Some dogs have ongoing issues with diarrhea, and the cause isn’t always easy for the veterinarian to track down. In the meantime, what do you do? Here is what I told a reader whose dog suffers from this problem.
Q: My dog frequently has diarrhea, and the vet and I can’t figure out why. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with him. What can we do?
A: It’s often tough to figure out what’s causing diarrhea. Loose stools can occur when pets get into the garbage, eat something toxic or eat too much. It can also happen when their regular food changes suddenly, as a result of internal parasites, or because they have a foreign body obstruction. Diarrhea can signal certain diseases, and it can be a sign of stress.
Because there’s such a wide range of potential causes, it’s something you want to get checked out. But if you and your veterinarian have ruled out medical causes and your dog still has diarrhea on a regular basis, it’s possible that something is stressing him out or that he has a super-sensitive stomach. He may also have an imbalance in his gut microbiome: the collection of bacteria and other microorganisms that normally live in the body and serve a beneficial purpose, aiding in digestion, metabolism, immune function and even brain health.
Do some detective work. Have there been any changes in your household routine that could have upset your dog? Call the company that makes his food and ask if ingredients have changed recently.
You can also try to enhance the gut microbiome with probiotics and prebiotics, which can help to rebalance intestinal flora. Your veterinarian can recommend some. I have had success with a prebioticlike product called DoggyStat. It stops diarrhea in a nonpharmaceutical way and can be a good fit for dogs whose bowels seize up in stressful situations such as going to the veterinarian, groomer or boarding kennel. Full disclosure: I’m a member of their advisory team.
Most important: When in doubt, call your veterinarian.
There’s more – including how a simple housing upgrade can change everything for cats in shelters – in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.