Magic trotted along the sidewalk as far ahead of me as his leash would allow. He paused, sniffed the grass, and turned around in a little circle. I pulled the plastic clean-up bag out of my pocket in response to this ritual. Once I approached him, his obvious diarrhea told me something was very wrong with his digestion. But Magic didn’t seem too bothered by this gastrointestinal issue. He continued to hold his flag-like tail high as he pranced by the dogs barking at him from behind their fences for the rest of his walk.
Minor gastrointestinal issues were not newsworthy occurrences for Magic. Even a seemingly insignificant change irritated his sensitive stomach. If he sniffed out a forgotten scrap of human food or tried a new diet, inevitable diarrhea would follow. I thought about the past few days, searching for a possible cause… I then remembered all of the treats I gave him the night before while teaching him how to sit upright like a bunny.
I also thought about what Magic’s veterinarian told me at our last appointment for diarrhea (there had been several such appointments throughout his life). She said dogs can get diarrhea for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are not serious, such as a diet change or stress. In other cases, it can be caused by something that requires veterinary treatment such as a blockage, toxic substance, parasite, or infection. Because there are so many different causes for diarrhea, Magic would need to see a vet for effective treatment if it continued for more than a couple days or was accompanied by lethargy or vomiting.
While I already suspected the treats must be the cause of his gastrointestinal upset, I monitored him for lethargy and vomiting just in case. Magic bounced on his hind legs when I got the canned bland diet out of his cabinet and finished his dinner without vomiting. I stuck with the bland diet until Magic’s stool was normal and slowly added his regular food back into his diet. Fortunately for the neighbors whose front yards we passed on our walk, Magic’s diarrhea soon resolved. I just had to be more careful about the number of treats I gave him— no matter how cute he looked when he sat like a bunny.
Some causes for diarrhea are minor and can be resolved with a bland diet, others require veterinary treatment. For example, a sudden issue could be a result of scavenging behavior, stress, diet change, infection, parasite, blockage, or toxicity. Ongoing diarrhea might be a sign of emotional stress, a dietary intolerance, or possible disease. If diarrhea continues longer than 24 hours or is accompanied by vomiting or lethargy, the dog should see a veterinarian for proper treatment.
Limit treats and feed a bland diet for sensitive pets. If a diet change is necessary, transition gradually.