When Is Dog Diarrhea an Emergency? (2023)

If you own a dog, dog poop is a very real part of your life. But if you're reading this post, you've more than likely found yourself in the unenviable position of having to clean a poop that's, well, lacking in structural integrity and possibly even bordering on formless.

There's no way to put it delicately, but doggie diarrhea is just part of being a pawrent. Like in humans, there comes a point when having a runny tummy can go from harmless and temporary to much more severe.

We'll look at dog diarrhea in this post (not literally, thank goodness!) and cover all the essential things you need to know. What causes dog diarrhea? What other symptoms should you look out for? When should you worry? When should you seek treatment?

We'll cover everything you need to know about navigating a very poopy situation.

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Causes of dog diarrhea

Diarrhea in dogs can be caused by several things. Most commonly, the cause of dog diarrhea is related to what your dog eats. Eating things like garbage or spoiled food can cause stomach upset, as can consuming poisonous substances or plants. Food intolerances and allergies can also cause diarrhea in dogs.

According to research, diarrhea in dogs can also be caused by various parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Also, common viruses like parvovirus and coronavirus and bacteria like salmonella can cause diarrhea.

Sometimes, it can be a symptom of another illness like liver and kidney disease, colitis, or cancer.

Read more: Parvo in Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

(Video) COS 121: Acute Canine Diarrhea on Emergency - Are Probiotics Enough? (Sponsored by Purina)

Treatment and taking care of your dog

First off, you must never use human medication on your pets. Their anatomies are very different from ours and, of course, much smaller. Only medications specially formulated for animals and prescribed by a veterinarian should be given to your pets.

Diarrhea can very quickly lead to dehydration, so your dog must have access to plenty of fresh water.

If your dog has diarrhea, the first thing you can do is switch your dog to a bland diet. Lean protein sources like skinless chicken, cooked eggs, lean beef, and white fish are good.

To prepare these, simply boil/poach these without oil or salt or flavoring of any kind. Combine these with simple carbohydrates like cooked white rice, sweet potatoes, or regular skinless potatoes.

Feed this to your dog in small, frequent portions to avoid overwhelming their gut.

Other everyday kitchen items that can be helpful to try include:

  • Pumpkin puree (it must be 100% pumpkin without added spices etc.);
  • Plain yogurt with live cultures (don't use this if your pup is sensitive to milk);
  • Cottage cheese (plain).

When is dog diarrhea an emergency? Symptoms to look out for

Diarrhea on its own is not necessarily a cause for concern. But if you've followed a bland diet for more than 48 hours and diarrhea shows no sign of stopping, it's a good idea to head to the vet.

Some symptoms that are cause for concern include:

  • Lethargy;
  • Fever;
  • Vomiting;
  • Weakness;
  • Dehydration;
  • Blood in the stools;
  • Diarrhea that follows a vaccine or after administering medication.

You know your dog better than anyone, so it's better to seek treatment than to wait if you notice even subtle signs that something isn't right. In instances of dog diarrhea, it's always best to… dare we say it … trust your gut.

Diarrhea is a reason to worry

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Dog vomiting and diarrhea – should I worry?

The risk of diarrhea and vomiting together is that your dog is at greater risk of dehydration. If your dog is vomiting and has diarrhea repeatedly, it's probably time to see a vet. Usually, vomiting for longer than 12 hours and diarrhea for longer than 24 hours requires veterinary care.

If your dog is lethargic and lacking in energy or cannot stand or walk, you should get to a vet as soon as possible.

Can I give my dog Pepto Bismol for diarrhea?

It's always best not to use human medication on animals. While Pepto Bismol may provide some relief for your dog's mild diarrhea in particular cases, getting the correct dose is tricky without the advice of a vet. It’s much better to let your vet prescribe a medication that has been specifically formulated for animals.

My dog has diarrhea but is acting fine?

(Video) Veterinarian explains when to wait to take pet to E.R.

If your dog has diarrhea but is acting fine and isn't displaying any other symptoms, the issue is contained in the GI. This means it's more than likely that your dog ate something that isn't agreeing with them or has a parasite infection.

Switch to a bland diet, ensure your pup has access to plenty of fresh water, and sit tight. If the situation doesn't resolve in a day or so, it might be worth getting to a vet to prevent dehydration and ensure that the problem isn't worsening.

If your dog has bloody diarrhea but is acting normal, it's advisable to seek treatment urgently. Just because your dog seems fine doesn't mean that something serious isn't going on internally. Where bloody diarrhea is concerned, it's always better to err on the side of caution.

Can peanut butter cause diarrhea in dogs?

Peanut butter is very high in fat, so if your dog consumes too much peanut butter, it can cause diarrhea. How much peanut butter is too much? That depends on your dog, but a good rule of thumb is that no more than half a tablespoon for a small-to-medium-sized dog or a tablespoon for large breeds.

Ensure that the peanut butter you give your dog is unsweetened and unsalted, which is better for dogs. Ensure that your peanut butter doesn't contain xylitol (a natural sweetener), highly toxic to dogs.

Is rice water good for dog diarrhea?

Rice water is a common and effective home remedy for diarrhea in dogs. In addition to rehydrating your pup, it also has a binding effect that leads to thicker, firmer poops.

How to make rice water to treat dog diarrhea? Easy! Boil one cup of plain, white rice in three cups of water for around 20 minutes. Drain the cloudy water from the rice and allow it to cool to room temperature before giving it to your dog. You can make extra and store it in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

What is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs?

The most common causes of diarrhea in dogs are:

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  • Stress and anxiety;
  • Change in the diet;
  • Eating garbage or spoiled food;
  • Ingestion of foreign objects, i.e., rocks, toys, socks, etc.;
  • Ingesting toxins of poisons;
  • Parasites;
  • Bacteria such as salmonella;
  • Viral infections like parvovirus;
  • Diseases like colitis, pancreatitis, and cancer.

What is the best dog food for diarrhea?

If your dog has diarrhea, the best food to feed is a plain diet of boiled rice or potatoes and lean protein like skinless chicken, boiled eggs, or white fish. Pumpkin can also be very good if it is 100% pure pumpkin without added spices.

How fast does pumpkin work for diarrhea?

Many cases of diarrhea may see improvement within 1-3 days with pumpkin added to the diet or another bland food. If improvement is not seen, this should prompt a visit to the vet.

My dog hasn't pooped in 24 hours after diarrhea. How long after diarrhea will my dog poop again?

Stay calm. It's pretty common for your dog not to poop for a day or so after having diarrhea. A runny tummy can clean out your dog's intestines, and it may take a day or two for normal stool to build up and pass through.

This is also partly due to medication that may be used to treat diarrhea which slows the gut down to give it a break, and partially because a bland diet will naturally move slower through the gut.

Normal pooping should resume in two or three days. If your pet is eating and not going to the toilet after this time, give your vet a call.

My dog has orange diarrhea. What does that mean?

As much as you would really rather not, paying attention to the color of your dog’s poop can give you clues as to what’s going on internally. Ideally, your dog’s poop should be chocolate brown.

Common poop colors and what they mean:

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  • Chocolate brown: normal;
  • Green: your dog ate too much grass, gall bladder issues;
  • Orange or yellow: possible biliary or liver problems;
  • Red streaks: blood in stool, possibly from inflammation in the colon (colitis) from various causes;
  • Black and tarry: this indicates bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract;
  • Grey and greasy: possible pancreas problems or biliary issue;
  • White spots that look like rice: may indicate the presence of tapeworm.
When Is Dog Diarrhea an Emergency? (1)


How do I know if my dogs diarrhea is serious? ›

If your dog has severe bloody diarrhea or is showing more generalized signs of illness such as weakness, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, or dehydration, the cause may be more serious and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.

How long can a dog have diarrhea before going to vet? ›

“If a pet stops eating, is lethargic, the diarrhea is black or tarry in quality, there is associated vomiting, or the diarrhea doesn't resolve in 48-72 hours then veterinary care should be sought.”

Should I be worried if my dog has diarrhea but is acting fine? ›

If the situation doesn't resolve in a day or so, it might be worth getting to a vet to prevent dehydration and ensure that the problem isn't worsening. If your dog has bloody diarrhea but is acting normal, it's advisable to seek treatment urgently.

How long should watery diarrhea last in dogs? ›

Diarrhea in dogs can last anywhere from 24-48 hours and will often resolve on its own. But if diarrhea persists and is accompanied by other symptoms, seek help from a vet. Diarrhea can be a result of a serious health condition, so it's always a good idea to take them to the vet to figure out what's causing it.

What is the fastest way to fix diarrhea in dogs? ›

A bland diet for 24 to 48 hours may help to resolve your pup's issue. Plain-cooked white rice with a little chicken and some canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) may help to make your pup's tummy feel better. Once your pooch feels better, gradually reintroduce their regular food.

Why is my dog pooping liquid diarrhea? ›

Eating garbage or spoiled food. Ingestion of foreign objects such as toys, bones and fabric. Ingesting toxins or poisons. Viral infections such as parvovirus, distemper or coronavirus.

Should I be worried if my dog has diarrhea for 2 days? ›

Diarrhea in dogs can occur suddenly and last as long as a day or two up to a few weeks or months. If your dog's diarrhea persists for more than a day, dehydration can be a concern. Diarrhea that lasts longer can be an indication that your dog has an underlying health issue.

What do I do if my dog has had diarrhea for 5 days? ›

If the diarrhea doesn't resolve by holding back on food and then re-introducing a bland diet, though, then it's time to call your veterinarian. Pets that have chronic soft stool or chronic full-blown diarrhea should definitely be examined by a veterinarian, even if they are otherwise behaving normally.

What can a vet do for a dog with diarrhea? ›

Basic treatments often include intravenous fluids, medications to help stop the diarrhea (anti-diarrheal medications meant for dogs), dewormers, medications to treat nausea, and possibly pain medications. There are also times basic treatments involve dietary changes.

Should I take my dog to the emergency vet for diarrhea? ›

It is common for acute diarrhea to ease on its own without intervention from your regular vet or an emergency veterinarian. If your dog is experiencing severe symptoms or diarrhea has lasted more than 48 hours then you should contact an emergency animal hospital immediately.

Should I take my dog to the vet if he has had diarrhea for 3 days? ›

If your dog has a single episode of diarrhea and is otherwise acting normal, it is likely not a cause for concern. Monitor your dog's bowel movements to see if things clear up. More than 2 episodes could indicate a problem, so it's a good idea to call your vet if your canine companion has two or more bouts of diarrhea.

What soaks up dog diarrhea? ›

Wipes. You're going to need a lot of soft products to absorb as much of the mess as possible. Paper towels are a tried and true go-to for many dog owners. They're easy to work with and can be disposed of in a plastic bag.

What is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs? ›

Eating garbage or spoiled food. Ingestion of foreign objects such as toys, bones, and fabric. Ingesting toxins or poisons. Viral infections such as parvovirus, distemper or coronavirus.

What is the first signs of parvo in a dog? ›

Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy; loss of appetite; abdominal pain and bloating; fever or low body temperature (hypothermia); vomiting; and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock.

How long does it take for chicken and rice to help dog diarrhea? ›

A bland diet such as boiled chicken and rice or plain rice can help with simple cases of diarrhea. If it is going to work, you should see improvement in stool quality within 24 hours. If you have not seen this, then he will need to see his veterinarian as he will likely need fecal testing and a medication.

Why has my dog had diarrhea for a week? ›

Common causes of diarrhea include dietary indiscretion such as getting into the garbage pail or eating people food that the dog is not accustomed to, abrupt dietary changes, medications especially antibiotics which tend to disrupt the gastric flora and infectious agents such as parvovirus, coronavirus, Salmonella, E.

Why would my dog have diarrhea for 3 days? ›

Parasites - roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Coccidia, or Giardia. Viral infections such as parvovirus, distemper, or coronavirus. Bacterial infections - such as salmonella. Inflammatory bowel disease.

Why has my dog had diarrhea for 5 days? ›

Common causes of diarrhea include dietary indiscretion such as getting into the garbage pail or eating people food that the dog is not accustomed to, abrupt dietary changes, medications especially antibiotics which tend to disrupt the gastric flora and infectious agents such as parvovirus, coronavirus, Salmonella, E.

What do vets give dogs to stop diarrhea? ›

Your veterinarian may recommend the oral administration of an intestinal protectant such as kaolin clay and pectin (KaoPectate™) or a suspension containing bismuth subsalicylate (PeptoBismol™).

What should I do if my dog has had diarrhea for 4 days? ›

Contact your vet right away if your pup is experiencing repeated episodes of diarrhea or chronic diarrhea. If your dog is showing other symptoms as well as diarrhea they should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.


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