There are several reasons your dog is getting diarrhea at night. The most common reason is a sudden change in food. If you’ve recently switched kibble, their stomach may not be handling it well. Other reasons for nighttime diarrhea include: Food allergies, parasites, medication, and anxiety.
Dogs sometimes suffer from loose bowels in the middle of the night. This is not uncommon for dogs, but it could be a sign of something more severe. Here are some reasons your dog may get diarrhea at night.
What You'll Learn
Recent Dietary Changes
The most common cause of nighttime diarrhea is a sudden change in your dog’s food. It’s not always feasible to maintain the same brand of kibble for a dog’s entire life.
Whether a company stopped making the kibble you’ve been feeding your dog for years, or you can no longer afford the same expensive brand, making a sudden food transition can be tough on the dog’s stomach.
Also, transitioning from puppy food to dry kibble can wreak havoc on your pup’s digestive system.
From your dog’s perspective, they have eaten the same food for most of their life. Their stomach and intestines need time to adapt to absorbing a new set of nutrients.
It is relatively easy to help your dog transition to a new food source so they don’t wake up through the night with diarrhea.
Veterinarians advise a slow introduction to the new food. You should add the new food to the old food, mixing it slowly into their diet.
Gradually increase the amount of new food in the mix until it becomes the bulk of what you are feeding your dog.
Eventually, your dog’s system will grow accustomed to the new food, accepting it as the primary food source. Your dog’s stools will tighten and not cause alarm through the night.
Food Intolerance and Allergies
Like humans, dogs can suffer from food intolerances and food allergies. No matter the breed, your dog may be hypersensitive to food rich in gluten, fat, or dairy. This sensitivity may lead to gas and diarrhea.
Some breeds have specific intolerances within their genetic coding. For example, Schnauzers tend to be extremely intolerant of food with high fat content.
Researching the best diet for your dog’s breed will help you avoid feeding your dog a diet filled with an ingredient that does not agree with their digestive system.
Once you learn which intolerances your pup is susceptible to, you should avoid foods high in that content.
It may not always be easy to avoid a specific ingredient, so long-term and chronic digestive issues may occur. If your dog has an extremely sensitive digestive system, you may add food supplements with increased fiber or probiotics that ease their digestive system.
Food allergies commonly lead to diarrhea at night, once the stomach has settled. If your dog has a food allergy, they may also be scratching at their paws or licking themselves excessively.
If you suspect a food allergy, your veterinarian will probably recommend eliminating food from the diet until the culprit can be found. Common food allergies for dogs include pork, rabbit, beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, and fish.
Nighttime diarrhea is usually caused by something in your dog’s diet, but it could also be a sign of a deeper issue, such as intestinal parasites.
If your dog has been drinking from a contaminated water source, they may have contracted a parasite such as a hookworm, roundworm, giardia, or coccidia.
Younger puppies and dogs with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable. Parasites can be found in contaminated stool or soil.
This is why it is important to prevent your dog from consuming another animal’s feces or drinking still water pooled in strange places.
If you suspect the diarrhea is caused by a parasite, check your dog’s stool for visible, worm-like parasites. Take your pup (with a stool sample) to the vet to examine your dog. Your vet can provide deworming medication that will purge parasites from your dog’s digestive system.
Illness or Disease
Other underlying illnesses or diseases could be causing your dog’s nighttime diarrhea. Some are more serious than others. It could be something as simple as colitis or Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome.
It could also be something as life-threatening as cancer or tumors in the intestinal tract. If there’s blood in your dog’s diarrhea, you should seek help from your vet immediately. If the diarrhea lasts for an extended period, you should also seek help from the vet.
Antibiotics or Medication
Sometimes, nighttime diarrhea is caused by attempts to help your dog. If your dog has been ill or is fighting an infection treated by antibiotics, they may develop a loose stool. Gastrointestinal issues are common side effects of antibiotics.
Medications often treat infections by killing the harmful bacteria in your pup’s body. Unfortunately, they may also kill the good bacteria that assist in digestion.
Antibiotics cannot always tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. When this occurs, the balance between good and bad bacteria in your dog’s digestive biome is thrown off, leading to abdominal pain, stomach issues, and diarrhea at night.
Ensure that you follow your vet’s advice when giving medication—especially antibiotics—to your dog. Usually, the medication should be given with food to minimize the negative impact on digestion. Follow the direction on the label with the directions given by your vet.
Anxiety, Stress, or Emotional Distress
Dogs are emotional creatures. Their body reacts to stress in several ways. If your pup feels anxious, their digestive system may respond by becoming physically ill, much like a human’s does.
The same may occur if your dog feels lonely or neglected. Ensure that you show plenty of love to your dog and pay attention to any environmental changes that may have happened recently.
Nighttime Diarrhea Happens
Although diarrhea at night is normal and typically nothing to be worried about, if you suspect a deeper issue, take your dog to the vet for a check-up. Any diarrhea accompanied by vomiting, blood, or mucus requires an immediate trip to the vet. Look for warning signs such as a loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, and dehydration.
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