Q. My one-year-old Standard Poodle has diarrhea with a little bit of blood. I gave him Imodium two times and it is still soft. What should I do?
A. A young dog with diarrhea probably has some kind of intestinal parasite. Usually the immune system of dogs one year old or younger is not well developed enough to deal every virus, bacteria, fungus or parasite.
With the presence of blood in his stool, you should bring your dog to your veterinarian for a physical exam, and a fecal analysis of a fresh sample. Playing the odds, there’s a good chance of finding either Giardia (a small parasite), or an overgrowth of certain kinds of bacteria. These bacteria can produce toxins that attack the wall of the intestines, causing loss of water and diarrhea.
With the presence of blood in the stool, your vet will almost certainly prescribe a medication or antibiotic that shold help clear the intestine of any parasite and help return the normal balance of bacteria. Also, the antibiotic can help prevent any kind of bacteria from getting a foothold in your dog’s bloodstream.
In addition, you should fast your dog for 12 to 24 hours to allow the intestinal walls time to heal up. Following the fast, feed small amounts of plain yogurt, because the acidophillus in the yogurt also helps repopulate the gut with the normal balance of bacteria.
If signs are mild, the fast followed by the plain yogurt will sometimes clear the condition, without the use of medications. Remember to offer water during the fast so that your dog does not become dehydrated.
Imodium and dietary management can be helpful in cases of mild diarrhea, but veterinary treatment should be sought with the presence of blood in the stool, or diarrhea that continues for more than three days.
Jon Geller, DVM