Dog diarrhoea

Dog eating from a bowl

If your dog has diarrhoea, it’s important to know how to care for them, when to seek veterinary advice and what the possible causes may be.

When should I take my dog to the vet?

Most episodes of diarrhoea are not serious, but it’s important to know the warning signs and when you need to visit your vet.

As a general rule, if your dog’s diarrhoea is accompanied by other signs, or if you are concerned about their health, then you should contact your vet for advice. These signs can include:

  • blood in their stools
  • black and tarry stools
  • being sick repeatedly
  • very frequent diarrhoea
  • diarrhoea that has lasted for two to three days
  • being very tired
  • being off their food
  • signs of pain
  • a high temperature

How do I look after my dog when it has diarrhoea?

Begin by feeding your dog small portions of boiled white rice. If this goes down well, you can add a small amount of boiled chicken or white fish into their next meal. It’s a good idea to feed small portions every few hours and then begin to incorporate small amounts of their usual food back in to their meals.

This diet should help settle their stomach and you should see your dog’s waste turn back to its normal consistency. It’s important to remember that if your dog’s condition does not return to normal, or seems to worsen, then you should take them to their vet as soon as possible.

What can cause diarrhoea?

A dog can have diarrhoea for many different reasons. Here are three of the most common causes.


This can be a key trigger of diarrhoea in dogs. Stress-induced diarrhoea is particularly relevant for puppies, especially when they first come to a new home with new surroundings and unfamiliar faces. As a puppy becomes more familiar with its environment and the people it sees, it should become less stressed and their diarrhoea should improve.

Changes to their diet

Dogs can often develop diarrhoea when their diet is changed. To help avoid an upset tummy, it’s important to allow 7-10 days for any changeover from one diet to another. For puppies in particular, keeping them on the food they came with from the breeder for the first few weeks will help to avoid issues while they settling in.

Your puppy will also need to change from puppy to adult food after their first year, and this change could cause an upset stomach. Over the course of a week try mixing in a small amount of adult food into their puppy food. Every few days, replace a higher concentration of puppy food with adult food and by the end of the week you should have successfully switched from one food type to the other.


Signs of internal parasites can include diarrhoea, and although any dog can become affected by parasites, young puppies may be particularly susceptible. Parasites can often be found in unclean conditions, and can be passed on from mother to puppy.

It’s important that when you buy your puppy you are confident that they have come from a clean environment and that the mother appears to be fit and healthy. If you have any doubts about the cleanliness of a breeder’s house or the health of the puppy’s parents, then you should buy your puppy from another breeder.

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