Common Causes: Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea At Night?

Jul 5, 2023 | Dog Health, Dogs

Hey there, pet parents! We all know how stinky and embarrassing it can be when our pooches experience nighttime diarrhea. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad news! In most cases, your dog’s middle of the night diarrhea is just a mild case of upset tummy that will pass with time.

As it turns out, sometimes it’s actually a good thing! You see, diarrhea can be a way for your body to kick out any toxins or pathogens that may be lurking in your gut. It’s like an internal house cleaning if you will. But here’s the thing, if it lasts for more than 48 hours, then you need to keep an extra eye out for other symptoms like weight loss, fever, vomiting, and lethargy in case there is something more serious going on.

The leading causes of this smelly dilemma can range from garbage toxicosis (gross!) to stress and anxiety (yeah, sometimes dogs can be drama queens too).

So, if you’re the kind of paw-rent who’s into trying new food and switching things up, that might also be the culprit due to your furbaby’s food intolerance or food allergies. Ultimately, if you’re unsure what’s causing it, always best to take a trip to your local vet. But for now, let’s just hope it’s not too severe and your pooch’s tummy troubles pass quickly.

Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea?

Again, loose stools in dogs is a common issue and can range from a minor inconvenience to a serious condition. Dog diarrhea or soft stools can be acute or chronic, and identifying the exact cause can be a bit of a puzzle of the digestive tract.

Was it those new treats you gave them, or did they catch something from that sneaky pup at the dog park? Most common reasons include dietary changes, infections, parasites, and medication side effects.

Though it’s a stinky situation, with a little bit of patience, a whole lot of love, and the guidance of a trusted vet, your pup will be back to its tail-wagging self in no time!


Your Dog May Be Stressed

Stress releases hormones and chemicals that can harm the gut microbiome, leading to digestive issues like diarrhea. And don’t think it takes much to stress out your pup – things like loud fireworks, dehydration, and injury can trigger it. So next time you notice your canine companion having some tummy troubles, consider if they might be feeling overwhelmed or anxious or have just gone through a traumatic experience such as being hit by a car.


Something Your Dog Ate

Did your furry friend devour something they shouldn’t have eaten again? Sudden change in a dog’s diet can cause quick and messy diarrhea results!

It’s not just table scraps that could be the culprit, but also animal carcasses and garbage. Talk about a scavenger! But if you’ve been sneaking your pooch some human snacks, you might want to reconsider. Besides being bad for their health, it can also lead to acute diarrhea.

Don’t panic just yet! Typically, the diarrhea will pass in a day or two. But if your pup exhibits severe symptoms or ingests something poisonous, like onions, be sure to immediately consult a veterinarian.


Vigorous Exercise Can Be A Contributing Factor

Exercise-related diarrhea is a common cause of messy accidents in our pups. It happens when hard-working muscles demand more blood flow, affecting the digestive system and leading to diarrhea.

It’s like a traffic jam during rush hour, and the intestines are stuck in the middle. To add to the equation, increased core body temperature during exercise can also contribute to the so-called “intestinal distress.” So, let’s not forget that hot weather can also worsen matters, leading to nausea and diarrhea during workouts.

So, if you plan to take your pup for a run, make sure you both stay cool, hydrated, and well-nourished. Trust me; nobody wants to be left holding that soft, squishy poop bag mid-jog.


Parasites And Pathogens Caused Diarrhea

Intestinal parasites are a dog’s worst nightmare, wreak havoc on immune systems and a potential source of poop apocalypse. These pesky critters, like Giardia, tapeworms, and hookworms, can cause one of their most dreaded symptoms: diarrhea.

But wait, there’s more! Bacterial pathogens like C. diff, C. perfringens, and Salmonella can also tag-team your pup’s intestines for a bout of diarrhea. You might even see some of these parasites as white specks or grains in your dog’s stool. We know, not exactly an Instagram-worthy picture. Sorry about that.

The good news is that taking a fecal sample to the vet for screening is an excellent way to stay ahead of the game, and monthly antiparasitic treatments can help prevent diarrhea before it starts.

Cute dog with Parasites in the animal

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Chronic inflammation in the GI tract may be the culprit behind your pup’s prolonged diarrhea of more than three weeks. This digestive distress can stem from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) wreaking havoc on your dog’s intestinal tract, interfering with nutrient absorption and food processing.

IBD can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome, with certain bacterial populations growing too much and taking resources away from the beneficial ones. But fear not! Over 50% of dogs with IBD can find relief with a simple diet change.

If that doesn’t do the trick, your vet might suggest a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) – a medical treatment that implants beneficial gut bacteria through a stool transplant. Yes, you read that correctly: we’re talking about poop transplants. Can you imagine your pup’s face when they hear that? But don’t worry – FMT can be done with oral FMT capsules for a smoother process. A happy gut makes a happy pup!


Side Effects From Medications

We all know that feeling of running to the bathroom after taking some medications. One of the common side effects is diarrhea, which is never fun for anyone. Antibiotics are often the culprit, and while they may treat bacterial infections, they can also wreak havoc on a dog’s gut by killing off their beneficial bacteria.

It’s like a scene from a bad movie where the good guys are wiped out by friendly fire. Fortunately, this story has a hero: S. boulardii, a probiotic yeast that can swoop in and save the day by reducing and preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. It may sound like a mouthful, but trust us, it’s worth adding to your pup’s regimen.


The Dangers Of Intestinal Blockages

We all know how our furry friends love to chew and play with anything they can get their paws on. But did you know that if your dog ingests a foreign object or toy, it can lead to some pretty severe health issues?

Yup, that’s right. Those little trinkets and knick-knacks our pups love to munch on can cause blockages in their gastrointestinal tract (or GI tract). And nobody wants to deal with inflamed tissues and liquid stool.

Even those beloved rawhide chews can be a culprit if swallowed whole. So, let’s keep an eye on what our furry friends are putting in their mouths, and if they gobble up something they shouldn’t, it’s time to head to the vet! Trust us; your pup will thank you later.


Many Other Causes

Sometimes diarrhea isn’t caused by something going on in your dog’s gut? Bacterial and viral infections, hormonal imbalances, and even certain cancers can all lead to an unhappy tummy. And if you’re unlucky, it might mean an acute disease lurks in your pup’s liver, pancreas, or kidneys.

Your trusty veterinarian can assist you with figuring out what’s ailing your furbaby. They’ll likely recommend some blood work to pinpoint the pesky problem.

When You Should Seek Veterinary Care

Veterinarians clean the paraanal glands of a dog in a veterinary clinic

If your dog feels lethargic, has a loss of appetite, or is experiencing bloating and abdominal pain, it’s time to head to the vet ASAP.

Another red flag is the presence of large amounts of blood in their stool or if they have ingested something they shouldn’t have (they can be pretty sneaky when it comes to finding snacks). However, if the only symptom is diarrhea in adult dogs, you can wait it out a bit to see if it clears up on its own. But if your doggo is still struggling after three days, it’s time to make that appointment.

Don’t forget to bring a little poop sample with you so the vet can check for any parasites or pathogens. And if that test comes back negative, they might suggest an elimination diet to see if it’s a food sensitivity issue.

Severe Diarrhea From The Small Intestine Vs. The Large Intestine

Large Intestine Diarrhea

Dogs have a way of making everything cute and lovable, but unfortunately, that includes their not-so-pleasant gastrointestinal issues. Large intestine diarrhea is no exception, featuring the oh-so-chic combination of frequent bowel movements and unappetizing additions like mucus or flecks of red blood.

Your furry friend may also show some urgency and “accidents” around the house, which no amount of cute puppy eyes can excuse. Straining, painful looks, and repeated attempts to poop with little success are all part of the large intestine game, but smaller piles or puddles can indicate the root of the problem.


Small Intestine Diarrhea

So, we all know that dogs can produce some impressively sized poops, but small intestine diarrhea takes that to a whole new level. You can expect piles or even puddles that could rival a baby elephant’s size.

But let’s get serious for a moment – this type of diarrhea is caused by inflammation that wreaks havoc on your dog’s ability to absorb nutrients from its food. So, you have to deal with massive amounts of poop, and your poor pup is also missing out on essential vitamins and minerals.

And let’s not forget the vomiting and weight loss that can accompany it. Keep an eye out for dark, tarry blood to differentiate between small and large-intestine diarrhea. To sum it up, small intestine diarrhea may not be pleasant, but with the proper treatment, your furry friend can return to their healthy, happy self in no time.

What Things Can Your Dog’s Poop Tell You?

Your dog’s poop isn’t just a gross chore to clean up, it can actually tell you a lot about their health! “Normal” poop isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation; it’s dependent on a variety of factors, like what they’re eating and how old they are.

But here’s the scoop on healthy poop: it should be a pleasant shade of medium brown and have a texture that’s not too hard and not too soft. Think of it as the Goldilocks of feces. So next time you’re on #2 duty and notice something abnormal, don’t just brush it off. It could be a sign that your furry friend needs a bit of extra TLC from the vet. But don’t worry, we won’t judge you for spending extra time checking out their poop…we know you’re doing it out of love.

For reference, here’s a dog poop scoring chart to help you determine how healthy your dog is:

Dog Fecal Scoring Chart

Here’s a dog poop color chart to also help:

Fecal Color Chart

Brown: Dog poop is brown because of bile in the digestive system. If it is not brown, there could be a blocked bile duct or reduced bile production due to liver disease.

Yellow: Yellow or gray dog poop can indicate serious health problems in the liver, pancreas, or gallbladder. It can be from food sensitivities or excess mucus and fat too.

Green: Dogs with green poop may have overeaten grass or consumed something with green food coloring. Liver or pancreas issues could also be the culprit.

Shiny and/or Greasy: Greasy poop might mean the dog poo has excess mucus (colitis) or has trouble absorbing nutrients, and the pancreas might need a check.

Pale or Clay Colored: Excessive calcium in the diet can lead to pale poop. Digestive issues with fats, often because of insufficient bile, may also cause doggy doo-doo to look like clay.

Blue: If you see blue poop, treat it like an emergency! Your dog might have eaten rat poison. Take a sample of the poop and get to the vet, pronto!

Pink, Purple (similar to raspberry jam): Dogs with pink, purple, or “raspberry jam” stool may have Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE). HGE causes vomiting and bloody diarrhea, and immediate medical care is essential. Eating beets may also lead to pink poop, but they’re harmless.

Red Streaks: If your dog’s poop has red in it, there’s likely blood coming from the lower GI tract due to inflammation, injury, or parasites. Things like eating foreign objects can also cause it. Get him to a vet ASAP.

Black: Dark or black stool could be from an ulcer in your dog’s stomach or small intestine. NSAIDs are often the cause of ulcers in dogs.

Ways to Stop Diarrhea In Your Dog

Your dog’s occasional diarrhea can resolve itself in a day or two, but you can help them feel better faster with home remedies. No worries if it isn’t serious or accompanied by other symptoms. Here are some tips to safely help them stop the runs on their own.


Temporarily Withhold Food

Giving your pup 6-12 hours of fasting can help their gut rest and recover. Make sure they’re well hydrated, and then slowly start reintroducing their regular food, beginning with broth. Don’t keep them without food for over 24 hours or fast a young puppy.

Holding off their food can reduce the material in their intestines. Diarrhea from materials moving too fast through their GI tract can be addressed by fasting for a bit.


Feed Them A Bland Foods Diet

Soothe your pup’s tummy by feeding it a bland diet of easy-to-digest food like boiled chicken and white rice. You can make a simple broth with a few ingredients—your doggo will love it!


Add More Fiber

Your dog’s poop can benefit from inulin or psyllium husk powder by solidifying their stool and nourishing their colon’s beneficial bacteria as prebiotics. FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) also helps with gut health and immune functions.


Restore The Good Bacteria In Your Dog’s Gut

Dogs need good bacteria in their gut to digest food and stay healthy. A well-balanced gut also supports their compromised immune system. When beneficial bacteria are missing, issues with digestion and immunity can emerge. Over half of all dogs will deal with a gut imbalance. But restoring missing bacteria is a quick way to fix diarrhea and boost gut health.


Avoid Medications If Possible

Unless prescribed by your vet, avoid giving your dog meds for diarrhea. Some antibiotics can treat chronic diarrhea but not acute diarrhea. Plus, unnecessary antibiotics can hurt your dog’s gut bacteria. Human diarrhea meds are also dangerous for dogs, especially herding breeds like Border Collies.


You May Also Enjoy Reading:

Cat Grudges: How Long Can Cats Hold A Grudge?

Cat Grudges: How Long Can Cats Hold A Grudge?

Have you ever offended your cat and wondered if they're still upset with you? Cats may remember slights for longer than you think. We'll explore how good cats' memories are, the signs that your cat is still harboring anger, whether they can truly get over grievances,...

read more
Odd Feline Behavior: Why My Cat Goes Limp When Held

Odd Feline Behavior: Why My Cat Goes Limp When Held

The tendency of cats to suddenly go limp when picked up can be quite puzzling to owners. This unique behavior prompts many questions about why it occurs and what message our feline friends may be trying to convey through this boneless tactic. We can better understand...

read more
Trust Behavior Of Cats: Why Does My Cat Show Her Belly?

Trust Behavior Of Cats: Why Does My Cat Show Her Belly?

Cats reveal their bellies as a sign of trust, but their body language contains nuanced emotional signals that owners should understand. We'll explore the meanings behind this cat behavior. When felines expose their vulnerable stomach area, they're conveying affection...

read more