As you watch your canine pal go absolutely HAM on the contents inside its water bowl, a curious thought crosses your mind.
“Can too much water cause diarrhea in dogs?”
Not usually.Diarrhea is more commonly a symptom that occurs when a dog doesn’t drink enough water- not when it drinks too much.
However, excess water consumption can still be unhealthy for our canine companions. In serious cases, it can result in hyponatremia or sodium deficiency/water intoxication– a potentially life-threatening condition for affected dogs.
When a dog drinks too much water, the excess amount overloads the body’s cells and internal organs. This then leads to the hyponatremia, which results in the dilution of essential electrolytes in a canine’s body.
As the water overloads the body’s cells, this also includes brain cells. As a result, many of the symptoms of hyponatremia are neurological in nature. For example, signs that your dog is suffering from hyponatremia can include
It would be best to seek immediate medical assistance if you notice your pup is developing any of the above symptoms of water intoxication.
While the condition can be dangerous and even fatal to canines, the good news is that hyponatremia is quite rare in dogs since they are usually pretty good at regulating their own water intake!
If your dog experiences diarrhea after drinking a large quantity of water, it is much more likely that the cleanliness of the water is the issue rather than the amount of liquid guzzled.
Diarrhea and an upset stomach can occur when the pup drinks contaminated water filled with bacteria or parasites. That’s why it’s so important to always make sure your pup’s water source is fresh, clean, and replaced frequently!
How Do You Know If Your Dog Drank Too Much Water?
It is usually quite easy to tell when your dog has drunk too much water and is suffering from water intoxication! This is because the canine will experience particular, peculiar symptoms after swallowing this excessive amount of water.
Hyponatremia can occur if your pup intentionally drinks a massive amount of water. However, it more commonly occurs when a dog plays with water, for example at the beach or in a pool.
While it definitely looks like a blast, it’s best to avoid games where your dog has to retrieve a toy or ball from the water. These games greatly increase the chances of your poor pup ingesting too much H2O.
The signs and symptoms of water intoxication in dogs can include:
- Glazed eyes and confusion
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive salivation
The good news is that dogs suffering from water intoxication can usually make a full recovery. However, this depends on the owner’s prompt action and how quickly the dog is treated by a professional vet.
What Should I Do If My Dog Drinks Too Much Water?
The mineral imbalance caused by excessive water intake can create serious problems for your furry friend if not treated as soon as it is suspected. There’s nothing really that you can do at home for this, so the only answer is to take your dog to the vet immediately.
Once you have taken your dog to the emergency clinic, the vet will usually confirm that your pet has low serum sodium levels by completing initial tests such as a complete blood profile, additional blood work, electrolyte count, and urinalysis.
Once water intoxication has been confirmed, the appropriate treatment can then be carried out.
Hyponatremia is usually treated by dealing with the underlying cause, though any action needs to be taken slowly as overly rapid normalization can cause severe neurological side effects.
Even after your dog has recovered and been discharged, you may have to make regular return visits to the vet for monitoring and checkups in the short-term. This will depend on the initial severity of the condition and whether there are any lasting neurological results after treatment.
Should I Limit My Dog’s Water?
In reality, there is normally no need to limit your dog’s water. Dogs are more prone to dehydration than the opposite, and this is especially true if the dog is very active or if you live in a hot climate.
In fact, it’s a very good idea to always leave a big bowl of clean, cool water out for your dog all day long.
The exceptions to this rule are if you have a very young puppy that doesn’t know how to regulate its water intake yet, or if you have a dog that has a known tendency to drink endless amounts of water.
In these cases, it may be best to take a proactive approach to managing your dog’s daily hydration. You can do this by measuring out a suitable amount of water for its body size and activity level and refilling only when necessary.
Also, limit your pooch’s time spent around large bodies of water such as pools, lakes, or the ocean if it has a constant inclination to lap at the aqua non-stop!
Why Is My Dog’s Poop Liquid, Then?
Diarrhea is a common canine affliction. It is a condition that can be brought on by a myriad of sources, such as if your dog licks toxic substances it finds around the house or eats rotten materials from the trash bins.
Diarrhea can also be a sign of other underlying health issues. Liquid-like stool is a clear indicator that the dog is unable to absorb any food in the GI tract. This can be a sign of food intolerance, bacterial infection, and other serious health issues.
The good news is that the liquid-like poop usually clears up on its own. Provided that it is not accompanied by any other symptoms, mild cases of diarrhea usually resolve themselves in a matter of days, and all you have to do is make sure your dog stays hydrated during this time.
However, if your pooch’s poop doesn’t go back to normal after a few days, it would of course be best to take it to your vet for a thorough examination and testing.
What Is The Most Common Cause Of Diarrhea In Dogs?
There are so many possible causes of diarrhea in dogs that it can be hard to say which is the most common!
While doggy diarrhea is challenging to prevent and a horror to deal with (especially nighttime puppy poop explosions!), uncovering the specific cause will help to limit the frequency and duration of each unfortunate episode.
Here are some of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs:
Dining On Rotten Food
Many dogs (mine included) are absolutely fascinated with rubbish bins and the ‘treasures” that hide within. The potential reward is so enticing to a canine nose that they will happily rummage through used tissues and soiled container lids for the last semi-edible morsel.
As you can imagine, the chances of a dog consuming spoiled foods in this manner are quite high! Subsequently, rotten food– being rotten– tends to cause stomach upset and diarrhea. This condition is colloquially referred to by vets in the business as ‘garbage gut’.
While definitely unpleasant to deal with, diarrhea that results from eating food that has gone bad is usually not as frightening as it might first appear.
However, the intensity and frequency of diarrhea does depend on what your furry friend ate as well as the amount.
While most dogs will recover and be back to normal in a few days, there have been cases of dogs developing more serious illnesses such as pancreatitis or fungal/bacterial infections from eating decaying or raw meats (such as fish heads).
Ingestion Of Toxic Substances
Similar to eating spoiled foods, diarrhea and other symptoms can arise if a dog eats poisonous materials.
Dogs are adventurous, curious creatures and frequently try out the many different things they find by licking or swallowing it without a second thought.
For example: Have you ever suspected the acorns at the park- or the loaf of raisin bread on the countertop- of being toxic for your pup? Chances are your dog has had a few nibbles of these things here and there, whether you knew of it or not!
Usually when a dog ingests toxic substances and has diarrhea as a result, it will also experience accompanying side effects such as:
- Stomach pain
- Lethargy or depression
- Loss of appetite
- Heavy panting
- Visible distress (such as looking around frantically)
- Weakness and tremors
It is extremely important to always keep potentially dangerous materials out of reach of your dog. Even everyday objects that you might not think twice about like eye drops, Nyquil, or cough lollies can have nasty consequences for a pet that eats them!
Ingestion Of Indigestible Foreign Objects
Ingestion of indigestible foreign objects is yet another possible cause of diarrhea in dogs. Yep, they just can’t stop putting things in their mouths that they’re not supposed to.
Dogs have been known to swallow a wide range of inedible materials: From safety pins, to chew toy squeakers– and even baby pacifiers!
If the dog is unlucky, these foreign objects can become stuck or embedded in the stomach and intestines, creating an obstruction. Diarrhea is one of the initial signs and is usually accompanied by abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and vomiting.
Intestinal blockages can be quickly fatal for pets, so it is vital that you take a dog to the vet immediately if one is suspected!
A Sudden Change In Diet
A sudden change in a dog’s diet can cause stomach upset or other intestinal tract conditions which can then lead to diarrhea. Therefore, it is never recommended to switch your dog’s food abruptly– especially if it is a puppy!
The general rule when it comes to switching foods smoothly with your dog is to make a gradual change. This is without a doubt the best way to help your pup’s stomach and intestines to adapt without experiencing significant transitional issues.
The process of making a change of kibble (or from semi-solid food to hard food) usually takes about two weeks. Don’t hesitate to consult your vet to help you with a transition plan if you are unsure on how to proceed!
As disgusting as it may sound, it is actually quite common for dogs to carry intestinal parasites.
Parasites such as roundworm, hookworm, and tapeworm can be contracted from contaminated water sources as well as from the poop of other animals.
These parasites multiply and grow inside the canine’s gut, stealing away valuable nutrition and leaving the poor pup malnourished.
It is also common for a dog to experience frothy, greasy diarrhea when it is infested with worms, along with other symptoms such as vomiting, listlessness, a swollen stomach, and sitting down suddenly at random times.
Check out our extensive articles on the importance of deworming your puppy or pregnant dog!
Stress Or Emotional Upset
Dogs that are experiencing emotional distress can become afflicted with diarrhea. According to Purina, stressful events such as adoption, relocation, boarding, or being left at home alone all day can result in runny poop.
Dogs may show certain clues during especially stressful periods, such as making crunching noises with their mouth or following you around everywhere all of a sudden.
Interestingly, stress triggers an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the GI tract. As the bad bacteria overwhelm the good ones in periods of stress, stomach upsets occur as a result with diarrhea being a common symptom.
Thankfully, diarrhea stemming from stress is usually temporary and will resolve as the catalyst is removed. There won’t be any need for any specialist treatment other than simply make sure your dog feels safe and comfortable!
Irritable Bowel Disease
Irritable bowel disease (IBD for short) is a condition that occurs due to the invasion of inflammatory cells into the lining of the intestinal tract of a dog. This causes an allergy-like response in the intestines, and results in an inability for a dog to properly absorb or digest food.
The exact cause of irritable bowel disease is still largely unknown, though some theories have suggested that it can be caused by bacterial or parasitic infection– or even a reaction to a particular protein!
Diarrhea, along with vomiting, is one of the most common symptoms of IBD especially if it is localized in the intestines. More often than not, the symptoms are recurring and chronic.
During the episodes, it is common for a poor pooch to lose many pounds of body weight due to poor appetite and dehydration.
If your dog has IBD, it would be best to consult your vet to formulate an appropriate treatment plan. Unfortunately there isn’t a foolproof cure, but the condition can be successfully managed through a combination of diet, supplementation, medication, and deworming.
Diarrhea is again one of the most common symptoms experienced by dogs suffering from a specific allergic reaction. Though messy, diarrhea does help the canine to flush the offending allergens out of the body.
Other symptoms that frequently occur alongside diarrhea include runny eyes, itchy skin, sneezing, and constant licking of the paws.
There are a great many things that can trigger an allergic reaction. Therefore, the best option is to take your pup in for proper veterinary care where a professional assessment can be made.
Kidney Or Liver Diseases
Dogs suffering from kidney and liver diseases will usually experience diarrhea. The most common causes of kidney disease are toxic ingestion, bacterial infection, parasitic infection, and cancer.
Other symptoms that are often associated with these health conditions are weight loss, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, and blood in the urine. Sometimes the dog may also exhibit an increase or decrease in the amount of urine passed.
Some common viral diseases in dogs that are associated with foul-smelling diarrhea are distemper, Parvovirus, and other rotaviruses.
Most viral diseases afflicting canines are infectious and can also be life-threatening. Other symptoms of viral diseases include coughing, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever.
It would be best to take your furry friend for a medical check if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Side Effect Of Medications
Some prescription medicines can make your canine friend experience diarrhea as an unfortunate side effect. These are medications that usually contain certain adhesive additives.
These binding substances act like lactose and can cause severe diarrhea. If your dog experiences diarrhea after taking a particular medication, it is recommended that you share this side effect with your vet.
This way, the vet may be able to alter the medication or dosage so that the side effect no longer takes place.
How Can I Stop My Dog’s Diarrhea Fast?
There’s no need to freak when your canine pal experiences diarrhea!
Not only is it relatively common in dogs, it usually resolves by itself in a few days. However, it would still be best to examine the exact cause of the affliction and to take appropriate measures to help your pup feel better.
Below are some simple tips to help your furry friend recover from a bout of diarrhea:
Feed A Bland Diet
Boiled chicken and rice are the best foods for a dog suffering from diarrhea. A bland diet will help to slow down the rate of diarrhea by keeping the stomach’s digestive burden light.
When your dog first experiences diarrhea, it would be best to start by fasting it for the following 12 hours. After that, slowly reintroduce the bland diet a few tablespoons at a time to help your dog digest the food more easily.
Continue with the bland diet until your furry friend begins to feel better and no longer has runny poop!
Lots Of Liquid
The most dangerous aspect of severe diarrhea is that it can make a dog extremely dehydrated. Since dehydration can be fatal, it is advisable to ensure the dog drinks a lot of water even when it is still experiencing runny stool.
A good way of making sure your dog stays hydrated is by giving the pup either diluted chicken or beef broth in case it does not feel like drinking water. In extreme cases, you may need to utilize a syringe to rehydrate your dog by inserting it into the side of its mouth.
Rebalance The GI Tract
Feed your dog with food rich in good bacteria. Plain yogurt or kefir is the best option since it helps to rebalance the good and bad bacteria in the intestines. Canine probiotic supplements can also be given to ensure your dog maintains healthy gut flora.
Avoid giving your dog foods that are rich in sugar (such as Reese’s Pieces) as these tend to facilitate bad bacteria growth!
Plain Pumpkin Paste
Pumpkin is rich in high-quality fibers that can help to combat a canine’s upset stomach. Giving your dog a few tablespoons of plain pumpkin alongside its bland meals for a few days will help to resolve digestive issues quickly.
There are several over-the-counter diarrhea medications for dogs that are suffering from diarrhea.
For example, Tylosin and Metronidazole are commonly prescribed antidiarrheal agents that can help to reduce the intestinal irritation that frequently results in runny stool.
These medicines are usually very effective in stopping diarrhea, but it is always recommended that dog owners consult a vet first before using any of them on their poop.
When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog’s Diarrhea?
In most cases, diarrhea in canines can be resolved with simple R&R (rest and rehydration, in this case).
However, chronic diarrhea that carries on for a week or more can be a sign of a more serious underlying health issue especially in older dogs.
Constant diarrhea that doesn’t stop after a few days will cause a dog to lose weight, weaken, and develop a compromised immune system. If it is allowed to continue, the affliction can become life-threatening for the dog.
If this is what you are experiencing with your pet, take it back to the vet immediately for further assessment and treatment. It is possible that there is something else going on, and the sooner it is diagnosed the better your dog’s chance of recovery.
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.