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Dogs can have short term loose stools or diarrhea due to many causes, ranging from parasitic, bacterial or viral infection, change in diet, stress or anxiety, certain medications or other health conditions.
Long-term diarrhea or chronic diarrhea in dogs refers to change in the consistency, frequency, and volume of feces that lasts for longer than three weeks. Diarrhea originates from either the large or the small intestine and can be watery or non-watery.
When the diarrhea originates from the small intestine, these are the symptoms that are found:
Symptoms found when it originates in the small intestine may include:
- Weight loss
- Abnormally huge feces volume
- Increased frequency of stools that could be anywhere between two to four times in a day
- Flatulence or gaseous sounds in the gut
- Black and tarry stools
- Poor digestion or absorption can lead to an increase in appetite
The following are the symptoms of long-term diarrhea that begin in the large intestine:
- An unusually small volume of feces
- Increased frequency of stools of more than four times in a day
- Bright, red blood and mucus in the stools
- Straining to defecate
- Urgency to defecate
- Pain during defecation
- Gaseous sounds in the gut
Causes of long term diarrhea
If you have noticed any of these symptoms in your dog for more than two weeks, it is important to consult a vet immediately. Apart from noting down changes in your dog’s diet if any, food allergies, medications and if the stools contain blood or mucus, the vet might also perform various diagnostic tests. These can include electrolyte panel, complete blood count, stool and urinalysis. These tests can indicate the presence of fungal, viral or bacterial infection which can then be treated with a course of antibiotics.
Radiographs and barium contrast test can show up any abnormalities in the gastrointestinal system. The vet may also perform diagnostic imaging such as endoscopy or ultrasound that can show any signs of damage like ulcers, cancers, polyps or obstruction if any. A biopsy can also be taken to determine if growth or tumor is cancerous.
Some of the causes of chronic diarrhea include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Bacterial, viral or fungal infections
- Parasites or worms
- Stomach or intestinal ulcers
- Partial blockage
- Short small intestine
- Pancreatic disease
- Liver or gallbladder disease
- Gluten allergy or sensitivity
- Changes in diet, low fiber in diet
Managing the diarrhea
The most important factor in chronic diarrhea is preventing dehydration. If your dog is very ill and dehydrated, intravenous fluids are given at the vet’s clinic. A bland, low-fat diet that is easy to digest such as rice, potato, cottage cheese or chicken along with plenty of water along with the prescribed medication or treatment can help your dog recover faster.