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Your Dog’s Loose Stool: What It Could Mean

White fluffy dog in a harness watching its owner picking up its poop

When your furry friend is suffering from diarrhea, it can be an unpleasant experience for both you and your dog. There are many reasons that your dog can have diarrhea, while most of the time, diarrhea will go away very quickly. If it continues for more than a day or seems to be getting worse, it is best to seek veterinary care as sometimes diarrhea can become a life-threatening emergency.

Why is my dog’s stool loose?

There are many reasons that your dog may be having loose stool. These are a few of the most common reasons for a dog to have diarrhea and what you can do about them.

Poor Diet

Dog's not eating a proper diet can have diarrhea. A poor-quality dog food often leads to diarrhea as this type of food has fillers and unwanted by-products.

GI Tract Issues

White dog hunched over pooping

Some issues of diarrhea are due to a problem with the gastrointestinal tract.

Food allergies

While not a common cause of allergies, food allergies can cause a dog to have diarrhea. Most dogs with food allergies are allergic to beef or chicken. Switching to a different type of protein that the dog has never had before such as rabbit or duck is best.

Food intolerance

Food intolerance is when your dog’s gastrointestinal tract can not properly break down the food and absorb the water. This can cause very severe and even uncontrollable diarrhea.


Small yorkie pooping in a grassy yard

Gastroenteritis is an infection of the intestinal tract. Once the infection sets in, the body's way of getting rid of the infection is by forcing the bacteria out of the body. This can lead to diarrhea.


Certain parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms, can cause diarrhea in pets. This can be easily treated with a dewormer you can get from your veterinarian. Not all parasites are visible without a microscope. If you think your dog could have parasites, taking a fecal sample to your veterinary office. They will make sure that the medication you are using to treat the worms will address the worms that your pet has.

Food Poisoning

Just like with people, dogs can also get food poisoning. They can eat a bad bag of dog food that contains molds or get into old leftovers in the trash. All of these can cause diarrhea in your dog. Usually, they will then need some antibiotics to clear up the infection causing diarrhea.


Some illnesses can also cause diarrhea, along with other signs of the disease.

Kidney or liver disease

Fluffy white dog with a harness next to their owner picking up poop

Dogs who suffer from kidney or liver disease can also have diarrhea. This is not the only cause of this disease that is seen. Dogs who suffer from chronic illness will also have diarrhea off and on. Talking with your veterinarian to develop a plan on how to keep your dog's intestinal tract happy while fighting these diseases.


Colitis is an inflammation of the colon. This is also known as irritable bowel disease in people. This disease will cause unwanted diarrhea. Usually, diet modification can help lessen the severity of diarrhea with colitis.


Cancer may at first show up as just diarrhea, but internally something more serious is going on. Dogs who suffer from cancer will usually have periods of diarrhea. During chemotherapy or near late stages of cancer, a dog will have more severe diarrhea. CBD is shown to aid in some of the symptoms associated with chemotherapy.

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is when the intestines become inflamed and cause the dog to have diarrhea. Diarrhea can make your dog very uncomfortable and painful. Usually, this condition will need veterinary care to help stop diarrhea.


Stress can commonly give dogs diarrhea. If you are gone away on a trip or you have friends and family staying over your dog may get stressed and have diarrhea. Usually, this type of diarrhea resolves on its own. If it continues for longer than a day, it is best to see your veterinarian make sure that there is not anything more serious going on.

How can you help at home?

There are many different ways you can help your dog feel better at home. Usually, most diarrheas will clear up after a day. Some causes of diarrhea can take a long time to resolve.

Proper diet

By feeding the appropriate diet and limiting the amount of human food will help prevent your dog from getting diarrhea. Most human food contains fat that can cause painful diarrhea in your dog.

Checking supplement intake

Certain supplements can cause diarrhea if given in large amounts. Make sure that your pet is getting the correct amount of their vitamins and supplements. Also, certain supplements contain added fiber and will help your dog with diarrhea.

Most dogs who have diarrhea may benefit from a probiotic. These supplements help restore the natural gut flora and stop diarrhea.

Seek vet help

small terrier hunched over pooping in a yard

If your dog has diarrhea for longer than a day or if it is getting worse, it is best to seek veterinary care. Sometimes diarrhea can become bloody or uncontrollable. These are times when a veterinarian is needed to figure out precisely what is causing your dog to have diarrhea.

If your pet has diarrhea, while it can be a very uncomfortable condition, it can usually be easily treated. By maintaining a proper diet and a stress-free environment, you can help prevent most cases of diarrhea. If your dog has severe diarrhea, veterinary attention will be needed to help get your dog back to their healthy and happy life.

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dogs loose stools By: Sara Ochoa

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM
Since she was a little girl, she knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals that makes her a great source of knowledge for others. She lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the Schnoodle, and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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