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What is Diarrhea (Long-term)?

Diarrhea is not a disease itself, but a sign of illness or underlying disease. The increase of the passage of loose stool can come on as an acute episode, or be a chronic occurrence. Diarrhea also means a decrease in the bodily absorption of water, electrolytes, and required nutrients. How serious the illness is will be determined by how long the diarrhea has been going on, and what signs accompany it.

Diarrhea is a common ailment for dogs, and can range from a mild case to very severe. Described as frequent, liquid stools, diarrhea can be secondary to serious illnesses such as cancer, or milder causes like an intestinal infection. If your dog is suffering from diarrhea, consult a veterinary caregiver. If treatment is required to resolve the issue, and it is not started soon enough, the situation can quickly escalate to dangerous, due to dehydration and nutrient loss.

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Diarrhea (Long-term) Average Cost

From 86 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,200

Symptoms of Diarrhea (Long-term) in Dogs

The signs of diarrhea may vary according to whether the episode is of an acute nature, or whether your dog is having a chronic problem. If the diarrhea lasts more than a day or two, or if your dog really looks unwell, contact the veterinarian without delay.

  • Dehydration
  • Watery Stool
  • Explosive stool
  • Increased frequency of bowel movements
  • Urgency of bowel movements
  • Straining to defecate
  • Accidents indoors
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Fever
  • Listlessness and weakness
  • Fluid accumulation in legs, abdomen or chest
  • Weight loss
  • Dull and brittle fur
  • Vomiting
  • Blood or mucus in stool
  • Low appetite
  • Depression
Types

Diarrhea is typically classified in two ways.

  • Small bowel/small intestinal diarrhea
    • Stool is typically passed in large amounts 3 to 5 times per day
    • Is caused by an irritation to or damage of the stomach or small intestine
    • There may be accompanying vomiting and weight loss
    • There is no difficulty passing the stool
    • Gas may be heard
    • Blood of a black color may be seen in stool
  • Large bowel/large intestinal diarrhea
    • Stool is usually passed more than five times a day in small amounts
    • Involves damage or irritation to the colon or large intestine
    • The presence of vomiting is not usual, nor is weight loss
    • There may be straining to pass the stool
    • If blood is present, it will be red
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Causes of Diarrhea (Long-term) in Dogs

The causes of diarrhea can be numerous and range from mild to serious. Some causes are more easily treated than others, and the regimen for resolving the problem can be more involved. Do not delay if your dog is ill with diarrhea. Solving the problem, and getting your pet back to good health will be faster and more successful with prompt care.

  • Canine distemper
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Canine coronavirus
  • Irritable bowel disease (though diarrhea is not breed specific, the Basenji, for example, is genetically prone to IBD)
  • Systemic illness
  • Allergies
  • Whipworms or parasites
  • Giardia
  • Liver, kidney or pancreatic disease
  • Eating spoiled food or other garbage
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Ingestion of a foreign body such as a stick or bones that could become lodged in the intestine
  • Dietary change, poor diet, or high-fat diet
  • Sensitivity of the digestive tract
  • Toxins like lead or insecticides
  • Tumors or polyps
  • Stress, such as may occur when boarding, or when the home environment changes
  • Cancer
  • Infection caused by virus, bacteria, or fungus
  • Medication side effects
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Diagnosis of Diarrhea (Long-term) in Dogs

When you bring your dog to the clinic, the veterinary team members will be ready to assess the condition of your pet. Be ready to provide as much relevant information as possible. The veterinarian may ask the following questions.

  • How long has the diarrhea been affecting your pet?
  • Is his condition worsening, or staying about the same?
  • Has your dog had access to garbage or spoiled food?
  • Is there a presence of blood or mucus, and what color is the blood?
  • Can you tell us anything about behavioral changes such as activity level or appetite?

If possible, it'll greatly aid the diagnosis if you are able to bring a stool sample to the clinic. The veterinarian will want to test for illnesses such as parvovirus. A stool sample analysis can also point to a parasitic infection if that is the case.

A complete blood count, electrolyte panel, and urinalysis may be done. This helps the diagnosis because bloodwork is a great indicator of how well your dog’s organs are functioning. Results of these tests may also indicate if there is an infection of a bacterial, fungal, or viral type.

Radiographs, sometimes done with a barium contrast, can indicate abnormalities in the intestines. Further diagnostic imaging may include ultrasound or endoscopy. An endoscopy will be done under general anesthetic. Endoscopy through the mouth will show the condition of the stomach and intestine. Done through the rectum, the procedure can show the colon and large intestines, which may show signs of damage, cancer, or polyps.

A biopsy of the small intestine or large intestine may be recommended. It must be noted that a biopsy of the large intestine must be done surgically. If warranted, your veterinarian may suggest getting the opinion of an internal medicine specialist.

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Treatment of Diarrhea (Long-term) in Dogs

Treatment protocols will always begin with treating any underlying illnesses or diseases that may be affecting your furry canine friend. This is paramount to resolving the diarrhea.

If your dog is very sick or dehydrated when you arrive at the clinic, hospitalization could be how the treatment commences. Intravenous therapy is the best way to stabilize your pet and return system levels to normal ranges.

If there is a presence of bacteria or worms, appropriate medication will be prescribed in the form of antibiotics or deworming drugs. Antidiarrheal medicine could be given, or depending on the cause; there may be the administration of medications to control the motility (movement) of food through the intestine.

Some protocols can be followed at home, with the direction and support of your veterinarian. For example, acute small intestinal diarrhea can be treated by withholding food for 12 to 48 hours (but never water). If the diarrhea stops, you can slowly reintroduce bland foods such as rice, potatoes, chicken, or cottage cheese in small portions 3 to 6 times per day. The veterinary caregiver can also prescribe a commercial intestinal diet.

Large intestinal diarrhea may be resolved with a high fiber diet, combined with anti-inflammatory drugs.

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Recovery of Diarrhea (Long-term) in Dogs

Keep the veterinary team up to date on the recovery of your canine family member. Improvement in the diarrhea should be seen within a day or two. If your pet is not getting better, a change of treatment may be necessary. Perhaps additional medication is needed, or further testing is required. Chronic diarrhea could necessitate lifetime dietary management or medication.

Taking care to keep your pet away from garbage, unsuitable foodstuffs, and items that may look like fun to ingest or chew is important. Do not make sudden dietary changes, or feed your dog table scraps. As well, regular visits to the veterinary clinic (for example, to check for parasites or worms) are part of the preventative measures you should take against the recurrence of diarrhea.

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Diarrhea (Long-term) Average Cost

From 86 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,200

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Diarrhea (Long-term) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Doberman Pinscher

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Six Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Puppy acting funny. Watery poop. Moaning a lot. Just laying around

Dec. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello so sorry to hear that your dog is not feeling good. Since he is young I really worry about parvo. It would be best for your vet to see your dog and test him for parvo. At home you can give boiled chicken and rice. Also try to syringe water to keep him hydrated

Dec. 29, 2020

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Yorkshire Terrier/Maltese

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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8 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

It seems once a month (for the past 5 months) my dog will experience urgency and diarrhea throughout the night every beginning at 2AM and continue on every 2 hours (4AM, 6AM). This will typically last 2-5 days. Once she wakes in the morning (8AM) she’s completely fine she has no urgency and regular stool. I’ve taken her to the vet she’s received an antibiotic in the past that helped, they’ve done a X-Ray & said everything looked perfect. At this point I’m noticing a pattern & wondering what the cause could be. She currently does not take any medications & no changes have been made to her diet.

Dec. 17, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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8 Recommendations

Hi there, I'm sorry to hear you are having this issue. There are many possibilities here including colitis, food intolerance, Addison disease etc. If the vet hasn't run some basic tests such as blood work and a stool analysis, this would be worth doing. Xrays are not very sensitive when it comes to the gut; an abdominal ultrasound would be preferable. Consider a hypoallergenic diet and make sure your dog is up to date with a good quality wormer.

Dec. 17, 2020

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Diarrhea (Long-term) Average Cost

From 86 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,200

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