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Dog Diarrhea & Vomiting: Caring for Your Pup

Nicole Cosgrove

July 2, 2021

Gastroenteritis is a term that refers to inflammation of your dog’s stomach and intestines, both of which are part of the gastrointestinal tract. Dogs with gastroenteritis will have vomiting and diarrhea in periodic episodes throughout the day. There are two different types of gastroenteritis: acute and chronic. With acute gastroenteritis, symptoms appear suddenly; with chronic gastroenteritis, symptoms can occur over multiple weeks, months, and in some cases, years. Your dog may not experience both diarrhea and vomiting; sometimes, dogs will experience only diarrhea. Occasionally a dog with gastroenteritis will experience vomiting with no diarrhea, but if this is the case, your vet may call it gastritis instead.

Typically, dogs suffering from gastroenteritis will be disinterested in food and may be lethargic. Their vomit may be yellowish, the color of your dog’s stomach bile, and their diarrhea will have a very soft consistency, like that of soft-serve ice cream. A dog with gastroenteritis can become dehydrated quickly if symptoms continue for more than 24 hours.

If your dog is vomiting, having diarrhea, or both, you are probably worried about your furry friend and wondering what to do. There are many possible causes of gastroenteritis. Taking note of the severity of your dog’s diarrhea or vomiting and trying to narrow down the cause will help determine the best course of action for treatment. In this article, we will discuss the possible causes of your dog’s vomiting and diarrhea, as well as potential treatment options.

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Causes of Vomiting and Diarrhea

Dog vomit in the living room
Image Credit: A-photographyy, Shutterstock

There are many possible reasons why a dog may be suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. Essentially anything that changes your dog’s microbiome can lead to problems. We have listed some common causes of gastroenteritis in dogs, but this list may not be exhaustive.

1. Viruses

Certain viruses, such as the parvovirus, can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. To help prevent your dog from becoming infected with viruses that can cause severe symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.


2. Intestinal Parasites

There are many different types of intestinal parasites that could affect your dog. Common parasites that tend to cause diarrhea and vomiting are hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms. If your dog has an intestinal parasite, it can usually be identified in your dog’s stool.


3. Intussusception

Intussusception is when your dog’s intestine collapses as a result of a blockage. Signs of intussusception include vomiting and diarrhea, as well as dehydration, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss.


4. Foreign Objects

If you think your dog may have swallowed something he shouldn’t have, your vet can perform an X-ray to see if they can identify the object in your dog’s digestive system.

Black dog vomiting
Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock

5. Poisoning or Toxins

If your dog begins to vomit suddenly, and especially if your dog’s vomit or stool contains blood, it could be a sign that he has ingested something toxic. Contact your vet or emergency vet immediately if you think your dog has eaten something poisonous.


6. Endocrine Disease

Intestinal problems in your dog could be a sign of endocrine diseases such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism. If your dog is overweight, diabetes could be the culprit. Check with your vet to make sure your dog is properly diagnosed.


7. Tumors

Tumors, particularly if they are in the digestive tract, can cause diarrhea and vomiting in dogs. Likewise, a dog that is already being treated for cancer with chemotherapy may experience diarrhea and vomiting.

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Possible Treatments

Now that you know some of the potential causes of vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, let’s break down the different options for treatment.

For Mild or Short-Term Diarrhea or Vomiting

dog eating_dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock
Image Credit: dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

Not all cases of diarrhea and vomiting are serious. In mild cases, you may want to try some home remedies before rushing your dog to the vet. If your dog is vomiting, try withholding food for about 12-14 hours. After that initial period, you can start slowly reintroducing food into your dog’s diet. Although you are withholding food, make sure your dog is still getting plenty of water.

For diarrhea, you could try giving your dog a bland diet of boiled chicken and white rice. If your dog’s stools start returning to normal, you can begin slowly reintroducing his normal dog food into his diet. You could also try giving him medication for diarrhea or probiotics to see if his stools improve.

Visiting the Vet

If your dog’s vomiting or diarrhea doesn’t improve or gets worse within 24 to 48 hours, it’s time to see a vet. If you have a puppy or an elderly dog, or if he is experiencing severe symptoms such as weight loss, severe diarrhea with blood, or diarrhea after receiving medication or vaccinations, don’t wait to seek treatment. Only your vet can examine your dog to determine what exactly is causing his symptoms. Make sure you share your dog’s medical history with your vet so that they can make an accurate diagnosis. The sooner he receives a diagnosis, the sooner his path to recovery—and comfort—begins.

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Conclusion

It can be unpleasant and scary when your dog is vomiting and having diarrhea. Pay close attention to your dog’s symptoms; if they seem mild, you can try some home remedies. If your dog’s symptoms are severe or if you are simply unsure, take your dog to the vet to ensure he gets adequate care. Hopefully, your pet will be feeling better in no time.

Other health issues to look out for:


Featured Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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