5 Tips for Treating Diarrhea in Dogs At-Home

13 Minute Read
Updated July 30, 2023

If your dog is suffering from digestive distress, you might be wondering what you can do to quickly resolve their discomfort. Learn how to treat and prevent dirrhea in dogs at home, and know when your dog's lose bowels require a trip to the vet.

Diarrhea in dogs is never pleasant. You are probably worried and a little horrified that so much stool can exit your furry friend. Rest assured that diarrhea is a common ailment in canines and is usually caused from mild intestinal distress. Your furry friend might have eaten something that upset his tummy or maybe you switched dog foods too suddenly.

The most common causes of diarrhea in dogs are often easily treatable. However, all cases of canine diarrhea, including bloody dog diarrhea, should be taken seriously and action be taken quickly to get your pup feeling better quickly.


Treatment for Diarrhea in Dogs 

Before you start treating diarrhea in dogs, you’ll first need to determine if it is safe to treat the condition at home or if you should contact your dog’s veterinarian. 

It is typically safe to initially treat diarrhea in dogs at home if your dog is acting normally, not vomiting,  and still retains a healthy appetite. 

Is your dog up to date on all his vaccinations, such as those for the distemper virus or the parvovirus? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then it is usually safe to treat diarrhea in dogs who are acting normally at home. 

Young dogs are more likely to suffer from diarrhea because their gut health is still developing. However, if your canine companion is elderly or has a pre-existing serious health issue such as cancer, liver or kidney disease, or Addison’s disease, then you’ll want to give your veterinarian a call to determine if you should bring them in for a medical evaluation.  

Chronic diarrhea in dogs is a medical emergency if:

    • You fear that your canine companion might have ingested poison.
    • The dog has swallowed a toy or some other foreign object. 
    • Your dog has low energy, appears weak, has no appetite, or is vomiting. 
    • Exhibits bloody diarrhea or vomiting. Stools that appear black or tarry likely indicate blood. 
    • Chronic diarrhea that has lasted over 12 hours, even after using home remedies.
    • The belly appears bloated.
    • Your dog is panting or drooling excessively.
    • Dry sticky gums appear white, gray, pale, or bluish in colour. 
    • The dog passes worms in runny or soft stools or vomit. 

Each of these symptoms above could indicate a biger issue, so it's important to reach out to your vet for next steps. They may be able to guide you through an at-home treatment, or may recommend bringing them into the vet for an exam. It's always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with unusual or sever symptoms. 


How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs 


Treatment for diarrhea in dogs can be as simple as a home remedy. Below, we will explore how to help a dog with diarrhea, so your pooch starts feeling better fast.

*Remember these tips are best for dogs with diarrhea who are still acting normal, eating regularly and aren't showing any other signs of pain, discomfort, or unusual behavioural changes.


1. Provide Rest in a ‘Safe’ Location 

When your dog's suffering from an upset tummy, try to encourage the pup to rest. Place your dog in a comfortable and quiet location in the home. Try to position your dog near the door for easy access outdoors to avoid any accidents in the house. Remember that a dog suffering from diarrhea cannot hold his stool for very long so you may want to give your dog the pup a rapid exit to the outdoors. 

Ideally, pick a ‘safe’ location that has easy-to-clean floors in case a poop accident occurs before your dog can make it outside. You can also try using disposable diapers on your dog or use a pet training pad to catch accidents.  

I most mild cases of dog diarrhea, your dog only requires rest and relaxation for the pet’s digestive tract to normalize. 

2. Fasting to Promote a Gastrointestinal Rest 

Treatment for diarrhea in dogs is often as easy as making your dog fast to give the canine’s gastrointestinal tract a much-needed rest. Give your dog NO meals, treats, or snacks for 12 hours. This time period can allow irritated bowels to empty and inflammation to reduce. 

Make sure that your dog has easy access to fresh clean water at all times though. Diarrhea will remove moisture from your dog's body, and it needs to be replenished.

If your dog suffering from diarrhea from any conditions like diabetes or digestive disease, then contact your vet right visit right first to make sure that fasting is safe for your dog.

3. Hydration to Cleanse the Immune System

Whenever your dog has diarrhea, the animal can quickly become dehydrated due to the liquid being passed in the runny stool versus the amount of water your dog is consuming. It is critical that you provide fresh, clean water for your dog to avoid dehydration. Water also may help flush out whatever is upsetting your dog’s gastrointestinal tract to stop the chronic causes of diarrhea

Consider giving your dog simple rice water to help alleviate bloating and gas naturally. Also, rice water contains beneficial minerals that are lost during bouts of canine diarrhea

To make plain cooked white rice water: 

    • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil
    • Add 1/2 cup of white rice to the boiling water. (Do not use brown rice because it has too much fibre). 
    • Boil the rice and water for 10 minutes until the water looks very cloudy and white in colour.
    • Strain the water from the rice into a bowl or jar and let it cool. 
    • Once completely cooled, the rice water can be offered to your dog in small portions every few hours. 

If your dog will not drink the rice water, then consider adding a couple of teaspoons of little chicken broth to the water to make it more appetizing for the immune system. You can also use dog-safe bone broth in place of the little chicken broth. 

Rice water is an effective method for treating mild cases of dog diarrhea because it is hydrating and contains helpful minerals, but the starches also act as a binding agent during digestion to help firm up loose stool. 

4. Bland Diet 

For the first 24 to 48 hours after your dog first shows common causes of diarrhea, feed the pet a bland diet if you have already tried fasting coupled with hydration. A bland diet will help to further normalize bouts of diarrhea in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract.

One of the most common and easiest bland meals for dogs is simply boiled chicken and rice. This basic meal offers essential nutrients, dietary fibre, and moisture to help nourish your pet and support digestion.

Stick to small but frequent meals. A couple tablespoons at a time for small dogs and 1/4 cup for medium to large dogs can be offered every couple of hours. If symptoms do not start to improve within 24 hours, it's time to call your vet. Bland diets should not be continued after 48 hours unless advised by your vet.

For a quick and easy bland meal option, try Under the Weather.

5. Supplements to Soothe the Tummy

There are a wide variety of supplements that can soothe your dog's upset tummy. You might want to purchase a few home remedy supplements that can assist in easing diarrhea symptoms and improve overall digestion to get everything working normally again. 

These supplements can be used at the first sign of tummy troubles to help reduce other symptoms and speed up recovery.

Prebiotics, probiotics peeled boiled potatoes, and digestive enzymes can be fed gradually, re-introduce specially formulated dog foods and medications, and added specially formulated to their regular food and spoiled food to prevent digestive issues before they occur. 

Avoid Over-the-Counter Medications for Dogs

Some pet owners will tell you that the best home remedy for diarrhea in dogs is to provide over-the-counter medications such as Gravo®, Pepto Bismol® or Imodium®. However, you should never give your dog medications or supplements made for humans without first consulting with your veterinarian to determine safety.

Digestive aids for humans might seem like a quick and easy fix for your dog, but they are not safe to share. They are formulated for humans, not pets, and often contain high levels of sodium, artificial sweeteners, and other ingredients like that could be toxic for your pooch.

Even products that claim to be safe for babies and children should be avoided for your pet parents.


What is the Most Common Cause of Diarrhea in Dogs?


Why do dogs get diarrhea? There are a lot of common causes of diarrhea, and most of them are not dangerous or life-threatening. Understanding the causes of dog diarrhea can help you prevent this unpleasant issue and give you the tools to support your dog's overall digestive health.

Common causes of diarrhea in dogs:

    • Changes in diet (you recently changed your pup’s food brand)
    • Food allergies
    • Eating something harmful or toxic
    • inappropriate eating and chewing habits
    • Parasites (hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, Giardia, or Coccidia)
    • Poor gut health
    • Anxiety and stress
    • Heat exhaustion/exposure 
    • Over exercise  
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Pancreatitis

Many of these causes result in mild and temporary symptoms, but prolonged or chronic symptoms could indicate a more serious illness or disease. Talk to your vet about your pet's digestive health and make sure that you are diligent in monitoring their eating habits, activity, behaviour, and bowel movements.

When is Dog Diarrhea an Emergency?

In most cases, diarrhea is a temporary issue caused by irritation in the digestive tract, but prolonged or severe diarrhea symptoms could be cause for alarm. It's important to know the difference between dog diarrhea that can be treated at home, and when diarrhea is a sign of a bigger issue. 

A simple case of diarrhea should begin to clear up within one to two days, so if the diarrhea is persistent or if it presents with any of these other symptoms, you might have a problem that requires a vet check:

    • Blood in stool or black tarry stool
    • Vomiting or excessive drooling
    • Loss of appetite or not drinking water
    • Lethargy or lameness
    • Seizures
    • Recurring diarrhea

If you notice any of the symptoms above, call your vet. It may or may not be an emergency, but if it is, the sooner you start treatment the better.

Other Changes in Dog Stool

A healthy dog's stool should be medium to dark brown in colour and should have a firm consistency. If your dog produces a larger than normal amount of stool or stool that is watery, pudding-like, or with mucus streaks, then your pup could have a digestive problem.

The colour of a dog’s stool can also speak volumes about the animal’s gut's health. Chocolate brown is the ideal hue, while lighter shades of brown or hints of green, yellow, red, or black could indicate a more serious problem.

Changes in your dog’s stool could pre-empt bouts of diarrhea in dogs or the changes might reveal some other digestive problem. Here are a few more signs you should look out for:

    • Frequency:  Many pet owners wonder how often their pup should have bowel movements. Dogs can produce one to five stools per day, depending on their diet, though 2-3 is most common for dogs on a high-quality diet with minimal fillers.
    • Straining: If your dog is straining but not passing any stool, then the pup might be constipated or have an obstruction. If your dog is having a tough time passing stool, then you should contact your veterinarian may help promptly.
    • Odd shapes and substances: Dogs that have rice-like chunks in the stool might have a tapeworm infestation. Also, it is common for a dog to pass string, wood, or grass if the animal has eaten the substance. A dog that has consumed a foreign object can also pass oddly shaped stool.


Understanding Your Dog’s Stool 


You might be surprised to learn that your dog’s stool says a lot about the canine’s overall health. Always pay close attention to the consistency, frequency, and colour of your dog’s stool, especially if your pup is suffering from diarrhea. 

You may need to describe the appearance of the runny or soft stools to your veterinarian if the diarrhea can not be resolved at home. Take notes or even pictures to help with diagnosis.

 In any case, prevention is the very best medicine. Digestive health is vital to your dog's total body health and regular digestive support can help prevent diarrhea and other health issues. 

Support your dog's digestion by:

    • Feeding a healthy and complete diet
    • Adding digestive support supplements to their meals
    • Keeping your dog active and maintaining healthy weight
    • Offering fresh, clean water at all times
    • Scheduling regular vet checkups
    • Monitoring stool quality and frequency

Most dogs will experience diarrhea at one time or another. Maintaining your canine’s gut health regularly will help lessen the likelihood of diarrhea and other acute digestive issues.

At Homes Alive Pets, we offer a wide array of digestive aids and supplements to maintain your puppy's stomach health, treat diarrhea in dogs, ease sensitivity, and restore gastrointestinal balance.


Frequently Asked Questions About Diarrhea in Dogs

What causes diarrhea in dogs?

Diarrhea in dogs can result from dietary changes, infections, parasites, stress, or medical conditions, just to name a few. Take note of changes to your dog's eating and bathroom habits to spot digestive issues early on.

Can I treat my dog's diarrhea at home?

For mild cases, you can withhold food for 12-24 hours, provide a bland diet, or try some digestive aids to speed up recovery and ease discomfort. Persistent or chronic diarrhea could indicate bigger issues to talk to your vet.

Should I be concerned if my dog has one episode of diarrhea?

A single episode of mild diarrhea might not be a major concern, but monitor your dog and consult a vet if it continues.

Is dehydration a risk with dog diarrhea?

Yes, diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so ensure your dog has access to clean water and monitor their hydration.

Can I feed my dog their regular food during diarrhea?

It depends on the severity, but most dogs will benefit from a bland diet in the first 24 hours of the episode. If symptoms do not start to subside, then call your vet.

When should I seek veterinary care for my dog's diarrhea?

Consult with your dog's vet if diarrhea is severe, persistent, or accompanied by blood or if your doggo displays other concerning symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, or changes in behaviour.

Written by

Homes Alive Pets


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