If you have a dog, canine diarrhea is probably a relatively regular occurrence.
Their different digestive system means that certain foods can upset their equilibrium, resulting in a loose and runny stool that is unpleasant to clean up but nothing to worry about.
You’ll need to know what you can give your dog for their diarrhea when this happens.
Diarrhea can also be a sign of more serious medical issues and require a trip to the vet, so in this article, we’ll look at why dogs get occasional bouts of diarrhea and how to decide when it’s something to treat at home and when you should visit the vet.
We’ll also share our advice on the best way to treat doggy diarrhea at home to get your dog feeling better fast!
DISCLAIMER: We are not veterinarians. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea your should speak to your vet.
Why Do Dogs Get Frequent Diarrhea?
Dogs get diarrhea pretty frequently as a normal side effect of the way their digestive systems work.
When humans eat, salivary enzymes in the mouth start breaking down food right away before it makes its way into the intestines.
The mouths of dogs are designed to tear food apart and crush it rather than to start the digestive process.
The saliva enzymes that they do have in their mouth work to kill bacteria rather than digest food, which is why your dog can eat some pretty gross stuff without it causing them any major problems.
This does mean that food enters the stomach as pretty big chunks, and your dog needs stomach acids three times stronger than your own to digest these intact foods.
Because these stomach acids are so strong, they can cause major problems when things aren’t quite right.
A lot of fairly normal situations will cause mild cases of diarrhea that are nothing to worry about.
Your dog might get the runs if they eat too much, if their food changes, if they eat things that are difficult to digest, such as grass, and if they eat pretty much anything they shouldn’t, such as table scraps.
Your dog’s stomach may revolt with some diarrhea, but once they have expelled whatever the problem food is they will start to feel better pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, diarrhea can also be a symptom of a variety of more serious medical conditions, including the following.
Allergies And Food Intolerances
If your dog is intolerant to specific foods, such as certain proteins, their stomachs will rebel.
If it is a single, minimal exposure, they will probably recover quickly, but if they are continually exposed to the allergen or are exposed in large quantities, this can cause major disruption to the digestive system.
It is important to identify the offending allergen and eliminate it from their diet and often their entire environment.
Read: What to do if my dog has allergies.
Parasites that live in the stomach, such as ringworm and hookworm, will unbalance your dog’s digestive system and also stop dogs from absorbing the nutrients they need from their food.
You might notice other signs of these parasites too, such as small white pieces that look like grains of rice in their poop. Untreated parasites can lead to serious malnutrition and death.
Poisons And Toxins
If your dog eats something that is toxic to them, such as onion and chocolate, their stomach will try and push it out with diarrhea.
If they have only eaten a small quantity, this might be enough to clear their system.
If they have eaten a lot of something they shouldn’t, it can overwhelm their system quickly and you should head to the vet as soon as possible to flush it out.
Indigestible Foreign Body
If your dog eats something that it can’t digest, such as a rock, coin, or toy, your dog may get diarrhea as the body tries to expel it.
This may or may not be successful depending on the size, shape, and composition of the object. You should take them to the vet to see where the object is lodged and whether it will need to be removed.
Certain infections and viruses can cause diarrhea, such as parvo and distemper. Puppies that have not yet had all their vaccinations for these illnesses are at the greatest risk.
They will usually show other symptoms and will need to go to the vet for treatment.
As puppy raisers we keep a close eye on our little pups especially when they have diarrhea. In our experience we’ve had pups get diarrhea from the anxiety of moving from their littermates and momma.
We’ve also had puppies with diarrhea from parasites and disease. Luckily we haven’t had to deal with Parvo but several of our friends had their puppies contract Parvo. In fact, one of our guide dog puppies, Dublin’s littermate contracted Parvo and unfortunately passed from the disease.
Bacteria in the stomach, such as Salmonella, can cause major upsets. This won’t usually clear up on its own and you will need to visit your vet for medication to kill the bacteria and put your dog back on the road to health.
Reaction To Medications
Certain medications, especially antibiotics, kill bad bacteria but can also kill the good bacteria in the stomach needed for digestion.
This can make it hard for your dog to form proper poop. You can give your dog probiotics to help rejuvenate their stomach flora, and easily digestible foods while they are recovering.
Stress And Anxiety
Just as stress and emotional upset can cause stomach issues in humans, they can do the same to your dog.
If something major has happened in your dog’s life, such as losing someone or being left alone for an extended period, they may develop diarrhea.
In this case, you will want to try and stop their diarrhea so that they do not get dehydrated and suffer from malnutrition while you work to make them feel safe and happy in their home again.
Read our guide to dog anxiety here.
Diarrhea can be a symptom of many major illnesses among dogs. The most common are kidney disease, liver disease, and cancer.
These conditions will usually be accompanied by other symptoms and you should visit your vet for appropriate treatment.
Should I Treat My Dog’s Diarrhea At Home?
When your dog has diarrhea, the first thing to decide is whether it is something you should treat at home or whether you need to take it to the vet.
For most adult dogs, excluding puppies and the elderly, you can probably treat them at home if they are not vomiting and are otherwise acting normally.
Also, consider whether they are up-to-date with their vaccines for illnesses such as Parvo and whether they have any pre-existing health issues.
You should consider consulting your vet if their diarrhea is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as lethargy or panting.
Also consult your vet if the diarrhea continues for more than 48 hours, there is a lot of blood in the diarrhea, or it is black and tarry, as this is a sign of blood.
Pale gums and signs of a painful or bloated stomach are also warning signals that warrant a visit to the vet.
You should also take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect your dog has ingested something toxic or swallowed a foreign body.
Treating Doggy Diarrhea At Home
If you decide to treat your dog’s diarrhea at home, there are a number of different things that you can do. Your approach may depend on the severity of the diarrhea and the suspected cause.
Generally, the first strategy for putting an end to doggy diarrhea quickly is a short fast for 12-24 hours. Keep them off food and give them only small amounts of water.
This will allow them to flush out whatever has been bothering them and for their stomach to reset. When they are ready to eat again you should give them bland foods, such as rice and skinless chicken.
Fasts should only be attempted with dogs that are healthy enough to handle the lack of nutrition for about a day.
Rest And Hydration
If your dog’s diarrhea is not serious, it can probably recover on its own as long as it gets plenty of rest, so make sure that it has a nice place to curl up and sleep it off. They will also need lots of rest during and after a fast.
Dehydration can also be a major issue with diarrhea, as dogs will lose a lot of water in their runny stool. Make sure they have access to lots of water while they are recovering.
If you think that your dog’s diarrhea is caused by something such as stress, you can give them binding foods that help firm up their stool while you are resolving the source of the problem.
The best options include rice water and pumpkin puree.
To make rice water, boil white rice and then separate the rice and the water. Give them the water to drink.
With pumpkin puree, if you buy it canned make sure that it is pure pumpkin and has not been sweetened to be used as pie filling.
Over-The-Counter Diarrhea Medications
There are also a number of over-the-counter treatments available that can help firm up your dog’s stool and boost their digestive system with probiotics.
These can be used to treat the symptom but should not be used to mask the cause of your dog’s diarrhea.
Among the most popular and trusted over-the-counter diarrhea treatments for dogs are:
- Vetoquinol Pro-Pectalin Medication for Diarrhea
- HomeoPet Digestive Homeopathic Medicine for Digestive Issues
- Endosorb Medication for Digestive Issues
Always monitor your dog carefully when they are taking these medications, as an excessive amount can quickly lead to toxicity.
Avoid these if your dog is susceptible to medical conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, or Addison’s disease.
What stops diarrhea quickly in dogs?
In most cases, canine diarrhea will clear up in 24-48 hours with a bland diet.
While you can give your dog medication to try and firm up their poop sooner, the associated risks mean that it is not always worth it to give medication for a normal case of diarrhea.
What soothes a dog’s stomach and helps with diarrhea?
Firming foods and foods that are high in fiber can help your dog’s stomach feel better faster and make diarrhea pass more quickly.
Rice water, pumpkin puree, plain Greek yogurt, and plain protein such as eggs and skinless chicken are all good choices.
Can I give my dog Pepto Bismol for diarrhea?
While Pepto Bismol is technically safe for dogs, it is not recommended as it can have some serious side effects and it is easy to give dogs too much.
While it might clear up their diarrhea, it can cause major problems in the kidneys and liver.
What is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs?
The most common cause of diarrhea in dogs is eating something they shouldn’t, such as spoiled food or human food cooked with herbs and spices that aren’t great for your dog’s stomach.
This is one of the many reasons why you should always feed your dog their own and not scraps off your plate.
Despite the fact that dogs can and do eat almost anything, they actually have very sensitive digestive systems.
This means that the occasional bout of diarrhea is pretty common whenever they eat something that doesn’t agree with them.
While this can be unpleasant to clean up, it is nothing to worry about and they will probably recover on their own with some love and care.
Unfortunately, diarrhea can also be a symptom of more serious medical conditions.
These are usually accompanied by other symptoms, and when this is the case, take your dog to the vet to figure out what is happening to them.
You should also take your dog to the vet if their diarrhea continues for more than 48 hours, or immediately if you think that they have ingested something toxic or a foreign object.
Your dog can’t tell you when there is something wrong, so it is important to monitor things such as their eating, sleeping, and pooping habits.
Changes in any of these are often a sign that something is not quite right.
Have you dealt with doggy diarrhea?
If so how did you take care of your dog?
Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
DISCLAIMER: We said it before and we’ll say it again. We’re not veterinarians. Our blog posts are largely based on our experiences and research into the topic. Please, if your dog is experiencing diarrhea then contact your vet.