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How To Treat Diarrhea In Dogs

Updated on February 13, 2014

My Dog Has Diarrhea - How To Treat Diarrhea - Digestive Problems in Dogs

Digestive problems, especially diarhea, are one of the most common reasons why pet owners visit the vet. Often the cause of digestive problem is rather banal and easily solvable, but sometimes the case is very urgent and more difficult to solve.

Do the gastrointestinal problems, like diarrhea, occur also with your dog?

Photo Credit: Panting Dog, Standard License-Free

My Dog Has Diarrhea
My Dog Has Diarrhea

Diarrhea In Dogs

Diarrhea simply means that the dog is excreting loose, unformed stools, with a bigger proportion of water. In most cases there is also increased amount of feces and often also higher frequency of bowel movements.

In dogs there are a lot of potential causes for occurrence of diarrhea. Diarrhea as such is not a disease, but one of the symptoms. There are two main reasons that represent the majority of cases of diarrhea in dogs. The first one is "poisoning" with spoiled food, or eating inappropriate "food", and the second is infestation with internal parasites. At the moment I will give you some more info about the first one - about other causes I will add info later on.

Photo Credit: Black Dog, Standard License-Free

My Dog Has Diarrhea
My Dog Has Diarrhea

Digestion In Dogs

Let's start with some words about digestion. When dog eats his meal it lasts for about 8 hours to pass ingested food through the small intestine. In this time intestinal wall absorbs the majority of nutrients of ingested food and about 80 percent water. In the colon the residual mass gets more concentrated - from ingested food it is absorbed some more water. At the end is from of the anus excreted normally nicely formed feces, which is relatively solid and cylindrical in shape. Normal stool contains no mucus, blood or whole undigested food particles.

My Dog Has Diarrhea - How Diarrhea Occurs

When food rapidly passes through the intestines it reaches rectum in the liquid state, resulting in a dissolved, unformed and usually more liquid stool. Because of the rapid passage of ingested food through intestine there is not enough time to absorb water and nutrients from it. Such rapid passage of food through the digestive tract is the cause of majority acute (short term) diarrhea cases in dogs.

My Dog Has Diarrhea
My Dog Has Diarrhea

Causes Of Diarrhea In Dogs

The leading cause of rapid passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract is ingestion of materials, which are not suitable for consumption. Dogs are scavengers by nature and therefore very much likely to eat something inedible, including waste and rotting food, animal carcasses, grass, wild and ornamental plants, as well as pieces of plastic, wood, paper and other materials. Many of these materials can be quite irritating to stomach and intestine. Partly can dog eliminate such stuff from stomach by vomiting.


Photo Credit: street dog eating trash by Hanumann

On Flickr, Creative Commons

The rapid passage of food through the digestive tract can also have cause in the food intolerance. Prime examples of food for which some dogs appear to be intolerant often include beef, pork, chicken or horse meat, fish, eggs, spices, corn, wheat, soy, various sauces, fats. We have to keep in mind that that food intolerance is not the same as an allergy. In allergy there is the cause in the immune system and it is often is reflected with changes in the skin, vomiting and diarrhea.

However, common causes of diarrhea are also internal parasites. Those guys can cause both, acute or chronic cases of diarrhea. Particularly they can be problematic in puppies, but adults are also not immune to problems related to internal parasites.

Maybe you can mention that the diarrhea can also be "side effect" of certain drugs, such as some painkillers (e.g. aspirin). Diarrhea also caused by some heart medicines, wormers, and most antibiotics. In dogs diarrhea can also occur when they are highly excited, for example, when they go to the vet or at a dog show. Indeed, the diarrhea can be caused by any sudden change, both in food and in lifestyle.

What Can You Do By Yourself?

The most important step in the treatment of acute diarrhea is gastrointestinal rest, what we do with 24 hours of fasting. Withdraw dog food; offer water in small quantities several times a day. Then you can offer to your dog some food. It can in the form of diet food for the gastrointestinal tract, which you can get from your vet, or you can prepare yourself. If you prepare it by yourself you can use a combination of cooked skinless chicken with boiled rice, boiled rice with cottage cheese, macaroni, cooked oatmeal, or anything else easily to digest. Offer him several small meals per day. If diarrhea does not reappear, then you can gradually move to his regular food. However, a growing puppy, especially very young, we cannot let him 24 hours without food. In that case shorten fasting on 12 hours.

Don't forget the steps:

1. 24 hours of fasting (in that time you can buy ingredients for special diet or already prepared gastrointestinal diet). Offer water in small quantities several times a day.

2. Second day offer your dog bland diet (see example below)

3. Offer your dog some probiotics which will restore normal gut microflora.

Great working diet

For medium sized dog:

1 part of boiled chicken (without skin, bones and fat)

3 parts of boiled white rice

1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin - plain, canned pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Image source:
Image source:

However, Your Dog Should Get Veterinary Assistance As Soon As Possible If:

- Diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours

- Stools contain blood, or it is black and tarry,

- Diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, or

- The dog looks weak, depressed, or he has fever.

When your dog has a diarrhea there is the disturbed balance of microflora, so the organism will only benefit if you provide him with probiotic bacteria. Probiotic bacteria are particularly useful in puppies, because diarrhea has quite common occurrence in them. Let me suggest you some products that can help.

Some Products To Fight Diarrhea

Nutri-Vet Probiotics Capsules, 60 Count
Nutri-Vet Probiotics Capsules, 60 Count

Containing a patent-protected blend of "friendly" bacteria, these capsules for dogs help maintain good health by supporting intestinal balance. The concentrated source of beneficial microorganisms promotes a healthy immune system and encourages vitality in canines of all ages. The bottle measures approximately 2-1/5 by 2-1/5 by 4-1/2 inches and includes 60 capsules.

Nutrition Facts

1 billion CFU fermentation cultures of Pediococcus acidilactici and Saccharomyces boulardii (min)

Purina Fortiflora Canine Nutritional Supplement Box, 30gm/30 Count
Purina Fortiflora Canine Nutritional Supplement Box, 30gm/30 Count

Purina FortiFlora Canine Nutritional Supplement contains the beneficial microorganisms found naturally in your dog's digestive system to help manage and shorten episodes of diarrhea. Common causes of diarrhea for dogs and puppies include food changes, antibiotic therapy, and environmental stress.

- Contains a guaranteed amount of live active cultures

- Contains high levels of antioxidant Vitamins A, E, and C

- Promotes a healthy immune system

- Excellent palatability

Proviable DC for Cats and Dogs, 80 Capsules
Proviable DC for Cats and Dogs, 80 Capsules

Proviable for cats and dogs helps restore your pet's digestive system by reestablishing the proper balance of good microorganisms in the intestines. Proviable contains a multi-strain probiotic that ensures your pet's health when diarrhea is caused by antibiotics, stress, food sensitivities, dietary indiscretion or a weakened immune system.

Hill's Pet Nutrition Hills I/D Gastrointestinal Health Dog Food, 13 oz. Cans
Hill's Pet Nutrition Hills I/D Gastrointestinal Health Dog Food, 13 oz. Cans

Hill's Prescription Diet i/d, Canine Gastrointestinal Health Formula (13 oz) is a nutritionally complete dog food for GI system function in pets. Ingredients balanced by veterinarians to minimize digestive strain. Antioxidants assist tissue regener


Please note:

If your pet is showing any signs of disease or distress or you suspect your pet is ill or you are in doubt, immediately contact your veterinarian. All of the information presented on this lens are for informative purposes only.

Coments? Responses?

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    • maryLuu profile image

      maryLuu 5 years ago

      Very informative lens. Thank you!

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      great information. thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Very nicely done on this lens - thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      GregCunningham 5 years ago

      Love the pics. Thanks for the information.

    • dann7trdro lm profile image

      dann7trdro lm 5 years ago

      nice advice,bookmarked you for my pet digest problem

    • swarupreddyk profile image

      swarupreddyk 5 years ago

      I love dogs..They are my favorite pets.Thanks for the article on dogs.Love to see more from you..

    • prikazen profile image

      prikazen 5 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Hi Susan,

      Thanks for commenting and Squidliking my lens :)

      Itâs difficult to judge only on the basis of your description. Occasional grunt is usually not a problem. Regarding that at grunting she sometimes refuses to eat, then she has probably a little gastrointestinal irritation at that time. Are stools normal at and after a period of growling? Is it possible that she eat something she shouldnât? Is her general health status normal?

      If she is acting normal and stools are quite normal (or possible diarrhea lasts only for a day) and it is possible that she ate some garbage, then just offer her something easily digestible, if possible with some probiotic product.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Really good information! My dog's stomach growls a lot. Not every day, but occasionally. Is that a symptom of anything besides being hungry? Sometimes when it's growling she doesn't want to eat.

    • prosepine lm profile image

      prosepine lm 5 years ago

      Love the Dogs, thanks for the advise.