Diarrhea is a disorder describing the condition of excessive and frequent evacuation of mostly liquid feces.
The reason why the feces are mostly liquid is that in a Diarrhea situation a disorder
- prevents the orderly metabolism of foods (for example breakdown of fats) and/or
- leads to excess water being absorbed into the feces matter.
In both cases, the frequent evacuation results from the organism trying to expel irritants, allergens, or pathogens, and it quickly leads to dehydration.
Normally, feces consist of about 75% water and 25% solids: mostly dead bacteria and indigestible food matter such as cellulose, but also minor amounts of cell debris, bile pigments and died leukocytes (white blood cells). Conversely, in a Diarrhea situation feces can be as much as 98% water, hence the big risk of dehydration.
- Medicaments, in particular:
- Microbes, in particular:
- pathogenic bacteria - typical here are salmonella, E(scherichia) coli or shigella, and campylobacter (very common in chicken)
- viruses - like CHV (canine herpes virus), the leading cause of death in young puppies!
- parasites - like Giardia, Crypto(sporidium), Toxoplasma gondii (all protozoa), or hemoparasites (bacteria that infect the blood)
- Lactose intolerance:
- dogs, like people, do not normally produce lactase after weaning (lactase persistence is a recessive inherited gene defect)
- and so most dogs cannot metabolize lactose (the prime sugar in milk products) and they may suffer Diarrhea or other conditions after consuming certain foods.
- Fructose or artificial sweeteners like Sorbitol.
- Something ingested:
- industrial and even boutique commercial pet food may contain one or more of the above, and/or impurities, pollutants, contaminants, allergens, and even toxins - all of which can cause Diarrhea
- raw food (real raw food, not the many commercial brands that claim to sell "raw food") may contain one or more types of the pathogenic microbes listed above, because the lack of prolonged incineration lets the naturally occuring microbes in raw food thrive until it gets eaten - which too can cause Diarrhea (and much worse)
- or the dog may have scavenged outdoors or indoors a substance that the dog's metabolism is not used to digest, and so the organism responds with Diarrhea to expel the irritating matter.
- Related conditions, such as Crohn's disorder (Crohn's disease is another misleading naming in allopathic medicine) and Ulcerative Colitis, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Celiac disorder (Celiac disease is another misleading naming in allopathic medicine), and even Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism.
So, be aware that again, Diarrhea is nothing but the name of a symptom. Unless the physician analyses the cause of this condition, no amount of medicaments is going to provide cure, every drug will merely suppress or palliate the symptoms, and so the Diarrhea may pause or stop but the organism will soon show its sickness through other symptoms.
While we people can just run to the toilet each time we feel pressure on the anal muscles, your dog may have to wait for you to be taken outside for a quick walk to relieve. Therefore this is the one situation where complete Dog House Training may lead to a problem:
A fully house-trained dog is trained to hold on until the dog has reached the "relieve location" taught during the toilet training part of complete House Training. This training aspect now puts huge stress on the dog in a Diarrhea situation - imagine you were declined to visit the toilet when you have Diarrhea!
Who Suffers Diarrhea
Even worse, in our modern food chain meat is loaded with antibiotics and steroids! Thus the higher the declared "meat" content in the "pet food" that you may have been buying for your dog, the more antibiotics your dog will have received, even without any prescription.
Because if there's any real meat in an industrial "pet food" packet (instead of the typically grinded bones) then for cost reasons it is the most contaminated meat: the meat that is not eligible for human consumption.
- spoiled food (scavenged)
- contaminated water (puddles)
- sniffing or even licking the anus or genital of a sick dog, or excrements.
As for drinking water, if you live in an area with tap water impurities (this is a water tester) then the water for the dog may need to be filtered too (a Brita filter can do). For outdoor water bowls, make sure foliage doesn't spoil it. And never give your dog sparkling mineral water, not even the mild form, because dogs cannot metabolize the gas.
Additional but rarer causes of Diarrhea are:
- stress (whether stress from the Pack conflict or from Separation Anxiety)
- abrupt change in diet (always introduce new foods incrementally)
- the wrong diet, common culprits: feeding industrial dog "food" (ie toxic crap) or feeding convenience food table scraps or snacks (full of sugars, fats, salts, chemical emulsifiers, color and flavor additives, preservatives, etc).
- very soft to liquid stool
- different smell of stool
- signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, slow capillary refill time in the gums, lethargy, general malaise)
- severe if nausea (balancing problems, wobbly walk)
- possibly signs of abdominal pain and/or cramps
- in some cases concomitant vomiting and/or bloat
- rarely fever (for dogs a rectal body temperature of and above 39.2C / 102.6F), then sign of infection
- rarely blood in the stool, then sign of
As the most common causes of Diarrhea are medicaments, microbes, and something ingested, the easiest way to prevent Diarrhea is:
- Aim to prevent superfluous medicaments, foremost steroid and antibiotic blanket treatments greedily prescribed merely to suppress or palliate some symptoms without even bothering to identify the cause of the condition!
- Aim to prevent needless or excessive exposure to pathogens (untended dog parks, vicinity of bins or garbage disposals, in and around vet practices and animal clinics)
- Aim to prevent scavenging and industrial pet "food".
Serve two or even three smaller meals during the day, not one large meal. Do not make abrupt changes to your dog's diet, introduce any new foods incrementally (replacing a quarter per day is fine).
Provide steamed rice at the very least twice a week: besides its nutrients, rice has a cleansing effect on the intestines. Quinoa is a great but more costly alternative.
Aim to serve all food and drink at a temperature between room temperature and dog body temperature. Try to serve foods at roughly the same temperature each time, not sometimes hot and other times cold. All common sense really.
If you have a generally nervous dog (signs are aggression, frequent barking, pacing around, trembling, or twitching) then also prevent stress: