Dog Diarrhea Symptoms and Diagnosis

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Defined in its simplest terms, diarrhea is when there is too much water in the feces. There are many different reasons this can occur including:

If too many food particles are present in the intestines, this prevents them from absorbing enough water. This occurs with over-eating, when rapid changes in the diet are made, and during stressful situations. When a dog eats too much, there may not be enough digestive enzymes produced to breakdown all of the food. When a rapid change in diet is made, digestive enzymes do not have time to adjust to the new type of food. During stressful situations, the amount and type of digestive enzymes change. In all of these situations, more undigested food is left in the intestines. These extra food particles hold on to water and keep it from being absorbed by the intestines.

Intestinal parasites result in too much water in the intestines which also results in diarrhea. In addition, things such as E. coli and Salmonella can also bring about episodes of diarrhea.

Most cases of abrupt onset of diarrhea in dogs are caused by rapid changes in diet, eating out of the trash can, stress and intestinal parasites. Some dogs also get diarrhea when they take antibiotics. In many of these cases, dogs do not get severely ill. If a dog does get severely ill with diarrhea and develops other symptoms, this is an indication that there may be a systemic illness causing the diarrhea. For these dogs, it is important that they see a veterinarian immediately.

Visiting the Veterinarian

If your dog has a mild case of diarrhea, does not exhibit other symptoms and does not seem to be uncomfortable, it is perfectly okay to wait at least 24-36 hours to visit the veterinarian as most of the time; diarrhea will clear up on its own. However, if your dog appears uncomfortable, has bloody or tar like stool, shows signs of other symptoms, or just does not seem like its normal self, an immediate visit to the veterinarian is warranted. Even if your dog still experiences diarrhea after the visit, at least the veterinarian has had the chance to examine your dog and evaluate whether something more serious is going on.

The veterinarian will require a sample of your dogs stool. This can either be done by you simply collecting a fresh sample from home no older than 30-40 minutes before your vet visit. If this is not possible, your veterinarian can collect the sample in the office. After the sample is collected, it will undergo many different tests including:

Fecal Flotation Test – This method is used o test for intestinal parasites

A direct fecal smear to check for red blood cells, white blood cells and abnormal or unusual bacteria.

A fecal smear with abnormal bacteria (the ones that look like tennis racquets)

When diarrhea, vomiting, blood stools and a very sick dog has been experiencing symptoms for several days, the veterinarian will want to perform x-rays and blood tests in order to check for other systemic illnesses that could be causing the diarrhea.

About the Author:
Heather Fox is an experience veterinarian who is passionate about writing and sharing her knowledge. She has an online classroom at Clivir.com where she shares about Dog Illness Diagnosis and Dog Diarrhea Causes.

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