Believe it or not, runny stool is one of the several types of diarrhea. Diarrhea, in the minds of most people, means a watery or runny stool. The definition is actually much broader, and includes any atypical stool that is softer than normal. That includes watery stools, soft formed stools, trying or straining to defecate and only passing gas, soft stools with abnormal odor or color, and cow-pie type stools.
Dogs naturally develop runny stool as a means to return themselves to health. However, this form of acute diarrhea is usually a healthy and healing process, not a disease. Because we are all concerned about the welfare of our dog, we often run them in to the veterinarian at the initial signs of diarrhea.
This is typically not necessary, and will often end up being detrimental to the dog in case antibiotics are needlessly prescribed. In rare cases, it may be a chronic form of diarrhea, which is less common, but is more serious and requires more effort to correct. So, let’s look at Runny Stool: The Cause and Solution and what we should do.
What Causes Runny Stool in Dogs?There are several reasons why dogs develop runny stools. Here is a brief list of causes of diarrhea.
- Dietary indiscretion or Inappropriate ingestion. This is one of the most common causes of runny stool in dogs, which means that your dog ate something it shouldn’t have. Let’s face it, dogs can eat anything from grass trimmings and garbage to other animals’ feces. This is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs.
- Parasites in dogs. Such as Giardia, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and coccidia. These can cause intermittent runny stool. A fecal examination can help diagnose the infection.
- Parvovirus Infection. Typically vomiting and runny stool accompanied by a fever usually in young dogs. An antigen test is normally used to diagnose this infection.
- Bacteria in dogs. Including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, and Spirochetes. This can be challenging since pets may carry these bacterial forms without having them cause clinical disease.
General Symptoms of Runny Stool in dogs
Loose or liquid, recurrent runny stools are the most common signs of diarrhea in dogs. It is imperative to understand that diarrhea in dogs may take several forms. Stools may range from watery to abnormally soft.
Other symptoms include flatulence, changes in volume of stool, straining to defecate and blood or mucus in stool. Lethargy, fever, dehydration, decreased appetite, vomiting, weight loss and an amplified urgency to defecate can also accompany runny stool. Many cases of diarrhea are self limiting, but others will require treatment. Runny stool along with vomiting could be symptoms of serious intestinal obstruction which may even need surgery. Pain, weakness, agitation, or vomiting are serious signs that your dog needs medical attention.
Bloody diarrhea with severe straining may be an emergency especially for small dogs. Most people want the answer to 2 important questions. Do I need to take my canine friend to the vet and if I don’t, how will I be able to treat it at home? When your dog has a soft stool or mild runny stool, firming up his stool will ease digestive discomfort while lowering poop deposits. Changing what you feed him can ease his tummy and your canine clean up tasks.
Feed Less to Firm Up StoolFeeding less will relieve strain on your dog’s digestive system. If your dog is stressed because of different food, intense exercise, noise or other factors, his body will react with digestive upset and loose stools. Have your dog’s food removed for 12 to 24 hours and feed half his ration the following day. You should get results by the third day. Overeating can cause runny stool or frequent soft deposits. Reduce treats or count them as piece of his meal ration.
Avoid giving your pup some foodsNot only can foods like table scraps cause bad habits like begging during dinner, but the continuous change in diet will make it difficult to assess if the dog is having if any health problems. Your dog will sometimes need a kibble vacation. You can soothe his intestinal tract with a rice and chicken meal.
Feed Same Diet for Firmer StoolKeep your puppy on the same diet at least until they’re old enough to start eating adult food. By then, you will have seen enough of your puppy’s stool samples to be able to determine a baseline of how their stool looks like. If you change his or her diet constantly, there will be no baseline and you’ll have difficulties trying to establish whether your pup is really sick or if the change in their stool is due to a change in diet. When the current diet is too rich for your dog, choose a product with less fat for better dog health and firmer stools.
Keep a keen eye on your DogParticularly until they outgrow the chewing stage. Prior to the end of this stage, they will swallow more unhealthy and harmful items than you ever thought of and so keeping a close watch could save you a lot of fret in the long run.
When Should You Take Your Dog to the Veterinarian?
It is always a good idea to seek advice from your vet if your dog has runny stool. Bring your pet to the vet if his runny stool continues for more than one day, or if you observe vomiting, fever, lethargy, straining to defecate, dark-colored or bloody stools, decreased appetite or unexplained weight loss, as it can be an key indicator of a serious disease especially in young dogs.
Your vet may want to see your pet dog or at least perform diagnostic exam on the feces to establish the best treatment. Since some bacteria and parasites can also cause disease in humans, it’s important to test for them. In mild cases where the dog is acting normal otherwise, withholding food for 24 hours may be sufficient. If however other symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, depression, or pain accompany the diarrhea then prompt veterinary attention is needed.