Eating stomach-upsetting foods and becoming infested with parasites are two common causes of diarrhea in dogs, but these situations aren’t limited to the warmer months and the outdoors. Parasites, including fleas and ticks as well as some types of worms, often thrive inside warm homes during the winter, which can give them an uninterrupted, year round season of attack on dogs. Since dogs should spend a lot more time inside during these colder months just as we do, it may be easier for them to access food scraps from kitchen garbage cans.
Raw meat and spoiled foods can really upset a dog’s digestive system through food poisoning, but fresh table scraps can also do more harm than good by causing diarrhea. A third indoor source that may cause diarrhea in dogs this time of year, but also pose a serious, potential deadly health threat, is popular house plants.
Also called the Belladonna Lily or Jersey Lily among other names, this flowering bulb with pointed petals is bought by many people in the winter as it blooms indoors. But, Amaryllis can be deadly to pets if ingested. It causes diarrhea in dogs, decreased appetite, stomach pain and excessive drooling with a possibility of being fatal if the dog doesn’t receive prompt veterinary treatment.
With attractive, green, sectioned, stalk-like leaves and fuchsia or red flowers, the Christmas Cactus can seem like an eye-catching food source to some dogs. It is considered to have a low toxicity level, but the diarrhea, vomiting and skin irritation can be severe if a dog ingests this plant.
The flowers and leaves of the chrysanthemum are not good for your pet. They can cause skin rashes, drooling and diarrhea in dogs. The chrysanthemum contains pyrethrins which are used in many insecticides, and also in flea and tick powders for dogs. But, there is a potential for severe toxicity, so flea and tick powders must be used carefully under the instruction of a veterinarian and chrysanthemum plants should also be kept out of a dog’s reach.
Holly is considered to be mildly to moderately toxic to dogs, but the symptoms it causes such as vomiting and diarrhea can be severe. A dog who has ingested holly may also become lethargic and depressed.
The round, red or green fruits on the Jerusalem Cherry plant can be enticing to dogs, but this plant is highly toxic as shock and death may result if they eat it. Ingestion of this winter houseplant also causes mouth sores, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.
Many people consider table scraps as treats for their dogs, but they are often anything but. Dogs may enjoy the flavor of home cooking just as we do, but their systems are not made to handle it which is why many standard recipe ingredients can be toxic to pets and cause diarrhea. These culprit foods include, but aren’t limited to, onions, chocolate, mushrooms, grapes, raisins, garlic and macadamia nuts. Dairy products should also be added to the list. Since it’s common for a dog to be lactose intolerant, that “little bit” of milk or ice cream may do more harm than as these dairy foods tend to cause diarrhea in dogs.
Instead, we can really do dogs a favor by providing them with healthy dog treats in addition to high quality pet food and constant access to fresh water. Most dogs enjoy dog biscuits that are also designed to keep their teeth and gums healthy, plus an occasional rawhide stick or a dried pig’s ear can be a true delight for Max or Coco and much better for them than French fries or birthday cake. Access to sources of raw or spoiled food should be something pet parents are always aware of to prevent dogs from eating these foods.
As the old song says, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and fleas and ticks like to escape indoors during the winter too. Getting products from your veterinarian that can help you control the spread of these parasites in your home to stop their year round life cycle. De-worming medications should only be used under the guidance of your vet, but they can help prevent infestations that cause diarrhea in dogs as well as skin irritations and overall discomfort. Parasite infestations should never be left untreated.
Although it does require some diligence on the part of pet parents, diarrhea can often be prevented in dogs. If your dog does get diarrhea, it’s important to contact your vet if it persists as serious dehydration may occur otherwise. Puppies and older dogs are especially susceptible to dehydration. When diarrhea in dogs persists, vets may do a blood test, x-ray and/or stool examination to determine its cause. Learn more about diarrhea in dogs and what you can do to prevent and treat it here on Dog Help Network.