Help! My Dog Has Diarrhea at Night Only


As the name suggests, nighttime (nocturnal) diarrhea is when there is a profuse and frequent discharge of intestinal contents in a loose and watery form that occurs at night.

Your dog may experience diarrhea at night as a result of garbage toxicosis arising from dietary indiscretion, sudden change in diet, microbial infection, bowel inflammation, or even leaky guts. Allergies, stress, fear and anxiety are also potential causes of nighttime diarrhea in canines.

When this happens, your canine friend will experience discomfort such that his sleep and entire quality of life are disturbed.

However, diarrhea, whether during the day or at night is in fact, “a blessing in disguise” because it may signal you of a more serious underlying health condition, but most times, it is mild and resolves spontaneously in a few days without any underlying disease.

If your pooch experiences trot or squirts at night, it’s wise to look out for other symptoms such as weight loss, fever, vomiting, lethargy and more.

The color, shape and consistency of the fecal discharge will give your vet some definitive clues to help narrow down the potential causes. Red streaks indicate the presence of blood while white rice-like spots may be a sign of tapeworm.

I’ll discuss in detail further below, the reasons why nighttime diarrhea may occur, home remedies, and when to see your vet.

Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea In The Middle Of The Night?

Below are the various causes of nighttime diarrhea in dogs.

Dietary Indiscretion

Dietary Indiscretion refers to a change in feeding habits causing your dog to become less picky about the kinds of food that enter their mouth.

In such a case, your canine friend may consume materials that its body cannot tolerate including raw or spoilt food, garbage, table scraps, rocks, carcasses, toxic plants and so on.

Moreover, dietary indiscretion may occur as a result of your dog’s behavior (self-inflicted) in which case he wanders about eating irritating materials, garbage, feces, or carcasses.

However, owners are often reckless when it comes to the foods they serve their canine companion. They feed their dog inappropriate diets ranging from table scraps, unhealthy dog food, to leftovers from the kitchen.

In either case, dietary indiscretion allows bacteria and toxic substances to gain access into the blood causing a condition the vets termed”garbage toxicosis” or “garbage gut

Dietary Indiscretion is a very common cause of nighttime diarrhea and may be seen with other symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite.

Abrupt Change in Diet

Switching your dog’s diet is not something to quickly jump into. When you are changing to a new diet, it is advised to make the transition slowly over the course of 1 to 2 weeks.

As a dog parent, you should be aware that a sudden change in your pet’s diet can cause digestive problems resulting in nighttime diarrhea and vomiting. It is recommended by vets to begin the diet switch by adding a small amount of the new diet to their meal, then increasing the amount gradually each day until the transition is completed.

While changing to a new diet, it is important to keep an eye on your dog to ensure he is healthy through the course of the transition.

If you adopted a puppy, changing from the low-quality dog food he was fed in the shelter provided may be your utmost consideration. Well, it seems like a great idea but ensure that you give your pooch the room to adapt smoothly to the new diet.

Microbial Infection and Intestinal Parasites

Microbes are found everywhere and dogs are prone to a great number of bacteria and viral infections.

Whenever there is a break in the defense mechanisms of the body either due to weakened immunity or increased microbial load, diseases tend to arise.

Eating contaminated food, undercooked meat, feces or garbage can expose your dog to various disease-causing bacteria and viruses such as clostridia, salmonella, campylobacter, or parvoviruses (particularly in puppies).

Similarly, intestinal parasites can be contracted from sources like contaminated water and vegetables, infected stool or soil which may contain the infective cyst that often sheds in the intestine. The common intestinal parasites that cause diseases in dogs include roundworms, hookworms, coccidia, giardia.

Any infectious agent, be it bacteria, viruses or virus parasites have the potential to cause nighttime diarrhea and puppies are more vulnerable to these organisms due to their weak immune system.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD describes a condition where an abnormal immune response causes the gastrointestinal tract to become inflamed affecting the digestion and absorption of nutrients. If left untreated this can take its toll on your dog’s health.

Veterinarians do not clearly understand the cause of IBD, but there are a variety of factors that may lead to this chronic disorder. This can also be a sign of other underlying health conditions like bacteria infection, parasite infestation or overactivity of the immune system.

Dogs suffering from IBDs can have nighttime diarrhea and bloody steaks in their stool. It is something to be aware of when your canine friend is experiencing these tragic trot episodes.

Extraintestinal Disorders

Nighttime diarrhea can come from issues that are not within the intestinal tract. A common condition in this list is pancreatitis — the inflammation of the pancreas affecting digestion of food and regulation of sugar. In severe conditions, dehydration often occurs due to excessive loss of fluid.

When there is kidney failure or liver dysfunction, waste products and toxic materials which should have been excreted will accumulate in the bloodstream leading to tissue damage.

These are potential causes of nighttime diarrhea in dogs, after all, diarrhea, just like any other symptom is the body’s way of signaling the outside environment of deeper problems.

Foods and Drugs

Similar to humans, dogs can also develop severe allergies to food and drugs. It is associated with the genes and some dog breeds are genetically more predisposed than others to specific allergens.

Allergy is an abnormal immune response against substances the body sees as foreign(allergens). During the first exposure to an allergen, there is usually no reaction but the immune system becomes sensitized. So, subsequent contact with the allergen will provoke a strong immune reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and vomiting can also occur due to allergic reactions. The common foods that can trigger allergic reactions in dogs include dairy, beef, chicken, egg, or corn.

Food intolerance is different from food allergies in that it does not involve any immune response. Simply, your dog cannot digest food materials properly.

To ensure your dog’s health is intact, it is wise to keep them away from any known allergen, be it food or drug.

Stress or Phobias

Stress is a problem many dog parents complain of. It could result from long travels, rehoming or separation.

Canines are particularly fearful of abrupt loud noise and some breeds are more reserved and often shy away from strangers or new owners.

Also, when you leave your dog that has bonded strongly with you all alone for some time, they could develop separation anxiety causing them to turn into a disruptive nuisance.

Stress from (travels, rehoming or separation anxiety) and phobias can upset your dog’s hormonal balance leading to reduced immunity. Consequently, the door is opened for disease-causing organisms often causing health problems with various symptoms including diarrhea.

How to Stop Nighttime Diarrhea in Dogs

Stop Giving Food to your Dog

Yes, fast your dog for 12 to 24 hrs depending on their size and age. Older dogs will usually have the capacity to fast for a longer time.

The reason for this is to allow the GI tract of your dog to rest and recuperate. Always ensure that they drink enough freshwater during the fast.

Switch to a Bland diet

Veterinarians often recommend a bland diet as a great home remedy for dogs with diarrhea and other GI problems.

A bland diet is made up of low-fiber starchy food (like plained cooked white rice) and a protein source (like a beef mince or shredded chicken breast). Some may replace this with rice water, cottage cheese or shredded turkey.

The quantity of the bland diet should be equivalent to their normal diet.

Gradually Reintroduce Their Normal Food

After a day of bland diets, slowly switch back to their regular diet. Mix half of both the bland diet and regular diet, then slowly increase the amount of their normal diet, till the transition is achieved.


If your dog has diarrhea at night, the normal microbiome of his gut has likely been disrupted such that digestion and absorption are affected.

Probiotics are known to help correct gastrointestinal disorders including diarrhea and IBD. They are rich in healthy bacteria that are found in the normal gut microbiome such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.

Commercially available supplements that contain probiotics include yogurt or kefir.

Probiotics are also known to boost the immune system while improving and nourishing the community of bacteria in the gut.

Pepto-Bismol / Kaopectate

Pepto-Bismol is a well-known over-the-counter medication that has proven to be effective in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.

A more recent drug, Kaopectate is also used to treat diarrhea as well as vomiting in canines. Ensure you seek advice from your vet before giving any medications to your dog.

Peppermint Tea

Another good home remedy for nighttime diarrhea is giving your dog a calibrated amount of peppermint tea.

It is effective in fixing gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, flatulence, and cramps. 25mg of dried herb per pound of body weight twice a day is recommended.

When Should You Consult The Vet

Diarrhea often subsides spontaneously but in more severe cases they don’t. The following conditions below will require you to take a trip to your vet.

  • When Home Remedies Fail: If diarrhea persists in your dog after undergoing various home remedies.
  • The Appearance of Stool: If you notice the presence of a red streak or mucus in the stool sample of your dog. Black or green stool also suggests an underlying disorder.
  • Associated Symptoms: Presence of other symptoms such as pain, vomiting, lethargy, fever, or weight loss.
  • Long Duration: Diarrhea does not normally exceed 3 days. So, if this is the case, look no further than a trip to the vet.
  • Dehydration: Severe diarrhea that causes dehydration is considered a medical emergency and it is strongly advised that you immediately take your pooch to the vet for the administration of appropriate treatment for this condition.

The Takeaway

Now, we know the surplus reasons why dogs may have diarrhea at night. Indeed, we may not be able to prevent diarrhea totally, but dietary management will reduce the chances of infections and toxicities that can result in diarrhea.

Simply, by ensuring gradual change in diet and proper hygiene in your pet food handling, the health of your furry friend is also preserved.

Through the observation of your dog’s feces, you can easily tell when the color and consistency suddenly changes from normal.

If your pooch is having nighttime diarrhea best to contact your local vet for advice to make sure he recovers as quickly as possible.

Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.

Recent Content

link to Jindo Lab Mix: The Ultimate Guide To This Impeccable Combination

Jindo Lab Mix: The Ultimate Guide To This Impeccable Combination

The Jindo Lab mix is a sweet, hardworking, and intelligent hybrid dog that is a cross between a purebred Jindo and a purebred Labrador Retriever. These cute-looking pups make faithful companions and have plenty of love to offer. They may become protective due to the Jindo’s influence. However, they will most definitely have the friendly […]