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Dog Diarrhea Symptoms

Pets, like humans, sometimes experience an upset stomach. Diarrhea can be a symptom of a disagreeing meal or of something more serious. Use the following guidelines to help you assess the severity of your dog’s case.


  • If soft, runny or watery stools in an adult dog last for 24-36 hours and there are no other symptoms, you can probably treat it at home.
  • Puppies with diarrhea can quickly become severely dehydrated. If you suspect dehydration, see the vet immediately.
  • If symptoms persist beyond 36 hours and you have tried the home remedies below without success, make an appointment with your vet.
  • In addition to the diarrhea, does your dog have one or more of the following symptoms?

Black, tarry stools, stools with bright red blood? Fever or severe abdominal pain? Has he been vomiting or attempting to vomit? If so, see the vet immediately!

  • Is your dog on medication? Diarrhea is sometimes a side effect of medications. Ask your vet.
  • Have you changed your dog's diet? Have you given your dog milk? Has your dog gotten into the garbage, eaten bones or food from the table, especially spicy food? Has he eaten aluminum foil? If so, and there are no other symptoms, you may be able to treat it at home.
  • Perhaps your dog is infected with internal parasites. Your vet will request that you bring in a stool sample for testing.
  • If your dog is over seven years of age and has had diarrhea for more than 36 hours, make an appointment with your vet.

When bringing a dog with diarrhea to the vet, take along a fresh fecal sample. Put a 1/2 teaspoon sized sample in a plastic baggy. The sample must be no older than 18 hours.

Your vet will conduct a physical exam with particular attention to the abdomen. Blood tests, fecal exams or urinalysis may be suggested. If your vet suspects an intestinal obstruction, an X-ray, ultrasound or endoscopies may be recommended. Subcutaneous fluids will be given if your dog is dehydrated.

Diarrhea that does not respond to normal treatment will require further testing as many diseases include diarrhea as a symptom. However, the most common causes for diarrhea are dietary changes and viral infections.

Home Remedies

For adult dogs, withhold food for 24-48 hours, giving just water and chicken/vegetable broth (just the liquid). Give 1/2 teaspoon of Kaopectate per 10 pounds of body weight.

After 24 hours, give small, frequent feedings of very bland foods such as: boiled chicken with boiled rice, cottage cheese, chicken broth, and bread (soak it in the broth). Gradually mix in your regular dog food. Make sure that food is room temperature. If you do not see an improvement, see your vet within 24 hours.

Give your dog small amounts of plain yogurt. If he resists the yogurt, let him lick it off your finger or flavor it with a little human baby food. It will help restore the friendly flora to the digestive tract. Acidophilus will also work for this purpose.

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