What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs?

Diarrhea in dogs is a common condition characterized by frequent bowel movements and abnormal stools that are softer than usual. Watery stools are the most common types of abnormal stools followed by stools with an abnormal color, soft-formed stools and "cow pie" type stools. This condition can be caused by everything from eating trash to a parasite infection. The key to treating dog diarrhea is to understand the different types of diarrhea and their causes.

Types of diarrhea in dogs

There are two basic types of diarrhea in dogs: acute and chronic. Acute diarrhea is temporary and it is not typically caused by disease or a serious condition. This temporary condition is a way for the dogs body to heal and rid itself of harmful or unwanted toxins. Eating trash and table scraps as well as indigestible objects such as sticks, grass, and dirt can cause acute dog diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea is characterized by watery or soft-formed stools, explosive stools, blood coated stools, mucus coated stools, and a normal stool followed by a soft stool. Chronic diarrhea can persist for days and it can cause the dog to lose weight or act lethargic. The dog will be fatigued and he can develop a rough coat. Chronic dog diarrhea can have a number of causes such as intestinal parasites, food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a bacteria infection, leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, or liver, thyroid or kidney disease. Chronic dog diarrhea can also be caused by eating indigestible foods on a regular basis or dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is a condition that alters the system from a normal intestinal microbial flora to an abnormal bacterial, protozoal or fungal population.


Severe cases of dog diarrhea should be treated at the vet hospital. The vet will administer intravenous fluids, any necessary medications or antibiotics, and monitor the dog's progress. At home treatments for acute diarrhea include: 24-hour fasting, a white rice and chicken diet, plenty of fresh water, Pedialyte, and rest. If the dog has acute diarrhea, it will typically clear up within two days. Chronic diarrhea may take a bit longer depending on the cause.

Preventing dog diarrhea

Short of watching your dog 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you won't be able to control everything that goes into his mouth. Simply feed your dog a healthy, balanced, high-quality all natural diet, provide plenty of fresh water, and do your best to stop him from eating indigestible objects such as rocks, dirt, sticks, and grass when you're out and at play. You should also keep trash out of plain sight and avoid feeding your dog table scraps.