It’s something no one really likes to talk about … Poop. But, after spending some quality time with a canine, you get pretty familiar with and desensitized to the taboo topic. In today’s article, we break down the common causes of dog diarrhea, home remedies, and signs it’s time for your pooch to get checked by a vet!
The First Step
Before you can even think about treating dog diarrhea, it’s important to figure out the cause. There are many reasons a dog may suffer from loose stool, ranging from a minor issue (like eating too much grass) to something very serious (like parasites and life-threatening viruses).
In general, a single bout of diarrhea in dogs shouldn’t cause too much concern. However, if it persists then it may indicate an underlying health issue.
To help you figure out the trigger, start by asking yourself:
- Did your dog’s diarrhea come on suddenly and is he otherwise healthy?
- Is this an acute bout of diarrhea or is this becoming a chronic issue?
- Is there blood in the stool?
- Are there any other symptoms that could point to a more serious health problem?
Common Causes Of Dog Diarrhea
- Change in diet. When changing your dog’s food, it’s important to do so slowly to reduce the risk of an upset stomach. Abrupt changes often lead to diarrhea and it may take a few days for your dog’s digestive system to get used to the new food.
- Eating too much grass, garbage or spoiled food
- Certain medications
- Ingestion of a poisonous substance or toxic plant
- Swallowing an indigestible foreign object, like a toy or rock
- Food intolerance
- Stress or emotional upset
- Parasites (such as Giardia, Coccidia, Roundworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms)
- Viruses (such as Parvovirus, Distemper, and Coronavirus)
- Bacterial infection (such as salmonella)
- Kidney and liver disease
- Colitis or inflammatory bowel disease
What Your Dog’s Stool Reveals
While it may sound gross, it’s important to always monitor your dog’s stool, keeping a close eye on color and consistency. I found this informative infographic from Just Right by Purina and thought it was too good not to share!
*Note: While I’m sharing an infographic made by Purina, this is in no way an endorsement or advertisement for their food products.
Home Remedies For Dog Diarrhea
When a dog has a mild case of diarrhea, many pet parents prefer to try an at-home treatment.
One of the first things most pet parents do is remove their dog’s food bowl for 12-24 hours. This allows time for the cause to clear up and the gastrointestinal tract to settle/heal. Of course, before beginning a fast, make sure to consult with your veterinarian. That’s because a fast may not be suitable for all dogs, including puppies, senior citizen canines, and small breeds.
Keep Your Pooch Hydrated During The Fast
Since diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration, if you do try a fast, make sure to keep your dog’s water bowl filled with fresh water and accessible at all times. You can also offer your dog homemade bone broth.
Break The Fast Correctly
Once you start reintroducing foods back into your dog’s diet, do so slowly. Also, you’ll want to fill your pup’s plate with bland, binding foods including:
- Canned pumpkin (100% pure pumpkin pureé — not pie filling)
- Cooked sweet potato
- Boiled rice
- Cooked chicken or turkey
Introduce Digestive-Friendly Herbs
Dr. Karen Becker recommends adding slippery elm bark to your dog’s bland diet. A general rule of thumb: 1/2 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.
Marshmallow root and fennel are also digestive-aiding herbs that are safe for dogs.
As your dog’s stool begins to form, introduce probiotics (AKA good gut bacteria) into your dog’s routine. You can do this through foods like yogurt and kefir or through a quality supplement.
When To See Your Vet
If your dog’s diarrhea persists for more than two days, it’s a good idea to schedule a vet visit.
Additionally, if your dog’s changing stool is bloody or coupled with other symptoms — such as lethargy, fever, vomiting, and weakness — then you’re urged to visit your vet ASAP to rule out any serious health issues.
If possible, collect a stool sample to bring with you.