Stress & Diarrhea in Dogs

By Naomi Millburn

Stress can do a number on your dog's body, notably on his digestive system. Stress-induced diarrhea in canines is often triggered by significant lifestyle changes. Some examples of these changes include moves to new residences, the death of a beloved owner and the addition of new pets to the household.

Stress and the Adjustment Process

Dogs often have difficulty adapting to new things, including new faces, food, feeding schedules, smells or sounds. This can result in brief and generally subtle cases of diarrhea. Consult your veterinarian about feeding him bland food to make things easier on his digestive tract.

Observations of Stress-Induced Diarrhea

If a dog's diarrhea is caused by stress, it may be runny in appearance and include mucus. It may contain some blood, as well. Dogs who have stress-induced diarrhea typically don't exhibit any other unusual signs. If a dog's diarrhea is a result of stress, he usually won't have to pass stools as frequently as an animal who has diarrhea associated with bacterial or viral factors. If your dog has diarrhea, alert your veterinarian just to be safe.

Stress and Vulnerability to Illnesses

Stress can make dogs more susceptible to some conditions that are characterized by diarrhea, as well. Stressed out and nervous canines are particularly vulnerable to irritable bowel syndrome. Diarrhea that contains blood or mucus is a typical sign of canine irritable bowel syndrome. If a dog has irritable bowel syndrome, he may experience noticeable difficulty in passing bowel movements. Frustrated dogs who are kept in close quarters with many other equally frustrated animals are prone to canine coronavirus infection. Runny orange or yellowish-green diarrhea is a common indication of coronavirus. If your dog is a nervous wreck due to staying in a kennel alongside many other animals while you're away from home, he could be prone to catching coronavirus and experiencing its resulting diarrhea.

Home Management

If you get veterinary approval, you can help ease your pet's mild stress-induced diarrhea at home. If your pet has soft fecal matter but is properly hydrated and isn't throwing up, provide her with a single tablespoon of Kaopectate, a kaolin product. Kaopectate is believed to soak up toxins and bacteria inside of the intestines. It's also believed to help defend the intestinal lining.

Small portions of white rice and cooked chicken can help dogs who have mild diarrhea. Add a bit of unsweetened applesauce for flavor.

Other Stress Signals

Diarrhea isn't the only sign of a stressed out canine. Common stress signs include:

  • Rapid lip-licking
  • Nose-licking
  • Yawning
  • Hiding
  • Panting

If your dog is in the midst of a frustrating situation, minimize his stress by setting up a designated sanctuary for him. A crate may work well for this purpose. Other effective stress-relief techniques for dogs include soothing outdoor strolls, frequent play sessions and ample one-on-one attention.