What do you do when your dog suddenly starts suffering from bouts of watery stools?
Taking your dog to the vet is definitely the first response that occurs to anyone when their canine companions are sick, but there are many home remedies that you can try out first to save yourself from an unnecessary expense at the vet clinic.
1. Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea?
Curious creatures, dogs love sniffing and munching on anything and everything they find interesting. But they lack the discretion to tell the difference between what they should and should not get their mouths into. If you are left wondering why your dog had a bout of sudden diarrhea in the first place, there might be many possible causes to look into, but there are 12 triggers.
1.1. Dietary Indiscretion
At times, dogs can eat substances that they are not supposed to, which results in an adverse reaction from the dog’s digestive system trying to rid itself of the toxins. These things can include:
Eating too much/Over-eating
Processed human food
In veterinary circles, this condition is termed “garbage gut” or “garbage toxicosis“. Try to watch out for what your dog might be feasting on!
1.2. Change in Diet
A dog’s stomach is really sensitive and needs time to adapt to dietary changes and new proteins. Switching to a new brand of food rapidly or to a richer diet may result in an upset tummy and doggy diarrhea. This is also the reason why dog food manufacturers recommend a slow transition from an old to a new diet/brand.
Dogs with pre-existing conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or Cronh’s disease are more vulnerable to having loose stool due to dietary changes.
1.3 Food Intolerance
Introducing a new food substance into your dog’s diet, feeding them too many leftover scraps from your plate or even fatty foods (grease, bacon, etc.) can cause food intolerance in the dog’s digestive tract. This might lead to intestinal inflammation and cause diarrhea.
All responsible pet owners know that it is vital to be mindful of your dog’s allergies. If your dog has substance or food allergies, it might be possible that the diarrhea is a reaction to the ingestion of some allergen.
Parasites are more likely to affect puppies or adult dogs that have a weak immune system. There are various potential sources your dog can get infected: by ingesting the parasite or its eggs contained in contaminated food items or water. Even licking a surface or object that has been infected with feces from another infected animal can potentially harm your dog. The most typically found types of parasites in dogs include:
If they go undetected for a long period of time, parasites can have fatal effects in the long run.
1.6. Ingesting Poisonous Substances or Plants
Many substances like grapes, chocolates, raisins, etc., as well as plants like bitter root or black laurel, are very toxic to dogs. They can lead to dog diarrhea and can also prove lethal if consumed in large amounts. It is important to educate pet owners on what innocent-looking food items might actually poison their dogs.
1.7. Foreign Body Ingestion
Dogs tend to easily get carried away with their playthings or other small objects around the house, which might eventually end up in their stomachs. If your dog has swallowed a foreign object like a dog toy, socks, underwear, or the like, then dog diarrhea is a very plausible consequence.
Foreign objects can pass through the digestive tract and be excreted out with dog poop but in severe cases, you might need to take your dog to the vet for extraction of the intrusion-causing thing after conducting an abdominal ultrasound.
1.8. Viral Infections
Infections in dogs induced by viruses can lead to serious illness if not treated in time. Acute diarrhea is one of the primary signs of your dog being infected with a pathogen. Puppies are more prone to get infected as their immune system is still not fully functional. Common viral infections in dogs are:
There are vaccines available that provide immunity against these nasty viruses. Getting your dog vaccinated against them is a recommended preventive measure and can play a huge part in your dog’s overall well-being!
1.9. Bacterial Infections
Bacteria cause infections like salmonella and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE). A plethora of causes can lead to bacterial infections in dogs: lack of a proper diet, age-related problems, allergies, not enough exercise, and stress. A weakened immune system also makes dogs and young puppies more vulnerable to infections.
One of the symptoms your dog might exhibit of being infected is dog diarrhea.
Diarrhea, if accompanied by other symptoms of sickness, might indicate the presence of some disease affecting your dog. There is a wide range of diseases that might be causing diarrhea in your dog:
Metabolic diseases like kidney, liver, pancreatitis, thyroid disease, etc.
Bowel diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and colitis
Only a veterinary doctor can provide you with the correct diagnosis of the disease after a thorough medical examination.
1.11. Antibiotics and Other Medications
If your dog has recently been prescribed new antibiotics, then there is a far chance that that might also be the culprit behind your dog’s diarrhea. Antibiotics and other medications involved in the treatment of some or other ailments in dogs often cause doggy diarrhea as a side effect.
1.12. Stress or Emotional Upset
Dogs are very sensitive and emotional animals Effects of environmental stressors (thunderstorms, loud noises, etc.) or emotional distress caused by the likes of separation anxiety or isolation in dogs often take expression in the form of dog diarrhea along with other behavioral changes.
2. Best Home Remedies for Dog Diarrhea
Here are a few basic treatments and natural remedies you can employ:
Fasting is the first and easiest step you can follow on the list of “What home remedy can I give my dog for diarrhea?”; though it might sound a bit cruel, it is nonetheless a very effective method for dog owners to treat diarrhea in dogs.
Restricting food intake for 12 to 24 hours will give your dog’s digestive tract some time off to heal and settle down. Whatever pathogens, toxins, or foreign bodies might have caused the sudden bout of dog diarrhea will likely be flushed out of your dog’s stomach in the duration of the fasting period and prevent further inflammation in the digestive system.
Ensure to provide ample water and keep your dog hydrated, because dog diarrhea can cause dehydration. If your dog does not show interest in drinking water, you can incentivize them by adding chicken, beef, or bone broth to the water or preparing rice water.
It is not recommended for young puppies or elderly dogs to be put on a fast as they need nutrients to sustain themselves. Fasting may also not be appropriate for small dogs either because, unlike larger dogs, they often lack the physical reserves to support their everyday bodily functions. If you have a small breed dog, it is better to consult a veterinarian first.
2.2. Simple and Bland Diet
After the fasting period is over, you can opt for giving your dog a simple and bland diet instead of your dog’s regular food for the next few days to speed up the healing process of the gastrointestinal tract. These home remedies can be prepared easily in your kitchen with common and easily available ingredients:
2.2.1. Rice Water
To make rice water, you need to boil some high-quality rice in water in a pot or a pan. After boiling, separate the rice grains from the water, let it cool off, and serve the white creamy residue to your dog.
If your dog is reluctant to intake the rice water, you can add a bit of broth to encourage eating. Rice water is excellent and super easy to prepare food for treating doggy diarrhea.
2.2.2. Plain White Rice
White rice is low in fiber content and is a simple carbohydrate that can give your dog the energy it needs to stay active. A meal of white rice will be easy to digest for your dog’s stomach as it would not require any extra effort to break down.
Cooked rice will also prove beneficial in maintaining the consistency of your dog’s loose stool and arguably has some of the easiest ingredients.
Pure pumpkin is a great stimulant for dogs’ digestive systems and is definitely the easiest go-to for dog owners. It is laden with protein, vitamins, fiber, and moisture. Interestingly, pumpkins can also be used as a treatment for constipation in dogs!
You can add pumpkin to your dog’s diet in any form:
100% pumpkin puree for dogs
Canned pumpkin for dogs
Roast a pumpkin at home
Combining 1-4 tablespoons of pumpkin with the dog’s diet will yield the best results in treating dog diarrhea.
When buying canned pumpkin, make sure to get 100% pumpkin items instead of canned pumpkin pie filling, which actually contains added sugar and other ingredients that might further upset your dog’s stomach.
2.2.4. Boiled Chicken
A staple dog favorite, boiled chicken is presumably the most delicious treatment you can give your canine friend. Boiled chicken, especially chicken breast, is a rich source of protein for your dog and is also low in fat content. It is easy to digest and will soothe your dog’s disturbed gastrointestinal tract and eliminate diarrhea.
Eggs are another source of healthy protein that you can add to your dog’s diet to treat dog diarrhea. Like chicken, eggs are also easily digestible, can help cure your dog’s diarrhea, and will provide your dog with energy and sustenance.
Eggs are assumably the safer option for people who dislike cooking chicken. You can feed your dog eggs in the form of poached, boiled, or scrambled eggs, just make sure to avoid using butter or oil in the preparation process.
2.2.6. Other Food Items to Consider
Apart from the above-mentioned main food items that you can feed your dog to ease their diarrhea, there are also many alternatives you can pick:
Plain yogurt (provided your dog is not lactose intolerant)
Boiled potatoes after removing the skin
Turmeric or cinnamon
Herbs like chamomile, marshmallow root, slippery elm, or fennel
Just like humans, the gastrointestinal tract in dogs consists of good and bad bacteria, microbes that constitute your dog’s microbiome. In a healthy dog, a peaceful balance is maintained between the two, but when some malicious interruption disrupts this equilibrium, the bad bacteria and microbes thrive, resulting in negative side effects like dog diarrhea.
Probiotics are a form of supplemental helpful bacteria that help restore the balance in your dog’s gut health and promote good digestion. They aid in reducing bowel inflammation that usually causes dog diarrhea and is also an excellent preventative measure against future stomach problems.
The following probiotics will make a definite addition to your list.
2.3.1. Saccharomyces Boulardii
Proven to be helpful in the treatment of dog diarrhea prompted by antibiotics and viral infections, this probiotic is made up of yeast that is beneficial for your dog’s gut health.
2.3.2. Bacillus Subtilis
Bacillus subtilis promotes water absorption in the colon of dogs, which significantly brings down the bout of diarrhea. It is also found to be very effective in easing the severity of chronic diarrhea symptoms (including diarrhea-causing illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease and colitis) when paired with Enterococcus faecium.
2.3.3. Pediococcus Acidilactici
When given in combination with other probiotics like Bacillus subtilis, Pediococcus acidilactici can work magic in shortening the recovery period for dogs that have gastroenteritis and similar health problems.
This is yet another probiotic that can be used to effectively treat dog diarrhea.
2.3.5. Natural Sources of Probiotics
If you are looking for natural remedies as a source of probiotics, consider the following:
All of these can be an efficient source of probiotics for your dog. Add these to your dog’s diet for better results in treating diarrhea as well as a preventative measure for avoiding overall health problems.
2.4. More Ways to Treat Your Dog’s Diarrhea
If the aforementioned tried and tested home remedies are not adequate in treating your dog’s diarrhea, there are still a few other methods that you can employ before taking your dog to the vet.
2.4.1. Specially Formulated Food for Dogs
Some dog food manufacturers offer food products that are specially designed to cater to dogs with sensitive stomachs and can be used to alleviate stomach problems. You would need to consult your vet on what kind of food to get for your dog according to its need.
2.4.2. Over-the-Counter Medications
Over-the-counter medications like Imodium can be administered to dogs to treat dog diarrhea, though they come with specific restrictions and cautions, so consulting a vet before using such medications is advisable.
3. When is it Time to Take Your Dog to the Vet?
Judging when it is the right time to take your dog to the vet asap is really crucial as even a slight delay can prove fatal for your pet companion. What is uncommon for your dog mainly depends on its usual healthy behavior. Based on that, you can infer whether your dog requires veterinary care.
In cases of chronic diarrhea accompanied by other physical ailments, it is best to rush your dog to the vet for proper medical attention. As the saying goes: “Better safe than sorry”.
Watch out for the following benchmarks that might indicate that you need to take your dog to the vet asap:
3.1. Physical Symptoms
If your dog is exhibiting other physical symptoms apart from diarrhea, the condition might be more serious than estimated. Observe your dog for:
Dry or pale gums
General weakness and low energy
Signs of being in pain
Loss of appetite
Painful and bloated stomach
Straining to poop
Apart from other underlying illnesses that might give rise to such health problems, if your generally healthy dog is suffering two or more of these symptoms, it might be a signal to consult the vet.
3.2. Frequency and Duration of Diarrheal Bouts
The duration for which diarrhea persists in your dog as well as the number of times it is taking place is also very significant in judging the degree of severity of your dog’s diarrhea.
Lasts for more than 24-36 hours despite the use of a few home remedies
Frequent bouts occurring closely in a short time period
In either case, taking your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment is most reasonable.
3.3. Poop Profile
Your dog’s poop can tell you a lot about its health. Unusual poop color or consistency is generally an indication of some underlying concern. Rush your dog to the vet asap if you notice the following in its poop:
Red in color or the presence of blood
Presence of mucus
Black or tarry in color
Presence of worms
The vet might also ask for a stool sample for testing and examination purposes, so it would be advantageous to carry one with you when you take your dog to the clinic.
3.4. Pet Owners’ Intuition
Only you know your dog the best and can judge the subtle signs of something being wrong or sniff out suspicions correctly. Following your intuition to predict when it’s time to bring your dog to the vet can hardly go wrong. It is time for veterinary medicine if:
You think your dog ate a toxic substance or poison
You suspect ingestion of a foreign body by your dog
You doubt a new antibiotic you gave your dog is causing the diarrhea
Your puppy is younger than 9 months old
Your dog has pre-existing conditions like old age-related problems, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or cancer
Taking heed of your instinct might prove to make a life-or-death difference for your dog. And if it so happens that the diarrhea was indeed not too serious, it is always better to satisfy your doubts and get reassurance from a medical professional.