Dogs have evolved alongside humans for thousands of years, but even the most well-mannered canines still have to answer nature’s call. For many dogs, eating something really disgusting they found on the ground or trash bin is an irresistible urge. This can yield exasperating responses from their people that have to clean up the unfortunate results of eating something weird. 

Diarrhea in dogs isn’t a rare occurrence but it can definitely signal something serious. Hang in there, we’ve got the top 5 things that can cause the runs.

Leave It!

Since dogs experience their world through scent, they are bound to come across some interesting-smelling things from time to time. If only they would leave it at that, but they don’t! Instead of simply inhaling, they open their jaws despite how gross or unsafe the item is. Sometimes, we might be able to shrug it off, but diarrhea (among other symptoms) could be in their future. 

If your dog obeys commands, this is the perfect opportunity to remind them to “leave it”. 

Getting to the Bottom Of It

Diarrhea in dogs is one of the most common symptoms, but it doesn’t always point to just one thing. In fact, diarrhea is linked to many possible illnesses, such as:

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Parasites
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Dietary changes
  • Stress

If diarrhea is the only symptom and your dog is behaving normally without disruption, simply keep a close eye on their bathroom habits and jot down any observations. Check out this AKC guide for color and consistency. 

Diarrhea in dogs should be addressed if it persists longer than a day or two. At this point, dehydration is a key concern, and must be handled promptly. Contact us if you notice diarrhea accompanied by lethargy, fever, dry/tacky gums, or vomiting. 


It’s not uncommon for dogs to simply eat something on a whim. The intersection between boredom, curiosity, hunger, and opportunity can have disastrous results, such as gastrointestinal obstruction.

This can be a serious situation that is signalled by diarrhea. Please seek emergency veterinary care to if you know your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have.

What Is Pica?

Alternatively, pica, or the practice of eating non-nutritive objects like rocks, grass, sticks, fabric, plastic, clay, paper, dirt, sand and poop (also called coprophagia), is largely responsible for causing diarrhea in dogs. It’s imperative that dogs with pica have limited or restricted access to various objects, and intensive training to ignore items.

Beware These…Things!

To prevent diarrhea in dogs, we encourage owners to keep the following 5 groups beyond your dog’s sight and reach:

  1. Dangerous foods such as, caffeine, chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic
  2. Garbage
  3. Found objects, like hair ties, shoelaces, phone chargers, stuffed animals, tennis balls, ribbon, coins, etc. 
  4. Bones
  5. Poop (possibly containing parasites)

Diarrhea in Dogs

Diarrhea in dogs isn’t always easily explained or connected to something specific. As long as owners do their best to prevent a dangerous situation, like a poisoning or GI obstruction, dogs are much better off. 

Have further questions about your dog’s “movements”? Let us know! Our staff at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is always here for you!