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Vet Advice: Treating Your Dog's Diarrhea
Common canine ailment responds to home care and familiar remedies


Question: Help! my dog has diarrhea—is there anything in my medicine cabinet or on my kitchen shelf that could be used to save both of us a visit to the vet?

Answer: As a veterinarian, this author sees many patients with minor problems (such as the dog in this story) who could be treated at home safely and effectively. At the same time, there are dogs whose problems, if not addressed early enough by a veterinary professional, suffer more than they need to.

Probably the most common complaint received by veterinarians is that of diarrhea. It’s such an easy condition to identify: The smell is unmistakable, as is its chocolate-pudding appearance. Most of the time, diarrhea is caused by a dietary indiscretion or stressful circumstances, and is self-limiting. Diarrhea is not a disease; rather, it is a symptom of a dysfunction of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). When associated with bad food or food-borne pathogens, diarrhea serves to rapidly remove pathogens from the GIT before they have a chance to be absorbed and cause more damage.

Warning Signs That Diarrhea Needs Medical Attention
• Black, tarry stool, or stool with copious amounts of fresh blood (bright red)

• Loss of appetite

• Marked lethargy

• Frequent vomiting

• Signs of abdominal pain (bloating, groaning, panting rapidly or avoidance response when belly is touched)

• Lasts longer than 48 hours (Since it can rapidly weaken puppies and geriatrics, or dogs with chronic diseases, they may need veterinary attention sooner.)

However, when your dog has mild diarrhea and doesn’t meet any of the above criteria, the best things to start with are a 24-hour rice-water fast; white rice balls that contain active probiotic cultures; and the oral administration of an intestinal protectant such as kaolin clay and pectin (KaoPectate™) or a suspension containing bismuth subsalicylate (PeptoBismol™). Loperamide (Imodium™) can be given if the diarrhea doesn’t resolve easily; caution is required when using this OTC medication in Collies, and don’t use it for more than five days. (Another caveat: While dogs can tolerate PeptoBismol or KaoPectate, these medications should never be given to cats, as they contain salicylates, which are potentially toxic for felines.)

Fasting your dog allows her GIT to rest and recover from whatever insult it has received. During the fast, make sure she has plenty of rice water to drink. Rice water is the creamy liquid that results from boiling white rice in water. It’s important to use a good quality white rice; “minute” rice does not work and brown rice has too much fiber in it, which does not help firm the stool because it speeds the transit of digested material through the colon.

To make rice water, boil one cup of white rice in four cups of water for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on your altitude) until the water turns creamy white. Decant the liquid and allow it to cool. You can serve the rice water to your dog as often as she will drink it. If she isn’t interested, mix a teaspoon of chicken baby food (or another flavor that your pet likes) in the rice water to increase its palatability. (Hint: One cup of white rice makes a lot of rice water!)

Probiotics—living bacterial cultures intended to assist the body’s naturally occurring gut flora in reestablishing themselves—may also help speed recovery. These live microorganisms are found in yogurt, for example, and are also available from your health food store or your veterinarian as high-potency powdered acidophilus cultures, which are more effective than yogurt for diarrhea. Mix these cultures into the rice water that you are serving your pet during its fast.



CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Sandra | July 12 2012 |

what if my dog has food allergies, is white rice water okay? my Pug take hypoallergenic food and treats.

Submitted by Daniela Lopez | July 17 2012 |

Hi Sandra,

I would seek advice from your Vet for any specific concerns.

Submitted by Anonymous | September 21 2012 |

Carrots are one of the best ways to keep your dogs stool normal. Ever since I've been feeding it to my boxer puppy he has had very normal & regular poo.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 15 2012 |

Thank you for posting such a fabulous article! My dog has a sensitive stomach & this helped to calm me down in the middle of the night!

Submitted by Kevin | October 17 2012 |

This is a really great article. There are a lot of methods to getting rid of a dog's diarrhea. I have seen products, foods, and general things you can do to rid a dog of diarrhea. The warning signs are spot on! I have seen the most success with carrots for dogs and it's great because they are all natural.

Great read!

Submitted by Adriana | November 22 2012 |

Great information. Thank you we just rescue a 2 yr old dog and she hes bad diarrhea, your advice should help!

Submitted by Anonymous | December 4 2012 |

Try one Imodium thats what my vet said for my doggy

Submitted by george | December 28 2013 |

should a 6 mo. old dog be given immodium for diareha

Submitted by David | March 30 2014 |

NEVER give an animal an OTC for urinary or fecal illness. ALWAYS see your vet as urinary or fecal illness can indicate serious illness.

Submitted by David | March 30 2014 |

NEVER use Immodium on an animal!

Submitted by Anonymous | April 5 2014 |

The article says to give Imodium if other methods aren't helping. Did you even read it?

Submitted by C Grandon | August 4 2014 |

Gave Imodium to our Llahsa Apso nd he started black stools and rectal bleeding-- I would NEVER give Imodium to a dog ever

Submitted by Christina Moore | September 23 2014 |

why are you telling ppl to NEVER give there dog something when your ONE dog had a reaction. Why don't you save the advice for the person writing the article. You could cause someone to get so paranoid they don t give there dog anything and they dehydrate and die! stop knowing EVERYTHING!!!!!!

Submitted by Tim LeRoux | July 27 2014 |

What are your credentials, you could be warning people off a potential beneficial treatment.

Submitted by Christina Moore | September 23 2014 |

I agree....Unless you know what you are talking about do not tell someone to NEVER take something unless you have some type of credentials. Just because it might not of worked for one small dog you could be turning 100's of people away from helping there pet. People DRIVE ME CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by patricia | August 22 2014 |

I just read info on line about Imodium so please be very, very careful...know exactly how much to give your dog beforehand as it is easy to OD your dog, especially the small ones.

Submitted by patricia | August 22 2014 |

Be very, very careful before giving Imodium. To not overdose with Imodium. I've read about it online and it can be deadly; especially to the smaller guys.

Submitted by Stella | September 25 2014 |

Imodium can an be so harmful to a dog!!! Are you sure you are didn't misunderstand your vet?
The only thing I was EVER told was Baby Asprin! I have had dogs my whole life I'm pretty old lol. NO IMODIUM!!!!! EVER!!!!
Pumpkin is terrific for diarrhea...

Submitted by Gordon | December 19 2012 |

My Staffi has just given birth to 6 pups 3 weeks ago but has developed diarrhoea yesterday. She has lost weight due to the pups,the pups are being weaned at present but still feeding off mum, would it be advisable to starve her for 24 hours?

Submitted by Anonymous | December 30 2012 |

I've got the same problem though my pet constantly drinks water so dehydration is not a problem

Submitted by Hawk | August 27 2013 |

Your pet can still be dehydrated even though it drinks plenty of water. It can still lose electrolytes(sodium, potassium, and other ones by having diarrhea). In some cases the water may be harming it because it can cause diarrhea to be worse especially if no food is tolerated. Consult your vet on this matter.

Submitted by David | March 30 2014 |

Water does NOT replenish electrolytes. Your animal can die from loose stool no matter how much it drinks. ALWAYS ask a VETERINARIAN!!

Submitted by taylor | June 24 2014 |

I buy pedialyte to help restore electrolytes. I mix with regular water.

Submitted by Julie | March 12 2014 |

Give your puppy/dog a tsp of pure pumkin in there food and it will help tons.

Submitted by Frances | March 22 2014 |

Not a good idea for diarrhea, pumpkin is a treatment for constipation and will make diarrhea worse.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 5 2014 |

Pumpkin does help with diarrhea. The plain kind, though, not the kind used to make pies.

Submitted by jenise | August 24 2014 |

Pumpkin is a natural fiber and works on both constipation and diarrhea, much like metamucil does. It is perfectly safe and works for nausea as well. This is only used after illness is ruled out. I was told this by a vet. In researching this for my own dogs, I discovered that many people freeze it in ice trays and give it as a snack or treat. I did find some warnings about too much vit A for small dogs but that is only if given too much. There are web sites that tell you how much. And as stated above, raw carrots are great for the same reasons and I've read that when given daily, it helps keep anal glands drained. My dogs love them peeled, as they don't like the bitterness of the skin.

Submitted by Miss Debs | December 21 2012 |

I am so grateful for an article that has provided the best idea for care of incontinent dogs. Unfortunately I'm suspicious that I actually gave my dog Salmonella since we both came down with severe cramps/diarrhea within hours. Tonight he's vomited everything he ate from noon on. I'm headed to pick up some baby food, white rice and pro-biotic. I'm just a bit worried, as I haven't had any vomiting. Of course if he's not better by tomorrow night or has any of the complications mentioned on PetMD I'll call the vet.

Thank you so much for such straight ahead advice.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 1 2013 |

Actually, although the rice water is okay for dogs, recommending chicken flavor baby food is NOT good for dogs since it contains onion powder which dogs cannot consume!!! Please remove that part of the recommendation from this article. We just gave our 5 lb Toy Chihuahua some of the rice water with chicken baby food and his eyes turned red and he Nearly Died!!!! Please Don't Help People to Kill Their Beloved PETS!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous | May 12 2013 |

Thank you so much for your post. I had no idea that onion or garlic in any form can be lethal to dogs! My husband loves to give our dog a little bit of table food as a treat. I knew it wasn't healthy but I didn't realize it was/could be toxic. We have some form of onion or garlic in almost everything. Now I know. You might have saved our dog's life! Thank you.

Submitted by Linda | October 8 2013 |

Not only are onions & garlic "NO-NO's" for your dog but also any type
Of sugar substitute that are in sugar free gum , candy or cough drops.
Unsafe are also raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, & dough ( bc
of yeast in it)
Also, if you have a cat, place cat litter up away from dog. Some dogs
like to get into the litter to eat the cats feces & will get litter with it, which can
block up the intestinal tract.
Easter lilies are LETHAL to cats.

Submitted by Josh | November 14 2013 |

True, true. Dogs cannot have onions, chocolate, grapes, raisin's and certain kinds of nuts.

Submitted by Susie C. | March 22 2014 |

There is at least one brand of baby food that doesn't have additives... Just straight chicken, turkey, beef. Sorry I don't recall the brand offhand, but I keep a few on hand for my picky eaters just to add a bit of flavor occasionally.

Submitted by Reeshan | April 27 2014 |

Garlic, in small doses, is not harmful to dogs it is actually quite good for them. A whole clove of garlic at once would be bad, but in pretty much any food you get, that isn't a crap ass commercial brand, it'll have some garlic in it. There's lots of myths out there, but not all are true. Chocolate for instance won't actually kill your dog, dark chocolate is exceptionally bad, but if your dog happens to eat a couple of little milk chocolates, it's really not gonna do anything. And pumpkin really is a cure all, if your dog has diarrhea give them pumpkin, if your dog's constipated give them pumpkin. I always have a nice cube tray filled with pumpkin in my freezer.

Submitted by Dar | June 5 2014 |

Thank you so much for posting this. We have always given our dog yeast and garlic tabs. They keep fleas and ticks away. We have a Collie that is allergic to all the topical remedies out there and when our local vitamin store suggested this we took his advice. I would much rather pay $10 a bottle for the tabs than $60 for a topical that can kill your dog in the end. We never had fleas or ticks on our pets. The same with the chocolate, milk chocolate isn't deadly but dark is. Don't take the vets word on everything. Just like human doctors, they're not gods. It's up to us to take the responsibility to research for our pets health. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are great to give your dog, it won't hurt them.

Submitted by Coco | June 22 2014 |

Hi Dar - I'd like to know more about your natural remedy for fleas & ticks. I have a 65lbs German Shepard/husky/lab male who is very active & seems to love playing in areas with lots of ticks (high grasses, deep woods, marshy reeds, etc.). I don't like using toxic (and expensive!) monthly topical treatments - any info you can share about the natural treatment you use would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Submitted by Andrew Smith | August 5 2014 |

There is a great all natural flea and tick killing spray by sentry called natural defense it's main ingredients are clove oil and peppermint oil there is some alcohol so don't spray in face or eyes or genitals but it works wonders and keeps them away for a few days

Submitted by Sam | September 10 2014 |

I thought everyone knew garlic is used as a natural deterrent for fleas. Another good way of ridding yourself of the little pests, instead of expensive treatment for your carpet use Something like shake n vac or neutradol carpet powder. The reason the flea powders work is because they draw the moisture out of the flea killing it. Carpet cleaning powders do exactly the same thing, try them, but not in your pets bed, for that I use half a flea collar under the bedding, works a treat to keep them at bay. Prevention is easier than ridding your home and loved ones (Pets) of them, cheaper too.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 13 2013 |

Actually there is all CHICKEN baby food; labels indicate chicken and chicken broth and nothing else. :) But it is true that some do have onions and garlic and thats toxic !

Submitted by Amy | January 14 2014 |

We supplemented baby food with some canned after one of our dogs had a stroke just to get him to eat. The key is to look for stage 1 foods - stage 2 etc is when they add sugars and things like the onions and so forth. But it's so expensive anyway that you would be better if you can purée it yourself.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 18 2014 |

I gave my chihuahua only baby food when he was young because he was to tiny to eat regular dog food never had problem "something else happen to your puppy"nothing to do with the baby food

Submitted by Tina | February 27 2014 |

You can get the Gerber brand 2.5 oz chicken with chicken gravy baby food and the ingredient are just ground chicken, water, and cornstarch, but be sure and read the ingredients because some can contain other ingredients.

Submitted by Billie | January 4 2013 |

Thank you so much for your advice about canine diarrhea. You saved me a trip to the vet. All the tips worked wonderful to help my pet recover from my accidentally giving her diarrhea.

Submitted by Tammy | August 28 2014 |

I just got a 2lb Pom puppy. Got the diarrhea to the point she would be asleep and it was just dripping from her my vet said give her boiled chicken and rice or boiled hamburger and rice and 1/4 dropper of pepto bismol I am taking her to the vet tomorrow anyway with a stool sample they said worms can also be a cause although she was wormed already I will still have her rechecked to be sure and she may need antibiotics

Submitted by Debbie | January 24 2013 |

Be CAREFUL giving Imodium to some breeds.
Collies, Shelties,Australian Shepherd and mixed breed with these breeds in the line. There are other breeds in this catergory also check out the MDR1 gene.

Submitted by Minda | February 24 2013 |

I was in a panic when my 13 yr old dog suddenly had an acute case of diarrhea. I immediately went to the store and purchased quality rice, baby food chicken, probiotics, and Kaopectate. She received immediate relief within 90 minutes and so did I! Since this is the weekend and my vet clinic is closed I will report my dog's incident to my vet in the morning. Thank you for this web site. Not only did it help us tremendously but saved me hundreds of dollars by avoiding an emergency clinic. I certainly would not hesitate to go to an emergency clinic had this not been such a success. Thank you very much!

Submitted by Anonymous | March 19 2013 |

My dog's diarrhea hasn't stopped as he's been having it for more than 5 weeks now. I've taken him to quite few vets already and none of them seem to be able to figure out the root cause and they can't stop it either! He's on a watery/ yellow greenish fluid diarrhea and despite my efforts of giving him only rice and dry chicken breast, yogure (probiotics gel even), and a variety of ant-biotics from pills to injections, nothing seem to be working!
I did a blood test, a urine test and a poo test and everything seems normal (there's no blood sign in the diahearra either). He has lost tremendous amount of weight, but he seems to happily continue to have a good appetite and he runs/ plays with other dogs, no issues! I'm helpless and don't know how to stop his diarrhea! :(

Submitted by Anonymous | March 22 2013 |

If after many different treatments your dog still has diarrhoea I would suggest food intolerance. Try different ways to avoid feeding your dog, I would suggested start from rice.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 23 2013 |

My 12 year old border collie is showing same same symptoms you describe. I have taken him to the vet, had him treated for campylobacter, which is now tested as clear, and then other treatments. He is currently on Prozyme but it is only helping a bit. If you receive any helpful advice, I would be grateful if you would share it with me. I am also at my wit's end.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 24 2013 |

Could be he is intolerant of his food due to particular ingredient...also a lot of treats have wreaked havoc with my Doug's stomach...glycerin is in some, and all sorts of weird additives that cause the runs!

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