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When your Dog has Diarrhea: How to Support Digestive Health


Owning a dog is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it also comes with its challenges, especially when your pup is sick. One of the most common ailments to affect dogs at one time or another is digestive issues – often in the form of diarrhea.

While most cases of doggy diarrhea aren’t much cause for alarm, they’re still unpleasant for you and your dog. The sooner your dog is back to his regular pooping routine, the happier everyone will be. Keep reading for some tips and products to help you out when your dog has diarrhea.

Doggy Diarrhea

Diarrhea in dogs is pretty similar to diarrhea in humans. Diarrhea isn’t a disease, but a symptom, so it’s caused by something. Most often, it’s due to something you ate, and diarrhea is the body’s way of getting rid of the harmful substance before it has a chance to be absorbed and do more harm. Diarrhea can also be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, stress or a bigger health condition. Most of the time, the body is able to resolve the situation on its own, but if your dog gets a bout of diarrhea, there are a few things you should consider.

Is it an Emergency?

Dogs can’t tell us exactly how they feel, so it’s up to us to analyze the situation to determine if they’re in need of veterinary attention. So, what about diarrhea might tell us our pet needs help?

First of all, you’re going to have to look at it.


Is there blood in the stool? Is it black or tarry looking? If so, get your pup to a vet ASAP.

Is your dog vomiting as well? Frequent vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration and may also be a sign of a bigger problem.

Has your dog been in contact with other dogs recently or been where other dogs have been, like a dog park or frequented walking trail? Is he up-to-date on his shots? Parvovirus can be very contagious, so it’s important to get your dog vaccinated.

Also take a look at your dog’s behavior. Often a dog with diarrhea will still act like their normal self, but if they seem unusually lethargic, miserable or have no appetite, these could be signs that something more serious than a stomachache is going on.

Your dog’s age makes a difference, too. Diarrhea can be a much more serious problem for puppies as they can quickly become dehydrated. It can also take a harder toll on senior dogs or those with a chronic health condition.

In general, you should also seek veterinary attention if the diarrhea lasts for more than 48 hours.

If your dog’s case doesn’t have any of the above criteria, odds are that it’s just a little gastrointestinal distress from something your pet shouldn’t have eaten or maybe a bit of stress. But it’s still worth looking into.

Other Things to Consider

If possible, you should try to identify what caused the problem so you can lessen the chance of a repeat occurrence. Did your mischievous mutt manage to get into the trash again? Was he outside where he had access to some unsavory bits of who-knows-what from another animal?

Has their been a disruption in your pet’s routine? Stress can cause gastrointestinal issues for your pet just like it can for you. Many dogs will deal with a bit of diarrhea after a move or other stressful event.

Try to think of other times your dog has been sick to see if there are any common factors. Again, like humans, dogs can have a food intolerance that may lead to gastrointestinal issues. If diarrhea becomes a regular problem you many want to consider switching foods or trying an elimination diet to identify possible allergens. You might also want to supplement their digestive health with some probiotics, which we’ll get into in a minute.

What To Do

Regardless of what caused the diarrhea, you’ve got to deal with it. Your first step should be to withhold food for about 12 to 24 hours; there’s no sense in giving an already irritated gastrointestinal system more to deal with. Don’t worry, your dog won’t starve. Unlike humans, dogs were designed to eat only once, maybe twice a day so missing one or two meals shouldn’t be a problem.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of clean, fresh water, though. A lot of fluids can be lost during a bout of diarrhea, so it’s important that your pet stays hydrated.

A vet writing for the popular dog magazine The Bark recommends a 24-hour rice-water fast. Rice water is exactly what it sounds like: the water from rice. Boil one cup of white rice (don’t use brown rice or “minute” rice) in four cups of water for about half an hour or until the water turns a creamy white. Take the liquid, let it cool and give it to your dog, letting them have as much as they like.  Give them this – and no food – for 24 hours to allow their digestive system to rest before reintroducing food. Read more of the vet’s tips here.

Your sick pup could also benefit from some probiotics. That’s right, probiotics are as good for your pet as they are for you, helping to re-establish healthy gut bacteria and support good gastrointestinal health. They’re also good for overall health because, like humans, a dog’s gastrointestinal system is an important part of the immune system. Take a look at Complete Probiotics for Pets, a powdered probiotic supplement for dogs and cats. There are also probiotics in capsule form for dogs from Vital Planet. Probiotics could not only help your pet bounce back from diarrhea, but can also be used to maintain good digestive health every day.

For an herbal approach to dealing with diarrhea, check out BM Tone-Up Gold from Pet Wellbeing. With a nine-ingredient, proprietary blend of herbs, it’s designed to provide relief and re-establish firm stool.

To get your dog eating again, start slow and easy. Give bland foods like rice and chicken breast.


Do you have any tips for helping your pet deal with diarrhea? Share your wisdom in the comments. And to keep up with our pet health info, subscribe to our blog.


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