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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dog Diarrhea | A Common Occurrence

Your beloved dog has diarrhea. He has the runs and you're running too, to take him outside, to mop up... When do you need to run to the dog vet?

Causes of Dog Diarrhea
First off, diarrhea is not a disease, it's a symptom. It can be something as simple as the result of something your canine has eaten or a change in his diet that you incorporated too quickly, not giving him a chance to adjust. Use your judgment. If your dog has had all his shots, been dewormed, and is not suffering, don't panic. Watch closely while providing and encouraging the consumption of water. Hydration is the key for the majority of dog diarrhea cases.
Other potential causes:
Roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm can all cause dog diarrhea, if your dog is not dewormed regularly.
Viral Infections
Parvovirus (highly contagious and often fatal if not diagnosed early). Symptoms include vomiting and dark or bloody feces, and your dog will most likely act very ill and lethargic.
Canine distemper is another highly contagious viral disease that can be fatal.
Bacterial Infections
Such as E. Coli and Salmonella varieties are often accompanied by bloody dog diarrhea and can cause severe abdominal pain.
Blood and mucous in the dog diarrhea is a common symptom. The vet will likely prescribe antibiotics
The diarrhea is usually greenish/yellowish and surrounded by mucus. Your dog will start losing weight fast and will also be suffering from abdominal pain and vomiting
A single cell parasite that can cause dog diarrhea

Symptoms of Dog Diarrhea
Bloody Stool
Aside from common diarrhea symptoms, the presence of blood in your canine's stool is not always cause for alarm. It could be simply due to excessive straining. Do not panic. Assess the situation. Is your dog an adult up to date with his shots? If yes, take a moment and check out his demeanor. If he's vibrant and alert, watch him closely and hopefully after a couple of days of home treatment and a bland diet he'll be just fine. If your dog is still a puppy and/or not up to date with his shots, you should probably hurry to your vet's (and ideally bring with you a fecal sample).

Acute vs. Chronic dog diarrhea
Acute diarrhea in dogs is a relatively mild condition that may last up to a couple of weeks and your dog must be carefully monitored. Most cases of acute dog diarrhea are caused by ingested bacteria.
Chronic dog diarrhea persists for over two weeks, is more severe than acute dog diarrhea, and you must pay a visit to your doctor. Chronic diarrhea may be caused by dog food allergies or pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, parasites in the intestines, bacterial infections and even fungi and protozoans. The stool is often coated with mucus and blood and sometimes this type of diarrhea can end only to recur in a day or two. Watch for dehydration (always first thing to check), weight loss, your dog's coat for roughness, and overall listlessness. Chronic dog diarrhea should not be treated without professional help. Even in cases of food allergies, you will be given a list of hypoallergenic dog food. Your dog needs to be put on a special bland diet and oftentimes mineral, nutrient, and vitamin supplementation is necessary to replenish what is being discarded by the constant bowel movements. In most cases your vet is going to prescribe antibiotics coupled with corticosteroids to assist in the recovery. You need the help of an expert.

When to take your dog to the dog vet
When he's acting very sick or lethargic, if his abdomen shows bloating, if there is fever present (rectal temperature about 103.5F), when there is persistent vomiting, and if there are large amounts of blood in the stool. If you have a puppy, it's better to be safe and go for a stool check and blood work.

What the dog vet can do for your pooch
Fecal testing
Bring with you a stool sample in a sterile container, so the vet can check for parasites, roundworms, coccidia, and Giardia. Fecal cultures can indicate the presence of bacteria, such as salmonella.
Blood work
Those provide you with indications as to whether the major organs, such as the kidney and liver are functioning properly. It also helps rule out infection as a cause for the diarrhea.
Parvo test
For puppies not yet immunized, the parvovirus antigen test must be run. Results are available within minutes because the situation is grave. If your puppy is suffering from parvo, aggressive treatment is warranted as soon as possible
Those help your vet figure out if the diarrhea may be caused by intestinal obstructions or even a foreign object your dog "accidentally" swallowed.

Isolate your dog at first until you are certain he's not contagious.
Provide and encourage the consumption of water, and even use electrolytes ( some unflavored Pedialyte) to ensure better absorption. Lectade Liquid Concentrate is another choice. It is an oral re-hydration therapy for cats and dogs that replenishes the loss of electrolytes accompanying the diarrhea. This is of utmost importance especially if you own a small dog. Small dogs, like teacup chihuahuas, dehydrate really quickly and need to be rushed for IV fluids if they reach that point. Check for sticky pale gums around the clock.
Diet: You may withhold food for up to 24 hours in a mature dog, no more than 12 for a puppy or a small breed. Then start your canine on a bland diet of rice and meat. You can give him either half rice and half boiled chicken, or half rice and half boiled hamburger for a couple of days. Warning, if within a couple of days there is not improvement, head to your dog vet.
There are also a couple of over the counter human medications that help treat dog diarrhea and even vomiting. These include Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, and Kaopectate.
Consult your vet if your dog has diarrhea for more than two days, seems lethargic and low on energy, or had large amounts of blood in his stool.
An odd yet effective home remedy is canned pureed pumpkin (the natural kind with no additives). This is a well kept secret that given to a dog with diarrhea it firms up its stool while given to a dog suffering from constipation it loosens the stool. Give a couple of small teaspoons a day to a small dog and a couple of large tablespoons to a larger breed.

In most cases, dog diarrhea is nothing more than an annoyance. If you have any doubts though, trust your instincts and head to your dog's vet. Just remember, if your dog whines during a bout with diarrhea, make sure you get him out as soon as possible, this way your dog can get immediate relief and you don't have to clean up after him.

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