Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea At Night?

By John Martin - November 17, 2023

Dog outside at night

A bout of diarrhea is distressing at any time. However, it is particularly worrisome and tiresome when it happens at night to your beloved furry friend. Suddenly, it gets chaotic and messy. Your dog is upset, and you are upset.

Your nerves are probably wracked from trying to figure out why your dog has diarrhea at night. Though disruptive, this is a common affliction among dogs.

Read on to get to the bottom of this messy problem!

Why Is Dog Diarrhea Happening at Night?

Diarrhea is the sudden and rapid evacuation of fecal matter through the intestine. Its intensity and duration vary; it is dependent upon several factors, such as the cause and subsequent treatment.

Why is it happening to your dog at night? There is no one answer to this. There can be multiple reasons why your dog is suffering from diarrhea during the nighttime.

The reasons range from changes in food to a parasitic illness. You will have to monitor your dog and figure out what is the culprit behind their problem.

A Change in Diet

A canine’s digestive system is vulnerable to any changes in their diets. If you make a sudden switch from their usual brand of food to a different one, this can wreak havoc on your dog’s stomach.

The dog’s digestive system assimilates to a certain type of food. Any abrupt changes to this diet can potentially cause digestive issues such as diarrhea. This is one of the common causes of diarrhea in dogs at night.

If you want to introduce any new food into their diet, make the transition slowly. Introduce small amounts of the new food along with the old food. Once their digestive tract gets used to the new nutrients, you can complete the transition.

A Side Effect of Medication

The introduction of medication is also a likely cause of nighttime diarrhea. If your dog has started a new medication or is on dewormers or antibiotics, you might see a sudden bout of diarrhea for a couple of nights.

Medication as a culprit of diarrhea is considered normal. Your vet will typically inform you of the unpleasant side effect when prescribing a certain medication.

Some of the other known diarrhea-causing medications are NMDA receptor blockers and NSAIDs (used in pain relief and anesthesia).

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Food Intolerance or Allergies

Allergies are the body’s immune response against certain foreign substances. Dogs are as prone to allergies and food sensitivities as humans. Their sudden nighttime diarrhea might be an indication of an allergic reaction to their food.

It could also indicate intolerance. The difference between allergies and food intolerance or sensitivity is that the latter does not involve an immune response.

Dogs can present with a sensitivity or allergy toward proteins found in certain foods such as eggs, dairy, beef, gluten, chicken, etc. They can also be allergic to other uncommon offenders.

If you suspect your dog has a food sensitivity or allergy, eliminate the culprit from their diet and gradually introduce a hypoallergenic diet.

Intestinal Parasites

Nighttime diarrhea is also a common symptom of intestinal parasites in your dog. Parasites such as roundworm, giardia, hookworm, etc., are prevalent in contaminated food and water.

Once they creep into your dog’s intestines, they open the doors for a lot of nasty digestive issues. In addition to diarrhea, you will also notice apparent discomfort and decreased activity, lack of appetite, and vomiting as other symptoms of intestinal parasites.

Microbial Infections

Additionally, dogs are also prone to bacterial and viral infections. Bacterial and viral infections can affect your dog’s health if they ingest undercooked or raw meat, spoiled food, feces, or if they root around in the garbage.

Some dogs are not picky about what they eat. This condition of eating everything or anything is referred to as dietary indiscretion or garbage gut. It results in a gastrointestinal upset and expresses itself as nighttime diarrhea.

Even feeding your dog table scraps or leftovers is dietary indiscretion. It makes your dog vulnerable to bacteria and its assault.

These infections can result in diarrhea during the wee hours of the day.

Stress and Anxiety

As with humans, any level of stress or anxiety can result in an upset digestive tract.

If your dog is undergoing emotional distress or stress of some kind, their body might respond with bouts of diarrhea at night. This is evident in dogs suffering from separation anxiety, stress from traveling, or distress caused due to a new pet.

Dog owners should mark any new changes in the environment and monitor their dog’s stress levels.

Other Illnesses

Nighttime diarrhea in your dog can also be the result of an undiagnosed illness.

It could be a chronic disorder like inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. This disorder disrupts nutrient absorption and digestion due to an inflamed gastrointestinal tract. A dog with IBD might suffer from nighttime diarrhea.

Other illnesses that could contribute to late evening episodes of diarrhea include an inflamed pancreas, liver dysfunction, or kidney disease.

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Diarrhea in Puppies

Puppies are more vulnerable to infection and disease. It is common for them to suffer from diarrhea since their immune system has not fully formed yet.

The cause of their nighttime diarrhea can be any one of the above reasons. However, a common cause of diarrhea in puppies is just a response to an allergy or food sensitivity.

They might also be suffering from separation anxiety if they were recently separated from their mother and rehomed. A new environment can add to the stress.

Plenty of affection, a good routine, and a clean and healthy environment will help your puppy overcome this stress in time. Additionally, ensure that you are giving them all their vaccinations to strengthen their immune system and protect them from diseases.

Diarrhea in Senior Dogs

Diarrhea in older dogs can be the result of any of the above reasons. However, it can also indicate loss of bowel movement due to their advanced age. Their symptoms should not be overlooked, and proper treatment must be sought.

Diarrhea could be a red flag pointing towards an underlying problem other than aging. Therefore, if it presents itself in elderly dogs, it should not be written off as age related.

It could easily be a preventable and treatable condition. A professional should always be consulted for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

When Should You Be Worried?

Doggy diarrhea is a health concern, but it does not always warrant an immediate visit to the vet. If the diarrhea is a one-time occurrence, you need not worry. Every dog has a bad day once in a while.

It could simply be triggered due to dietary changes or medication. If the underlying cause is simple, acute diarrhea should resolve within two days. However, dog parents should monitor their furry friends for any alarming changes.

If the frequency of the bouts has increased or shows no sign of slowing down, then it is time for a trip to the vet’s clinic.

Monitor for other symptoms as well. If they display weakness, discomfort, fever, vomiting, etc., in addition to nighttime diarrhea, it is cause for concern and warrants an immediate trip to the vet.

Additionally, if your dog has any pre-existing health conditions, do not ignore more than two episodes of diarrhea. Keep an eye on small dogs, puppies, or elderly dogs since dehydration due to diarrhea can result in further problems.

If you are unsure how to proceed, always get a consultation.

How Do You Treat Nighttime Dog Diarrhea?

Treatment depends upon the severity and cause of diarrhea. If you know the cause of nighttime diarrhea, you can easily treat it and make your dog feel better.

Dogs with simple cases of diarrhea caused due to food allergies or sensitivity make an almost immediate recovery once the offending food is removed from their diet. As a dog parent, you should track new additions to their diet and watch out for any adverse reactions.

If medication is the culprit of diarrhea, your vet will likely provide you with a solution to treat it.

Once diarrhea presents itself, do not give them their regular food. Allow time for their upset digestive tract to rest and heal itself. Ideally, you should withhold all food and let their tummy settle for up to 12 hours.

After the fasting period, introduce bland foods such as rice or any other prescribed dog foods which will not further irritate their inflamed digestive tract.

Probiotics are also a great way to correct the disrupted microbiome of the gut. They will lend support to the immune system and replenish healthy bacteria in the intestine.

Diarrhea also leads to a major loss of water in the body. Make sure the water loss is compensated with plenty of hydration.

In addition to home remedies, certain over-the-counter doggy diarrhea medications will also be effective in controlling the problem. However, always seek advice from a professional and use them with caution.

Also Read: How Long Should a Puppy Wear a Cone After Being Neutered?

The Final Word

Doggy diarrhea during the night can be a scary experience. However, with proper care and monitoring, your dog will be back to feeling its normal self.

Most cases are not a cause for major concern. Once you have figured out the root cause of their nighttime diarrhea, you can set a course for proper treatment.

However, if the intensity and frequency of their trouble lie on the higher side, consult a veterinarian to make a proper diagnosis and start the appropriate treatment.