Diarrhea in Dogs: When Chaos Reigns

The digestive process is complex and prone to failure. Accordingly, the causes of diarrhea in dogs are diverse and do not necessarily have to be localized in the gastrointestinal tract.

For a well-formed heap to end up on the meadow at the end of digestion, the individual “members” of the digestive tract must do their work carefully and in a well-coordinated manner. As in an orchestra, the conductor, in this case, the intestinal peristalsis, determines the tempo and the path. The food pulp is moved through the gastrointestinal tract with the help of their targeted, regular contractions. On its way, the nutrients it contains are broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream via the intestinal villi for further utilization. Electrolytes and water are also resorbed. The indigestible food components and z. B. via the bile in the intestine released metabolic end products are collected in the rectum and excreted as nutrient-poor, thickened-formed feces.

Any change in the speed of the Passover and the composition of the chyme, the absorption capacity of the intestinal villi, and the composition of the intestinal flora affects the quality of the feces and can lead to diarrhea. In other words: If the conductor and the individual orchestra members do not agree and do not coordinate with each other, the end product of the joint work will not be optimal. The stool becomes increasingly liquid, the frequency of defecation may increase, control over defecation may be lost, and there may be mucus or blood admixtures.

Depending on the duration of the disease, a distinction is made between acute and chronic diarrhea, in which the symptoms last longer than three weeks.

In chronic diarrhea, a distinction is made between maldigestion forms, caused by insufficient digestion of the food components, and malabsorptive forms, in which absorption is disturbed.

However, the problem is not always where it is suspected: even if it is obvious to suspect the culprit at the site of the event, i.e. in the gastrointestinal tract ( intestinal ), the cause of diarrhea can be there, it has to be but not. A distinction is therefore made between diseases with a primary gastrointestinal cause and diseases whose cause lies outside the gastrointestinal tract ( extraintestinal ).

Primary gastrointestinal causes of diarrhea

Depending on the triggering cause, the following forms of primary gastrointestinal diarrhea are distinguished:

Dietary diarrhea – the dog is what it eats

Dietary diarrhea is food-induced. It is by far the most common form of diarrhea. Sudden changes in feed, unfamiliar, unsuitable feed, and excessive amounts of feed lead to an overload of the digestive tract and thus to diarrhea.

The microbiome (“gastrointestinal flora”) of the intestine adapts to the composition of the diet. In young animals and sensitive patients, a sudden change in diet can lead to massive disturbances in the individual bacterial colonization of the intestine and an overgrowth of unwanted intestinal bacteria, and subsequently to diarrhea.

Too large amounts of feed per meal or very high-fat food mean that the food is not broken down sufficiently before it is transported on. Undigested food components reach the parts of the intestine that are not suitable for digestion and prevent sufficient reabsorption of water due to their osmotic forces of attraction. The feces are insufficiently thickened and remain liquid. A phenomenon that is not uncommon in very large dog breeds, such as B. Great Danes, can be observed. About their body size, these breeds have an unusually short gastrointestinal tract and they require high-quality, easily digestible food with a high energy density to be able to properly digest the food.

Dietary diarrhea also includes so-called feed intolerance ( intolerance ) and feed allergy. In this form of diarrhea, the gastrointestinal tract reacts to certain food components with inflammation. The intestinal villi are destroyed and the surface area available for absorption is reduced. As a rule, these food components are proteins, which can be of animal or vegetable origin. A familial accumulation of gluten intolerance has been described for Irish Setters. In other breeds such as B. the Labrador retriever or the French bulldog, there seems to be a genetic predisposition to food allergies.

A special form of dietary diarrhea is diarrhea caused by the intake of toxins or medication. Diarrhea can be the direct result of damage to the intestinal wall, damage to the intestinal flora, e.g. B. by the administration of antibiotics, or by toxins or pharmacologically active substances increased intestinal peristalsis.

Infectious diarrhea

Young animals/puppies are more likely to suffer from parasitic diarrhea. Breeders who cut every penny, breeders who reject deworming for ideological reasons, and a lack of knowledge about transmission routes and reproduction of parasites mean that many puppies harbor unwanted roommates when they move into their new homes. Roundworms and hookworms as well as infection with protozoa. B. giardia, damages the intestinal wall, disrupts the microbiome, and thus impairs the absorption capacity of the intestine.

Other infectious causes such. B. Infections with viruses such as parvo, corona, rota, or distemper viruses occur primarily in young animals. Adult animals fall ill less often and usually only if there is no or insufficient vaccination protection. The virus multiplies in the intestinal epithelial cells, which are destroyed and thus become inoperable.

Patients who have access to raw meat, undercooked offal, eggs, raw milk, or carrion must be wary of bacterial infections such as B. Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter jejuniYersinia enterocolitica and Clostridium perfringens.

Some of these bacteria can produce toxins that increase intestinal peristalsis, leading to increased secretion and thus also diarrhea.

Other causes

Elderly patients with long-standing diarrhea can have a tumor in the intestinal wall and thus tumor-related ( neoplastic ) diarrhea.

In young patients with a previous history of diarrhea, an invagination of the bowel ( invagination ) must be considered as the cause of therapy-resistant diarrhea. Both are reasons to use imaging to clarify patients with diarrhea that has existed for a long time and for which no other causes can be found.

Other primary gastrointestinal causes of diarrhea are intestinal lymphangiectasia, which is a genetically caused congenital (Norwegian Lundehund) or, for example, acquired in the context of liver cirrhosis malformation of the lymphatic vessels of the intestinal mucosa. There are also numerous inflammatory bowel diseases such as These including ARE (antibiotic-responsive enteropathy), ulcerative colitis in boxers and French bulldogs, and inflammatory
bowel disease (IBD), which is associated with chronic diarrhea.

A special form is acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome ( AHDS ), which occurs as acute severe bloody diarrhea, the cause of which has not yet been sufficiently clarified.

Extraintestinal causes of diarrhea

Not every diarrhea is caused by a disease of the intestine itself. Diseases of other organs can also disrupt intestinal function and affect the consistency of the feces. In exocrine pancreatic insufficiency ( EPI ), the part of the pancreas responsible for the production of digestive enzymes becomes diseased. Due to the missing enzymes, the food (especially the fats in the small intestine) can no longer be broken down sufficiently. Large, mushy, fatty amounts of feces are sold.

A condition that is often underdiagnosed in young dogs is what is known as hypoadrenocorticism. In the course of this disease, the adrenal cortex is destroyed and, as a result, there is a deficiency in the hormones aldosterone and cortisol. Affected patients often show recurring diarrhea and can be presented as acutely seriously ill patients with bloody diarrhea. Metabolic disorders, such as those occurring in liver failure or the final stages of kidney failure, are also associated with diarrhea.

Furthermore, diarrhea in connection with sepsis can occur as an expression of a breakdown of the immune system. It is not uncommon for patients with severe bacterial periodontitis or uterine inflammation (pyometra) to be presented to the vet because of diarrhea.

Frequently Asked Question

What to do about stress-related diarrhea in dogs?

If your dog suffers from stress-related diarrhea or vomiting, Hill’s i/d Stress could help: it’s the first dog food with a unique anti-stress formula and gastrointestinal-soothing ingredients like ginger and prebiotics.

How does stress manifest itself in dogs?

The following signs can indicate stress in your animal: showing soothing signals such as a tailor turning the head away followed by a yawn. recurrent mouth licking. noticeable barking that occurs more often or barking for a long period.

What to do if your dog suddenly has diarrhea?

If the general condition worsens or diarrhea does not stop after three days, you should consult the veterinarian immediately. Please take puppies with diarrhea to the vet the same day, as there is a risk of rapid dehydration, which can also be life-threatening.

Why is no rice in dogs with diarrhea?

In theory, a dog could even eat rice every day. If a bland diet has been prescribed for a dog, rice is even ideal. Rice should not be consumed in large quantities by a dog if it has diarrhea. Rice is dehydrating.

Can dogs get diarrhea from wet food?

Proteins and minerals have overdosed in many wet feeds. If the dog is fed this type of food over a longer period, the kidneys and liver can be heavily burdened. In addition, the dog can get diarrhea.

Is oatmeal good for dogs?

Can your dog eat oatmeal? The answer is yes! But you should prepare the oatmeal well for your dog. If you feed your dog oatmeal in the morning, you should soak the oatmeal in the water in the evening.

Is oatmeal good for dogs with diarrhea?

Oatmeal, cooked from oatmeal, is a well-known home remedy for diarrhea and is also recommended for dogs as a bland diet. Boil 2 tablespoons (tender) oats with 250 ml water until a slimy consistency is formed. (Possibly add a pinch of salt).

How long not to feed a dog with diarrhea?

If your dog has had diarrhea, you should put it on a zero diet for one day as a precaution, i.e. withhold food for one to a maximum of two days. During this time, the intestinal tract can recover. However, you always have to make sure that your four-legged friend drinks enough liquid.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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