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Diarrhea in dogs: causes and therapy

Strictly speaking, diarrhea in dogs is not a disease, but a symptom. However, the symptom of diarrhea can also be dangerous. Severe diarrhea, especially if accompanied by vomiting or fever, can very quickly lead to dehydration and life-threatening circulatory failure.

Puppies or weak dogs should be examined quickly by a veterinarian if they have severe diarrhea with or without accompanying symptoms.

Diarrhea in dogs for cleaning

From a bad stomach to viruses, worms or simply being scared out of fear: there are innumerable causes of diarrhea. Often one does not even find out what caused an acute diarrhea, because before the vet can seriously go into the diagnosis, the diarrhea will fortunately be over. This is because many diarrhea is self-limiting.

The intestine is irritated by pathogens or harmful substances and then reacts with diarrhea. The diarrhea then flushes its own causes out of the intestines.

So that the diarrhea can also perform its function as a cleaner of the intestines, it must not be suppressed by medication. Of course, this only applies if the causes of the diarrhea are actually in the intestines and can be flushed out. If not, it can be difficult and sometimes tedious.

Diarrhea in young dogs

In puppies and young dogs, general infections and stubborn parasites are the top causes of complicated diarrhea. Infections such as parvovirus, distemper and leptospirosis, which can lead to serious general illnesses and in some cases to death of the dog, are particularly dangerous.

All three diseases, or at least one severe course of the disease, can be prevented with vaccinations.

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Diarrhea caused by Giardia

A common cause of recurring diarrhea in dogs under one year of age is giardia. These are single-cell intestinal parasites with which the dog can become infected anywhere. The intestinal mucosa of adult healthy dogs can usually keep Giardia in check so that the animals show no symptoms despite an infection. Young dogs, on the other hand, suffer from persistent diarrhea.

Apart from the diarrhea, the affected dogs are usually fit and lively. The veterinarian proves a disease of Giardia with the help of a fecal examination. In addition to treatment with special antiparasitic drugs against Giardia, strict hygiene is important to avoid renewed infections in this disease, because these parasites can easily become regulars and diarrhea becomes a permanent problem.

In a 2017 Berlin study, giardia caused six percent of chronic diarrhea. Chronic is diarrhea that persists for three weeks or more or occurs repeatedly.

Unhealthy or spoiled food is a very common cause of diarrhea. © Irina – stock.adobe.com

Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs

A rough distinction is made between diarrhea caused by a disease of the intestine and diarrhea caused by diseases outside the intestine. The latter include diseases of the pancreas in the first place, followed by hormonal disorders, liver, kidney or heart diseases.

1. Impaired pancreatic function

If the pancreas has impaired function (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, EPI), the dog can no longer digest dietary fats. The fats stay in the intestines and lead to gas and diarrhea. In addition, the fats in the intestines block the absorption of vitamins and other important nutrients.

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In the long run, malnutrition occurs, which can cause food cravings and skin problems. The veterinarian diagnoses EPI with the help of special fecal and blood tests. The disease is treated for life by adding enzymes to food that take over fat digestion.

2. Bowel disease in dogs

In cases of chronic intestinal inflammation without a clear cause, diagnostic treatment attempts are carried out. The diseases are then differentiated according to the response to a certain therapy as:

  • Lining responsive enteropathy (FRE)
  • Antibiotic responsive enteropathy (ARE)
  • Intestinal inflammation for no identifiable reason “(IBD)

The most common is food intolerance (FRE), which can be managed with a special diet. It is crucial for the success of the therapy and thus also for the diagnosis that a dog with suspected this disease actually only gets its diet food and nothing else. It can take two to four weeks until the animal no longer has indigestion under the diet. So long as you do not know whether the dog actually suffers from FRE.

If the diagnostic diet is unsuccessful, a trial with special antibiotics is an option. This also applies if the dog has not been found to be infected. Veterinarians will diagnose IBD in dogs that have not worked on diet or antibiotics.

Diarrhea can also be a symptom of poisoning. If your dog has eaten food or plants that are poisonous for him, you should consult a veterinarian immediately, as this can be fatal! Poisoning is often accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, cramps, tremors or salivation. Laboratory tests of blood and feces are necessary to find the cause of the diarrhea. © ryanking999 – stock.adobe.com

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Individual therapy for dogs with diarrhea

In the case of bowel inflammation for no apparent reason, the vet tries to relieve the inflammation with medication.

In order to keep the drug dose as low as possible and thus prevent side effects, the dog receives a low-irritation diet, usually an anti-allergy food. Selected food supplements, such as omega fatty acids, have an anti-inflammatory effect and thus also support the therapy. Since stress and anxiety can trigger or worsen diarrhea, it helps, especially in nervous dogs, to identify sources of stress and, if possible, to eliminate them.

Tip: Morosche carrot soup can also provide a quick remedy for diarrhea. It is easily digestible and easy to cook.

In the case of intestinal inflammation without an ascertainable reason, you have to approach the right therapy in individual cases, because what works well for one dog does not help at all for another four-legged patient. Unfortunately, there are also cases in which, despite all efforts, no improvement can be achieved.

A cure for bowel inflammation for no apparent reason is usually impossible and the dog must be treated for a lifetime. But once the right individual therapy has been found, the symptoms can be effectively alleviated. Relapses can happen again and again, but they can also be brought under control. Many owners can control their dog’s disease so well that both dog and human can live with it.