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Dog Has Diarrhea for 2 or 3 Days: Is It Serious?

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This article was updated on May 5th, 2023

Every day I see at least 3 to 5 dogs who are having diarrhea. There are many reasons why your dog may have diarrhea and there are some things you can do at home to help stop their diarrhea.  No one enjoys cleaning up a huge mess, and with these few tips and tricks, you can easily and quickly stop your dog from having diarrhea.  If they ever become lethargic, start vomiting, or are having diarrhea for more than a few days, it is usually best for them to see your vet.

How Long Does Dog Diarrhea Typically Last?

Diarrhea is very common in dogs. They are always exploring the world around them by putting things in their mouth and eating things that they should not have. This will lead to them having diarrhea. This will typically resolve itself on its own after a few days. If your dog’s diarrhea ever lasts for more than a day or two especially after you start at-home treatment you need to see your vet.

My Dog Has Had Diarrhea for 2 or 3 Days. Should I Worry?

If your dog’s diarrhea has continued for more than 2 to 3 days, you should start to worry. These dogs may have something more serious going on or they may need prescription medications from your vet to clear their diarrhea.

What Causes Diarrhea in Dogs?

Your dog will have diarrhea because they have an infection in their GI tract, or they have something that has irritated their GI tract. This will cause an increase in gut motility time which will decrease the ability of your dog’s body to absorb water and form normal stool.

Also read: Puppy Has Diarrhea But Is Still Acting Playful

5 Reasons Why Dogs Have Diarrhea for More Than 2 Days

There are many reasons that a dog may have diarrhea.  You first must figure out why they have diarrhea, so you know what to do to fix the issues.  These are common reasons for your dog to have diarrhea for several days:

WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]

Your dog has Parasites

A certain parasite will cause your dog to have diarrhea.  You can often see these parasites in your dog’s stool, while other times, you need a microscope to see these parasites.  Your vet can take a stool sample from your dog to see if they have any parasites.

Your dog ate something that they should not

Dogs are commonly getting into the trash and love to eat people’s food. This can cause them to have diarrhea.  Many high fatty meals that we may love are not good for our dog’s intestinal tract.

The small intestine lives close to the pancreas, and when the small intestine gets inflamed, so does the pancreas.  This leads to a condition called pancreatitis.  Signs associated with pancreatitis include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Tense abdomen
  • Not eating
  • Lethargy

A dog with pancreatitis can recover on their own, but many need veterinary care.  Some dogs will have pancreatitis very badly and will have bloody stool. These dogs must spend a few days in the hospital.  Depending on their disease’s severity, some dogs will be sent oral medications home while other dogs need IV fluids and injectable medications.  With treatment, most dogs make a complete recovery.  If their pancreatitis goes on for a long time, they can end up with reoccurring episodes.  

You Have Suddenly Changed Your Dogs Diet

When you first get a dog, they may be eating a certain type of dog food. When suddenly changing their diet to a different type of food, your dog can have a few days of diarrhea. There is no need to be alarmed if your dog is still active and playful.  Their diarrhea will resolve itself after a few days of eating the new diet. 

Your Dog Has an Obstruction

Dogs are known for eating things that they should not eat.  These usually include socks and underwear. If your dog eats something that they should not, then their digestive tract can become obstructed.  When a dog gets blocked, the liquid can get around this obstruction.  This will cause diarrhea in your dog. Other common signs of obstruction are:

Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.

  • Vomiting every time that they eat or drink
  • Lethargic
  • Tense and painful abdomen

Sometimes these blockages can easily pass by giving your dog IV fluids and keeping them hydrated.  This extra water will help the intestines to expand and help the obstruction move through more easily.   If this obstruction cannot pass, your dog will have to have emergency surgery.

Your dog is Stressed

Dogs can also be stressed.  If you are gone from the house for a long time or have a sudden change in people in the house, your dog may become stressed.  This stress can also cause your dog to have bloody diarrhea. Dogs dealing with stress will get a condition called Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE).  The common signs seen with this disease are:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydrate
  • Not Eating
  • Weakness

A dog with bloody diarrhea is considered an emergency.  You should take them to your vet as soon as possible. This will give your dog the best chance of fully recovering.

A dog with HGE should stay in the hospital to help correct the severe dehydration.  They will need injectable medications as they are too weak to take oral medication.  If this is caught early, your dog can take oral medication.  Dogs with HGE typically recover very quickly and return to their healthy, happy lives. 

Dog Diarrhea Home Remedies

If your dog is otherwise healthy, you can try to treat your dog’s diarrhea at home such as:

  • Keep your dog hydrated: Make sure that your dog has a lot of water to help keep them hydrated.  You can give them dilute Pedialyte in addition to water will help keep them hydrated.
  • Feed your dog a bland meal. This can be boiled chicken breast, white rice, and a scrambled egg. DO NOT use any spices, butter, or oils when cooking.  Make this meal as plain as possible.
  • Give your dog probiotics: These can be found at your local pet store. Probiotics will help rebalance the normal gut bacteria.
  • Give your dog a general dewormer: If you think that your dog is having diarrhea due to parasites, giving them an over-the-counter dewormer will help treat these parasites.

These home remedies should help your dog’s diarrhea improve in just a few days.

What to Feed a Dog With Diarrhea?

If your dog has diarrhea, feed them a sensitive stomach diet or a bland diet such as chicken and rice. You also want to make sure that your dog stays hydrated by making sure that they have fresh water available at all times.

What Can I Give My Dog for Diarrhea?

There are some over-the-counter medications that are safe to give to your dog. Imodium is commonly used for dogs with mild cases of diarrhea. Before starting any new medication, it is best to consult with your vet.

My Dog Has Had Diarrhea for 2+ Days. When Should I Call the Vet?

For mild cases of diarrhea, there are some things that can be done at home to help your dog’s diarrhea. Some dogs will have more severe diarrhea and they need to see a vet. These are some common reasons that your dog may need to see a vet for their diarrhea.

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargic
  • Dehydrate

These instances would require a vet visit. Your vet will want to take a fecal sample and possibly run bloodwork or take x-rays to figure out why your dog has diarrhea. Once your vet has figured out the cause of diarrhea, your vet will easily be able to treat your dog.

For severe diarrhea, your vet may recommend that your dog stays in the vet clinic to get IV fluids and injectable medications to help rehydrate your dog and help them feel much better faster.  These treatments can range from $100 to $1500+ depending on what all needs to be done to help your dog improve.

Final Thoughts

Diarrhea in dogs is not fun for you to have to constantly clean up and is not a good feeling for your dog.  If your dog continues to have diarrhea, it is best to see your vet.  They can help you figure out exactly what is causing these issues and what you need to do to do your dog from having diarrhea.  Usually, being proactive and possible, even a little change in your routine can keep your dog from getting diarrhea.

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  • Dr Sara Ochoa, Veterinarian

    Dr. Ochoa earned her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from St. George University in 2015, and completed her program with excellent scores. She has more than 7 years of experience practicing as a veterinarian for Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse, TX.

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