How to Address Your Dog's Diarrhea Pattern
Most of us feel some frustration when our dogs suddenly produce poor quality stool for unexplained reasons, but for those with dogs that have chronic diarrhea, frustration often leads to worry.
- Indiscriminate eating is one of the most common reasons for diarrhea and since the habit itself can be chronic in some cases, the stool reaction is as well.
- Barring that, checking for parasites is always a good idea. A negative result on a fecal test doesn't always mean there are no worms. I've had two memorable cases in this regard.
- One was a friend's dog who tested negative one day and passed a round worm the next. The other was a client who is a vet and the dog presented as if he had inflammatory bowel diseases, so he was scoped. The finding was a nest of worms despite multiple negative test results.
- Even deworming doesn't necessarily do a complete job. It depends on the type of worms and the meds used, so if a dog was dewormed but diarrhea persists it might take another round of medication to finish the job.
♦ Localization of diarrhea is one of the first investigative steps a veterinarian takes, and it's something dog parents need to understand in order to address it with dietary measures when possible.
♦ Some dogs present with signs of small bowel/intestine or large bowel/intestine diarrhea while other dogs show signs of both (they're the most challenging to figure out).
→ Signs of the problem being in the small bowel are dark, tarry stool, weight loss and an increase in volume of stool, but usually not in frequency of defecation.
→ Signs of large intestine diarrhea include visible, red blood and/or mucous, straining during defecation and sometimes walking in a hunched position as if straining to defecate more. There is usually an increase of stool despite that frequency doesn't change.
In dogs that may have a more difficult situation, a mix of the signs above can be observed.
Steps to Take
♦ It goes without saying that your veterinarian should be consulted to determine the cause of the problem and get a treatment plan.
♦ In our experience many dogs benefit from a diarrhea panel test and supplementation with B-12 (injection). This is not the answer for all dogs and doesn't address bigger problems, but it's astonishing how many dogs are in this category. There are so many other things that can cause chronic diarrhea that we recommend not following suggestions on the internet before your vet rules certain issues in or out. The common suggestions of adding probiotics may or may not be the best idea for a dog with a chronic problem.
- From a dietary perspective, we find that changing the diet to very lean novel foods (things the dog has never consumed before – not even in a treat) can be helpful.
- Large bowel diarrhea can often respond to the addition of psyllium fiber. Not only can the fiber in psyllium be helpful in firming stool when it's fed without water, but it feeds beneficial bacterial in the bowel.
- Pumpkin can be helpful as well, but some dogs develop even softer stool whereas that's not an affect we've seen with dry psyllium.
Generally, the more often the dog has a movement the softer it becomes. Although exercise is important to health, it promotes bowel function. The dog that has chronic diarrhea doesn't need to produce even more of it, so fewer, shorter walks can slow things down.