Your dog is a walking garbage disposal! He’s designed to eat some pretty gross things … but every once in a while, the digestive system meets something it can’t handle. Most of the time, diarrhea passes fairly quickly … but sometimes it can be difficult to treat or can be a sign that something serious might be going on. So if you’ve found yourself cleaning up your rugs, this quick guide will show you how to stop your dog’s diarrhea fast … and when it’s time to see the vet.
What Causes Diarrhea In Dogs?
The majority of cases of acute diarrhea are caused by dietary indiscretion, bacteria, viruses and parasites. Here are the most common causes:
- Getting into the garbage or over-eating
- Changes in the diet
- Food intolerance or food allergies
- Leaky gut and poor gut health
- Parasites (such as giardiasis and coccidia)
- Bacterial infections
- Bowel diseases (like inflammatory bowel disease and colitis)
- Antibiotics and drugs
- Stress and anxiety
How Serious Is Diarrhea In Dogs?
Most cases of watery or loose stools are self limiting and will resolve on their own in a day or two. Most dogs with diarrhea act and feel fine so there’s no need to worry in most cases. Fasting your dog and returning to a bland diet should be all it takes to get your dog’s intestinal tract back to health.
If the bout of diarrhea lasts for more than a couple of days, the most common risk is dehydration. If your dog doesn’t drink enough fluids to replace what her body loses through watery stools or vomiting, she will become dehydrated. To test if your dog is dehydrated, pinch the skin at the back of her neck then let go. It should bounce right back again. If the pinch of skin takes a second or more to return to normal, your dog might be dehydrated. Dehydration can be hard on your dog’s heart and kidneys, especially if there’s loss of appetite, so it’s a good idea to check with your holistic vet if your dog fails the pinch test.
When Should You Be Concerned About Your Dog’s Diarrhea?
Your dog’s poop can teach you a lot about what’s going on inside her. A normal stool has a consistency that’s formed but malleable … like cookie dough. Crumbly or chalky poop can also be normal for dogs on a raw diet with plenty of bone. When your dog has diarrhea, her stools may look like pudding, they could be thin and watery, there could be diarrhea with mucus and even bloody diarrhea. Here are the common colors of diarrhea and what they can mean:
The most common causes of yellow diarrhea are:
- Bacteria overgrowth
- Liver disease
- Not enough bile
The most common causes of green diarrhea are:
- Gastrointestinal (GI) hypermotility
- Gall bladder disease
- Eating grass or greens
Treat blue diarrhea as an emergency. It could mean your dog has eaten rat poison (which is usually blue) or a toy. Save the stool in a baggie … then take the baggie and your dog to the vet.
Black or very dark brown stools often mean there’s old blood in the stool. Common causes of black stools include:
The most common causes of grey, greasy stools are:
- Pancreas issues such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
- Gall bladder issues
A small streak of red is often seen with diarrhea. If blood is consistently in the stools, you might want to check with your vet … but if your dog is bright, active and acting normal, it’s probably not a cause for concern. Causes of bloody diarrhea include:
- Parvovirus (especially in puppies)
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis or colitis
What If There’s Mucus In The Poop?
Mucus can be a normal part of your dog’s stools. Mucus coats the digestive tract and allows waste to slip through the digestive tract more easily. But if there’s sudden mucus with diarrhea or there are excessive amounts, it could be caused by:
- Bacterial infections
- Changes in diet
- Inflammatory bowel disease (usually accompanied by vomiting)
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis or colitis
Overall, if your dog is acting normally, mucus and diarrhea aren’t typically a cause for concern. But if your dog isn’t looking like himself, it’s best to make an appointment with your holistic vet. If your dog is otherwise feeling fine, it’s safe to manage most cases of diarrhea with home remedies.
How To Stop Dog Diarrhea Quickly
Managing diarrhea at home is often quite simple. Some cases of diarrhea may be more stubborn to manage, but understanding the causes of diarrhea is key to your success. Here are the simple steps you can take to manage diarrhea with home remedies.
Fast Your Dog
If your dog develops sudden diarrhea, stop feeding him for 12 to 24 hours. This may seem cruel, but it’s an important step. Young puppies should not be fasted … it’s always important to see your vet if your puppy develops diarrhea.
Once the diarrhea has stopped or slowed, you can offer small sips of water. If you see signs of improvement after 6 hours of water only, you can give your dog some broth.
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that can be used to naturally prevent and treat a wide range of health problems, including diarrhea. Probiotics provide your dog with valuable postbiotics like butyrate and lactic acid. These help regulate the immune system that lives in your dog’s gut. They help reduce inflammation, one of the core causes of diarrhea. The best probiotics for dogs with diarrhea are:
- Saccharomyces boulardii: S boulardii is a beneficial yeast that has been shown to be effective in antibiotic-associated and viral diarrhea.
- Bacillus subtilis: B subtilis help the colon absorb more water, which helps control diarrhea. Combined with Enterococcus faecium, it can also reduce the severity of symptoms in more chronic cases of diarrhea … including inflammatory bowel disease and colitis.
- Pediococcus acidilactici: Combined with B subtilis and other probiotics, P acidilactici was shown to significantly shorten the recovery time in dogs with gastroenteritis.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus: This tried and tested probiotic is another staple for treating diarrhea in dogs.
Make sure your dog’s probiotics contain at least two of these strains.S boulardii and B subtilis should be at least 1 billion CFU (colony forming units). L acidophilus and Bifidobacterium probiotics should be at least 30 billion CFU. For acute diarrhea, we recommend Bifido For Fido. For more chronic diarrhea, Gut Guard is a better choice, with anti-inflammatory herbs and proteins. Start your dog on probiotics as soon as you see symptoms and continue the probiotics for several weeks after symptoms resolve. They can also be given long-term to help prevent future episodes of diarrhea.
What To Feed A Dog With Diarrhea
Once the diarrhea has resolved, introduce food slowly to help prevent further tummy upset. You may have heard that white rice and boiled chicken help with sensitive stomachs … but soup or broth is a gentler way to smooth your dog’s transition back to his regular diet. You can purchase soup or bone broth at your natural supermarket, but make sure it’s low in sodium and has limited ingredients (with no onion). Here is a simple recipe you can make at home:
- Place three to four chicken thighs in six cups of water.
- Add chopped celery and carrot if you like.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours.
- Remove the skin and bones and set the meat aside.
- Strain the broth and let it cool before serving.
Give your dog small portions of the soup … a few teaspoons for very small dogs, and ½ to one cup for larger dogs. Wait 4 to 6 hours and watch for diarrhea or vomiting before offering more. Don’t feed the soup if there’s still diarrhea present … wait until the diarrhea resolves. Don’t worry, adult dogs can easily go days without eating, as long as they can keep water down.
More Home Remedies For Diarrhea
There are many safe and effective herbs you can give your dog to speed up the healing. Diarrhea is usually the result of an inflamed and irritated intestinal lining. These herbs and foods can help solve the cause of both acute and long-standing diarrhea.
Slippery elm is a gentle herb that soothes the mucous membranes. It’s safe and effective … and gentle on your dog’s sore digestive tract. Give slippery elm with food. Give ¼ tsp powder for every 10 lbs body weight.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that heals intestinal cells. You can give it alone or with other supplements. Give 500mg per 25 lbs of body weight daily.
This is another useful herb for soothing the gastrointestinal tract and decreasing inflammation. Give 1/2 to 1.5 ml per 20 pounds body weight, twice daily.
Bonus Recipe: Slippery Elm Healing Mixture
Combine equal parts of:
- Slippery elm powder
- FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide) powder
- L-Glutamine powder
Small dogs … 1 tsp twice daily Medium dogs … 2 tsp twice daily Large dogs … 3 tsp twice daily
Acute vs Chronic Diarrhea: When To See The Vet
If your dog is healthy and has a strong immune system, these natural solutions should resolve the diarrhea in 2 or 3 days. If your dog still has diarrhea and seems sick … work with your holistic vet to find out why. Your vet may:
- Change your dog’s diet
- Run a fecal exam to rule out parasites
- Check blood work to rule out concerns with organ functions
- Do X-rays or an abdominal ultrasound to rule out foreign objects, obstruction and cancer
- Do an endoscopy to view the stomach and intestinal mucosa
Luckily, most cases of diarrhea are self-limiting. With a little help from you, your dog can get back to normal quickly.
J Small Anim Pract. 2010 Jan;51(1):34-8. Blaabjerg S et al. Probiotics for the Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Outpatients—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
Antibiotics (Basel). 2017 Dec;6(4): 21. Paap PM et al. Administration of Bacillus subtilis C-3102 (Calsporin®) may improve feces consistency in dogs with chronic diarrhea.
Research Opinions in Animal and Veterinary Sciences. 2016 November;6(8):256-260. B Mounika et al. Effect of probiotic formulation containing Bacillus spp. on diarrhoea in dogs.
The Pharma Innovation Journal. 2019;8(6): 81-85.