Why does my dog have diarrhoea?

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Disclaimer: This information is general in nature only. While Budget Direct has endeavoured to ensure the information we’ve relied on is accurate and current, we do not guarantee it. Budget Direct accepts no liability for this information.

Diarrhoea is a common condition in dogs that can have devastating effects if not treated properly. It’s important that pet owners are familiar with treatments for mild cases and what signs to look for when their pet is struggling with this condition.

For more severe cases of diarrhoea you must consult a veterinary medical professional as soon as possible. You can also consider which pet insurance policy is right for you. When visiting a vet for an illness that’s covered, you can focus on the health of your pet and not the full cost of their care.

What are the causes of diarrhoea in dogs?

When searching for information around diarrhoea in dogs, it can be difficult to determine what your dog’s diarrhoea is a symptom of. With a wide range of serious and more minor health issues, your dog’s symptoms could fall anywhere along the spectrum.

Despite any confusion, here are the main causes of diarrhoea in your dog that you’ll need to know about.


Dogs, especially puppies, have digestive systems that are sensitive and still developing [1]. Sudden changes in diet can more than often result in diarrhoea alongside intolerances and allergies. It’s best to confirm with your vet whether the food you’ve selected is best for your dog.

Additionally, curious dogs may ingest anything they find on the ground and around them. This can lead to your dog ingesting objects that may be toxic or harmful to their body.


Dogs, especially when they are young, are prone to parasites. Puppies can even carry intestinal parasites from their mothers after birth [1]. They can also pick up parasites from their environment or infected water outside.

Parasites may include; roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworm, coccidia and giardia [2]. All parasites should all be treated immediately by a veterinarian to avoid any long-term health effects.

Viruses and infection

Unvaccinated dogs or will be more susceptible to both bacterial and viral infections. Both types of infection should be addressed immediately because they can present unsavoury outcomes.

Salmonella, E. coli, Clostridium and other bacteria can be the cause of dog diarrhoea [2].

Dog diarrhoea can also be caused by viral infections like parvovirus, distemper and coronavirus [1]. Additional symptoms like vomiting, fever, lethargy or lack of appetite may also appear.


Stress can be a direct cause of your dog’s diarrhoea. Your dog’s ability to adjust to a new household, schedule and family can have a direct impact on their health. An increase in stress can also come from other pets in the house and unexpected sounds or smells.

Help your dog to overcome stress by preparing your home for a new dog, feeding them regularly, going for a walk once a day, establishing a regular schedule and plenty of love and care.


If your pet is experiencing a loss of appetite, is lethargic in nature, vomiting frequently or is showing signs of abdominal pain in addition to having diarrhoea; then it’s best that you contact your vet [3].

Your vet may suggest an at home treatment if it has been less than 48 hours. If it’s been longer than 48 hours then immediate attention may be required (especially for puppies, geriatric dogs or dogs with chronic diseases). It’s important to note that this time frame is dependent on the age of the pet, level of dehydration, pre-existing medical issues and any other abnormalities in your pet.

Your vet may also allow your dog to be treated at home and recommend you fast your pet for a period of time.

Make sure that water is readily available to your dog throughout this time and if they don’t want to drink water you can give them ice cubes to lick instead. This gives the gut time to rest and reset and ensures that your dog stays hydrated.

After fasting, it’s important that you slowly re-introduce solids and incorporate them into a bland diet for your dog. Offer cooked, plain rice and plain boiled chicken in a low fat, low salt chicken broth [1]. Make sure to confirm that your pet is not allergic to any of these ingredients.

If your vet diagnoses your dog with a bacterial infection, viral infection or a parasite they may have to be hospitalized to recover. Fluids may be given if your pet is dehydrated, antibiotics may be used for a bacterial infection and antiparasitic medication for a parasitic infection. Other drugs may also be used to help alleviate signs and symptoms.


There are several ways to prevent your dog from developing diarrhoea:

  • When starting a new diet, transition your dog slowly
  • Make sure that your dog has plenty of healthy and balanced food
  • Make sure that exercise is provided daily
  • Create a stress-free environment for your dog
  • Make sure to keep your dog up to date with vaccinations
  • Keep the dog’s environment clean with the right disinfectants
  • Make sure to establish a regular routine for your dog
  • Talk to your vet about parasite prevention
  • Partner with your vet to implement a proactive health plan for your dog

If your dog is showing signs that they have diarrhoea, make sure that you call your vet immediately. Dog diarrhoea requires pet owners to monitor their dog’s health from day to day.

There will be times throughout your dog’s life where they can be a bit unpredictable! By taking out pet insurance, you can give yourself some well needed peace of mind if some of the expenses can be covered when your dog is unwell.




This post was brought to you by Budget Direct Pet Insurance

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