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What Causes Senior Dog Diarrhea and How to Treat it by Ann-Marie Fleming

10 August, 2019


When you bring your dog home for the first time, there are so many exciting things to look forward to. With afternoon walks, play time at the park and evening snuggles to attend to, cleaning up messes like dog diarrhea is likely far from your mind. But while diarrhea might not be pleasant, it can be a common part of a senior dog’s life. You need to be willing to support your pup in sickness and in health.

As dog parents, we all know the pain of seeing our beloved pups in discomfort. Fortunately, Dog Quality has tips and products, like dog diapers, to help your senior dog feel better when diarrhea strikes. If your furry friend is suffering from diarrhea, read on to find out what’s causing your dog’s digestive woes and how to treat it.

Four dogs on a couch in diapers

Why Does My Senior Dog Have Diarrhea?

There are many different things that could be causing your dog’s diarrhea, from the food he’s eating to medications to a variety of health conditions. Dog diarrhea can often be a one-off occurrence or it can be chronic, recurring again and again over time. It’s important for dog parents to understand the difference and know when it’s time to take your pup to the vet.

A recent study found that in 90% of cases, dog diarrhea is caused by diet and gastrointestinal distress, in particular inflammation of the small intestine and stomach. Your dog’s symptoms could be the result of bacteria, viruses or parasites in her food, or allergic reactions to new foods or medications. These conditions are all totally treatable by either eliminating certain foods from your dog’s diet, stopping certain medications, or treating conditions like parasites. In most cases, acute cases of dog diarrhea will pass without complications.

But what if your dog is experiencing chronic diarrhea that comes and goes? This could be a sign of an underlying health condition, especially in older dogs who are more susceptible to diseases. Chronic dog diarrhea could be caused by:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Tumors
  • Endocrine problems (like thyroid dysfunction or Addison’s disease)
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough digestive enzymes for your dog to digest food)

How Do I Treat My Senior Dog’s Diarrhea?

We all want our senior dogs to feel as well as possible in their later years. If diarrhea is disrupting your senior dog’s quality of life, here are a few things you can do to alleviate her discomfort:

Assess Your Dog’s Diet: If your dog has diarrhea, the first thing to do is to consider what your dog has eaten in the past 48 hours. Did she get into anything spoiled or rotten? Did she drink from a dirty puddle on your last walk? Did you switch her to a new brand of food? All of these things can cause acute dog diarrhea and even nausea or vomiting.

Look at Your Dog’s Medications: For a number of health-related reasons, your senior dog may be required to take medications. Some of these drugs (such as NSAIDs, deworming medications, antibiotics and heart medicines) may cause diarrhea. If you’ve recently introduced a new medication into your dog’s routine, it could be the reason your dog isn’t feeling well. Talk to your vet about finding other options.

Consider Lifestyle Changes: Have you moved recently? Did a family member pass away? Dogs can be affected by emotional stress, just like humans, and older dogs are especially susceptible. Big changes to their daily lives can cause health problems like diarrhea.

Use Doggie Diapers: Even though it’s not your dog’s fault, we know it can be stressful to deal with a pup who is constantly creating messes. For acute cases of dog diarrhea, Dog Quality’s dog diapers are an easy way to keep accidents to a minimum and keep your home as clean as possible. Our doggie diapers are also machine washable, making clean-ups quick and easy. However, our Washable Wonders are not recommended for severe dog diarrhea.

When Should I Take My Dog to a Vet?

As we mentioned before, acute dog diarrhea usually doesn’t require a visit to the vet. But there are certain signs to look out for that could indicate a more serious health concern. Take your dog to the vet if:

  • Your dog’s diarrhea has persisted non-stop for over 24 hours
  • Your dog’s stool contains blood or looks black
  • Your dog is also vomiting
  • You see worms in your dog’s stool
  • Your dog is weak or lethargic
  • You know your dog ate something poisonous or contaminated

You know your dog better than anyone, so if diarrhea occurs, use your judgment to make the best decision. Monitor your dog’s behavior, keep track of any diet or lifestyle changes, and when in doubt, it never hurts to get professional support. After all, a healthy pup is a happy pup and that’s all we really want.

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