If your border collie is suffering from a bout of diarrhea, it can be both concerning and hard to know what to do. This article will explain the likely causes and the best way to help your collie.
7 Reasons Your Border Collie Has Diarrhea
Let’s run through the most likely causes of diarrhea in not just border collies, but all dogs.
1. Digestive upset
One of the most common causes of diarrhea is when the digestive system has to deal with something it doesn’t get on with.
This can be caused whenever your collie eats any items outside of her typical food. This includes things like table scraps, treats, rotten food, or anything she decides to eat while out on a walk.
While most collies are very well-behaved and rarely rummage through the garbage, it only takes a split second for her to eat something foul when out on a walk.
Additionally, giving your collie table scraps can also be the cause of it. Human food is often too rich for dogs and contains many ingredients that are not suitable for dogs or straight up toxic for them.
2. Switch of kibble or low-quality kibble
Diarrhea can often happen in response to switching kibbles, or when consuming a low-quality kibble.
There are many reasons for changing kibbles throughout your collie’s life, and when you do, it can be a shock to her system. The change of ingredients and formula can initially cause diarrhea as her body just isn’t used to it. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad kibble.
This is why it’s recommended to always slowly phase in the new food and phase out the old. By gradually mixing in more of the new food with less of the old food over the course of 1-2 weeks, her body will adapt slowly rather than deal with an instant change. However, if diarrhea happens despite a slow phasing period, this could mean the food isn’t suitable for your collie.
Or, it could actually be that your collie is now eating a low-quality kibble. Border collies can be prone to sensitive stomachs are often reactive to common allergens. Common allergens include chicken, beef, pork, lamb, dairy, wheat, egg, soy, rabbit, and fish. As you can see, most kibbles use these ingredients.
It could also be the overall freshness of the kibble, the number of preservatives, or the macronutrient breakdown itself, causing the upset stomach. Strong working dogs like collies thrive off a high protein diet, medium to high in fat, and low carbohydrates. Kibble with a high carb content is often of lower quality and is a typical culprit of diarrhea.
3. Stress and anxiety
Just like with us, stress and anxiety can cause many different responses within your collie’s body. It sounds unlikely, but diarrhea can often be the result of a stressed collie.
Many things can cause your collie to be stressed or anxious, including the loss of a family member or pet, the addition of someone new in the household, new neighbors, moving homes, newly acquired noises (building works or traffic), being left alone too long, and the list goes on.
It’s mostly based on changes to what your collie is used to. So it’s worth considering if anything has changed from what’s “usual” and assess your collies daily routine and behavior.
Does she seems anxious or stressed? If she does, it’s important to make appropriate changes depending on what the cause is.
4. Bacterial infections
Our furry friends are exposed to all sorts of bacteria from their close environment. From their very own bed to their water bowl, toys, and the mud that’s in your own yard. This isn’t so much a hygiene issue, as it’s mostly natural and unavoidable.
But certain bacterias can be too much for your collie’s immune system to handle, which can cause bacterial infections. This can result in diarrhea, vomiting, appetite changes, and abdominal pain.
Most of the time, bacterial infections require veterinary assistance and your collie will likely need a short course of antibiotics.
Intestinal parasites could also be the cause of the diarrhea. Although slightly more uncommon, it’s still a possibility.
Parasites usually happen if your collie ingests an infected flea, or ingests the eggs in contaminated soil or feces.
Additionally, parasites can be transmitted from the mother to her puppies relatively easily. This is why it’s essential for all pups to be dewormed as soon as possible and to continue heartworm medication monthly (although that’s optional).
If your collie has parasites, you might see visible worms in her stool as they can sometimes grow to be quite large. You may also see her suffer other symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, distended abdomens, or more.
6. Dehydration or heatstroke
Make no mistake, dehydration can happen at any time of the year, even in the cooler months. Unfortunately, our dogs don’t drink as much as they should leaving most dehydrated to some extent.
Dehydration negatively affects almost all bodily processes and can be both the cause and a symptom of diarrhea. This is why it’s advised to have multiple water bowls around the house and constantly refresh the water to keep her drinking it.
Heatstroke, on the other hand usually only happens in the summer or in hot weather. Heatstroke is equally as bad as dehydration and can cause your collie to feel very ill. Symptoms of heatstroke can be diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, weakness, dizziness, and a lack of appetite.
If your collie’s diarrhea is followed by a long day out in the heat and sunshine, this could very well be the cause.
7. Health issues or reactions to medications
Lastly, diarrhea could result from your collie having an underlying health condition or any medication that’s currently being taken.
Many health issues can affect the digestive system and also lead to a heightened level of stress. Both of these combined can result in diarrhea as well as many other symptoms.
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When To See a Veterinarian
So if your collie has diarrhea, when should you see your veterinarian?
The official advice from veterinarians is to contact them if your collie’s diarrhea does not improve within 24 hours.
Additionally, If your border collie is already a senior (over 8 years old), is a puppy (under 1 year), or has existing health issues, it’s best to call your veterinarian as soon as you spot diarrhea.
Of course, there is no wrong moment to call your veterinarian (other than too late!), so if you are worried, or have an idea that something is seriously wrong, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.
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How To Help Your Border Collie With Diarrhea
Fortunately, there are some tried and tested ways that you can safely resolve most bouts of diarrhea at home. Just keep in mind that if diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours with no improvement, it’s best to seek help from your vet.
1. Fasting (witholding food)
If your collie is NOT a senior, puppy, or has existing health issues, then withholding food for 12-24 hours is one of the best first steps to take. Withholding food allows her digestive system time to rest and recover before having to deal with any further digestion.
If diarrhea has been caused by dietary issues or from ingesting something foul, fasting is usually very effective. Keep in mind, fasting should not be done for more than 12-24 hours and it’s imperative your collie continues to drink lots of fluids. If she refuses fluids, contact your veterinarian right away.
2. Bland food diet
After fasting (if that was an option for your collie), the next best course of action is to switch your collie over to a bland food diet. The bland food diet is a very well-known method for curing diarrhea and will likely be the recommended thing to try by your vet.
The simplest and most common bland food diet consists of nothing but plain boiled chicken breast with white rice. There are other ingredients you can try, but this is the most basic.
Plain boiled chicken and white rice digest easily and slowly, allowing your collie to receive important nutrients while giving her digestive system a rest from her usual diet.
It’s usually advised to remain on the bland food diet until your collies no longer has loose stools. After this, slowly phase in her usual kibble (if you are sure this wasn’t the cause of her diarrhea in the first place).
3. Antidiarrheal medication
In addition to the bland food diet, antidiarrheal medication can be an extra helping hand. It’s advised to first try the bland food diet alone, but if that doesn’t seem to improve her situation, medication might be needed in addition to her new diet.
Pro-Pectalin is an example of a common and safe antidiarrheal medication you can typically buy over the counter. However, it’s still advised to contact your veterinarian about using this at home with your collie.
You can also schedule an appointment with your vet to get some prescribed medication (antibiotics) and a stool-firmer to help her along the way.
If you would rather avoid medication (at least to begin with), you can opt for probiotics. As diarrhea is mostly gut-related, probiotics usually help a lot, especially when combined with a bland food diet.
Probiotics are full of healthy gut bacteria that help to restore balance, strength and improves overall digestive health. You can find probiotics in most pet stores, or you can get them directly from your vet.
Just remember to always read the label and give correct dosages.
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Preventing Diarrhea In Border Collies
Although some causes of diarrhea are unavoidable, putting in place a few extra healthy habits might be able to save your collie from diarrhea in the future. So let’s run through them below.
● Avoid giving table scraps, tidbits, or unfamiliar dog treats
● Avoid quick diet changes (always phase new kibbles in and out slowly)
● Avoid trying low-quality inferior kibbles
● Ensure garbage bins are inaccessible
● Ensure your collie has a stress-free life and a calm environment
● Ensure her basic needs are fully taken care of, especially exercise
● Stay on top of jabs, boosters, worming meds (for puppies), and vaccines
● Try to stop your collie moseying around in bushes when out on walks
● Avoid letting your collie play with unvaccinated dogs
● Wash her bed and toys regularly
● Wash her food and water bowl regularly
Of course, not all diarrhea can be prevented, but the tips above should definitely help prevent some!
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