Dog diarrhea is not fun for anyone (Gross details inside)
September 4, 2012 9:56 AM   Subscribe

My senior German Shepherd has had a few bouts of diarrhea recently, and I'm not sure why it's happening or how to stop it. I haven't changed his food, and fecal analyses and blood work didn't turn up anything. Is occasional diarrhea just something that happens, or should I be more worried?

My dog had a recent bout of explosive diarrhea, pretty much apropos of nothing. I took him to the vet, and upon noticing that he had lost about four pounds (yikes!), the vet was very worried and asked to run a bunch of tests. He brought up EPI (Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) as a possibility, but it does not appear that my dog has EPI (thank god), and that usually shows up at a much younger age. He also tested negative for parasites.

So, just some flukey diarrhea, right? On our walk this morning, my poor pup had a normal stool, and then stopped for a few squirts of nasty dog diarrhea. (I really tried to clean it up, but without a hose . . .) Fortunately, I had an extra course of diarrhea meds from the vet, so I started him on those this morning in the hopes that my bedroom will not be destroyed by dog shit when I get home from work. Last time, he was unable to control his bowels at all, and at least this time he seemed to have some control over where and when he let it out.

Possibly relevant info:

We just moved this weekend, and moved a month earlier. I'm hoping that this current place is a long-term situation. The doggy and I are both pretty stressed out.

It's been really hot in LA. September is the cruelest month here.

He's been working on a peanut butter stuffed Kong for a few days, and before he got sick the last time, he had also eaten a fair amount of peanut butter. Peanut butter is like crack for dogs and he loves it, but is it possible that he has a problem with peanut butter?
posted by ablazingsaddle to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
Oh, and while he's still pretty skinny, he gained back most of the weight he'd lost as of last week.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:56 AM on September 4, 2012

IANAvet, but I do have an older German Shepherd, who also gets occasional bouts of diarrhea. It is always due to something he ate. I have to keep an eye on him while he's walking. And when I drop something. And, whenever.

Whole grain rice, mixed with some plain yogurt or cottage cheese can help to clear it up. And yes, I'd watch the peanut butter.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 10:02 AM on September 4, 2012

Canned pumpkin is the go-to special food for firming up a dog's output. I'd give him some of that and see how it goes.

And yeah, too much peanut butter can slick up the works - especially if he's prone to stress related gut issues.
posted by cmyk at 10:08 AM on September 4, 2012

Will he eat green beans? My dog eats grain free food which doesn't give her diarrhea but does give her a loose stool. I'd way cut down on the peanut butter (oily) and see if you can add some green beans (recommended by my vet) and see where you get.
posted by mrs. taters at 10:09 AM on September 4, 2012

My lab had similar symptoms -- diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy. We took him to two vets who ran extensive tests and found nothing wrong. The third vet was a woman with 30 years of experience. She simply felt his body and told me that he most likely had a spleen tumor. We confirmed this with a doggie MRI.

German shepherds are prone to spleen tumors, too. Might be something to get checked out if this problem seems to continue.
posted by Ostara at 10:14 AM on September 4, 2012

My 4 year old GSD actually gets diarrhea fairly often, especially when it is hot. We spent a lot of money trying to figure out what was wrong (initially vet also thought EPI) - but turns out he just gets diarrhea when it's hot! I don't think it is the peanut butter for your guy, I think it is the heat and maybe he is just more sensitive to it as he is getting older.

Your handsome boy should be fine (and he did gain back the lost weight). Try not to let him know you are worried about him - they can read our minds to a scary degree. If you are worried, then maybe he thinks he should be worried and its a downward spiral from there. Be confident, happy and positive for his sake and yours!
posted by Minos888 at 10:17 AM on September 4, 2012

Canned plain pumpkin (not spiced pie pumpkin) added to their meals is a great help with diarrhea (and constipation). Boiled rice, burnt toast and plain yogurt added to the diet can help too.

I hate to sound like a voice of doom, but I almost lost one of our dogs because I didn't know how common this was, but watch the poop carefully, bouts of diarrhea can turn into Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis pretty quickly. If you see mucous or blood in the poop or your dog starts vomiting call your vet immediately your dog Our dog has had 2 bouts of HGE and both started as explosive diarrhea that would not go away and were triggered by stress and change in diet.
posted by wwax at 11:00 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to comment to verify that your vet actually had bloodwork done to be *sure* it isn't EPI. I have a GSD with EPI and my vet was convinced it wasn't that - until I forced her to send in the bloodwork after a friend insisted. Probably saved my dog's life.

That said, it's probably stress - as I'm sure you know this is something that GSDs are well known for. I'd go with the pumpkin and see if it improves, but as wwax says keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't turn into something more serious.
posted by bender b rodriguez at 12:34 PM on September 4, 2012

My german shepherd got giardiasis a few years back (from eating something off the ground, her favorite!) she also got the runs and lost some weight. Giardiasis can be hard to catch, due to its lifeclycle. You may want the vet to check for that specifically, and bring a stool sample. (fun!)
I hope your doggy feels better soon.
posted by natasha_k at 2:41 PM on September 4, 2012

Poor sweetheart! It could just be the heat and the stress of moving. Did the vet test for elevated liver enzymes? Diarrhea/vomiting can be a symptom of that; it was for my dog, and after a month or so of a special liver-health supplement (name escapes me at the moment but it was an OTC pill that I was able to get on eBay), she was fine.
posted by désoeuvrée at 7:01 PM on September 4, 2012

I can't offer amazing insight, but I wanted to point out two things:

1. My significant other's GSD was recently diagnosed with EPI at 7 years old, which is hardly a spring chicken. It seemed to come out of the blue, with steady weight loss and decreased appetite for his normal kibble. To my knowledge, he'd still accept a stuffed Kong. If your vet already checked for this, though, maybe it isn't that.

2. The same GSD gets diarrhea whenever he's super excited. When his favorite people come to visit, surprise, loose stool that night! To me, this seems that your pup's diarrhea problems could definitely be stress-related due to the moves.

If he starts vomiting, please get him to the vet ASAP. I wish you the best.
posted by plaintiff6r at 7:35 PM on September 4, 2012

Poor thing. No suggestion to offer but stress is a factor and hopefully he does drink enough water due to the heat. Hope he feels better soon!
posted by pakora1 at 7:57 PM on September 4, 2012

The vet tested specifically for EPI, so I'm pretty sure that's not it. His stools are usually normal, he has a good appetite, and he's gained a little weight, so I'm hopeful that his pancreas is all right. But I will call and double check. EPI is a pretty common shepherd problem.

I'm treating for giardiasis again, because my dog likes to eat whatever he can get his freakishly strong jaws on, but maybe it is just stress? Or heat? Or peanut butter?

Thanks for the helpful suggestions everyone!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2012

In case anyone has a dog with a similar problem, he apparently had a tape worm. Definitely not EPI, but it's always worth checking with a GSD.

Discovering the worm was gross, but now my skinny boy will hopefully fill out and stop eating the fur around his butt!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:19 AM on September 14, 2012

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