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What is Diarrhea Due to Diet?

There are instances when your dog will suffer from bouts of loose stools or diarrhea. Often,  diarrhea will be the result of an illness but there are also instances when diarrhea is caused by your dog’s diet. This can be from eating too much, eating spoiled food or eating out of the garbage. A food intolerance or allergy can also cause your dog to experience diarrhea.

Changing your dog’s diet can also cause your dog to develop diarrhea. When you change your dog’s food it can take a few days for your dog’s digestive system to fully adapt to the new food. It is recommended that you slowly change your dog’s food from one source to another by mixing the two together equally and then slowly decrease the amount of the first food.

When your dog eats, the food will travel down the esophagus quickly and enter the stomach in large pieces or chunks. Their salivary enzymes are not designed to break down the food but to kill bacteria. The acids within the stomach will break down the food, disperse the nutrients and rid the body of waste in the form of well-formed stool and urine.

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Symptoms of Diarrhea Due to Diet in Dogs

When your dog is suffering from diarrhea they will likely have frequent bowel movements that are loose or watery. There are other signs to watch for that will indicate that your dog has diarrhea. Diarrhea can quickly become a concern because your dog can become dehydrated. Call your veterinarian for an appointment if you suspect your dog has diarrhea. Other symptoms of diarrhea to watch for include:

  • Anxiously needing to go outside quickly
  • Having bowel movements in the house
  • Straining
  • Stomach ache
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
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Causes of Diarrhea Due to Diet in Dogs

Diarrhea can occur for many different reasons in dogs. Commonly it is illness that causes your dog to develop diarrhea. However, diarrhea due to diet should not be ruled out. Many times your dog will get into something that they should not have eaten and that can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. 

Changing your dog’s food can cause diarrhea if not done slowly so their digestive tract can adjust to the new food. Allowing your dog to eat too much or eating garbage can also cause diarrhea. A food allergy or intolerance can cause gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea.

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Diagnosis of Diarrhea Due to Diet in Dogs

When you bring your dog to your veterinarian, a stool sample will need to be given. If you are unable to collect one, your veterinarian can do so. Your dog’s medical history will need to be given as well as a detailed list of what your dog eats or might have eaten. 

The stool sample will be used in a fecal exam to look for internal parasites. Internal parasites can cause diarrhea in dogs. A urinalysis, complete blood count and biochemistry panel may also be recommended to rule out other illnesses or conditions. A hands-on physical examination will be conducted by your veterinarian. They will palpate your dog’s abdomen, check their vitals and take their temperature.

Your veterinarian will need to know how quickly the signs came on and if there were any changes in the environment. Once all the tests have come back and the physical examination is completed, your veterinarian will be able to narrow the cause of your dog’s diarrhea to their diet; either overeating, intolerance or allergy, or change in food.

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Treatment of Diarrhea Due to Diet in Dogs

Many cases of chronic diarrhea may require fluid therapy to stop dehydration from occurring. This may require a stay in the animal hospital until the diarrhea is stopped and the threat of dehydration has passed. Anti-diarrhea medication may also be prescribed.

Food may need to be withheld for at least 24 hours. Small amounts of water will need to be given frequently to keep them hydrated if they are not already dehydrated. A bland diet can be given after 24 hours. If there is no more diarrhea your dog can slowly be changed back to their regular diet.

In the case of your dog having an allergy or intolerance to an ingredient in their food, their diet will need to be permanently altered to avoid the ingredient that is problematic. Your veterinarian can suggest a food that will not have the ingredient that is causing diarrhea in your dog.

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Recovery of Diarrhea Due to Diet in Dogs

When your dog is diagnosed with diarrhea due to their diet, your veterinarian will discuss with you what foods are best for your dog. Once the diarrhea is stopped, you should be able to give your dog their regular food. If there is an allergy or intolerance, you will need to switch their food to one that will not cause diarrhea. 

If your dog has a history of getting into the garbage, secure your trash cans away from your dog to discourage him from eating the trash, as potentially fatal toxicities can occur from this behavior. Do not feed your dog leftovers from your own dinner plate. Human food can cause gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea.

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Diarrhea Due to Diet Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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pitt bull /german shepherd mix

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Nine Months

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Unknown severity

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7 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

We've been feeding our 9month old puppy an mixture of wet and dry food. She started to have loose stools. Dont know to do. Help

March 11, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Maureen M. DVM

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7 Recommendations

Hi, She could be experiencing some food intolerance from some of the ingredients in the food. You could try to figure out which of the two is irritating elimination. Feed on type each week checking for stool consistency. Once noted eliminate from the diet. If nothing changes please take her to the vet for a check-up. Good luck

April 2, 2021

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Labrador Retriever

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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9 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

We noticed that our newly adopted lab was having some diarrhea/loose stools. History: he was from a kill shelter, had a 3 day trip to the rescue, was there 3 days then we adopted. We had him fast for 12 hours and then did a bland boiled chicken & rice diet for several days, stools got firmer, but when slowly reintroducing the food he had been given at the rescue, a beef based food, he had diarrhea again. He wants to eat and has an appetite. Should we try chicken based food? He was fully vetted at the rescue before we got him (dewormed). Acts fine and has settled in well besides this.

Jan. 8, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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9 Recommendations

There can be many causes of diarrhoea including parasites (some of which may require alternate wormers to the one he had), an abrupt diet change, a food intolerance, an infection, Inflammatory bowel disease etc. I would consider a vet check and stool analysis. I would also start a sensitivity or hypoallergenic diet and some probiotic anti diarrhoea paste. Hopefully we can get on top of things soon!

Jan. 8, 2021

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