Have you heard the expression ‘adding fuel to the fire’? Well, giving the wrong food to a dog with diarrhea will fuel that fire and make things oh-so-much worse.
To speed up recovery time and get things back to their poop-scoopable normal as soon as possible, pet parents need to know how to feed their best buddy. In our seven-step guide to feeding a dog experiencing diarrhea, we look at:
So, your dog has diarrhea and you're not sure why? The most common cause of dog diarrhea is good ol’ garbage gut. When that hungry hound raids the trash can, the end result is often a grumbly tummy. Unpleasant as this type of upset is, it responds well to home care—especially when the dog is offered the right food.
But, there are many causes of diarrhea other than scavenging spoilt food. These include:
A dog with these conditions needs to see the vet, as medical treatment may be needed to get them back on their paws.
Ironically, the first answer to ‘what to feed a dog with diarrhea’ is nothing at all.
Fasting the dog for 12–24 hours (although don’t do this with pups) allows the gut to get rid of any nastiness, rest, and repair. Although opinions do vary about whether starving is a good idea or not, for the humble garbage-gut patient, giving the digestive system some downtime is undoubtedly beneficial. If the dog is elderly, a pup, or has an underlying health condition (such a diabetes), phone your vet for advice since one size doesn’t always fit all.
Easy does it when it comes towhat to feed a dog with diarrhea. A simple, bland diet is best.
Topping the bill are white meats (boiled chicken, turkey, rabbit, or white fish) and boiled white rice, pastas, or potato—but be sure to skip butter, oils, or spices. Oh, and that chicken needs to be chicken breast or thigh meat, not the skin (which is very fatty). Also avoid chicken-flavored food, which is often filled with many other ingredients.
Stick with an easy-to-digest diet until the dog starts to produce formed poop. Then, when you’re sure the event wasn’t a flash in the pan, take four to five days to slowly transition your best buddy back onto their regular food.
Strange as it may sound, don’t give the dog their regular food when they have a stomach upset. For some (but not all) cases of doggy diarrhea, there is a risk that exposing the inflamed gut wall to their regular food can trigger the development of food allergy or sensitivity. This could mean that although the cause of the diarrhea goes away, the dog is left with belly ache and flatulence when they eat their regular chow.
The second rule is to avoid rich, fatty, or poor quality foods. All of these are hard to digest (but for different reasons), when what the gut really wants is an easy ride. Off the menu are red meats, cheese, butter, chicken skin, soy ingredients, and vegetable-based foods.
You waited 24 hours, so now it’s time to give the dog their daily food allowance. Right? Wrong!
After a tummy upset, offer the dog four to six small meals (rather than one or two big ones) spaced over the day.
The reason for this is that the bigger the meal, the more it stretches the stomach. The more the stomach wall is stretched, the stronger signals it sends to the intestine to tell it to contract. Long story short, small meals mean weaker signals, so there’s less stimulation telling the dog to go to the toilet.
When wondering what to feed a dog with diarrhea, don’t forget the probiotics!
A probiotic supplement repopulates the gut with a healthy balance of bacteria that aid digestion. Probiotics work in a number of ways, including competing with and getting rid of bad bacteria and encouraging the growth of good bacteria that actively produce the B-vitamins to support digestion.
Be sure to use a proper dog probiotic, rather than a human product. The bugs in a dog's digestive system differ from those in the human bowel, so offering the dog your breakfast probiotic may do more harm than good. Get this right and it's proven that dog getting probiotics get back into good habits faster than those not receiving a supplement.
Good news for the dog and for their sleep-deprived owner!
While dogs with diarrhea brought on by so-called garbage gut can often be managed at home, this isn’t true for all dogs with diarrhea. Dogs with severe and prolonged diarrhea are at risk of dehydration, which is potentially serious. Long-term diarrhea can lead to weight loss or be a symptom of more general illness.
Always see a vet if: