Antibiotic Responsive Diarrhea in Dogs

Diarrhea in dogs has numerous causes. Typically, it is caused by eating something that disagrees with your dog or a mild illness that doesn't require treatment. Veterinarians rarely turn to antibiotics to reduce diarrhea. However, there is a time when antibiotics can cure diarrhea and should be considered in certain situations.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

For antibiotics to be effective in curing diarrhea, the diarrhea must be caused by a bacteria. This often happens when it is caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is generally referred to as a variety of diseases that cause an accumulation of inflammatory cells throughout the digestive system, such as in the small or large intestine, stomach lining or a combination. Symptoms usually include diarrhea, vomiting or weight loss.

However, there is no way to diagnose IBS. Since the symptoms are so vague, diagnosis usually involves elimination. The most common causes of the symptoms are checked out. If the tests come back negative, IBS is suspected. Thus, diagnosis and treatment are difficult because little is known about the causes and effects.

Treatment with Antibiotics

Since IBS has many causes, not all cases can be treated with antibiotics. However, if the diarrhea is attributed to bacteria, antibiotics can be effective in treating the problem.

Bacterial causes of diarrhea begin with an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. This can have several causes, such as anatomic defects that prevent bacteria from flushing out properly or an underlying intestinal disease that may require separate treatment. Ironically, one of the main causes is overuse of antibiotics.

Diagnosing the Problem

Since it is difficult to determine whether your dog's diarrhea is antibiotic responsive, your veterinarian will often run several tests to rule out other illnesses, such as parasite infection. X-Rays may even be required before antibiotics are given as this treatment is controversial among traditional veterinarians.

Common signs that the diarrhea is due to a bacterial overgrowth are:

  • excessive amounts of diarrhea
  • blood in diarrhea
  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss
  • increased defecation
  • straining to defecate
  • increased intestinal noises 
  • excessive gas

Treatment for Dog Diarrhea

In addition to antibiotics, your veterinarian will often recommend a low fat diet to reduce the strain on your dog's bowels. This will often be a bland diet, such as boiled chicken and brown rice. A spoonful of pumpkin with each meal can soothe your dog's stomach and improve bowels as well.

If the illness persists and an underlying intestinal disease is found to be the cause, additional treatment will be required.

Prevention of Diarrhea

Though you can't prevent anatomic defections, bacterial growth can be reduced by improving your dog's diet and adding supplements with medication.

Dog overall health and digestive health is improved by feeding your dog a healthy diet. Avoid food with meat byproducts, corn, wheat, preservatives and dyes, all of which are difficult for your dog to digest. A more natural, protein-based diet will help your dog's body digest its contents.

In addition, if your dog has an illness that requires antibiotics, supplement with a probiotic capsule or yogurt. This will ensure that good bacteria re-establish in your dog's intestines rather than a buildup of bad bacteria.