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Why Does My Dog Keep Getting Diarrhea?

Updated July 19, 2017

Diarrhoea in dogs is a common condition. It varies in type and severity and has a number of causes, not all of them serious. While all serious cases should be examined by a veterinarian, mild and short-lived occurrences sometimes have a simple explanation and cure. An owner should closely monitor the situation, be aware of anything the dog chews or swallows and consult a veterinarian if the dog's diarrhoea is ongoing, unusual in appearance or accompanied by other symptoms.

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Lower quality dog foods often lead to loose stool and diarrhoea. They contain more “filler” ingredients such as grains and are lower in essential proteins and fats. Like people, dogs are allergic to certain foods. Their stomachs become upset at sudden changes in diet. While some dogs tolerate table scraps, many cannot. Dogs with sensitive stomachs sometimes do better on holistic food. According to the Pet Supplies Review website, dogs are carnivores and “cannot live healthy lives without eating meat.” Consumption of non-edible items such as plastic, wood and leather wreak havoc with a dog’s digestive system.

Emotional and Mental State

“Emotional turmoil is a common reason dogs are afflicted with diarrhoea,” according to the website Dog-Answers.com. A dog’s stay at the boarding kennel might not be a vacation. His excitement (or repulsion) at a new pet in the home might do it. A new human, such as a baby or spouse, might also send him into a tailspin. Some dogs get upset at changes to their owners’ work schedules. A move to a new home with their owners, or a new home with new owners, can set off diarrhoea attacks. The state of the dog’s home environment in general, if busy or upsetting, can bring on doggy diarrhoea.

Medical Problems

Many dog disorders and diseases can lead to repeated bouts of acute diarrhoea (lasting up to three weeks) and/or chronic diarrhoea (persisting for three weeks or more). Intestinal parasites are a common cause of diarrhoea in young dogs. Dogs pick up bacteria from contaminated food or other dogs’ faeces. Viral, protozoal and fungal infections can all cause diarrhoea and so can various drugs and toxins. Pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome all lead to diarrhoea. Dogs suffering from blockages in their intestines, gastrointestinal cancer, diabetes and kidney and liver disease are prone to frequent diarrhoea problems.


Very young (under a year) or very old dogs (older than 10) with diarrhoea should always see a veterinarian. Warning signs of serious problems for any dog with diarrhoea include blood or mucus in the stool, a change in stool colour, vomiting, fever, dehydration, depression and lethargy. If the dog has persistent diarrhoea for more than a day, is straining to defecate or is not eating or drinking, he should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Expert Insight

TheHappyDogSpot.com advises, “Consult your veterinarian before treating your dog with any medications for his diarrhoea.” Veterinary examination and diagnosis is imperative prior to effective home care. According to PetPlace.com, an owner should monitor his dog's body weight, appetite and activity level. The website advises to administer all prescribed medications exactly as ordered and says an owner should notify the veterinarian if there is a problem medicating the dog.

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About the Author

Savannah Raine

Based in Ontario Canada and writing since 1984, Savannah Raine is a former investigative journalist and freelance magazine feature writer who operated her own publishing company until 1996. Raine holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto.

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