When your dog gets diarrhea, it can be every bit as difficult to manage as diarrhea in your kids or yourself. Your dog will have frequent loose or fluid bowel movements that he may not be able to get outside in time for. It can be of short duration or last for weeks and months. If it lasts for more than a day, it's a good idea to call your veterinarian.
Several things can cause dog diarrhea. These can include eating foreign objects, infections, indigestible food, parasites and food allergies. Dietary changes or an electrolyte imbalance are also common causes, along with ingestion of bacteria such as E Coli or salmonella. These can be ingested through contaminated food or licking trash. Parasites such as coccidia, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms can cause long-term loose stools. Chemicals such as pesticide, cleaning solvents and fuels can also cause digestive problems.
The first step in treatment of diarrhea is to not give your dog any food for 12 to 24 hours. Provide lots of clean water to prevent dehydration. Keep an eye on your dogs stools to ascertain whether the fasting relieves the condition.
Call the Vet
If the condition isn't relieved in 24 hours, contact your veterinarian. If there is blood in the stools or they are black, straining to defecate, if there is vomiting, fever or if the dog is lethargic, take the dog into the vet. Tell the vet if there has been any unexplained weight loss or decreased appetite. With puppies, call the vet immediately as it can be indicative of a more serious condition in young dogs.
OTC and Prescription Medications
There are specialized dog diarrhea medications such as doggy Pepto Bismol and others. You can also use regular OTC diarrhea treatments for humans such as Immodium and Kaopectate. All of these should only be used on the instruction of your veterinarian. Dosages generally run as follows: Kaopectate: 0.5-1.0ml per pound every four hours. Imodium (loperamide): 0.2mg/ml strength at 1ml per four pounds two or three times a day. Immodium: One regular strength Immodium every 12 hours. Pepto Bismol: Maximum 1 tablespoon of Pepto Bismol (.5 to 1.5 ml per pound) orally every 12 hours.
The trick is to remove any underlying causes of gastrointestinal distress. Dietary change is one way. You may put the dog on a low impact diet of chicken and rice and gradually introduce simple dry foods to see how the dog tolerates them. If the dog is prone to diarrhea, a simple diet might offer some relief.