Dogs can get diarrhoea for a number of reasons. In 10 to 15 per cent of the cases Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the cause of diarrhoea. There is no one test for IBS. Vets need to rule out other conditions before they can assume that the dog has IBS. Other IBS symptoms include gas, cramping and a sudden urgency to defecate. There is no cure but IBS symptoms can be controlled through lifestyle changes and medication. IBS is sometimes confused with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) but the two conditions are quite different.
IBS symptoms can sometimes be controlled through the dog's diet. Dog's respond to different types of dog food but quite often a dog will start showing signs of improvement if fibre is added to its diet. This can be done through a high-fibre dog food or by supplementing the diet with fibre. The fibre soothes the digestive tract and helps reduce intestinal spasms.
Dogs with IBS often have worse symptoms when they are in stressful situations. This will vary for each dog. Some dogs are stressed out by being alone or meeting new dogs. Other dogs may only show signs of stress if they are taken to places where they have negative associations like the vet clinic or a kennel. Reducing stress factors can help IBS symptoms.
In addition to controlling the dog's environment, your vet may suggest using an anti-anxiety medication like amitriptyline.
Your vet may recommend an anti-diarrheal or an antispasmodic to help control IBS symptoms. These can be used in combination with other methods or when symptoms are particularly severe. Sometimes drugs are given to help reduce gas as well.