week, and don’t panic every time they develop dog diarrhea. It could be just a temporary condition while they’re purging something “unusual” from their tummy.

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