When Is Dog Diarrhea an Emergency? [Guide]


If you’re a dog owner, you’re probably no stranger to the dreaded D-word: diarrhea. It’s super common and can be caused by a bunch of different factors – the most common being dietary issues or changes. However, it’s not just limited to that! Infections, parasites, and underlying health problems can also cause your dog to have the runs. Depending on the severity, it can be a minor inconvenience or a downright nightmare. (Trust me I have some pretty horrific stories).

when is diahrrea an emergency for dogs

Mild cases can usually be treated at home, but if it gets bad enough, it can lead to serious dehydration, malnutrition, or even death. So we need to take it seriously and seek help if we start to see certain symptoms and we also need to identify the underlying problem that’s causing diarrhea in the first place.

Anyway, don’t worry – this article is here to help you out! We’ll go over everything you need to know about doggy diarrhea, including when it’s just a minor inconvenience and when it’s time to hit the panic button. So buckle up and get ready to become an expert on all things doggy digestion!

What Is Dog Diarrhea?

There are many different things that can cause this messy situation, like changing diets, getting infected, pesky parasites, or even just too much stress. But with the right treatment and a bit of understanding, we can get your dog back to its normal pooping routine

dog diarrhea

 Causes of Dog Diarrhea

  • Dietary changes: Did your dog start eating some new types of food? Or maybe you fed it some food that it wasn’t supposed to eat? Or maybe you’ve been overfeeding your dog? All of these things can cause diarrhea.
  • Infections: Dogs can get lots of nasty infections from bacterial, viral, or even parasitic. All of these can lead to diarrhea – If you notice symptoms like vomiting, fever, or loss of appetite, it’s more than likely an infection.
what causes diarrhea in dogs
  • Stress: If you didn’t know already, stress and the stomach are connected even with humans, if you are experiencing high levels of stress there’s a good chance you can develop issues with your stomach which can lead to things like diarrhea.
  • Medications: Certain medications can cause diarrhea as a side effect, if your dog has recently started taking some new medication the chances are it’s a side effect. Check with your local vet if you are concerned about medication use.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS): This is a chronic condition that can cause chronic diarrhea in dogs. It’s fairly common, if you believe your dog might have IBS you should research specific treatments and foods which can control the condition.
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Types of Dog Diarrhea

Let’s Chat About Different Types of Diarrhea With Distinct Characteristics and Implications.

  • Firstly, acute diarrhea strikes suddenly and only lasts for a few days. It typically resolves on its own, no biggie.
  • Moving on, chronic diarrhea is a more serious affair. It persists for several weeks or even longer and could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
identifying which type of diarrhea
  • Bloody diarrhea is a type of diarrhea that features blood in the stool. This can be a red flag that something ominous is going on and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Small bowel diarrhea starts in the small intestine and can lead to malabsorption issues, resulting in weight loss and discomfort.
  • Lastly, large-bowel diarrhea originates in the large intestine and can lead to frequent bowel movements and straining. It’s vital to pay attention to any peculiarities in bowel movements and seek medical advice if there are any concerns.

By learning about the different potential causes and different types of diarrhea we can figure out when dog diarrhea is an emergency and how to act going forward.

When Is Dog Diarrhea an Emergency?

As we know already dog diarrhea can range from mild everyday symptoms to potentially life-threatening ones. But when is dog diarrhea considered an emergency? Well, look at the symptoms in the list below if your dog is suffering from any of those then the chances are your dog needs immediate attention. 

  • Bloody Stools – If there is the presence of blood in your dog’s diarrhea
  • Vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite
  • Dehydration (Check for dry guns, sunken eyes, and lethargy)
  • Your dog has existing health conditions (Especially young puppies or senior dogs)
  • Persistent diarrhea that lasts for longer than 24 hours.
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
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Potential Complications of Untreated Diarrhea

Diahrrea in dogs although common is no joke and should be treated with the utmost seriousness. If a dog with diarrhea goes untreated for a significant period of time then you can expect to see the following complications. 

  • Malnutrition
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Intestinal damage
  • Systemic infection

How to Care for a Dog With Diarrhea?

Mild diarrhea in dogs can often be treated at home with a few simple steps. Here are some ways to care for a dog with diarrhea:

caring for your dog with diarrhea
  • Start by limiting your dog’s food intake, and supply them with easily digestible food. Most veterinarians recommend things like boiled chicken and rice.
  • Provide lots and lots of water, diarrhea causes dehydration so it’s important to try to keep your dog as hydrated as possible. It also helps flush some of the bad stuff out of your dog’s body too.
  • Probiotics can also help stabilize the number of good bacteria in the gut and aid in getting digestion back to normal. 
  • Medication: Anti-diarrhea medications are available, contact your local vet for more advice on what to take as these are specific to certain conditions and need to be diagnosed before the prescription. 

What to Expect During a Veterinary Visit for Diarrhea

If you plan on taking your dog to the vet because of diarrhea then you knowing what to expect can make you feel a little more comfortable. Your vet will likely start by doing a physical examination and by asking you about your dog’s symptoms and past medical history.

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If the problem is a little tricky to identify or there are some concerns about the cause, it’s likely that your vet will run some tests such as blood work, fecal analysis, and imaging studies. 

happy vet

Once your vet has identified the underlying issue they will be able to suggest recommend treatments such as medication, dietary changes, or even hospitalization and supportive care. 


When Your Furry Dog Is Suffering From Diarrhea, It Can Be Tough to See Them Feeling Uncomfortable and Not Their Usual Energetic Self. However, There Are Steps You Can Take at Home to Help Alleviate Their Symptoms, Such as Making Sure They Have Access to Plenty of Water and Modifying Their Diet.

But It’s Important to Keep an Eye on Your Pup and Seek Veterinary Attention if They Exhibit Any Additional Symptoms, Such as Vomiting, Loss of Appetite, or Bloody Stool, or if Their Diarrhea Persists for More Than a Few Days. Ignoring These Signs Could Lead To Further Complications, Including Dehydration, Electrolyte Imbalances, and Secondary Infections