Digestive System: Treating Diarrhea

Approach to Dog Diarrhea Treatment:

Treating a dog with diarrhea requires that a veterinarian take a complete history and review the clinical record in order to define the degree of severity and approach towards treatment that is needed. Laboratory tests and making a confirmatory diagnosis usually defines a plan of treatment.

Initially, levels of dehydration are calculated in the affected dog, and supportive dog diarrhea treatment therapy with fluids and/or blood transfusions is preferred for treating diarrhea of any origin, small or large intestine. It is important to rehydrate the affected dog so that other treatment options can be started, like antibiotic therapy and the use of some anti – diarrheal drugs, which are never recommended in dehydrated or anemic dogs.

Dog diarrhea treatment may also include the use of some drugs such as anti–diarrheal, anti–helmintics (anti worm), antibiotics, minerals or antidotes that address the underlying cause. Dogs that have diarrhea due to any change in their diet on the other hand require adjustments in what they are eating only.

Fluid Therapy is often an important part of dog diarrhea treatment plans: Concern about the onset of dehydration is one of the biggest concerns that a veterinarian will need to address. A dog may loose large volumes of fluids in acute diarrhea, leaving it in a state of shock or even lead to death.

While treating a dog with diarrhea, it is highly recommended that it must be re hydrated first. Infusions of Ringer’s lactate solutions (5%) are usually preferred. Normal saline if mixed with 2 – 5% glucose is another option. Doses should be administered 100 – 300 ml, supplied intravenously IV (in a vein) or through the sub cutaneous SC route (just beneath the skin). Fluid therapy should be continued until the dog is re hydrated.

Blood transfusions on the other hand are necessary in severe cases, where a dog is affected by bloody diarrhea. The volume of blood supplied depends upon the results of laboratory examinations. Specifically, packed cell volume (PCV) and hemoglobin tests.

Treating Causes of Diarrhea:

Different factors have been identified as causing diarrhea in dogs; these may be a change in food or diet, parasites like protozoa and worms, bacteria, viruses and sometimes tumors. Each of these causes may only be treated if they are confirmed, with a treatment plan based on the results of laboratory tests and a clinical examination.

Dietary Change: Diet is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs. Some dogs may develop diarrhea, when they are switched to a new diet, particularly after the use of a diet for a long period of time. Dog diarrhea treatment that is caused by diet starts with a readjustment of the food given to the dog. Trial therapies and supplying a dog with frequent but lesser amounts of meals each day can be effective. Initially, food should be stopped for at least 12 – 24 hours, while giving the dog a suitable anti–diarrheal drug. Once a slight recovery is noted, the dog should be switched to a trial therapy for dog diarrhea treatment using a different brand, with a gradual change over a 4 week period. To restore balance in the stomach, a simple diet such as chicken and rice is used, with a more complete diet eventually restored.

Parasites: Giardiasis, coccidiosis, hook worm, round worm infestation are common conditions which cause diarrhea. Giardia is a protozoan which can be treated with an anti – protozoan drug. Metronidozole is considered to be the most effective medication for giardiasis, if administered 25mg/Kg B.W for 5 – 7days.

Coccidiosis, on other hand may cause bloody diarrhea in dogs, which can be treated effectively by sulfanomides such as sulfadimethoxine at a dose rate of 50mg/Kg B.W for 2 – 3 weeks.

Worm infestations, such as hook worms and round worms should be treated with antihelmintics, such as oxfandazole, mebendazole and febantel etc. Albendazole can be used in dogs, but higher doses may cause bone marrow suppression, leaving a dog with permanent immune system deficiency.

Bacterial & Viral Causes: Viruses like canine parvovirus (CPV) and canine distemper virus (CDV) can cause diarrhea in dogs. Virus infection can not be treated effectively, with the only option being prevention. Treatment focuses on secondary complications and easing any associated symptoms. Use of broad spectrum antibiotics like ampicillin, gentamicin and tetracyclines can prove effective if used along with metronidazole, for a week or more.

Bacterial infections resulting in dog diarrhea are best treated with suflanomides, such as sulphadimadine, sulfadimethoxine etc. Gentamicin is considered one of most effective antibiotics for bacteria like E. coli, Bacillus etc.

Poisons & Toxins: Different heavy metals like lead, arsenic or any harmful material contained in paints, oils etc if ingested can cause diarrhea along with other complications. These may only be treated with antidotes that are specified for each poison. In acute cases of poisoning, a universal antidote is preferred, followed by specific antidote thereafter.

Homeopathic and Natural Approaches: If a dog has persistent diarrhea, they may benefit from a dietary supplement that contains Plantain (contains helpful herbs for the digestive system), Lady's Mantle (firms stools) and Podophyllum (particularly useful in hot weather) such as RunnyPoo Relief.  

Once the diarrhea is under control and if you believe the problem is related to the way the digestive system is functioning, a product called Digestive Support may be of help. Holistic practitioners believe that ingredients such as licorice (supports the intestines and digestive tract), Ulmus fulva (digestive herb containing trace minerals) and Althaea officinalis (sooths the membranes in the digestive system), could be of help.  Click on the link above for a review of the clinical support and of course, consult your veterinarian.