How To Treat Canine Diarrhea

Sick looking dog

Diarrhea is not uncommon in dogs. When a dog eats something he shouldn't have consumed, he may develop loose stools as a way of ridding the substance from his body. If you are concerned about your dog's health, you may rush him to the vet immediately but this isn't always necessary. Most vets will be happy to see your dog if he has a bout of diarrhea but are also willing to offer advice about managing the condition by yourself in the future.

You can stop diarrhea on your own unless your pet is exhibiting the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy - Listless and uninterested in normal activities including eating or drinking
  • Bloating - Appearing larger than usual in the abdominal area
  • Abdominal pain - Pulling away or wincing when pressure is applied to the abdomen
  • Fever - Rectal temperature over 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Bloody stools - Blood evident when the dog has a bowel movement; it is important to note that black stool should also be considered bloody stool and may be an indication of internal bleeding
  • Dehydration - The dog's gums may feel dry or tacky when he is dehydrated
  • Vomiting - Vomiting is another symptom which should be considered serious when in conjunction with diarrhea; the combination  can lead to rapid dehydration and can also indicate more serious concerns

Aside from the above listed exceptions, it is usually safe to treat acute cases of diarrhea in your dog as long as he appears strong and healthy otherwise. The following steps can help you learn how to treat the condition in your canine companion:

  1. Reduce the quantity of food the dog is fed.canine diarrhea Some people eliminate feedings until the problem subsides, while others cut normal portions in half. Either way or anything in between is acceptable. Assuming your dog is reasonably strong, he won't suffer adversely from little or no food for a day or two.
  2. Feed your dog a bland diet. Those who opt to feed their dogs in reduced quantities should consider creating their own meals of bland foods for their dogs. A formula of 2 parts rice to 1 part lean, cooked meat works well as a treatment. Do not season the meat or rice in preparing the food. This homemade remedy is superior to commercially prepared foods because it is low in fat and bland.
  3. Administer a probiotic such as Lactobacillus Sporogenes. This is a beneficial bacteria that can help to maintain or restore the health of the intestinal tract.
  4. Administer Gastriplex. This substance contains glutamine, which is an essential amino acid used as a cure.
  5. Consult your veterinarian if the condition persists. Canine diarrhea typically lasts for a few days but it may persist for a week or two. During this time, monitor him carefully and if he begins displaying the warning signs listed above or if the condition lasts for more than two weeks, contact your veterinarian for an examination.

Although acute diarrhea may not be life threatening in most cases, it is important to note that chronic diarrhea can have much graver consequences. Acute diarrhea can be an indication of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which can result in a number of potentially fatal illnesses such as Lymphocytic-plasmacytic IBD, Eosinophilic IBD, Regional Granulomatous IBD and Suppurative or Neutrophilic IBD. If diarrhea is persistent, the dog should be taken to the vet for further examination and testing to determine the cause.


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This author does miss some very important things. First, feeding of homemade diets is very controversial among veterinarians. On top of that, it should be noted that "lean" meat is not recommended, boiled meat is - this ensures that the fat is boiled out of the meat. I think the author does a poor job emphasizing how dangerous diarrhea can be to dogs. There are VERY serious diseases that need attention earlier than later, especially parvovirus, hemorrhagic gastro-enteritis (HGE) and pancreatitis. Although dogs in later stages of these diseases do present with lethargy, blood diarrhea, etc.; when caught earlier, it will lead to easier and more successful by the veterinarian. Unless this author is a veterinarian, it is likely illegal to be giving advice on-line as well.

Ed Susmilch, DVM

By Edward Susmilch