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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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Diarrhea Due to Diet Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Charlie
Labs
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Severe diarrhea

In the past I've changed my dogs food up every now and then and they would be fine. Well now everything makes them have awful diarrhea out of know where except for one specific dog food and it is ridiculously expensive. Why would this just now start to happen out of no where?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2491 Recommendations
It is difficult to say what the specific cause of the diarrhoea is, you should try feeding boiled chicken and rice to see if there is any improvement in faecal quality; possible causes may be diet, infections, parasites (particularly protozoan parasites), poisoning, stress among other causes. Try the boiled chicken and rice to see if there is any improvement and have a faecal sample tested by your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Louie
Goldendoodle
16 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

My 16 month old goldendoodle will have an explosive diarrhea episode about once a month for the past several months. I fast him for a day and give plenty of water and he seems fine the next day. He stays happy and energetic every time. I’m starting to wonder if it could be a food allergy or intolerance. Would that be possible with the random infrequent episodes? He has been on the same formula and treats throughout all of this.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2491 Recommendations
There are a few possible causes for these sudden episodes of diarrhoea which may be related to diet or treats, but we would normally see ongoing issues since the food is given daily. Try to think of anything like cleaning products, gardening products, medications, possible poisons, people, stress or anything else which coincides with with episodes. You should also check in with your Veterinarian and have a stool sample checked for parasites to cover all bases. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Louie's owner, my 7 month old Goldendoodle Cooper is the same way. I feed him wellness core and he will be fine for a few weeks, but will have a bad episode about once a month. This time it lasted a week between episodes and the vet has not been helpful in determining the issue.

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Harley
Rottweiler
7 Weeks
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea,

Our 7 week old rottweiler puppy was on a raw food diet when we first got her and the stools were firm (amount was very little). We recently changed her diet to dry puppy kibble because I heard you shouldn't mix kibble with raw meat but she's having diarrhea (very loose stool with liquid). I don't Know if I should keep giving it to her or if I should fast her for 12 hours. And how long will the diarrhea last for?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2491 Recommendations
A sudden change in diet may lead to diarrhoea, you can try fasting her and then offering a boiled chicken and rice diet to see if the stool firms up; once it firms up you should start to wean across to the kibble slowly. Also, puppies may have worms or protozoan parasites which may add to the diarrhoea. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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neo
Shih Tzu
8 Weeks
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Hi my 56 day old shih Tzu had one small episode of loose stool this morning after an hour of his morning feed, in the night he passed normal. it is 3 hours since he hasnt passed any motion. Do I refrain him from his 1pm meal or can it be given to him. He eats only Royal Canin starter 30gms 7am, 1pm and 9pm. At 5 pm we give him 10 gms of Royal Canin. Pls. advise what I need to do. Thanks.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2491 Recommendations
Dietary changes are a common cause of diarrhoea in dogs especially puppies, you can continue to feed him but if the diarrhoea continues you should go back to the original diet or feed some boiled chicken and rice until the diarrhoea firms up. Other causes of diarrhoea may be due to infections, parasites, foreign objects, stress among other causes; if there is no improvement visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Sorry for so many typo errors:

Resending

We didn't change his diet and that's not the cause hence we do not know the cause, he was in his usual diet as mentioned but had 1 episode of loose stool but after that he had 2 more. Now he was recommended to take 2.5ml each of vizylac and normet at 6pm that day after which he didn't have stools either That night or next day where his diet now was only curds morning and afternoon. At 6pm again we had again given his medication and around 8 pm he was asked to give half the amount of his usual food i.e royal canin 15gms but around 10:45pm he vomited once. (Want to put to your notice he has the habit to nibble into things which I feel maybe the cause). He was fine all through the night and at 8:30am i gave him curds. No vomiting and stools yet after 2 hrs of his meal. Are we doing the right thing? When do we go back with his normal diet of royal canin?

We didn't change his diet and that's not the cause hence we do not know the cause, he was in his usual diet but had 1 episode of loose stool but after that he had 2 more. Now he was recommended to take 2.5ml each of vizylac and normet at 6pm that day after which he didn't have stools that night or next day where he is diet now was only curds morning and afternoon at 6pm again we have his medication and around 8 pm he was asked to give half the amount of his usual food i.e royal canin 15gms but around 10:45pm he vomited once. What to put to your notice he has the habit to nibble into things which I feel maybe the cause. He was fine all through the night and morning 8:30am i gave him curds. No vomiting and stools yet after 2 hrsof his meal. Are we doing the right thing. When do we go back with his normal diet of royal canin?

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Baby
Maltese Shih Tzu
6 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Boiled chicken breast seems to be the diarrhea-proof food to feed your dog but I have this suspicion that's not the case with my dog. It's not diarrhea but one or two steps next to it. Semi-melted ice-cream formed like a stool? I thought it was the kibble I fed her in the morning but I've recently done a kibble-only diet and now her poo is great. If chicken breast isn't the issue then the only thing I can think of is that I cut it up too finely and she eats it too quickly. She basically inhales it. What do you think?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2491 Recommendations
If Baby is having normal stool with kibbles alone, you should stick with just the kibbles as long as they are a complete diet suitable for breed and age; when a complete diet is fed you don’t need to think about supplementing with anything else. Boiled chicken breast and rice (33%:67%) is an ideal bland non-irritating food which we use when a dog keeps vomiting up food or is recovering from an issue affecting the stomach; but in this instance I would stick 100% with kibbles. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bean
Ori pei
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Hi, my dog has been on science diet wet food his whole life. I decided I wanted to switch him to Annamaet kibble and chose one that was the close to his current diet. I switched him completely within a week however as soon as I gave him a full days worth of the kibble he started having liquid diarrhea. I stopped the kibble and started him on rice. Then he began throwing up so I withheld food for 12 hours. I started him back on the rice and he didn’t poop for 24 hours so I then started mixing the rice with his original wet food and he finally pooped but it’s still not a normal poop, very soft but not liquid. Should I keep up with the rice mixed with wet another day?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2491 Recommendations
It may take a little time for Bean’s stomach to calm down, continue with the current diet until you see a better consistency of faeces; afterwards you can continue to wean Bean over to either the new diet over a long period of time or the old diet. If you are having difficulty, try to move over to a boiled chicken and rice diet for a few days and then introduce the food; if still no improvement visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Yrsa
deerhound
9 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Thirst
Hunger
Thin

Our puppy has had diarrhea pretty much from day one, ranging from soft poos to puddles. we have been back and forth to the vets, she has had prebiotics, been on GI diet and very little helped (she also drinks a lot by the way). she has had blood tests, urine tests and fecal analysis. They found Giardia which was treated and is now clear but no other tests found anything. She is back on Royal canin puppy food (as the GI food seemed to make no difference) and whilst she is generally ok she remains soft. She is ravenously hungry all the time but if we increase her food intake at all (even by introducing an extra meal) everything seems to get worse. She is bright and active (and hungry), we just want to get to the bottom of it as we are at our wits end, she is very skinny and we want to build her weight up but just aren't able to. Any suggestions of where we go from here? In her hunger she is also a poo eater - less so when fed more....

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1076 Recommendations
The only thing that I can think of that may be happening that is somewhat common might be a food allergy or intolerance, as your veterinarian has covered a lot of the more common bases and reasons for diarrhea in puppies. The way to determine if she does have a food allergy would be to transition her to a hypoallergenic diet that is available by prescription from your veterinarian, and see if things improve for her. There are specific diets for this that have had all the antigen removed from the food, so that her GI tract doesn't react to them. Barring that, it may be time to see an internal medicine specialist. I hope that you are able to get to the bottom of her problem.

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Bruno
Hound
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Medication Used

metronidazole

My dog is a hound mix, 1 year+4 months, about 85 pounds.
All summer he had diarrhea and we tried all kinds of probiotics, antibtiotics, food changes, etc. We finally found that when we cut out wheat it made a big difference, and then we gave him Tylan powder and he seemed to be cured! All winter his poops were firm enough to be able to pick up easily.
Now all our snow is gone and it is getting warmer. Over the weekend he was ill - he wouldn't eat for a day and had vomiting and diarrhea and lethargy. After a day of metronidazole and fortiflora he is back to his normal self except...still diarrhea! We are back to where we were last spring.
I think it must be something he's getting into in the back yard. He scrounges and I know he is eating Bradford pears from the neighrbor's tree, and I suspect he will eat rabbit poop if he finds it and will drink from puddles, and any food-like thing that may be back there he will eat. No other plants though other than maybe maple leaves and grass. What could it be? How can we fix it??

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1076 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. WIthout examining Bruno, I can't comment on what might be going on with him, but from your description, it seems that it would be best to keep him from eating things in the backyard, if you know that he is eating things that are going to give him diarrhea, you can take him out on a leash, or walk him so that you know that he isn't getting into anything that he shouldn't. I hope that all goes well for him.

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Olivia
Australian Shepherd
4 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

I have a puppy and about a month ago I changed her food to one with less processed ingredients. Since then she has had diarrhea. At first i just thought it was the change in food, but it hasn’t gotten much better. It starts mostly solid then at the end it’s liquidy. She has no problem holding it and never goes in the house. Other than the diarrhea itself everything else is completely normal. It’s a chicken based dog food. It’s definitely her food because she is an indoor dog and doesn’t go outside unless I’m walking her. So I see everything she does. She’s an Australian Shepherd puppy almost 4 months old. I don’t know what food to change to, and how will I be able to tell if it’s better until a couple weeks in since dogs usually get diarrhea when you switch their food? Any suggestions?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1076 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. It isn't normal for her to have had diarrhea for a month from a food change, and food allergies are not as common in puppies. Common causes for her diarrhea might be parasites or an intolerance to the food itself vs. the ingredients - different foods are different quality. It would be best to have her examined by your veterinarian, as she may be due for preventive care regardless, and they can check a stool sample for parasites. Once they have looked at her, they will be able to make recommendations for food, and help you to clear up her diarrhea. I hope that everything goes well for her.

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Snickers
Cannan
1 Year
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Medication Used

none

Snickers was spayed, I took her home all was good, on the tenth day I took her to the vet for a checkup on the sutures and everything was good. That day I changed her food from royal canin medium sized dogs to royal canin maxi sized dog, and gave her deworming pills, and rubbed antibiotic cream on the sutures. Since that day she's had diarrhea, I've tried changing her food to chicken and rice, that didn't help, I've had her fast 24 hours she had a solid poop but as soon as I put her back on her food she went back to diarrhea. I took her the vet, they gave her an anti immetic shot and another one for a fever, she still has diarrhea, I've changed her food to gastrointestinal good and she still has diarrhea. All this is over a month and a weeks time. Not sure what else to do.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1076 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Common causes for diarrhea in dogs include parasites, dietary indiscretion, food intolerances, and intestinal infections. Without examining Snickers, I can't comment on what might be going on with her, but it seems unrelated to the surgery with the time frame that you have described. If she hasn't had a fecal checked for parasites, including Giardia, that would be a good idea. There are anti-diarrheal medications and probiotics that can help with uncomplicated conditions. It would be best to follow up with your veterinarian to see what the next step is in resolving her diarrhea, as they can examine her and have whatever tests performed that might be appropriate. I hope that things resolve for her.

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Robbie
Corgi x Cocker Spaniel
9 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

My dog has been having recurrent episodes of diarrhea. We got him in November when he was 6 months old, he has had 4-5 episodes since then lasting about 2-3 days (resolving when we switch him to a rice/turkey diet). They are usually very watery/"explosive" stools. Once it resolves we switch him back to his food (Blue Wilderness) and he stays without diarrhea for about a week or two then gets it again. He was tested for worms after the first episode, and was negative. He has the tendency to drink from puddles on walks, but we try to stop him so I'm not sure it occurs consistently enough to be the cause. I'm wondering if it could be related to his food and if I should switch dog foods.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1076 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. It seems that it might be related to the switch back to his regular food, yes, although I can't examine him so can't say for sure. Your veterinarian can give you some ideas for good GI diets for dogs that have food sensitivities, as well as make sure that he is still negative for parasites such as Giardia and Coccidia - it would be a good idea to have another stool sample checked to make sure, as some of these parasites can have a 'waxing and waning' type of pattern.

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Leah
Dachshund
11 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Medication Used

none

My 11 month old dachshund is having her first heat and has now developed diarrhoea she has been at least 8 times today/night. We are currently staying with family in France and had to change her diet 12 days ago due to France not having her usual food. So is the diarrhoea likely to be because of her heat or because her food was changed 11 days ago ? She is still lively and playing and eating and drinking still.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2491 Recommendations
Generally we would have expected diarrhoea from dietary change to have occurred within the first two days or so of the diet change, most likely this bout of diarrhoea is due to a different cause which may be attributable to heat, infections, parasites, poisoning, foreign objects among other causes. Keep a close eye on Leah and ensure that she is hydrated, you may need to visit a local Veterinarian if the symptoms continue just to check her over. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bella
Boxer Mix
11 Weeks
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

My dog has been starting to have diarrhea. We didn’t ever look to see how much she should be feeding her. And after a week or so she started to look very skinny. So we looked up how much food she should get and we were giving her about half of what she should have been getting. So we bumped up her food intake so she could get that weight back up to a healthy level. But right after. She started having diarrhea. It’s not bloody or discolored. And she is not displaying any other symptoms. She’s still had her appetite. No fever. She still runs around and is energetic. She just keeps having diarrhea. I’m wondering if this is most likely the cause. Or if there’s a possibility it could be something else.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2491 Recommendations
There are many causes of diarrhoea especially in puppies which may be caused by dietary problems, infections, parasites, foreign objects, poisoning among other causes; you could try to give an anthelmintic (wormer) and to supplement the diet with a little plain canned pumpkin which may help firm up the stool. If there is no improvement, you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination as there may be an infection; if you haven’t started vaccinating yet, I would recommend you do so. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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