Why Does my Greyhound have Loose Stools? [Ultimate Guide to Recovery and Prevention]


Diarrhea can come on very suddenly with greyhounds, so it is important to learn beforehand of its causes and what you can do to get your greyhound back on track.

If you’re asking “Why does my greyhound have loose stools,” the root cause is usually bacteria (or virus), parasites, or inability to digest something he ate.

This article has the tools you need to deal with this very concerning condition:

  • what diarrhea actually is
  • the effects it could have on your greyhound
  • the most common causes
  • how to bring quick relief
  • when to call the vet

What is Happening When My Greyhound is Having Diarrhea?

It starts when your greyhound’s gut becomes inflamed, irritated by bacteria, something that doesn’t agree with his tummy, or just plain stress. An unusual reaction happens: an intricate set of nerves are triggered. A signal goes to your greyhound’s brain to gather water from the rest of his body, maybe even produce some mucous, as well; and send it to flood his digestive system, flushing out the offending substance.

Effects of Greyhound Diarrhea

Once it starts, you must act immediately to find the cause and apply proper treatment (or contact the vet, if necessary). If allowed to go on, it can have the followed effects:

It can weaken and debilitate your dog

– It can leave him dehydrated, which can be life-threatening. Diarrhea can drain out a creature’s fluids to the point where only IV fluids can save him.

– Irritable Bowel Disease/Syndrome.

– It is awful to clean up, and takes your full attention as long as it’s going on. Your world stops when your greyhound’s diarrhea starts!

Causes of Greyhound Diarrhea 

So how did your dog’s gut become inflamed the first place?  

  • Ingesting something that didn’t agree with him
  • Parasites
  • Psychological Causes (Stress, Heredity)

Let’s explore each of these:

Ingesting Something That Didn’t Agree with Him

This is the largest category, and of the most common  cause of diarrhea.  It covers all of the ways that your greyhound can ingest something that just doesn’t sit well.

What you Didn’t See

If your greyhound just had one round of diarrhea, and then he’s fine, it is likely that he picked up something he wasn’t supposed to and ate it. We don’t like to talk about it, but sometimes our darling dogs will eat really disgusting things.  In my house, this has included diapers, dish soap residue, grass, and – in one horrifying instance – a turkey turd.

Greyhounds can snap up a “goodie” so quickly when you’re not looking. Peaches used to pull this every Spring, when the grass was fresh and new and tender. She would trail behind me on our walks and graze, and then either throw up, or have awful diarrhea later on.  

Shannon used to have a mysterious case of diarrhea at the same time every week, until I caught him licking the soapy residue off the empty bottles I set out every Tuesday evening for the milkman.

This one-off type of diarrhea can be treated with a dose of Pepto-Bismol and more supervision.  

Bacteria can also enter your greyhound’s system when he licks his backside. I know you’ll feel silly doing so, but wipe his rear with a baby wipe after he does a #2. Also, discourage him from licking back there. If he’s already clean, he won’t do that as much. 

Dirty Bowls

Don’t skip this paragraph! I’m sure you think you keep everything perfect for your greyhound. Even if your standard of bowl-cleanliness has worked for decades, your greyhound may be more sensitive to bacteria than past pets, or may be becoming that way with age.  

Bowls can become scratched and pitted with use. Bacteria builds up in those places, even if you clean the bowls every day. You always want your dog to have access to drinking water, and it can be difficult to keep that water supply clean and fresh at all times. Here are my best tips for hygenic bowls:

  1. Have 2 sets of bowls, and alternate between them, so each bowl has a chance to dry out before it’s used again.
  2. Use only bowls which are made out of dishwaher-safe material that doesn’t scratch or pit. Stainless steel, tempered glass, and heavy ceramic are all good choices.
  1. Run the bowls through the dishwasher every day on the “sanitize” setting. If you do not have a dishwasher, then handwash the bowls until they are so clean, a baby could eat out of them.
  1. Change your dog’s water before he eats, of course; but change it again, after he has finished. They always manage to slobber food into their water, even when they don’t actually drink any of it, and you don’t want to leave that food and drool, culturing in the bowl.
  1. If your dog never drinks overnight, take up his water after he’s asleep for the night, and wash the bowl.
  1. Refresh your dog’s water right before any time he is likely to drink (such as before a walk), right after you have seen him drinking, or at least every couple of hours. 
  2. In the warm weather, throw in a few ice cubes to discourage bacterial growth.

Treats

Not all treats will work for your greyhound. I even had one case where we had to give up a treat Peaches had been OK with for years, when we got one package of it that gave her diarrhea. 

Too many treats can cause an issue, as well; or resuming treats too soon, after the dog has been ill.

Check the labels!  Never, EVER give your dog any food or treats that are made in China.  You’ve probably heard about the melamine scare years ago.  Check out this video about natural, 3-ingredient chicken jerky strips, which cost several dogs their lives:

Food Intolerances

There are many theories as to why food allergies and intolerances happen, but that is beyond the scope of this article – You have come to learn how to stop your greyhound’s diarrhea. 

In the case of allergies, treatment is usually a case of trial and error. If you suspect that your dog might have an allergy, alert your vet right away for advice. Your vet has a lot of experience with selecting the right food for a dog with tummy trouble. 

Bad Oral Hygiene

Sometimes, that nasty bacteria that upset your greyhound’s gut came from his own mouth!  Greyhounds are notorious for having bad teeth and gums.

Parasites

There is a variety of worms and parasites which can invade your dog, and diarrhea is often the first symptom.

Whenever your dog has diarrhea, the first thing you need to do (besides making sure he’s out of the house) is pick up some of it in a plastic bag. You may need a sample for the vet.  Some worms will be visible to the eye, but many are microscopic.

You can treat this diarrhea at home for your greyhound’s immediate relief, but the worms need to be dealt with separately.  Over the counter de-wormers are available, but they can be hit-or-miss. Worms are best treated by the vet. He will identify which worms are infesting your dogs, prescribe a medicine specifically for that worm, and teach you how to dispense it on a schedule which considers the life-cycle of that worm. The vet will also know when to retest your greyhound, to make sure he is parasite-free. 

How to Prevent Parasites in Greyhounds

Sanitize any area where your greyhound has dropped a mess by pouring bleach over it. Yes, it will kill the grass that’s there, but it will grow back. Worms can live in the ground up to 30 years. Humans can get some parasites, such as hookworks and tapeworms.  Do not allow your children to play in that area. Everyone needs to wash their hands after playing in the yard, gardening, petting the dog, and before touching any food. 

Some parasites can be very difficult to get rid of, but your vet will get you through it.

Psychological Causes for Loose Greyhound Stools (Stress, Heredity)

Some greyhounds will loosen right up when they are stressed-out.  Often, this is hereditary, or just a quirk of your dog’s personality.  If your greyhound’s diarrhea is from stress, you can usually sense when it’s going to happen – You’re out in a crowd, your kids have a spat, you’re travelling, etc..

What You Can do About Greyhound Diarrhea  & Loose Stools

How often is your greyhound having diarrhea? 

The answer to this question will determine your next step.

“My greyhound doesn’t usually have diarrhea, but he did just now.”

Give this greyhound one teaspoon (5 ml) of Pepto Bismol (regular strength) on 1/4 of a slice of bread. The generic brand of Pepto is OK, but do not give Immodium or any other medicine. If you only have Extra Strength Pepto, give 1/2 the amount. Don’t feed him for 24 hours – His intestines need time to calm down.

After the 24 hours, feed him 1 cup of cooked rice with a Tablespoon of yogurt, and little chicken or hamburger, if you have some. If this doesn’t give him diarrhea, make his next meal consist of half his normal food and 1/2 cup of cooked rice, plus the yogurt. Withhold treats until his stools are back to normal. If your doggie is treat-dependant, you can give him a little scrap of bread in place of a treat.

On the third day, if he’s still doing OK, give him about 3/4 his normal portion of food, plus some rice and yogurt. If his stools are improving, but still too soft, you can mix 2 teaspoons of Metamucil into his food, or 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin or sweet potato.

“My greyhound gets diarrhea every time we________________________ (go to a meet-and-greet, are on vacation, etc.)”

This is probably stress-induced. Do an internet search on “anxiety in dogs,” and you will turn up all kinds of great ideas for calming down your dog, and helping him get over his anxiety.  Treat his diarrhea as described above.

The best thing to cut down future outbursts is bring down his anxiety level with a calmer environment.  The easiest way to do this may be to simply to relocate your dog’s bed. Consider these questions:

  • Is the bed “off the beaten path?” Dogs can find it upsetting to be constantly stepped over and brushed past.
  • Is it in a draught-free location? Is it warm there?
  • Is it quiet, away from the TV or other noise?

Sometimes, a bout of anxiety can awaken hidden parasites, and start an outbreak. If the diarrhea has blood in it, or you suspect it’s a bit more than only nerves, call the vet.

“My greyhound is OK most of the time; but about once a month, he’ll have a bout of diarrhea out of the blue…then, he’s fine again.”

This is often a sign a parasites, as they move through your greyhound according to their life-cycle. Sometimes when parasites are the cause, there will be blood in the stool, as well. Treat him with Pepto and the bland diet, as above; but call the vet right away, too. Do not try to cure worms on your own, with home remedies, or OTC products.

“My greyhound doesn’t have diarrhea; but his stools don’t seem normal, either. Sometimes, I can’t even pick it up, it’s so soft.”

Try these tips, to see if you can firm up your greyhound’s stool:

  • One product that is endlessly raved about by greyhound owners, far and wide, is Olewo Carrots (check price here).  Carrots??  I know, I was surprised, too; but this dried carrot treat has firmed up many a greyhound’s stool, when all seemed lost.
  • Brush his teeth every day to cut down on gut-hurting bacteria.
  • Add 2-4 Tablespoons (30-60 ml) of yogurt to his food every day. This will help add digestive bacteria to this food. Probiotics are also available as a supplement. 
  • Add canned pumpkin to his food every day (adds fiber only; so it’s not a replacement for the yogurt). Pumpkin did not work for my dog, but many owners swear by it. 
  • Feed him a high-quality dry dog food designed for digestive issues, such as BilJac or Eukanuba (buyers’ tips below). 
  • Give your greyhound a daily acid reducer. My vet prescribed Zantac (a people medicine) for Peaches.
  • Special plug-in diffusers & Thundershirts can be useful in calming nervous dogs
  • Give your hound’s system a 24-hour rest after a bout of serious diarrhea. No food or treats. Some hounds will look sad about this; but some greyhounds have excellent instincts, and are perfectly happy to skip a day’s meals after their digestive system has been worked so hard.
  • Keep your yard greyhound-safe by emptying any standing water from rain or sprinklers, and mopping up any puddles in your driveway. Clean with a rag or sawdust any fluid puddles from your vehicles.

Try these tips for a few weeks. If his stools don’t firm up, call the vet.

Daily Food for the Sensitive Greyhound Tummy

In researching this article, I found an article for the American Kennel Club , which said, “Only use foods suggested in articles that are written by Board-certified vets.” 

 I disagree with this advice, to an extent.  Not all veterinarians are natural writers, and may express themselves in a way that is not accessible to the frantic owner, who is just doing some quick research to find a better dog food for his greyhound’s sensitive tummy. 

Another problem is that kibble formulas change all the time, but vets are typically too busy to go back and update their Internet articles to reflect the latest information.

I can see the AKC’s side of it, too, however. Even though a lot of advice you get from greyhound owners is tried-and-true, and just what you’re looking for; there is also a lot out there by owners who think if something OK for a human, it’s OK for a greyhound, or owners who have some kind of dietary agenda which is inappropriate for greyhounds (and possibly for humans, as well).

A good example of this is the raw diet. This back-to-nature dietary concept is very popular with a lot of owners, but most greyhounds’ veterinarians are against it, and I agree with them.

Risks of the Raw Diet for Dogs

Like many popular bad ideas, the raw diet has a grain of truth to it. The first talking point you hear is that the raw diet is more like what the dog’s ancestors ate back when they lived in the wild. By that logic, we should all go barefoot, because that’s what we did  before civilization. 

They also claim a raw diet has cleared up the loose stools of many greyhounds and other dogs, and added other health benefits, such as a shinier coat. The same benefits, however, can be achieved with the right commercially-prepared kibble, without the risks associated with the raw diet.

The main risks of the raw diet are that it is difficult to include all the nutrients appropriate for your dog’s health, and costs five times more than even high-quality commercial kibble, not to mention increased risk of infection to everybody in your household, including your dog, from food poisoning and parasites associated with handling and feeding of raw meat.

Include the Vet in Dietary Decisions

Another concern, I believe, of the AKC is that an owner may not seek help from the vet when it is really necessary.  Be sure you read all the way to the bottom of this article, so you don’t miss the section on when you should call the vet. Here at Greyhound Homecare, I always include this vital bit of information.

As long as your greyhound is not exhibiting any of the symptoms below, it is safe for you to explore some different types of kibble that might work better for your greyhound’s sensitive tummy and digestive tract, as well as some mild food supplements, such as yogurt and pumpkin.

As I mentioned before, Eukanuba and Biljac both make dried dog food which is low residue, and breaks down fast, for easy digestion.  

Feeding Tips for Better Greyhound Digestion

  • Buy the smallest bag to try the new food. 
  • Add it to your dog’s old food very gradually. On the first day, use a coffee scoop to remove 1 scoop of the old kibble, and add 1 scoop of the new kibble. On Day 2, remove and replace 2 scoops; and so on, until he is fully switched over. 
  • Split his day’s food into 2 feedings
  • Add 8 oz. water to each bowl of food. You’ll feel like you’re drowning it, but it really does a great job of keeping your dog well-hydrated.
  • Don’t forget the yogurt!

I first discovered Biljac over 20 years ago, when my vet recommended it for my greyhound, Peaches, who had a very sensitive tummy. Peaches had a lot of trouble with worms, and also had horrible teeth and gums, which took several procedures by the vet to clean up. For her sensitive tummy, we had very good luck with our vet’s plan: feeding her Biljac with a little rice with chicken in it, some yogurt, splitting her daily food into two feedings, and giving her an acid-reducing tablet every day.

Ideas for Choosing a Better Dog Food

  • Choose a high-quality dried kibble. Moist formulas can be harder to tolerate. Avoid mass-market grocery store brands
  • No dyes or artificial flavors
  • Try one with a “novel” protein source, meaning a meat your greyhound has never eaten before, such as lamb, duck, bison, etc..
  • Check the fiber amount on the label – Even as little as 1.75% can help bulk up your dog’s stools. Try a brand that has a bit more fiber than your current kibble, and work your way up.
  • Don’t forget the vitamins! Some brands tout short ingredient lists, but your greyhound needs vitamins and minerals, as well; so be sure his food includes them.

When to See the Vet

  • Your greyhound is not himself, not interested in the things he usually enjoys
  • Your greyhound is dry-heaving. 
  • Diarrhea occurs after eating a lot of fat, and then he doesn’t want to eat.
  • Check your greyhound’s gums. Do they seem pale? If you press on them with your finger, they should refill with blood right away. If they don’t, contact your vet right away. This can be a very bad symptom.
  • Your greyhound seems uncomfortable, and, perhaps, in pain.
  • His abdomen is swollen
  • Diarrhea lasting beyond 12 hours (this is too long, and he may be dehydrated to the point where only IV fluids will save him) 
  • If his stomach is upset, too.
  • Pinch up your greyhound’s skin over his shoulder blades – If it doesn’t retract, he’ll need IV fluids from your vet.
  • Your greyhound has a fever. His normal temperature is 99.5-102.5 F
  • Your greyhound seems uncomfortable, and, perhaps, in pain.
  • His abdomen is swollen
  • Any time you think your greyhound may have ingested anything dog’s shouldn’t eat, especially plants
  • Any time your dog has been drinking out of puddles or anywhere water had gathered from rain or sprinklers
  • Something just doesn’t seem right. 

If you’re asking “Why does my greyhound have loose stools,” the root cause is usually bacteria (or virus), parasites, or inability to digest something he ate.

Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too! https://www.youtube.com/c/GreyhoundHomecare

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