Dog symptoms with diarrhea & vomiting

Updated April 17, 2017

Dogs explore the world with their mouths, and this sometimes means eating things that make them sick. Often, dogs eat grass to induce vomiting if they have an upset stomach. Occasional diarrhoea and vomiting are normal events for most dogs. However, if diarrhoea or vomiting is severe, frequent or combined with other symptoms, there might be a serious underlying cause. Seek veterinary help immediately if there is blood in your dog's vomit or stool.

Dietary Changes

Changes in diet are the most common cause of gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Changing a dog's regular food suddenly, feeding rich or unfamiliar table foods and overfeeding can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.

If your dog has experienced a dietary change and has mild to moderate diarrhoea and vomiting with no other symptoms, you can treat him at home. Remove all food and prepare a bland diet of plain rice and cooked chicken. Feed in small amounts at regular intervals, monitoring symptoms between feedings. Make sure your dog has access to water, but do not let him drink large amounts at a time.

If the dog is a young puppy or a senior, you might wish to add an electrolyte supplement to his water. You can use a clear, unflavored electrolyte drink designed for children. Add a small amount to the dog's water. After about 24 hours on the bland diet, gradually integrate his regular food.

Refer to feeding guidelines on the dog food label to determine the appropriate amount for your dog's size and age.


A number of common household plants, foods and other objects are poisonous to dogs. In addition to diarrhoea and vomiting, a poisoned dog might have laboured breathing, lethargy, convulsions, paralysis, staggering and swelling of the tongue or throat. If you suspect your dog has ingested a poisonous substance, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Animal Poison Control Center.

In some cases, inducing vomiting might be helpful, but in other cases it could be fatal. If you do not know what your dog ingested, do not induce vomiting unless otherwise instructed by a professional.

Medical Conditions

If your dog's vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms are not the result of dietary changes or poisoning, they could be caused by an underlying illness or parasite.

Distemper and parvovirus are two common canine diseases. Other symptoms of canine distemper include fever, coughing and discharge from the nose or eyes. Other symptoms of parvovirus include fever and appetite loss.

Most puppy vaccine series protect against both these diseases. If your dog has intestinal parasites, small worms might be visible around the anus or in the stool. Your vet can diagnose the presence of intestinal parasites through a stool sample.

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About the Author

Layne Wood began writing in 1990. Her work has appeared in publications by the Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium and Appalachian Writers Heritage Symposium. Wood specializes in articles on Appalachia, literature, dogs and relationships. She has a Bachelor of Science in English from Radford University.