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Home remedies for dog diarrhea

Bulldog with a Diarrhea

Your dog has an upset stomach. What are the options for a dog diarrhea home remedy?

Owners can indeed help simple diarrhea get better, but it's also important to know when to visit the vet. Many commercial dog diarrhea home remedies appear to work only because the tummy upset will improve on its own anyway. Whether or not it's safe to try a home remedy depends on many things, such as the cause of the diarrhea, the dog's age, and how much they are drinking.

What causes diarrhea in dogs?

There are many causes of diarrhea in dogs. This matters to you because some causes respond better to dog diarrhea home remedies than others. Take a look at this ‚Äėterrible top 10‚Äô list:¬†

  1. A sudden change in diet: The bugs in the gut don't get a chance to adapt to the new food
  2. Food allergy or intolerance: Certain foods cause the gut lining to swell
  3. A poor diet: Food containing poor quality ingredients are hard to digest
  4. Scavenging: Eating spoiled food 
  5. Infection: This may be bacterial (Salmonella, Clostridia, Campylobacter), parasitic, or viral (such as Parvovirus or Distemper)
  6. Low B-vitamin levels: B vitamins are necessary for healthy digestion
  7. Gut disease: Such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  8. General illness: Such as pancreatitis, Addison's disease, or even lymphoma
  9. Bacterial overgrowth: The wrong type of bacteria take control
  10. Lack of digestive juices: Such as endocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) 

So while the dog with diarrhea due to cheap food responds well to a better diet, the dog with EPI or IBD needs veterinary attention. Likewise, giving probiotics or a vitamin supplement as a dog diarrhea home remedy works well to correct a bacterial imbalance in the gut. 

How to tell if your dog has diarrhea

A normal healthy poop should be formed and easy to pick up. When the moisture content increases, the poop becomes softer. When this tips into too much water, the stool is passed as diarrhea. 

The best rule of thumb is to look for a change from what's normal for your dog. This might be that the stool is way softer or only semi-formed when the dog usually produces hard nuggets. Or it may be they are repeatedly going to the toilet when their habit is once a day. Also look for any unusual color or consistency (such as the presence of jelly or blood)

If in doubt, follow the dog into the yard and take a photo of their offering. It is helpful for the vet to see firsthand the dog's diarrhea.

Dog diarrhea: 6 home remedies to try

Looking for a dog diarrhea home remedy? Take a look at these suggestions.

  1. Fasting: Yes, that's correct! Withhold food for 12‚Äď24 hours (unless advised not to do so by your vet). This rests the gut, giving it a chance to repair and recover. Don't give in to those puppy dog eyes!
  2. Fresh fluids: Ensure the dog drinks plenty. Provide easy access to fresh, clean drinking water. Alternatively, offer an electrolyte replacement drink (such as Pedialyte) if the dog likes the taste. It is vital the dog drinks plenty to avoid the risk of dehydration.
  3. Bland diet: Food is a medicine when used correctly. After a period of fasting, offer the dog bland food, little and often. Choose white meats such as chicken, with white carbohydrates such as boiled white rice. Don't be tempted to give a 'chicken flavored' food as the rest of the ingredients will be too rich.  Do this until the dog passes a formed stool, and then take four to five days to gradually swap back to their regular diet. 
  4. Plain canned pumpkin: Pumpkin is a wonder food in that it helps regulate the bowel. In other words, it helps firm up a runny tummy but can also ease constipation. Take care not to give too much of a good thing, and start with no more than one to four tablespoons a day with food. Remember, too, that canned pumpkin is not the same as pumpkin pie filling.
  5. Cobalamin supplement: Supplementing the food with a supplement of cobalamin (a B-vitamin) recharges depleted gut levels of this vital vitamin. Cobalamin is necessary for the gut to work properly, and levels fall when a dog has diarrhea. Not all oral B-vitamin supplements can be absorbed in the dog, so speak to the vet about a dog-friendly option.
  6. Probiotics: Giving a doggy probiotic is proven to speed up recovery time from simple diarrhea. Be sure to use a dog probiotic (rather than a human supplement) since the dog gut is home to a different population of bugs than people. Give a probiotic once or twice a day, until the dog's stool returns to normal. 
Dog probiotics supplement

Click here to learn why Lively Paws Dog Probiotics can help to support your pup's proper digestion.

Remedies to be wary of

Tempting as it is, avoid using products such as Imodium to stop diarrhea. This can backfire because the bowel needs to eject any nastiness, rather than leave it festering inside. Get this wrong and it has the potential to encourage baddie bacteria to colonize the gut, which makes things worse. Much worse. 

When to see the vet

The big thing to know about dog diarrhea is that it‚Äôs just a sign of ill health, and not a diagnosis in and of itself. Straight forward doggy diarrhea settles within 24‚Äď48 hours. A tummy upset that goes on longer than this, even if the dog is bouncing with good health, is a signal they need help.¬†

The other side of the coin is the dog that has diarrhea and also under the weather. Don't wait 24 hours to get him seen. This tummy upset may hint of something more worrisome, such as pancreatitis, which needs urgent treatment to avoid complications. 

Last but not least are those dogs with more than one sign, such as the diarrhea with sickness or blood in the poop. It's likely this is not a simple stomach upset and visiting the vet means getting to the bottom of things more quickly. Remember, trialing a dog diarrhea home remedy may make things worse if it delays seeking professional help when it's needed.

Read more about diarrhea in dogs

The article was written by Pippa Elliot, BVMS, MRCVS on October 4, 2020.

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