Your dog is a walking garbage disposal!
Dogs can eat rotten carcasses, drink filthy water ... and most of the time they'll be fine. The dog's digestive system is very resilient!
But every once in a while, the digestive system breaks down … and your dog gets diarrhea.
Whatever caused the diarrhea, you'll want to stop it FAST! And you’ll want to avoid drugs and chemical fixes that will further damage his gut.
So we’ll tell you about the top natural remedies for diarrhea … that WORK.
If your dog is sick now … jump ahead to the solutions.
But when you get time, make sure you delve into the causes of your dog's diarrhea. Then you can make sure you stop diarrhea for good.
What Your Dog's Poop Can Tell You
You can learn a lot from your dog's poop. So let's look at what’s “normal.”
Normal Stool Textures
- A normal stool consistency is formed but malleable… think Play Doh. It's #3 on the Poop Ranking Chart.
- Crumbly or chalky poop is normal for dogs on a raw diet with plenty of bone. Don’t confuse it with constipation. It's #2 on the Poop Ranking Chart.
- Normal Frequency: Most dogs have 1 to 2 bowel movements a day. … usually around the same time of day.
- Soft stool – like soft serve ice cream (sorry if this puts you off your summer treat!). It's #4 and #5 on the Poop Ranking Chart.
- Loose stool – watery or thin stools. See it at #6 and #7 on the Poop Ranking Chart.
- Any of the above with blood or mucus
- Abnormal Frequency: Abnormal stools can cause several poops a day (maybe on your rug).
Check out the Poop Ranking Chart Below - I know it's icky but a picture is worth a thousand words!
If your dog has abnormal stools often, he has chronic diarrhea. You'll need to figure out the cause to fix it.
Let's get to some other things to watch for. The color of the poop can tell you a lot.
What Does The Color Of My Dog’s Poop Mean?
Normal poop can be many different shades of brown. But what if it's not brown?
If your dog passes yellow stool he has something going on. The most common causes of yellow stool are:
- The parasite coccidia
- Pathogenic bacteria overgrowth
- Changes in the liver
- Poop moving gh the GI tract too quickly to pick up bile. Bile makes poop brown.
You may see yellow stools with acute or chronic diarrhea.
This usually means your dog ate something with food coloring in it. Or it may contain small amounts of blood. This is an acute issue that will often resolve with fasting and a bland diet.
Gastrointestinal (GI) hypermotility can cause green stool. It can be a gall bladder issue if your dog’s bile is not fully digested or moves too quickly through the GI tract. It may be acute or chronic.
If it continues for more than a few days, see your vet.
But your dog can also get green poop from eating a lot of grass or goose poop. So watch what he's snacking on in the park. And if that's the cause, don't worry.
Blue (or aqua)
Treat blue poop as an emergency. It could mean your dog has eaten rat poison (which is usually blue) or a toy. Save the stool and take it and your dog to the vet. This is an acute issue and needs immediate treatment by your veterinarian.
White rice-like pieces in the stool usually mean your dog has tapeworms. The stool may be solid or loose.
Grey, greasy stools may mean your dog has a pancreas or biliary issue.
Not technically a color … but mucus is a detoxification response. Your dog’s digestive system is trying to get rid of something. It’s usually an acute issue and will resolve on its own.
Is It Small Or Large Intestine Diarrhea?
The next important question is where the diarrhea is coming from. You'll want to know if it's your dog’s small or large intestine. Why does that matter?
Well, because one of them is more serious …
Large Intestine Diarrhea
If the cause of your dog's diarrhea is in his large intestine, his bowel movements will be more frequent. He's also likely to have accidents in your house. He'll need to poop with extreme urgency.
These stools are often semi-formed with some mucus. You might see fresh blood specks on the surface of the poop. (I’ll talk about blood in a moment.)
Small Intestine Diarrhea
If your dog's diarrhea is from his small intestine, his bowel movements will be less frequent. He'll also be able to control them better … without the urgency.
But the hallmark of small intestine diarrhea is that there’s no obvious blood. That's because the blood is digested in the small intestine. Again, I'll talk more about blood in a bit.
You might think small intestine diarrhea is less severe ... but it's actually more serious.
Your dog digests most nutrients in his small intestine. When it's inflamed, he can't absorb nutrients. The food passes through to the large intestine too fast.
Why Is There Blood In My Dog's Poop?
Blood can appear in your dog’s poop in two ways:
Blood On The Surface
This often looks scary when you see it. It comes from the colon as the stool is leaving. It's less serious than blood from the small intestine. It can also happen with an otherwise normal stool.
Don't panic … but watch your dog's stools in case it's happening more often.
Black Tarry Stools
These dark brown to black stools look less scary so you may not realize they're a problem. But black tarry stools mean there's blood in them. You need to watch for them as they're dangerous.
"Strawberry Milkshake" Or "Strawberry Jam"
A strawberry milkshake look is when the blood is mixed and partially digested in the bowel movement. The stools will look like they have red or pink swirls or flecks mixed into them.
It’s different from a "strawberry jam" appearance which is a more solid pink or red. It can often mean a serious condition called HGE - hemorraghic gastroenteritis.
All these stool types alert you to bleeding in your dog’s small intestine. It means there’s a lot of inflammation … and it can be serious.
Causes of Diarrhea
Diarrhea and vomiting are nature’s way of removing toxins.
Here are a few reasons why your dog's body needs to do this. Some of these are acute ... meaning they come and go quickly. Others are chronic ...meaning long term or persistent.
- Bacterial Or Viral Infection: Causes both ACUTE and CHRONIC diarrhea
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Causes CHRONIC diarrhea
- Dietary Indiscretion: Causes ACUTE diarrhea
- Exercise Intolerance: Causes ACUTE diarrhea
- Stress: Causes ACUTE and CHRONIC diarrhea
The good news is that there are natural solutions to stop dog diarrhea. But first let's talk about antibiotics for dog diarrhea.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Antibiotics To Stop Dog Diarrhea
If your dog has diarrhea, don't panic! I'm going to share some natural remedies that work.
First, let’s talk about why you might not want to go to the vet right away.
If you take your dog to a conventional vet for diarrhea, they'll often give you antibiotics ... like Metronidazole (Flagyl). Flagyl is a type of stomach antibiotic. It will stop your dog's symptoms in a few doses.
The trouble is … that’s all it does. It stops symptoms without fixing the underlying issue. So the diarrhea comes back. Antibiotics are not the best solution. In fact they can do more harm to your dog's gut. And that harm can be permanent … so your dog’s gut never recovers.
Diarrhea means “flow through” from the Greek dia meaning through, and rhein meaning to flow . It's the body’s way of getting rid of toxins.
Using drugs to suppress this natural “flow through” won’t cure your dog of his diarrhea in the long term.
Now … there are times you'll want to to consult a vet to be safe. For example, if your dog is:
But most acute diarrhea episodes last less than a day or two. And you can manage them at home. So now let's jump into the simple steps to stop dog diarrhea.
[Related: Read This Before Giving Your Dog Antibiotics]
4 Simple Steps For Stopping Dog Diarrhea
Fasting: An Important First Step
Many dogs will fast themselves when they have a tummy problem. If your dog doesn't, it’s a good idea to stop feeding him for 12 to 24 hours. It’ll let his gut rest and heal. If that seems like too long, you can safely start with 6 to 12 hours of no food or water with most dogs.
Just don’t fast a puppy! Go straight to Step 2 for dogs under 6 months old.
CAUTION: If your dog is very small or prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) ...give him tiny licks of honey each hour. If he seems weak and trembly, you can give it more often, as needed.
Once he's not vomiting and diarrhea has stopped or slowed, offer small sips of water.
- Start with just a few teaspoons in very small dogs every few hours.
- For large dogs, increase the amount, giving ½ to 1 cup.
Be sure to use filtered or spring water … never unfiltered tap water.
After 6 hours of water only, you can start some broth or small amounts of bland food (see Step 2).Bone broth is a nutritious bland option. It provides a hearty mix of nutrients, but it’s easy on your dog’s stomach. It’s simple to make with this recipe.
You can then gradually increase his food over the next 4 to 5 days.
Feed Bland Food: Prevent Dog Diarrhea From Recurring
When you reintroduce food to your dog, start with a bland diet. It’ll be easier on his digestive system. And it can help prevent more diarrhea.
Your conventional vet may recommend feeding white rice and a boiled protein source.
But starting with soup is a more gentle way to smooth your dog’s transition back to his regular diet ... without the added starch. Here's a good recipe.
Soup Recipe To Soothe Your Dog’s Upset Stomach
Think about the last time you had the stomach flu or food poisoning… what did you want to eat? Bland food and chicken soup, most likely. Yeah, same goes for your dog. Once he starts eating again, bland is the way to go to help prevent further tummy upset. And soup is a great way to start…
- Place three to four chicken thighs in six cups of water. You can also add chopped celery and carrot.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 1½ to two hours.
- Remove skin and bones, and set meat aside.
- Strain broth and use it to boil one to two cups of chopped vegetables (like carrot, celery, yam, cauliflower) for 20 minutes.
- Allow it to cool before serving.
You can offer just the broth at first or you can make small servings with meat, mashed vegetables and broth. Give small portions (a few teaspoons for very small dogs, and ½ to one cup for larger dogs). Allow 4 to 6 hours to monitor for diarrhea or vomiting after those first few meals.
Feed Probiotics And Prebiotics To Rebalance The Gut
Feeding prebiotics and probiotics will help repopulate your dog’s gut with healthy bacteria.
Research shows probiotics boost the immune system to support the whole body. They also help to build and restore your dog's gut lining. Feeding them supports your dog's mucosal barrier and repairs intestinal cells.
You can give a probiotic supplement … following the manufacturer’s dosing recommendations.
Another easy way to balance the bacteria in your dog’s gut is to feed plain unsweetened kefir. But wait until he’s eating solid food again to do this.
Side Note: Probiotics aren't only for diarrhea! You can give them regularly to boost gut health and immunity. And especially if your dog has to be on antibiotics at any time. Just be sure to give them at a different time than the antibiotic.
Probiotics are especially helpful during stressful times ... such as weaning, boarding, agility trials and travel.
[Related: What Are The Best Probiotics For Dogs]
Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that travel to the colon. Once in the colon they ferment and become short-chain fatty acids (SCFA).
SCFA support your dog's colon by:
SCFAs keep your dog's intestines moving. When they're in the bowels, prebiotics promote and support healthy digestive bacterial flora.
Always use prebiotics and probiotics together. Prebiotics feed the probiotics and make them more effective.
If you feed prebiotics alone, they can feed harmful intestinal bacteria. The kind that may cause diarrhea. So again ... make sure you feed probiotics too.
Many prebiotic supplements contain FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide) or beet pulp. Be careful with beet pulp as it can cause bloating, nausea and flatulence.
Our favorite prebiotic sources are:
- Chicory root
- Larch arabinogalactan
- Turkey tail mushrooms
- Burdock root
- Dandelion greens
Use Natural Home Remedies To Stop Dog Diarrhea
Steps 1-3 above will help you stop dog diarrhea when it starts … but you also need to help the body heal.
So we've listed our top remedies to help you heal your dog at home.
Try one or two of these remedies to find out what works for your dog.
Slippery elm is a gentle herb that soothes the mucous membranes.
Slippery elm is safe and effective .. and gentle on your dog's sore digestive system.
Note: Avoid Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol. Both of these conventional medications contain salicylates and are unsafe for dogs.
You can find slippery elm in both capsule and powder forms at most health stores.
Slippery Elm Capsule Dosing For Dogs:
- ¼ capsule twice daily for small dogs
- ½ capsule twice daily for medium dogs
- 1 capsule once or twice daily for large dogs
Slippery Elm Powder Dosing For Dogs:
- Give ¼ tsp powder for every 10 lbs body weight
- Mix the powder or capsules into food or some yogurt
Or, Make A Slippery Elm Syrup
- Mix 1 rounded tsp slippery elm powder in 1 cup cold water
- Bring to a boil while stirring
- Lower the heat and stir and simmer 2 to 3 minutes
- Remove from heat and add 1 tbsp of honey and let it cool
Dosing Slippery Elm Syrup:
Dose 4 times a day with the syrup according to your dog’s weight:
- under 25 lbs, give 1 to 2 tbsp
- 25-50 lb, give 2 to 4 tbsp
- 50 lbs and over, give ¼ to ½ cup
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that heals intestinal cells. You can also choose to give it alone or with other supplements.
You can buy it at most health stores.
The dose for L-glutamine is:
- 500 mg per 25 lbs of body weight per day
This is another useful herb for soothing the gastrointestinal tract after diarrhea.
You can find it in tincture form or ready-made supplements like Gut Soothe.
The dose for marshmallow root tincture is:
- 0.5-1.5 ml per 20 lbs, 2-3 times per day
Digestive Enzymes are great for dogs who aren't on a fresh, raw diet. They provide the live enzymes they’d get from a natural raw food source.
Most dogs will have improved digestion and do well on digestive enzymes. But some dogs react with abdominal bloating and gas. So watch your dog and start out with at a reduced dose, increasing gradually.
A lot of digestive support and probiotic supplements for dogs contain digestive enzymes ... so be sure to read the labels so you don't give too many.
Bach Flower Remedies
I mentioned stress as a trigger for diarrhea earlier. If your dog is showing signs of emotional stress, consider Bach Flower remedies.
These are gentle, safe essences extracted from flowers. They help heal the emotional aspect of physical disease. If you give them to your dog and he doesn’t need them … they'll simply have no effect!
You can add a few drops to his water bowl or drop them in his mouth several times a day
Homeopathic Remedies To Stop Dog Diarrhea
You can also stop your dog's diarrhea with homeopathic remedies. Read through the remedy descriptions ... then choose the one that’s the closest match for your dog’s symptoms.
Follow the dosing guidelines below ... but be ready to switch to a different remedy if the first one doesn’t stop the problem after 3 or 4 doses.
Arsenicum is an excellent food poisoning remedy ... great for a dumpster diving dog! or one who's eaten something bad. He could be straining with diarrhea … and the stool may be exceptionally foul-smelling.
In Arsenicum cases, diarrhea may come on after midnight. The dog might take small sips of water rather than drinking all at once.
Arsenicum may also be good for some cases of stress-induced diarrhea.
Use this remedy for dogs with stinky, bloody diarrhea. Instead of straining, diarrhea will pour out. The dog may also be thirsty and be vomiting.
Phosphorus may fit when there’s a change in diet. It's also good if diarrhea continues for longer than a couple of bowel movements.
Mercurius vivus or Mercurius solubilis
These interchangeable remedies are good when a dog is intensely straining. He'll have foul-smelling stools with mucus and possibly blood
If your dog needs this remedy he may seem exhausted. His diarrhea will pour out (like a Phosphorus dog), but his energy level will be extremely low.
He might have blood in his stool and he might seek warmth but crave cold water. China may be especially helpful when another remedy has stopped the diarrhea ... but he's still exhausted.
Choose this remedy if your dog's been overwhelmed or has overdone things in some way. It could be from overeating, exhaustion from a trip or some other kind of overindulgence.
He will likely have abdominal cramping and will lie curled up. He will also seek warmth.
Use if your dog is seeking cool floors and weather … because he's running hot.
His diarrhea will often get him out of bed in the early morning, around 5 am or so, and be foul-smelling.
Dosing Guidelines For Homeopathic Remedies
Choose the best remedy for your dog … then use a 200C potency if you have it. If not, 30C will work fine.
Use wet dosing for the best results:
- Place 1 to 3 pellets into a glass.
- Add up to ½ cup spring or filtered water. Never use unfiltered tap water.
- Stir vigorously for about 30 seconds.
- You can keep the glass on your counter. Don’t refrigerate it.
- Stir again before every dose.
One dose is a few drops in your dog’s mouth. An easy way to do this is to pull your dog’s lower lip out near the corner of his mouth. Then use a teaspoon, dropper or syringe to place a few drops onto his gums.
Give several doses to start:
- If you’re using 200C, give a dose every 30 minutes for 2 to 3 doses
- With a 30C potency, you can dose every 5 to 15 minutes for 4 doses.
- Then wait to see the response.
You should soon see signs that your dog’s feeling better. He might seem peppier or he might relax and take a nap, or even start asking for food.
That means the remedy is working! But if the diarrhea returns, give one more dose.
If you’ve given 3 or 4 doses of one remedy without improvement, it’s time to switch to a different remedy.
Pick the next best match to his symptoms and follow the same dosing schedule.
With these simple steps, your dog should be back to solid poops and his regular activities in no time!
Dog Diarrhea: When To Consult The Vet
If your dog is healthy with a strong immune system these natural solutions will do the trick in a few days.
After a couple of days, if your dog still shows signs of illness and diarrhea ... work with your holistic vet to find out why.
If your dog's diarrhea becomes chronic (meaning your dog gets diarrhea regularly) … consult your holistic vet.
Your veterinarian may suggest:
Luckily most cases of diarrhea are self-limiting. With a little help from you, your dog can get back to form quickly.
BONUS: Make A Slippery Elm Healing Mixture
Use equal parts of:
- Slippery elm powder
- FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide) powder
- L-Glutamine powder
Dosing Slippery Elm Healing Mixture:
- 1 tsp twice daily for small dogs
- 2 tsp twice daily for medium dogs
- 3 tsp twice daily for large dogs