Vet Blog

Got diarrhea?

January 03, 2024

Why treating diarrhea with antibiotics may not be the best idea.

If your dog experiences recurrent diarrhea, it would be best to try and determine the cause. 

Diarrhea can be a sign of a myriad of diseases: 

  • Parasites 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
  • Organ failure 
  • Dietary allergies 
  • Toxin ingestion 
  • Paraneoplastic syndrome (cancer) 
  • Endocrine diseases 
  • Dietary indiscretion 
  • Stressful events 
  • And more… 

If the above conditions have been ruled out, and your dog is suspected of having diarrhea due to dietary indiscretion or a stressful event, antibiotics are not indicated.  Here are the two main reasons: 

  1. It can lead to antimicrobial resistance. This is one of the biggest threats to global health per the World Health Organization.  Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines. This situation is accelerated by the overuse of antibiotics (i.e. using them when it is not necessary).

    The American Veterinary Medical Association encourages veterinarians to use antibiotics judiciously and sparingly as well as to consider alternatives to antimicrobial drugs. We have several alternatives available including clay, ozone, herbal anti-diarrheal, and kaolin-probiotic supplements.

  2. Using Antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome, leading to decreased species diversity and may lead to an overgrowth of pathogenic species. Studies show that one round of antibiotic treatment can disrupt the microbiome for months, up to years.

    Why is this important? The gut microbiome plays a huge role in host health and immunity and several diseases have been linked to decreased species diversity:
    • Allergies
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Kidney disease
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Anxiety
    • Cancer
    • And more…

Bottom line:

  1. Reach for alternatives to antibiotics to resolve your pet’s diarrhea.
  2. Work with your vet to find the cause of your pet’s diarrhea if it persists.