5 Tips for Treating Diarrhea in Dogs

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11 Minute Read
Updated August 29, 2022

Diarrhea in dogs is never pleasant. Help to ease your dog's discomfort, prevent messy accidents, and improve your dog's overall digestion with our top tips for treating diarrhea in dogs. 

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 by mild intestinal distress. Your furry friend might have eaten something that upset his tummy, or maybe you switched dog foods too suddenly. 

Most causes of diarrhea in dogs are easily treatable. However, bloody diarrhea in dogs warrants a call to your pet’s veterinarian to rule out possible serious problems. 

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 at home. 

Young dogs often suffer from non-serious diarrhea. However, if your canine companion is elderly or has a pre-existing health condition such as cancer, kidney failure or Addison’s disease, then you’ll want to give your veterinarian a call to determine if you should bring your dog in for a medical evaluation.  

Diarrhea in dogs is a medical emergency if:

    • You fear that your canine 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 may have blood present. 
    • Diarrhea has lasted over 24 hours, even after using home remedies.
    • Belly appears bloated.
    • Your dog is panting or moaning.
    • Gums appear white, gray, pale or bluish in colour. 
    • The dog passes worms in stool or vomit. 

 

How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs 

sick-dog-with-tongue-out-laying-down

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. 

Below are a few tips for treating diarrhea in dogs at home. 

1. Provide Rest in a ‘Safe’ Location 

When your dog has an upset stomach, 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’ll want to give 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 use disposable diapers on your dog or use a pet training pad positioned in a Dogit training pad holder to catch accidents.  

Often 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 for 12 hours to give the canine’s gastrointestinal tract a much-needed rest. Give the dog NO meals, treats, or snacks during the fast. 

If your dog suffers from any conditions like diabetes or a digestive disease, then talk to your vet first to make sure that fasting is safe for your dog. 12 may be too long for a dog that has been suffering from digestive issues for many days, is dehydrated, or is already malnourished. 

3. Hydration to Cleanse the System

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

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

To make rice water: 

    • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil
    • Add one 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 to 30 minutes until the water starts to look white in color. Remove the water from the rice and allow it to cool. 
    • Store the rice for later use
    • Give the dog the rice water once it has cooled. 

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

Options for dealing with mild dehydration in humans may seem like a good option for treating your pet, but they aren't. They are formulated for humans, not pets, and often contain higher levels of sodium, artificial sweeteners and other ingredients that could be harmful to your pooch. 

4. Bland Diet 

For the first 24 to 48 hours after your dog first shows signs 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 your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.

Feed the following: 

 If you are wondering how much to feed, then only a teaspoon of bland food every two hours. If the symptoms do not worsen, then you can increase the amount of food slowly. 

5. Supplements to Soothe the Tummy

There are a wide variety of supplements that can soothe your pup’s upset stomach. You might want to purchase a few home remedy supplements before diarrhea ever strikes your pup to store in your medicine cabinet. 

These supplements can be used at the first sign of tummy troubles to help reduce symptoms and correct digestion faster. Prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes can be fed regularly 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 human over-the-counter medications such as  Kaopectate®, Pepto Bismol®, or Imodium®. However, you should never use such medications without first consulting with your veterinarian to determine dosage and safety. If you give too much of the above medications, then you could cause more serious diarrhea and health issues in your dog. 

Some over-the-counter medications can prove toxic to your dogs, such as Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate, which both have the active ingredient bismuth subsalicylate, which can cause toxicity if too much is given. The active ingredient can cause intestinal bleeding, impair platelet function, or impact blood clotting.

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

 

What is the Most Common Cause of Diarrhea in Dogs?

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Does your dog have loose stool? If so, don’t panic. There are a lot of causes that can lead to diarrhea in dogs, and most of them are not dangerous or life-threatening. 

Common causes of diarrhea in dogs: 

    • Changes in diet (you recently changed your pup’s food brand)
    • Food allergies
    • Eating something bad
    • Food intolerance
    • Parasites (hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, Giardia, or Coccidia)
    • Poor gut health.
    • Anxiety and stress
    • Heat exhaustion/exposure 
    • Over exercise  
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Cancer
    • Poisonous plants or other substances
    • Pancreatitis 

 

Can Heat Cause Diarrhea in Dogs?

When summertime arrives, your dog probably wants to play outside or accompany you on an outdoor adventure. However, when the mercury rises, heat can cause diarrhea in dogs and can even be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

    • Diarrhea
    • Excessive panting
    • Drooling
    • Dry/pale gums
    • Bloody stool
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Seizures
    • Cardiac arrest

 If you suspect that your dog is experiencing heat exhaustion, then you should immediately move the dog to a cool place with an air conditioner or fan. Soak towels in cool water and cover the canine’s body with cool clothes. Never put the dog in an ice bath, or the rapid cooldown will constrict the body’s blood vessels which will trap the heat inside of the dog’s body leading to more problems. 

Give your dog a small amount of cool water. However, never force the dog to drink, or the animal might accidentally inhale the water. Simply wet the dog’s tongue if the animal does not want to drink. Never give your dog ice cubes, or the pet’s body will cool down too rapidly, which will lead to shock. 

Learn more about the risks of hot weather and dogs in How to Cool Down a Dog. Seek immediate emergency veterinary care if you suspect your dog is experiencing heat exhaustion. 

 

Understanding the Canine Digestive System 


Your dog's digestive tract works differently than yours. The shape of a human’s jaw and their salivary enzymes differ from a canine. Your saliva starts to break down food the minute it enters your mouth. However, a dog’s jaws and mouth are simply made for tearing and crushing. The dog quickly swallows their food. A dog’s saliva contains highly effective enzymes that can rapidly kill bacteria which is why your dog can eat foods that would make a human extremely sick. 

The food enters a dog’s stomach in large chunks. The stomach acids in a canine’s digestive tract are three times as powerful as humans, which means that your dog can digest food quickly (digestion usually takes 10 hours or less). Upon digestion, your dog will produce a well-formed, firm stool.

Learning more about how your dog's body breaks down food in this Beginners Guide to Dog Digestive System.

 

Understanding Your Dog’s Stool 

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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 and colour of the dog’s stool, especially if the pup is suffering from diarrhea. You’ll need to describe the appearance of the stool to your veterinarian if it does not resolve after at-home treatments for diarrhea in dogs. 

Healthy stool in a dog usually appears brown in colour and is shaped like a small log. It is compact and has the consistency of cookie dough. If the dog produces a large amount of stool that is watery, pudding-like, or with mucus streaks, then the pup could have a digestive problem. Bloody diarrhea in dogs is always a sign of concern and should warrant an immediate call to your pet’s veterinarian. 

The colour of a dog’s stool can also speak volumes about the animal’s gut health. Chocolate brown is the ideal hue. Shades of green, gray, or orange can also indicate problems with the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas.

Black tarry stool is always serious because it can indicate internal bleeding high up in the gastrointestinal tract, such as in the upper intestines, stomach, or esophagus. 

Other Changes in Dog Stool 

Changes in your dog’s stool could indicate that your pup is going to experience diarrhea, or the changes might reveal some other digestive problem. 

    • Frequency:  Many pet owners wonder how often their pup should have a bowel movement. Dogs can produce one to five stools per day, depending on their diet. 
    • Straining: If your dog is straining but not passing any stool, then the pup might be constipated or have an obstruction. Some dogs will also strain but only pass a little stool or tiny drops of diarrhea. If your dog is having a tough time passing stool, then you should contact your veterinarian promptly.
    • Odd shapes and substances: Dogs that have white, 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 is constipated or has consumed a foreign object can pass an oddly shaped stool. 

Most dogs will experience diarrhea at one time or another. Maintaining your canine’s gut health with the use of supplements helps lessen the likelihood of an upset stomach. 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.

Got any tips for treating dog diarrhea at home? Share your home remedies in the comments below!

Written by

Homes Alive Pets

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