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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. Generally, diarrhea will be the result of an illness but there are 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. Many veterinarians call this garbage gut or garbage toxicosis. 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 protein sources. 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 and 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

Obviously, when your dog is suffering from diarrhea they will have frequent bowel movements that are loose or watery. There are other symptoms 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 will 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 will also be done to rule out certain illnesses and 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 symptoms 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 diagnose your dog’s diarrhea being from 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 will require intravenous 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 will 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 loves to play in the garbage, secure your trash cans away from your dog to discourage him from eating the trash. 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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Bloodhound

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Seventeen Months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

changed diet from puppy to adult dog food too quickly, all was well until we thought that he wasnt getting enough food and that he was still hungry. We decided that we switched too quickly and then switched him again to the same brand, but puppy chow. The first brand worked well and did not have diarrhea. he is having accidents in his crate every night almost and does not have any form to his stool. should i switch him back to his previous puppy chow before?

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello It may be a good idea to switch him back to the puppy food for now, but any change in diet should be a gradual change over 5-7 days as dogs stomach's are very sensitive to change. Good luck.

Aug. 5, 2020

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Mixed

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Loose Bowel Movements

I recently purchased Fromm’s Gold Adult food in the black and gold bag transitioning from Royal Canin GI Low Fat and have only put in a very small handful or 1/8 c with a majority of the RC for a few days. Today, she is having looked stool with a red tinge and urgency to go outside.

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Fromm is usually a higher fat rich food. It is likely too rich for his system.I would recommend going back to feeding exclusively the Royal Canin GI low fat food. Some dogs need to be on a prescription G.I. food long term, and this need can develop at any age. The Royal Canin GI Low Fat food is a complete diet so is very safe to feed long term. Take care!

Aug. 5, 2020

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Goldendoodle

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Four Months

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Diarrhea

How much soft/wet food should I give him to help his digestion

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thank you for your question. If your pet is having diarrhea it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so they can evaluate the cause. Your vet will have a prescription G.I. diet that helps settle down the tummy as well. For an at home recommendation I tell people to feed some boiled or baked chicken and rice as it is very low fat and easy on the G.I. tract. Feed small amounts several times a day. I would not recommend feeding multiple types of new foods as that will likely worsen the level of G.I. upset. I hope he feels better soon.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Parti yorkie

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Four Months

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea, And Lathargic

My puppy just went to the vet and had his distemper and rabies shot on Thursday. Today is Sunday. The vet recommended I take him off the raw food diet and switch him to a cooked food diet which I've done the last two days. For those two days he's had diarrhea. Today it has gotten worse and he doesn't want to play and is very lethargic. Would these symptoms be coming from the shots, or the change in food? And what would you recommend?

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question I do not think that your dog should be that lethargic from a change in food, no. I also do not think that they should be that lethargic from vaccines after this amount of time. I would be very concerned about infectious diseases like parvovirus, and I think it would be a good idea to have a recheck with your veterinarian to have a test and make sure that the Parvovirus test is negative. If it is a negative test, you can take a deep breath and figure out what else is going on. I hope that everything goes well with your puppy.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Great Dane Boxer mix

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Watery diarrhea that started late last night and is continuing today. We just switched his food because he was having lose stools with his other food.

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thank you for your question. It sounds like the diarrhea was already starting prior to the food change so likely not the cause but it may have worsened it. There are many different causes of diarrhea including parasites, bacterial overgrowth, food intolerance, IBD, and pancreatitis. I would recommend scheduling an exam with your veterinarian, bring a stool sample, and they will be able to provide an appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan to see if we can get the diarrhea resolved. I hope he feels better soon.

July 31, 2020

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Milo

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Golden Retriever

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5 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Loose Bowel Movements

We have had our puppy for over 3 months now and he has been on the same kibble diet (Stella and Chewys) and as of 3 weeks ago he has off and on diarrhea. Nothing in his diet has changed and we give him rawhide bones every now and then. The diarrhea will be present for 2-3 days, then stop for ~4 days and then start back up again in cycle. The vet has no answer to this as they conducted a fecal exam twice now and it comes back negative. We still have no answer

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Snickers

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Toy Australian shephered

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11 Weeks

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Slimy Poop

I have an 11 week old puppy who wouldn’t eat much at all. My friend who has a mini Aussie suggested mixing a little bit of wet food with the puppy’s dry food. I’ve done that yesterday and today but he now has extremely runny diarrhea. Could this be due to the wet food? Because he has had some diarrhea before but not to this extent. He still has the typical puppy poop.

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Winston

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Beagle mix

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Bloody Stool

We took our dog to a BBQ on Sunday and people fed him lots of chips and popcorn (and probably various types of meat). Monday morning he vomited once but seemed normal. Monday night he had diarrhea and this morning he is squeezing out some blood it seems. He seems a bit down and out but not too lethargic and walks around just fine. What should I do?

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Cooper

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German Shepherd

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6 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Loose Bowel Movements

I was transitioning the food for my Germand Shepherd puppy for almost 2 weeks. I made the transition long because he has a very sensitive stomach. He was on a grain free diet but his stool was not the right color and smelled really bad, most of the time soft as well. The vet cleared him of having any parasite from the stool sample test so he recommended switching the food. I switched him to grain in Fromm Gold because the pet food store owner recommends a more bland diet (oat, barley...etc) and then slowly transition back to grain free in the future once his GI is more stable. During the transition, the stool color and odor improved a lot. Sometimes the stool would be softer than others but overall it's better than his previous food. I put him full Fromm two days ago (a new bag) and he's been having diarrhea. I was trying to figure out if he's intolerant or allergic to peas...etc so we've been careful with his treats as well. No new food is given to him during this transition period. I'm at a lost here.

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Carla

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pocket bully/pitty

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

I rescued my dog about 3 weeks ago, and immediately switched her diet to Natural Balance Vegetarian kibble. She was on heavy duty antibiotics for a vaginal infection, and someone recommended I add pumpkin to her food. I would do the vegan kibble + raw pumpkin and also give her vegan dog treats made from peanut butter and other natural ingredients. I'd also give her occasional treats like broccoli, wild blueberries, carrots, kale and the like. In small amounts of course. Her poop was so great for the first couple of days. A week in she started having diarrhea. She never went inside the house and only pooped 2-3 times a day when we would take her out, but it was brown mush and leaves an awful smear on the grass. It comes out like soft serve. I thought it was from the antibiotics killing all her good bacteria, so I bought her a probiotic. Fast forward almost two weeks and she's still having the diarrhea and was even developing skin irritation issues by licking and knawing and scratching on her paws until raw etc. She has severe separation anxiety, so with the new environment, stress, new diet, antibiotics etc, it's a lot and makes sense she has diarrhea. I chalked it up to stress and food allergies, so two days ago I decided to stop giving her any treats or people food, and only give her the kibble twice a day. The skin irritations went away, yay! But the diarrhea is still the same. Brown soft serve. I also give her organic CBD oil to calm her down in her crate while I'm at work, but don't think that is the cause. She's already taken dronzel for worms, and I haven't seen any in her stool but I'll still give her the second one in another week or so to be safe. It's basically been two weeks of the diarrhea now, and I'm wondering at what point I need to take her in. I really want to figure this out on my own because I can't afford all the vet bills. How long can a dog have this type of diarrhea before you have no choice but to bring them in?

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