Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs

Cleaning up poop from the yard is an unfortunate part of owning a dog. Sometimes, the job can be a little more gross than normal, if you notice your dog leaving behind loose puddles instead of solid waste. 

Cleaning up poop from the yard is an unfortunate part of owning a dog. Sometimes, the job can be a little more gross than normal, if you notice your dog leaving behind loose puddles instead of solid waste. 

Just like humans, dogs can experience disruption in their digestive systems. Diarrhea every once in a while is usually nothing to worry about. But if the problem does not resolve itself within two days, is bloody, or accompanied by other signs, it could be a symptom of something more serious. 

In order to treat the issue, your vet will need to determine what is causing it. Here are the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs.

Garbage Gut

Pets don’t have the self-control to avoid bad food. Garbage gut, also known as dietary indiscretion, occurs when dogs get into something they shouldn’t. 

This includes trash, spoiled food, dead animals, and plants. It can also occur due to overeating. Typically, diarrhea will stop after the non-digestible materials have completely exited the system.

Toxin Ingestion

Similarly, pets can’t understand that some foods that people eat are toxic to them. In dogs, this includes grapes, onions, chocolate, avocado, garlic, and coffee. 

If you’re a green thumb, you should also beware of chrysanthemums, holly, azaleas, hydrangeas, ivy, and lilies. Depending on the weight of your dog and the amount they ingest, these toxins can be fatal. 

For example, big dogs can pass along large amounts of poisonous foods, while small dogs are far more vulnerable to toxins, even in small amounts. If you suspect this could be the cause of diarrhea, call your vet or poison control to see if your dog needs medical intervention. 

Foreign Body Ingestion

How many times have you wrestled inedible objects from out of the mouth of your dog? Chances are, you’re familiar with the fact that dogs like to chew just about anything. 

Foreign bodies in the digestive system can be extremely dangerous. Most commonly, dogs tend to swallow coins, socks, batteries, buttons, marbles, and bones. These objects can clog the entire digestive tract, causing diarrhea. 

Surgery may be needed to remove foreign objects. 

Changes in Diet or Medication

Dogs don’t always cope well with change, especially when it comes to their diet. If you’ve recently switched dog food brands, this can cause poor digestion, especially in older dogs.

This is also true of medication. If your pet is on new meds, ask the vet for potential side effects to look out for. Diarrhea may be temporary, or it can be a sign that this medication is not right for your dog.


Another common cause of diarrhea is internal parasites, such as ticks, worms, coccidia, and giardia. Puppies and older dogs are at a higher risk for illnesses caused by parasites due to their weaker immune systems.

Sometimes, very tiny worms can be seen in diarrhea. This is a sign to get help immediately. A vet will need to perform diagnostic testing to determine if your pet has parasites. If you have other pets in the home, the infected dog will need to be quarantined to prevent spreading.

Disease and Illness

Diarrhea can also be a symptom of long-term health risks, such as kidney and liver disease, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer.

If the bowel irregularity is accompanied by changes in appetite, lethargy, restlessness, whining, and/or aggression, there could be an underlying disease at play. Bring your pet to the vet as soon as you notice these changes in behavior. 

Stress and Anxiety

Finally, diarrhea can be caused by feelings of stress or anxiety. This is also common in humans.

If your pet has undergone some dramatic changes, they might be feeling overwhelmed. These changes can include losing an owner or fellow pet, moving house, recovering from surgery, and more. 

Consider the temperament of your dog. If they are easygoing, stress is not likely an issue. On the other hand, if you have a chronically anxious pet, their digestive issues could be a symptom of their mood. Pups who have been rescued from neglectful or abusive situations are at especially high risk for anxiety.

In this case, your pet will need as much love, comfort, and rest as possible. Try to minimize loud noises and hectic situations. They may also need to be quarantined in a quiet, calm room in order to recover.

Diagnostic Testing for Dogs With Diarrhea in Frederick, MD

If your pet has persistent diarrhea, bring them to Old Farm Veterinary Hospital

We offer state-of-the-art diagnostic testing for pets in our Frederick, Maryland, facility. Our team of caring and experienced veterinarians will determine the cause of the issue and develop a treatment plan accordingly.
We are eager to help your furry friend feel better. Call now to schedule an appointment.