Why does my dog have diarrhea?

All About Dog Diarrhea: A Survival Guide

“Why does my dog have diarrhea?”

If you’re asking this question because your pet passed watery stools, you need to act fast. While dog diarrhea is common, sometimes it can be serious depending on the cause.

Symptoms of diarrhea could mean that your dog has a food allergy or intolerance. They may also indicate a viral infection [1]. In this article, you’re going to learn everything about diarrhea in dogs:

  • How to assess it
  • Tips to cure dog diarrhea fast
  • Preventing diarrhea from happening

Let’s get started, shall we?

Stools Can Tell You About Your Dog’s Health

What stool can tell you about your dog's health

Can you predict your dog’s health from the appearance of his poop?

Yes, you can!

If there are some things about Fido you should never ignore, poop should be one of them.

Remember the 4 C’s of dog poop: Color, Content, Consistency, and Coating.

Let’s discuss each.


  • Medium or chocolate brown – This is a healthy poop color. If your dog’s food has assorted colors, you may find these colors in his poop.

  • Green – This color indicates that your dog ate grass. It could also indicate a parasitic infection.

  • Red streaks – Red streaks mean blood. Fido may have a rectal injury or another problem in his lower digestive tract [2].

  • White spots – Do they look like grains of rice? These can be pinworms or tapeworms, or simply due to a medication Fido took [3].

  • Yellow – This can mean a biliary or liver problem in your dog. It could also indicate some food allergy or intolerance.

  • Black – Black stools signify bleeding in your dog’s upper gastrointestinal tract. In this case, call your vet immediately.


Most of the time, you won’t see anything in your pet’s poop unless you use a microscope. Leave this part to your vet. But if you notice the following, let your vet know:

  • Blood
  • Mucus
  • Foreign objects
  • Undigested food


Imagine a play-doh. That’s how healthy dog poop should be – a bit firm, compact, and moist!


Keep this in mind: Nothing should coat your dog’s poop. If you notice blood or mucus, take Fido to the vet asap.

An important reminder:

Take a sample of fresh dog poop (same day) to your vet. Your vet may ask for one so he can assess it. Scoop a small amount, about ½ teaspoon, and place the sample in a Ziploc bag. Make sure it’s sealed.

What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs

What can cause diarrhea in dogs

Now that you’ve got some poop pointers, let’s explore why diarrhea happens.

  • Dietary indiscretion – Dogs can eat garbage or spoiled food that irritate their gastrointestinal tract. In this case, vomiting may accompany diarrhea [4].

  • Food allergy – An allergen in your dog’s food may trigger an immune response. Diarrhea is a common sign of food allergy. Look out for excessive scratching or vomiting as well.

  • Bacterial or viral infection – Dogs with distemper, parvovirus, and coronavirus have diarrhea as one of the disease symptoms [5, 6, 7].

  • Intestinal parasites – Fido can develop intestinal worms or another form of parasite by coming in contact with another dog’s feces. Dogs coming from shelters are more likely to have gastrointestinal parasites than owned dogs [8].

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – This happens when your dog’s intestinal tract is inflamed. Aside from diarrhea, a dog will often vomit, lose appetite, and lose weight [9].

  • Metabolic disorders – Disorders of the pancreas and liver cause diarrhea in dogs. Other signs that go with diarrhea include vomiting, weakness, and loss of appetite [10, 11].

Treating a Dog with Diarrhea

Contact your vet right away if your dog appears to be seriously ill or has a pre-existing health problem. Dogs that are very young and old are also more likely to catch an illness through exposure.

Which Over-the-Counter Drugs Are Safe for Your Dog?

You might be asking, “What can i give my dog for diarrhea over the counter?”

Your vet may prescribe any of the following medications below. Avoid administering medication to your pet without talking to your vet first!


Imodium (Loperamide) relieves diarrhea in both canine and human patients [12]. It slows down intestinal motility. Please note that imodium can cause allergic reactions in some dogs.


Probiotic supplements are considered safe in general. They work by inhibiting bacterial growth in your dog’s intestines. Probiotics also balance the immune system.


Veterinarians use metronidazole to treat protozoal and bacterial infections. It reduces inflammation and stops diarrhea. While it’s a prescription-only medication, we included it on this list for your information [13].

Holistic Remedies from Your Home

What about a dog diarrhea home remedy?

Here’s how you can help relieve Fido’s diarrhea at home:

1. Withhold food for 12 hours.

Fasting your dog helps his gastrointestinal tract rest. It relieves digestive symptoms including diarrhea [14]. To prevent dehydration, continue to offer Fido small amounts of water.

2. Give bland and easily digested food.

Replace your dog’s food with bland options. These include white rice, chicken breast (without bones), and chicken broth. Any one of these make the best food for dog with diarrhea. Remember to feed your dog slowly.

3. Allow your pet to rest.

Resume exercise and playtime only when Fido’s poop returns to normal. Examine your dog’s waste using the 4 C’s we discussed earlier.

How to treat a dog with diarrhea?

Ways to Prevent Dog Diarrhea

Follow these preventive tips before diarrhea starts:

  • Change your dog’s food gradually – Decrease amounts of the old food and mix a larger amount of the new food. Doing this will prevent any tummy troubles!

  • Vaccinate your dog – Vaccines protect Fido against diseases. Core vaccines for dogs include those for canine distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, and hepatitis [15, 16].

  • Maintain a clean environment after your dog – Dispose Fido’s poop right away. Don’t let him drink standing water. Clean his kennel often. These tips prevent worms and intestinal parasites.


If your dog’s diarrhea lasts more than a day, get immediate attention from your vet. Because anything can trigger diarrhea, pay attention to your dog’s health. We hope that this guide helps Fido get back to his normal state in no time!


  1. Washington State University. Diarrhea. – https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/common-problems/diarrhea
  2. Casey S. What Should Dog Poop Look Like?! – https://www.foundanimals.org/what-should-dog-poop-look-like/
  3. Sissons C. What causes white specks in my poop? 2018 March 21 – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321280.php
  4. ScienceDirect. Dietary Indiscretion. – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/dietary-indiscretion
  5. Gillespie JH, Baker JA, Poppensiek G. Diarrhea In Puppies Caused By Distemper Virus. 1956 August – https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1956.tb40122.x
  6. ScienceDirect. Canine Parvovirus. – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/immunology-and-microbiology/canine-parvovirus
  7. Buonavoglia C et al. Canine Coronavirus Highly Pathogenic for Dogs. 2006 March – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3291441/
  8. Raza A et al. Gastrointestinal Parasites in Shelter Dogs: Occurrence, Pathology, Treatment and Risk to Shelter Workers. 2018 July 2 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6070783/
  9. WebMD. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Dogs. – https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/inflammatory-bowel-disease-ibd-dogs#1
  10. Steiner JM. Pancreatitis and Other Disorders of the Pancreas in Dogs. – https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/pancreatitis-and-other-disorders-of-the-pancreas-in-dogs
  11. Center SA. Disorders of the Liver and Gallbladder in Dogs. – https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-liver-and-gallbladder-in-dogs
  12. Regan RC et al. Cytotoxic Effects of Loperamide Hydrochloride on Canine Cancer Cells. 2014 September 15 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4300369/
  13. Gollakner R. Metronidazole. – https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/metronidazole
  14. Becker KS. A Way of Life for Wild Canines, This Could Be a Godsend for Your Dog. 2018 May 27 – https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/05/27/pets-therapeutic-fasting.aspx
  15. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Vaccinations for Your Pet. – https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/vaccinations-your-pet
  16. Day MJ et al. Guidelines For The Vaccination Of Dogs And Cats. 2016 January – https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/PDF_old/WSAVA-Vaccination-Guidelines-2015-Full-Version.pdf

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