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Basic At-Home Treatments for Dog Diarrhea

When is dog diarrhea a cause for concern? Should you call your vet when Fido has loose stools? For most healthy adult dogs, diarrhea is a normal occurrence - much like it is for humans. Responsible dog owners should still keep a close eye on their dog’s bowel movements and know how to treat a mild case of dog diarrhea at home.

Common Causes of Dog Diarrhea

A dog’s digestive system is quite resilient, particularly when compared to that of humans. Eating a bit of garbage or spoiled food will typically not cause any digestive problems. You should know what your dog’s normal poop looks like: more or less chocolate brown in color; compact and shaped like a log; and easy to scoop. 

If your dog’s poop is soft like pudding; holds its shape but loses its form and leaves a residue when picked up; very moist and has no shape and texture; or is watery, he has diarrhea. When a dog suffers from diarrhea, the reason can be any of the following. 

  • A sudden change in their diet.
  • Food intolerance. 
  • Dietary indiscretion, or when your dog eats too much bad stuff, such as garbage, spoiled food, or even rotten carcasses of other animals.
  • Allergic reaction. 
  • Stress
  • Viral infection, such as from coronavirus, distemper, or parvovirus.
  • Bacterial infection, such as salmonella. 
  • Intestinal parasites, such as coccidia, giardia, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms.
  • An underlying illness, such as inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, kidney and liver disease, or cancer.
  • Medications, especially antibiotics.
  • Ingestion of a poisonous plant or other poisonous or toxic substances; ingestion of something indigestible, such as socks or a toy.  

Large volumes of soft or watery poop may indicate acute diarrhea; if the condition goes on for more than a few days, even with home treatment, your dog is suffering from chronic diarrhea. 

Treating Dog Diarrhea at Home

Mild cases of dog diarrhea can be effectively treated at home, with advice from your veterinarian. Basic home treatments are as follows. 

  • Fasting for 12 to 24 hours often works to help settle your dog’s stomach. Make sure that Fido drinks plenty of clean water during his fasting period to prevent dehydration; you can replenish lost electrolytes by also giving him unflavored Pedialyte. Take note, however, that puppies, elderly dogs, and small dogs are not ideal candidates for fasting.  
  • After fasting or if she can’t go on a fast, give your furkid minimal amounts of food until her poop returns to normal. 
  • Try the following remedies:
    • Boil rice in lots of water and drain. Add some broth or baby food to the rice water and give to your dog a few times throughout the day. Plain, white rice is also okay.
    • Plain, boiled or canned pumpkin; Skinned, boiled potatoes.
    • Yogurt, cottage cheese, or other probiotics, if your dog’s stomach tolerates milk. 
    • Boiled eggs or boiled chicken meat (no skin).
    • Dog foods that are specially formulated for diarrhea. 
    • Non-prescription medications for diarrhea in humans may also work, but consult your veterinarian first. 

If stool consistency doesn’t change after a day or two of treatment, don’t worry; you may just need to try a different method. If the treatment is working, you can gradually give him bigger portions over the next few days. If his diarrhea continues to improve, you can start reintroducing his normal food by mixing it with his recovery diet. He can completely switch back to his regular diet when his bowel movements are normal again. 

When is Dog Diarrhea a Cause for Concern?

If you observe the following signs and symptoms, you should take your best bud to the vet as soon as possible.

  • Vomiting, dehydration, lethargy, and/or dry, pale gums;
  • Extreme weight loss;
  • Chronic diarrhea that does not improve after a few days with treatment that worked in the past - take note of what the normal duration is for when your dog has diarrhea;
  • If the diarrhea is brought on by antibiotics or other medications;
  • If your dog is an elderly and/or has an underlying condition, such as diabetes or cancer;
  • If you notice any other physical symptoms that are out of the ordinary for your dog, such as pain, weakness, or hypersalivation.