Shih Tzu Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Dealing with Diarrhea in Shih Tzus

Diarrhea is unfortunately a common problem for Shih Tzus, with around 75% of these petite pups experiencing it at some point. As a Shih Tzu owner, it’s important to understand what causes diarrhea, the symptoms to look out for, and the various treatment options available. With the right information, you can quickly get your four-legged friend back to their happy, energetic self.

Key Takeaways

  • Diarrhea is very common in Shih Tzus, with around 75% experiencing it at some point.
  • Common causes include diet changes, food allergies, infections, intestinal parasites, medications, and stress.
  • Look for symptoms like loose stools, increased frequency of bowel movements, urgency, vomiting, gas, and lethargy.
  • Treatments can include antidiarrheals, probiotics, deworming, antibiotics, prescription food, and an elimination diet.
  • Prevent diarrhea by keeping their diet consistent, introducing new foods gradually, avoiding problematic ingredients, maintaining cleanliness, and regular vet checkups.
  • Seek veterinary care if diarrhea persists more than 1-2 days or is accompanied by concerning symptoms like loss of appetite, vomiting, or blood in stool.
  • With proper treatment and care guided by your vet, Shih Tzu diarrhea can typically be resolved quickly.

Here is a definition of canine diarrhea:

Canine diarrhea refers to frequent, loose, or watery bowel movements in dogs. It is characterized by an increase in the frequency, fluidity, and volume of a dog’s stools. Diarrhea can have several causes, including dietary changes, intestinal infections, parasites, medications, intestinal disease, and stress or anxiety. The main symptoms of diarrhea in dogs are loose stools, increased and urgent need to defecate, abdominal discomfort, and sometimes vomiting or blood in the stool. Diarrhea can result in dehydration and electrolyte imbalances if left untreated. Treatment depends on the underlying cause but may include dietary modification, probiotics, antidiarrheal medication, antibiotics, anti-parasitic medication, IV fluids, and medication for vomiting. Preventing diarrhea involves maintaining a consistent diet, proper hygiene, regular deworming, and veterinary care. Diarrhea in dogs should be monitored closely and veterinary advice sought if it persists beyond 24 hours or causes lethargy, appetite loss, or dehydration. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are important for managing diarrhea and keeping dogs healthy and comfortable.

Here are some common signs that a Shih Tzu may be experiencing diarrhea:

  • Frequent, loose, or watery stools
  • Increased urgency and frequency of bowel movements
  • Straining or difficulty passing stool
  • Mucus or blood in the stool
  • Unformed, soft, or liquid stool
  • Very foul-smelling stool
  • Inability to hold in bowel movements or ‘accidents’
  • Excessive gas or abdominal rumbling
  • Appetite changes or refusal to eat
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Dehydration

If your Shih Tzu is exhibiting any of these signs, it likely indicates some form of diarrhea or gastrointestinal upset. It’s important to monitor their condition and consult a veterinarian if the diarrhea persists more than 24-48 hours, appears severe, or is accompanied by concerning symptoms. Catching and treating the diarrhea early can help avoid dehydration and other complications in Shih Tzus.

There are several potential causes for diarrhea in Shih Tzus:

  • Dietary indiscretion – Eating something new or unusual can upset the stomach. This includes table scraps, garbage, or even a new type of treat or food.
  • Food allergies or sensitivities – Shih Tzus may have allergies or intolerances to certain ingredients like chicken, beef, dairy, or wheat.
  • Intestinal parasites – Worms, protozoa, and giardia can infect the gut and cause diarrhea.
  • Bacterial or viral infection – Bacteria like salmonella or viruses like parvovirus can cause inflammation and diarrhea.
  • Medication side effects – Antibiotics and other medications like heartworm preventatives may cause loose stools.
  • Stress or anxiety – Big changes, traveling, or stressful events can trigger diarrhea.
  • Underlying health issues – Diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – Chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.
  • Food sensitivities – An adverse reaction to something in the diet.
  • Pancreatitis – Inflammation of the pancreas organ.
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The exact cause of a Shih Tzu’s diarrhea needs to be determined through diagnostic testing by a veterinarian in order to provide proper treatment.

Tips on deciding whether to treat your Shih Tzu’s diarrhea at home or take them to the veterinarian:

Mild, acute diarrhea in an otherwise healthy adult Shih Tzu can often be treated at home with:

  • Fasting for 12-24 hours then slow reintroduction of bland food like rice and chicken
  • Providing plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration
  • Limiting exercise and stimulating activities
  • Monitoring for improvement over 24-48 hours

You should seek veterinary care if your Shih Tzu has:

  • Persistent diarrhea beyond 48 hours
  • Repeated bouts of diarrhea
  • Severe diarrhea with vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite
  • Signs of dehydration – dry gums, weakness, sunken eyes
  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Diarrhea in a puppy or elderly dog

Veterinarians can:

  • Evaluate your Shih Tzu’s hydration levels
  • Diagnose underlying cause – food sensitivities, infections, etc.
  • Provide medications to treat or control the diarrhea
  • Recommend prescription gastrointestinal dog foods
  • Monitor your dog’s progress and recovery

It’s always safest to consult your vet if ever unsure! Catching diarrhea early can help prevent serious complications in Shih Tzus.

Treating mild cases of Shih Tzu diarrhea at home:

  • Withhold food for 12-24 hours to give the GI tract rest, but provide small amounts of water frequently to prevent dehydration.
  • Gradually reintroduce your Shih Tzu’s diet with a bland, easy-to-digest food like boiled chicken and rice. Feed small, frequent meals.
  • Make sure your Shih Tzu has constant access to fresh, clean water to avoid dehydration.
  • You can try supplementing with probiotics like plain, unsweetened yogurt or Forti Flora to restore gut flora.
  • Monitor their stools for improvement in frequency, consistency, and comfort.
  • Limit vigorous exercise and stimulation that can worsen diarrhea.
  • Gently wipe the hind area after bowel movements to keep clean.
  • Call your vet if no improvement after 24 hours on the bland diet or if symptoms worsen.

Never give human anti-diarrheal medication without consulting your veterinarian first, as some ingredients can be dangerous for dogs. With a little TLC at home and close monitoring, mild cases can often be treated effectively.

Chronic diarrhea in dogs

Requires different treatment than acute cases. Here is some more information on managing long-term diarrhea in Shih Tzus:

  • Diagnostic tests like fecal exams, blood work, and intestinal biopsies are often needed to determine the underlying cause.
  • Common causes include food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, bacterial infections, parasites, and disorders like Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI).
  • Treatment depends on the cause but may include prescription dog foods, steroids, immunosuppressants, antibiotics, anti-parasitics, pancreatic enzyme supplements, and more.
  • It’s crucial to strictly follow your vet’s treatment plan for chronic diarrhea and make any recommended diet changes.
  • Symptoms may wax and wane over time. Close monitoring and follow-up vet visits are key.
  • Prevent flare-ups by identifying and avoiding triggers, maintaining proper nutrition, and managing stress.
  • Quickly report any worsening diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, or loss of appetite to your veterinarian.

With diligent treatment guided by your vet, dogs with chronic diarrhea can often live happy, high-quality lives. The key is determining the underlying cause and sticking to the prescribed management plan. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!

Most common signs of diarrhea in Shih Tzus:

  • Frequent, loose, or watery stools
  • Increased urgency and frequency of bowel movements
  • Straining or difficulty passing stools
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Gas, gurgling stomach, or rumbling sounds
  • Unformed stool or completely liquid stool
  • Inability to hold in bowel movements or ‘accidents’
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Loss of appetite or refusal to eat
  • Lethargy, tiredness, or lack of energy
  • Dehydration

Additional signs that may indicate diarrhea is severe or a sign of a more serious condition:

  • Blood or mucus in the stool
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Repeated diarrhea over several days
  • Diarrhea in a young puppy

If you notice any of these signs of diarrhea in your Shih Tzu, monitor closely and contact your veterinarian if it persists or causes concern. Prompt treatment will help get to the cause and relieve your dog’s discomfort.

Some of the top reasons a Shih Tzu may develop an upset stomach or diarrhea:

  • Dietary indiscretion – Eating something unfamiliar or unhealthy like table scraps, garbage, or high-fat treats can upset their stomach.
  • Food allergies/sensitivities – Some common triggers are beef, dairy, chicken, and wheat.
  • Abrupt diet change – Switching foods too quickly not giving their stomach time to adjust.
  • Intestinal parasites – Worms, giardia, coccidia, and other parasites can infect the gut.
  • Bacterial or viral infection – Bacteria like salmonella or viruses like parvovirus.
  • Medication side effects – Antibiotics, heartworm preventatives, and other drugs may cause diarrhea.
  • Stress or anxiety – Big changes in routine, travel, or stressful events.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – Chronic gastrointestinal issue causing inflammation.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency – Deficiency of digestive enzymes.
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Consulting with a vet can help diagnose the specific cause and determine the appropriate treatment to relieve your Shih Tzu’s stomach troubles.

Signs that stomach or gastrointestinal problems in your Shih Tzu warrant a visit to the veterinarian:

  • Diarrhea that persists more than 24-48 hours or recurs frequently
  • Vomiting that lasts more than a day or is accompanied by lethargy or loss of appetite
  • Presence of blood or black, tarry stool
  • Signs of abdominal pain or discomfort – whimpering, stretching, sensitive belly
  • Severe gas or bloating
  • Loss of appetite or refusal to eat for more than 24 hours
  • Significant weight loss
  • Lethargy, weakness or inability to stand
  • Dehydration – dry gums, sunken eyes, excessive thirst
  • High fever
  • Repeated attempts to vomit without bringing anything up

Any persistent changes in bowel movements or vomiting, especially accompanied by concerning symptoms like abdominal pain or lethargy, should prompt a vet visit. It’s important to get stomach issues evaluated promptly to diagnose and treat any underlying problem. Don’t hesitate to call your vet if your Shih Tzu’s stomach problems have you worried.

What to do if your Shih Tzu develops diarrhea:

  • Withhold food for 12-24 hours but encourage drinking water frequently to prevent dehydration.
  • Gradually reintroduce their normal food mixed with boiled chicken and rice for a bland, soothing meal.
  • Monitor them closely for signs of improvement or worsening like changes in frequency, consistency, blood, etc.
  • Limit exercise and stimulating activity to allow rest.
  • Gently clean the area after bowel movements to prevent irritation.
  • Call your vet if diarrhea continues beyond 24-48 hours or new symptoms arise like lethargy, vomiting, appetite loss.
  • Bring a stool sample to help diagnose the cause of diarrhea.
  • Follow your vet’s recommendations for medication, dietary changes, rehydration therapy, or further testing.
  • Avoid self-prescribing any human anti-diarrheal medication which can be dangerous.

Stay vigilant and don’t hesitate to contact your vet if your Shih Tzu’s condition is concerning. Prompt treatment is key to relieving their discomfort.

Some good food options for a Shih Tzu with diarrhea:

  • Boiled chicken or lean ground beef with no seasoning or spices added
  • Cooked white rice or sweet potato, well-cooked and easily digestible
  • Canned pumpkin (not pie filling), which provides fiber
  • Bone broth, to provide hydration and nutrients
  • Probiotic supplements or plain, unsweetened yogurt with live cultures
  • Low-fat cottage cheese for protein
  • Baby food with chicken, rice, or sweet potato
  • Prescription gastrointestinal dog food recommended by your vet

Avoid fatty, spicy, or heavily processed human foods. Introduce bland foods gradually and in small portions. Avoid milk and dairy products, raw meats and bones, high-fiber foods, and gas-producing foods like beans. Check with your vet before changing your dog’s diet if they have diarrhea. A bland, gastrointestinal diet can help settle the stomach and resolve diarrhea.

Steps to take if your Shih Tzu’s diarrhea does not improve:

  • Contact your veterinarian, especially if the diarrhea has persisted more than 48 hours or is accompanied by lethargy, vomiting, or loss of appetite.
  • Bring a fresh stool sample to help diagnose the cause through fecal exams or other laboratory tests.
  • Your vet may prescribe medications like Metronidazole to treat bacterial infections or immunotherapy to regulate the intestines.
  • If parasites are detected, your vet will prescribe appropriate dewormers.
  • For long-term diarrhea issues, your vet may recommend switching to a hydrolyzed or novel protein prescription dog food trial.
  • If inflammatory bowel disease is suspected, your vet may prescribe steroids and other immunosuppressants.
  • For cases not resolved with medication, your vet may recommend imaging or endoscopy to assess the intestines.
  • IV fluid therapy may be necessary if your Shih Tzu is dehydrated from prolonged diarrhea.
  • Hospitalization could be required in severe cases for monitoring and supportive care.

Consult with your trusted vet if home treatment does not improve your Shih Tzu’s diarrhea within 1-2 days. Additional interventions may be needed to diagnose and address the underlying problem.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can Shih Tzu diarrhea be contagious to other dogs?

Yes, certain viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause diarrhea can be passed between dogs through contact with infected feces. Practicing good hygiene like cleaning up accidents and washing hands helps prevent transmission.

Is it safe to give OTC meds to a Shih Tzu with diarrhea?

No, do not give any OTC human medications without consulting a vet first. Some ingredients like loperamide can be dangerous for dogs. Vets will recommend safe, dog-friendly treatments.

Are there home remedies that can help Shih Tzu diarrhea?

Yes, a bland diet like boiled chicken and rice, probiotics, and limiting food for 12-24 hours can help calm the GI tract. But always touch base with your vet before giving anything new.

How long does Shih Tzu diarrhea typically take to resolve on its own?

Mild diarrhea may resolve on its own in 24-48 hours. But if it persists beyond this timeframe or new symptoms develop, veterinary attention is needed.

What dietary restrictions help Shih Tzu diarrhea?

Feeding a bland, easily digestible diet is recommended. Avoid fatty, spicy human foods. Incorporate probiotics. Get vet advice on any dietary changes.

Consult your trusted veterinarian for advice on safely managing Shih Tzu diarrhea. They can make specific recommendations tailored to your pet’s needs.

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