Diarrhea in dogs is a symptom of a larger problem like stress, sudden diet change, food allergies, dietary indiscretion (garbage grazing), parasites, viral or bacterial illness, even chronic disease.
Although it is usually self-limiting, it’s uncomfortable for your pooch and messy for you. We’ll cover when to seek immediate veterinary care below, but in mild cases, certain home remedies may do the trick.
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Dog’s can’t tell us, “Hey, it’s just a stomach bug. I’ll be okay,” or “That new treat doesn’t agree with me.” So it’s up to us as pet owners to monitor them for additional symptoms that could indicate a more serious issue. When in doubt, or if your pup has any of the following symptoms, you should always seek veterinary care.
Signs That It’s Time To See A Vet For Your Dog’s Diarrhea:
- Black, tarry or bloody stools
- Loss of appetite
- Marked lethargy
- Frequent vomiting
- Abdominal pain – dogs may groan, pant, cry when touched, seem unable to get comfortable or appear bloated
- Lasts longer than 48 hours – *sooner in puppies, tiny dogs, geriatrics and those with chronic diseases
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For dogs that are healthy except for loose stools, here are 5 home remedy options to try:
Sometimes all a dog needs is time for their gastrointestinal tract to heal and reset. Withholding food for 12 – 24 hours allows the system to flush out whatever nastiness caused the issue and reboot to a healthy state. It’s important to keep your pup hydrated, even during a fast. Provide rice water or water laced with Pedialyte to stave off dehydration and maintain electrolyte balance. Do not let them drink too much at once, as this could cause vomiting or set off another bout of diarrhea.
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2. Bland Diet
At the end of a fast it’s best to slowly introduce a diet of bland, easily digestible food. Try boiled, unseasoned, skinless white meat chicken shredded over plain white rice. For dogs on grain-free diets, substitute mashed over-ripe banana or canned pumpkin. Feed a few spoon-fulls every 2 – 3 hours and gradually increase the quantity over a 24 hour period. Next, begin a slow reintroduction of their normal diet by serving a 75% bland/25% regular diet mix for a few meals, followed by a 50/50 mix, etc. until your dog is eating exclusively dog food again.
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Diarrhea not only clears away the unhealthy bacteria in the gut, it also decimates the healthy flora. To reintroduce these living, beneficial cultures, opt for a probiotic. Plain yogurt may help, but does not pack nearly the same punch as a high-potency probiotic packed with acidophilus cultures. Your veterinarian may sell an over-the-counter pet probiotic, or ask her to recommend one from the health food store.
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4. Holistic Foods
Canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filler!), slippery elm, Chia seeds, and plantains are all reported to offer natural GI-healing benefits. Pureed pumpkin is packed with fiber which helps to bulk up the stool. Slippery elm is said to coat and sooth mucus membranes – including the GI tract. Chia seeds are packed with fiber and absorb excess water, and plantains have antimocrobial properties. As always, consult your vet before making changes to your dog’s diet.
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This drug is commonly found in over-the-counter anti-diarrheal meds like Immodium, Kaopectate and Pepto Diarrhea Control. It works by decreasing motility and secretions within the gut. Be aware that these medications are not FDA-approved for use in dogs and that some dogs should not take Loperamide. With that said, the usual canine dosage is 0.05-0.1 mg/pound by mouth every 8 hours for 1 – 2 days. Your vet may be willing to advise you by phone as to which products and in what dose he or she recommends, otherwise do your research and use caution when medicating your dog yourself.
Featured Image via Flickr/Alex Vance