If you have just got your dog back home after a kennel stay and he’s started having accidents around the house, you’re not alone. Dog diarrhea after boarding is extremely common. Despite the pooping, it’s not always something you need to panic about; depending on the diagnosis of course!
The first thing I want to say is, don’t automatically jump to blame the kennel. I will list all the possible reasons your dog is pooping in the house after a boarding stay lower down the page. But in simple terms, just because your dog has diarrhea after a kennel visit, it doesn’t mean he picked up a stomach bug during his stay.
Most boarding kennels are very diligent about cleaning, and require all visiting dogs to be fully vaccinated before their stay. For example, kennels in our local area require dogs to be up to date with injections and meds for canine flu, distemper, kennel cough, parvovirus, rabies, plus tick and fleas.
Whilst no vaccination is 100% effective, the chances are your dog isn’t suffering with diarrhea due to a bug picked up in the boarding kennels. It’s more likely a mix of excitement, stress, or dietary changes. But please do book a vet’s appointment, as there will always be that chance of them contracting something during a visit.
Why does my dog have diarrhea after boarding?
What does cause dog diarrhea after kennel stay then? Here are the most likely reasons for the problematic pooping (or peeing) – in no particular order.
1. Stress induced
Dogs miss their owners when they go into boarding kennels. This can be stressful enough for them. You can then multiply the stress levels with the change of routine, strange dogs, strange people, different environment, different smells and noises.
Stress can cause diarrhea and is probably the biggest risk your dog has when going into kennels. The Purina pet food website wrote a great article on the topic (read it here) where they say:
“Dog diarrhea is caused for numerous reasons including stress. Common stressful situations that can trigger gastrointestinal upset in a dog include adoption, boarding, separation anxiety from their owner, changes in the household or environment and introduction of a new pet or family member.”
If your dog has diarrhea after going to kennel and it’s due to stress, you can expect it to clear up after a few days with no serious complications to worry about. It’s a very standard and common theme with dogs and puppies coming home from a kennel stay.
Handy Hint: Research has suggested that dogs do miss their owners when they go into kennels, leading to potential stress. Find out what the studies say in this short guide.
2. Excitement induced
When you pick your dog up from the kennels it’s going to give him a huge increase in excitement. As owners we will often inflame that further by being over-excited to see him, ramping up the energy levels even more.
Just like with stress, excitement can also bring on diarrhea.
According to the Dogs Naturally Magazine, at the 2015 Natural Canine Health Symposium, Dr Peter Dobias explained how he’d noticed his dog having diarrhea when active and excited through play.
“He realized that (his dog) Skai’s spinal energy flow affected his digestion. When Skai played hard, his lumbar area would get congested. This congestion would then change his digestive system.”
Another factor is how dogs eat and drink when excited. They tend to gulp food and water down, and this can also lead to them having diarrhea after returning from boarding. More on this below in point 3…
3. Sudden intake of food and water
Many dogs will lose their appetite when staying in boarding kennels. You can put this down to a combination of stress and not being as comfortable as they would be at home.
This means that when they do return home, they are going to eat as much as they can and as quickly as they can to fill their stomach. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it does mean they gulp down lots of air.
When dogs have air in their digestive system it can lead to range of smelly results such as gas, bloating and diarrhea.
There’s also the consequence of guilty feeling owners giving their returning dog more treats and chews than normal, upsetting what could have been an empty stomach.
4. Dietary change
Another common reason for dog diarrhea after boarding will be due to a change in their diet. You will have the option of giving the kennels your dog’s preferred food when you book them in. If you forget to do so, or don’t leave enough food behind, your dog might have to eat food they are not used to.
Dogs have very sensitive stomachs and will often have allergies to foods you don’t even know about. Just a change to what they are used to eating can lead to runny stools and pooping in the house after their kennel stay.
5. Underlying medical condition
Your dog’s diarrhea after a kennel visit could very well be health related. In fact, the stress I spoke about earlier could even weaken your dog’s immune system meaning he is more susceptible to becoming ill.
Research suggests that illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis can flare up when a dog is stressed, as can coccidia, an intestinal tract infection.
6. Caught a bug
Whilst most boarding kennels work very hard to eliminate the risk of infection and cross-contamination, it’s not unrealistic to think this is why your dog has diarrhea.
Another dog might have had an undetectable illness when entering the kennels; for example, sickness like canine influenza. It could even be that your dog drank some water that wasn’t clean.
Either way, not all dog vaccinations will work to a 100% success rate, so your dog can still get diarrhea no matter how many precautions you and the kennel takes.
7. Your dog’s breed
All of the reasons for your dog having diarrhea after boarding kennels can actually be made worse by their breed. Some dog breeds are more prone to diarrhea, with the smallest thing exacerbating their irritable bowels.
The Hills Pet website says:
“Some breeds, such as great Danes, German shepherds, golden retrievers and collies, are more prone to particular digestive problems. Commonly diagnosed conditions include acute gastroenteritis. colitis, constipation, pancreatitis, and diarrhoea.” (view source)
Make sure you talk to the kennel
Despite me saying it might not be the boarding kennel’s fault your dog has diarrhea, you should still make them aware of the problem. If they are having more than one complaint on the same topic from other owners, they might be able to trace the cause better.
Above all, by just asking them a few questions you might be able better understand why your dog is pooping about the house after a kennel visit, possibly ruling some things out. Here’s what you should ask them:
- Was your dog sick or did it show signs of illness when boarding?
- Have any other dog owners reported diarrhea or sickness?
- Did he eat anything other than his normal food and diet?
If you take your dog to the vets, you should also give the kennel notice of what the diagnosis was. This means they can check if it’s something that could have been passed on to other dogs in their care.
Handy Hint: Did you know that some dogs can hold their poop in for 8 hours, but this is almost certainly the limit.
How to avoid dog diarrhea after boarding
Here are some things you can do to help minimize the risk of your dog coming back from a kennel stay with diarrhea.
Things to do in advance
- Supply your own food: This will reduce the chance of them getting an upset stomach with a diet change. If your dog is staying for 7 days, give the kennel 10 days’ worth of food to leave nothing to chance.
- Keep vaccinations up to date: The kennel should ask for documentation, as your dog should have all the necessary jabs to help them avoid catching bugs.
- Book them in for a trial night stay: If possible, let them stay over on a trial basis. This will help them get used to boarding and could reduce their stress during the stay. In addition, make sure you pack plenty of familiar smells and bedding for them.
Things to do when they return
- Stop feeding them for 12 to 24 hours: It sounds harsh, but by making them fast for a while, you can let their stomach get better and possibly let all the sickness come out in the diarrhea.
- Feed bland food like rice and chicken: Once it’s time to get them start eating again, only give them bland tasting food for a couple of days. It is easier for your dog to digest and will be easier on their stomach. Some vets recommend feeding a sick dog chicken noodle soup
- Consider pumpkin: 100% pumpkin is a known remedy for doggy diarrhea as it helps to solidify their stools and will often work it’s magic in just two days.
A bit of diarrhea in the first two days of your dog coming home from a boarding stay is almost to be expected. Having accidents around the house are certainly very common, and typically related to stress and excitement.
In my opinion (and I am not a vet), if the diarrhea was still happening after 48 hours had passed I would seek an expert opinion – particularly given the range of illnesses that it is possible to catch from boarding kennels.
It’s important to understand that the content in this guide are my own views only, and if in any doubt you should always consult with a professional veterinarian.
You might also like…
I have published a whole section on Doggysaurus about dogs staying in kennels. Here are some of the other helpful guides.
- Learn how boarding kennel stress could affect your dog
- Will my dog miss me when he stays in kennels?
- How can I prepare my puppy for boarding for the first time?
Image in header licensed via storyblocks.com