Treating Diarrhoea in Dogs

Treating Diarrhoea in Dogs

It’s not just humans that have the loosies. And it’s always painful no matter who it affects. Read on to find out what you can do about the dreaded “Diarrhoea” in dogs.

What is diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is when your dog has an abnormal stool (loose stool). This could occur once or frequently. Either way, it is best to pay close attention to this illness.

What are the symptoms of diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea or a loose stool can be accompanied by vomiting, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Why do dogs get diarrhoea?

As with most animals, dogs tend to put almost anything in their mouth. If your dog is healthy and suddenly gets diarrhoea, it could be because of a sudden change in diet, scavenging behaviour, or a viral/bacterial infection. A more severe (chronic) case of diarrhoea could occur because the dog is under stress, has an allergy to something the dog has eaten, or presence of some type of parasites in their body (worms). Other reasons include inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatic disease.

How should you treat diarrhoea?

For dogs who have diarrhoea for the first time (and are otherwise usually healthy):

  • Ensure there is plenty of clean water available (to avoid dehydration). Make sure you get the dog to drink the water (don’t just leave it there).
  • Try giving the dog a small meal of boiled rice and a boiled egg or boiled chicken (without bones or skin). This should ideally be the diet until the dog is well again.
  • If diarrhoea persists for more than one day or gets worse, call your vet.
  • For dogs who have diarrhoea and have vomited only once or twice:
    • Urge the dog to drink water many times a day.
    • Avoid food for half a day (or provide diluted chicken broth).
    • After about six hours, if the dog has not vomited, then give your dog a small meal of boiled rice and chicken (no bones, no skin). Wait for a few hours and repeat this small meal.

For young or old dogs, who have already had health issues, call your vet (this could be an emergency).

  • If your dog has frequently passed a loose stool or the stool is water.
  • If there is more than a streak of blood in the stool.
  • If there is profuse vomiting or your dog has abdominal pain.

Observing the dog’s stool – you will need to explain to the vet the colour and consistency of the dog’s stool.  This will help the vet diagnose what exactly is the cause of diarrhoea. 

How can you prevent diarrhoea in your dog?

As best as you can, watch what goes into your dog’s mouth, especially when you take your dog out for a  walk. Sometimes, dogs chew their pet toys to bits (and swallow the plastic). This should be avoided. Tip: Keep a tab on any change in food that you might give your dog. Any sudden change of diet will induce diarrhoea in most dogs so please don’t allow dogs new foods in any large quantities.

Treatment of diarrhoea

With hydration, and abstinence of food the stomach should settle. Please always check with your vet. However, if immediate vet care is not available do the following:

  • Very severe diarrhoea (stool comes out like a jet of water): inject 1 ml of Hyoscine butyl bromide per 40 kg body weight (available in 1 ml ampoules from brands such as Buscogast or Buscopan). Search above on ‘injecting a dog’. This can be given as IM or sub-cut. If an injection is not available, give 10 mg tablet per 40 kg bodyweight.  The drug will not treat the cause – it will immediately stop the severe stool discharge. Then follow the next step(s):
  • Severe diarrhoea (continuous liquid discharge of stool): Put the dog on Metronidazole IV Infusion. This is typically available as a 200 ml (500 mg) infusion that is sufficient for 40 kg body weight in 2 doses over a day for 5 days. It is available in 100 ml infusions as well – use for small dogs. A common brand available is Metris. Metronidazole works well against anaerobic gut bacteria.
  • If an IV drip can’t be given or if diarrhoea and dehydration are not that severe you can use Metronidazole tablets (commonly available as 400 mg or 200 mg, brand Metrogyl). If diarrhoea persists after 1-2 days some vets will add Norflox-TZ tablets which are a combination drug of Tinidazole (600mg) + Norfloxacin (400mg) + Lactobacillus (120Millionspores). Half a tablet with 1 tablet of Metrogyl will be an appropriate dose.

Related Reading

Do you find this information useful? For more medical advice, visit the VOSD website.

The information contained in VOSD Vet Advice™ is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical action which is provided by your vet. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For any emergency situation related to a dog’s health, please visit the nearest veterinary clinic.