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Dog Boarding/Kenneling/diarrhea when boarding


QUESTION: I worked for a kennel about a year ago and was astonished about the amount of dogs who had diarrhea that ended with a few blood drops. The kennel owners seemed to care less every time I pointed it out. Indeed, the owners let the dogs out to potty and didn't even look at the stools. I was wondering how kennel owners deal with this as I am considering opening a small kennel and knowing myself, I would be worrying every time I would see a drop of blood in diarrhea. I looked online and it looks like many dogs get stress colitis when boarded and there is blood and mucous, but wondering does this self resolve? I am guessing so as the people in kennel didn't seem to do nothing about it and the dogs seemed OK for the rest of their sta. Please advise on how this is treated (do kennel owners give something for this?) and when it's appropriate to see a vet. thanks

ANSWER: Hello Leslie,
Thank-you for your question.  As a kennel owner for the last 16 years, diarrhea and blood in the stool is the number one medical issue we have experienced in boarding dogs. It is always distressing to see and a tough call to decide if it is stress colitis, or something more serious.   Often, I will see just a little blood in the stool one day, and nothing else the rest of the boarding. So close monitoring of the dog's stool is a necessary to see if things are getting worse.

Some suspects to investigate:
Clearly, if the dogs is stressed, this could be the cause.  Sometimes we can trace the cause back to the owner using a different food, providing some rich, wet food or treats, which has obviously irritated the dog's system. We also check to make sure the dog hasn't chewed or eaten any bedding or toys, which may have irritated the colon.I definitely would avoid giving bones and raw hide treats, and only give the food the owner has provided.  Sometimes just a change in water can result in diarrhea and I do have some clients that bring their water from home.  

Possible solutions:
There are some medications from the pet store you could try and which should have been proven safe to use for diarrhea. I would avoid using human remedies, as the dog could have a reaction to these and you would not know the dosage for dogs.  You could always check with your vet to see if they would recommend something (some clients I have will use Pepto bismol or Kaopectate). Sometimes a bland diet of rice and chicken resolves diarrhea, but we have never had much success with this clearing up the problem. Some other foods you can try are pumpkin and brown bread.

Some scenerios we've experienced:
We recently boarded a dog who developed runny stool mid-day and by the evening was having explosive, bloody diarrhea. This dog was treated at the vet that evening, but it was never determined what had caused this violent flare-up.  The vet will normally prescribe Metronidazole which I have found is the absolute best medication for this problem and the condition often resolves itself in only a few doses.  They may also prescribe a medication to coat the dog's stomach prior to feeding, and a special, bland food.  (ie. the Gastro brand by Hills.)

A year ago, we boarded a dog which became lethargic just after the owner dropped him off and this was followed by a bowel movement which was mostly blood - extremely red and thick. This was the hallmark symptom of a potentially fatal condition called HGE and a dog that exhibits this requires immediate hydration and vet care. We immediately obtained treatment and the dog recovered quickly.

Now, coming back to the tricky part of your question, how do you know when it's time to go to the vet?  I tend to base this on, of course, the severity of the condition, but also on the look of the dog.  If the dog is active, eating well, and has exhibited no noticeable change in his demeanor, I would usually not take him to the vet at this time.  However, if the dog has become lethargic, is not eating or drinking, you must have him vet checked.  It is hard not to panic when you see a bit of blood in their stool, and there have been times when I have rushed a dog to the vet unnecessarily, but I do believe that it is better to be safe then sorry.  
If you do decide to operate a kennel, be sure and have a way to contact the owner in case this happens or someone who can make decisions for the dog while the owner is away.  Often you will find out that this has happened before with the dog, and that it has resolved itself.

I hope this information helps you out - it is a common, but complicated issue, hence the long response.

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QUESTION: Can you please be more specific on the medications the pet store stocks that can be useful? I may add them to the first-aid kit I am planning to build for my future kennel. thanks so much! I only know about pepto and Immodium, then a little pet store near us stocks fish-zole which is the same as Flagyl and some dog owners to treat colitis flare-ups. Can this be used in such a scenario where the dog is fine but just has stress diarrhea? many thanks! Leslie

Hi Leslie,
The pet store brands I have used are NaturVet Anti-Diarrhea (by Garmon Corp., California) and KP Anti-diarrhea (by Gimborn Pet Specialties, Atlanta, Georgia). Both are liquids and contain Kaolin and Pectin.  You have to give them quite a lot - usually by syringe, as they don't like it very much when mixed into their food.  For a large dog, I was giving up to a tablespoon by mouth, a few times a day.  Human Kaopectate is probably similar - you can get this in liquid or tablets, and it may be easier to find, but you would need to check with a vet or do a web search to get a dose. Also, I'd try and avoid the flavoured formulations.

I would be cautious with Immodium, as if the dog is eliminating toxins in the diarrhea, you don't want to constipate him too much with the immodium so he reabsorbs the toxins. Also, the dose is quite small for this drug and it may be hard to accurately split the tablets into lower doses for small dogs.

I haven't used Flagyl before so can't comment on that product.

Kathy Carter
The Pet cottages  

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Kathy Carter


Can answer questions about boarding pets. Cannot answer medical questions about pets.


12 years running a boarding kennel for dogs and cats, boarding up to 30 dogs and 12 cats each day and running the business myself

Canadian Kennel Club

Article published in local newsletter regarding pet boarding

Bachelor of Science degree from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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