Diarrhea in Older Dogs

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Diarrhea in older dogs is often indicative of a serious health issue.

Diarrhea is always uncomfortable, despite your dog's age. However, if your pooch is a senior citizen, not only is diarrhea distressing, but it could be a sign of a bigger problem. If your older dog has diarrhea, it is important to have it evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your dog could become dehydrated rapidly. Quick treatment can help to resolve the problem, or prevent it from becoming worse.

The Facts

Diarrhea occurs in older dogs for a number of reasons. It could be due to an illness or disease, or something as simple as eating the wrong item. Diarrhea is caused by an excessive amount of water in the feces and can cause a deficiency in your pet's absorption of nutrients, electrolytes and water, states PetPlace.com. Therefore, it is extremely important to take your geriatric dog to the veterinarian at the first signs of diarrhea.

Signs and Symptoms

Normal dog stool is formed, a bit firm and brown in color. Characteristics of diarrhea include stool that is watery, soft or loose. The smell of the diarrhea can be more pungent than normal stool, and there can even be amounts of blood. In addition, the stool might be black, also indicative of blood, or it may contain worms. Dogs with diarrhea often have accidents in the house, as diarrhea can come urgently before the dog is able to make the owner aware of his need to eliminate.



There are many causes for diarrhea in older dogs, and some are quite serious. The diarrhea can occur by itself, or with other symptoms, depending on the problem. Diarrhea is often a symptom of kidney disease, parasites, certain types of cancer, gastrointestinal disease and inflammatory bowel disease, states PetEducation.com.


If your older dog has diarrhea, it is essential to take her to a veterinarian. Bring a sample of the dog's diarrhea with you, as well. The doctor will palpate and listen to the sounds of your dog's belly, and may give a rectal exam. In addition, the vet will run tests on your dog's stool to check for bacteria and parasites, and may perform blood tests or take radiographs of the abdomen. The blood tests check organ functions, while the radiographs can detect tumors, intestinal inflammation or foreign bodies.



Treatment for diarrhea depends on the cause. Sometimes, the administration of an anti-diarrheal or worming medication is all that is necessary to clear up the problem. However, if the issue is severe, more extensive treatment may be needed. Fluid therapy is administered if the dog is dehydrated or has kidney problems, while chemotherapy, radiation or surgery may be required for cancer. Your veterinarian will discuss all of your treatment options, as well as the prognosis when she discovers the cause of the diarrhea.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.