Diarrhea is a common veterinary complaint, but it can also pose serious health risks. Fortunately, most cases of diarrhea resolve quickly with home treatments or basic treatments from your vet. But it’s never a bad idea to get Daisy or Duke checked out for an underlying issue that could lead to more complex symptoms and costly treatments down the line.

Early diagnosis is key for your dog’s recovery. Your vet will use information from both of you, their medical history, physical examination, blood work, and diagnostic testing such as fecal exams (for parasites), radiographs, and ultrasounds to accurately diagnose the cause.

Some causes of diarrhea can be avoided, such as parasites or toxicity from garbage, salt water or food not digested properly. Vaccinations and keeping your dog on monthly antiparasitic medication will reduce their chances of these infections.

Other causes of diarrhea can be more serious and even life-threatening. Examples include:

Fecal Parasites
Intestinal parasites and pathogens like Giardia and hookworms can cause diarrhea in dogs, so make sure your pup takes a monthly antiparasitic regimen to protect him. Furthermore, these pests have the potential to lead to other serious issues as well.

Irritable Bowel Disease
IBD occurs when inflammatory cells chronically invade your dog’s intestine, leading to diarrhea, weight loss, and other unpleasant symptoms. Your veterinarian will use a combination of diagnostic tests and medications to identify the underlying cause of IBD and suggest a treatment plan that can help your pup recover.

Dogs tend to dehydrate when they lose so much fluid during bouts of diarrhea. The best way to combat this is with a bland diet given in small, frequent meals and frequent hydration. Some foods that provide good sources of water include:

Dogs that have difficulty with milk or other dairy products may benefit from yogurt with active cultures. While this remedy may not be as successful for all dogs, offering probiotic yogurt with active cultures can help alleviate symptoms for a while and speed up recovery time.

Rice Water
If your dog will drink, serving hot, cooked rice soaked in water can be a soothing and healing way to relieve diarrhea. You may want to add some broth or baby food for extra flavor as well.

Specialized Formulated Dog Foods
Certain manufacturers make sensitive stomach dog foods to soothe your dog’s gastrointestinal tract when they’re having diarrhea. You can get these from your veterinarian or buy them online or at your local pet store.

Kao pectate and Pepto Bismol, over-the-counter medications for humans, may be helpful in some cases of diarrhea; however, these should only be administered by your vet due to potential risks to dogs when administered the wrong dose.

In some cases, your veterinarian may suggest antibiotics and other medications help treat the cause of diarrhea. While these drugs tend to be more effective at treating bacterial infections and other conditions than managing diarrhea, they do have potential side effects so should only be used as prescribed by your veterinarian.