Diarrhea is (unfortunately) not an uncommon problem for dog owners. While serious issues such as bacterial infections, parasites, viral illnesses, allergies, and ingesting poisonous or inedible objects can be at the root of the issue, there are also many innocuous reasons why an otherwise healthy dog can get diarrhea.
As a general rule when one of the boys has diarrhea, we follow a particular protocol: we observe the boys carefully, watching for any changes in their affect or behavior, examine their poop to make sure it isn’t bloody or irregularly colored, and take a few steps to control their diet and fluid intake (detailed below) to see if we can remedy the problem on our own.
**It is important to note that our boys are healthy and don’t have any pre-existing medical problems. As a result, we don’t rush to the vet on in the infrequent occasion that the boys have some digestive upset. All bets are off and a trip to the vet is in order if we know that they have gotten into something, I see them act unusually (depressed, weak, in pain, listless), they refuse to eat or drink, or the diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours.
The tips and suggestions that we detail below are ways that we have helped our healthy dogs get through bouts of diarrhea. This post does not take the place of the medical advice of your veterinarian.
Remember, a phone call is always free, so it’s never a bad idea to check in with your dogtor!
A Recent Trip Down Diarrhea Lane
A couple of weeks ago, Charlie ingested his first ever toy. Don’t get me wrong, he has shredded quite a few toys in his day, but he has never EATEN one! Well, that is, until last week.
As soon as we realized that the toy he had been playing with was gone, and fearing an intestinal blockage, we rushed to the medicine cabinet and attempted to induce vomiting by administering Hydrogen Peroxide. We eventually got Charlie to throw up and we picked through the throw up to make sure that the whole toy came up. We thought the saga was over and that we had avoided any additional problems. We were WRONG.
The next day, Charlie threw up his breakfast. We were concerned. He then went on to throw up three times a few hours later, in succession. This throw up was all bile and tinged red. WE WERE FREAKING OUT.
We took Charlie to the vet, where they observed him, X-Rayed his abdomen to make sure there wasn’t a blockage, and ultimately concluded….he had a tummy ache (a very expensive tummy ache), likely caused by stomach and esophageal irritation from the hydrogen peroxide. Charlie was sent home with us, tail wagging, and prescribed medications to soothe his stomach and reduce the acid. We thought that was the end of it. WRONG AGAIN.
Once our little Ducky was feeling better and no longer throwing up, we started to see the after effects of all of that intestinal irritation. DIARRHEA. After consulting with the vet to ensure that no additional veterinary care was needed, we took a few simple steps to make sure that he stayed on the road to recovery. Read more about our diarrhea protocol below…
What to Do When Your Dog Has Diarrhea
1. Keep them Hydrated
Acute diarrhea has several possible causes typically related to absorption, secretion, or motility of the intestine. Regardless of the cause of Diarrhea, one thing remains the same – your dog is losing water through their stool and are at increased risk of dehydration. Encouraging your dog to drink water, especially when they may not be feeling their best can be a challenge, but is so important! Failing to stay hydrated is a sure fire way of landing back at the vet!
How to Make Sure Your Dog is Getting Enough Water
- Use a Water Fountain – Water fountains encourage dogs to drink! From an evolutionary perspective, running water is safe to drink. The sound of running water is enticing to them and filters keep their water clean and fresh tasting!
- Bob for Treats/Ice Cubes – Our favorite trick for hiking is also a great way to entice your dog to drink more water. When we need the boys to drink but they aren’t showing interest, we love to throw some treats into the bowl. As they attempt to get the treat, they drink lots of water! Ice cubes, real food, and limited ingredient treats can be used if you are worried about stomach upset.
- Make It Interesting – When the boys need to drink more, we like to add low-sodium or homemade broth to their food or water bowls. They can’t help but lap it up!
**Anytime you add food or broth to water, be sure to allow them to drink, then dump and wash the bowls so that bacteria does not build up**
2. Feed a Bland Diet
A bland diet can be used anytime your dog needs a digestive reset, has a stomach ache, or diarrhea. The idea behind a bland diet is that you want the food to leave the stomach and intestines quickly. If you have ever cleaned up a pile of throw up off the rug, you know that kibble can be slow to digest! A bland diet is designed to provide a low fat meal that will provide nutrition for your dog while not sitting in their stomach for too long!
What Does a Bland Diet for Dogs Consist of?
A bland diet typically consists of equal parts low fat meat and easily digestible grain.
- Low Fat Meat – Stick to lean and easily digested meats like turkey and chicken. Ground meat is easy to get from your local grocery store and works perfectly. When preparing and cooking it, be sure to drain off any extra fat. While this is not normally a problem for your dogs to eat, remember, a bland diet is designed to be low fat so that it leaves the body quickly!
- Grains – The easiest thing to do is to feed white rice or noodles. While these are not known as nutritional all-stars, they serve the purpose of being easily digested.
3. Supplement with Natural Digestion Aids
You know we love to go natural whenever possible. Natural digestion aids can help to get your dog’s bowels headed in the right direction – toward firm and formed poops!
- Probiotics/Yogurt – These are a great choice when your dog has had diarrhea or when they have finished a round of antibiotics. Probiotics basically are healthy bacteria that help to restore your dog’s gut biome which regulates digestion and the removal or absorption of fluids from their intestinal track. Probiotics can be used as a preventative for diarrhea as well! In addition to probiotic supplements that can be purchased, plain yogurt (no sugars added) contains live cultures that can help to restore your dog’s gut biome. Just be sure your dog can tolerate dairy!
- Canned Pumpkin – A spoonful of pumpkin mixed in their food is great for a dog with diarrhea. It contains beta-carotene and lots of fiber to help firm things up. Be sure to use regular pumpkin with no sugar or spices added. The only drawback-what to do with the rest of that can of pumpkin?!
- Dr. Harvey’s Runs Be Done – To tackle the problem of not having pumpkin on hand and also not knowing what to do with the giant can of pumpkin after we are done giving a few scoops, we recently started using Dr. Harvey’s Runs Be Done Supplement.
Runs Be Done is an all-natural anti-diarrheal supplement that uses pumpkin, slippery elm, apple, pectin, bentonite clay, and other healing herbs to target loose stools and diarrhea. The best part about it? It’s shelf stable and can be used as needed when unexpected bouts of loose stool show up. Simply follow the dosing directions on the back on the container, it could not be easier!
Runs Be Done smells great and Charlie eagerly ate it up when added to his food! Runs Be Done can also be added to water. Though I haven’t tried it this way, I think the dogs would eagerly drink it too! There is nothing medicinal about this stuff (trust me Charlie wouldn’t eat it if there was) just all natural goodness!
So How Did It All Turn Out for Charlie?
After feeding a bland diet for a couple of days post incident, Charlie had stopped having sudden urges to go out and middle of the night bathroom trips, but still had poorly formed stool. After adding in the Runs Be Done, we saw a return to his normal firm consistency poops after only a couple of days.
We were very impressed and WILL definitely be keeping it on hand for when these situations arise in the future!
I have always done the meat and rice thing for when my pups aren’t feeling well due to tummy ache or after having surgery. Thank you for the chance!
Rice seems to help, but would like to try Dr. Harvey’s supplement.
I have always used boiled chicken and white rice for the occasional stomache problems my dog gets.
I like to feed my dogs organic chicken.
I fed my dog boiled chicken, brown rice, and veggies when his tummy is upset.
With 4 dogs in our house, & 1 of those dogs having cancer, there is never a dull moment. I would love to try Dr Harvey’s Runs Be done. Thank you for offering us this giveaway
I hope Charlie learned his lesson to just shred & not eat the toys!
I hope so too! We were so surprised since he has never done it before!
There must have been something tantalizingly tasty about that toy. Poor Charlie! Glad he’s feeling better now!
Ducky and Shadow have IBS, so we know what it’s like to have a pooch with digestive problems. Thankfully I’ve learned how to keep it under control these past few years.
This supplement has ingredients I have read are good for dogs with the “runs”. Would love to try it, along with the probiotic I give daily.
First, I fast the dog for a day, offering just water. Then start feeding 3-4 small meals of cooked sweet potato, mixed with either cooked chicken or cooked ground turkey. I keep these in the freezer, to have on hand, when needed. Who wants to run to the store and cook, when dealing with this? (-:
Such a good idea to keep all that on hand in the freezer. You are right, the last thing you want to have to do when your dog is unwell is head to the store!
Rice has always been the go to with Cooper. Sometimes mixed with scrambled egg (I always have eggs on hand).
When I adopted a young Lab in 2004, he was scared and had an upset tummy. my Vet suggested boiled hamburger or chicken with rice. It worked for him and I have used it for other upset tummies. I also add pumpkin to dry dog food which our dogs love. Then I use the rest of the can and make puppy cookies for the dogs and pumpkin muffins for Mom and Dad.
I have a fiber supplement for my dog when he gets diarrhea. I add it to his dinner and usually by the next day he is back on track!
I let them drink rice want her to come to stomachs down
Have only tried a bland diet for a couple of days but would love to try this
I heard that cooked rice is good for a dog with digestive upset.
Chicken and rice maybe some pumpkin works for us. I would like to try this supplement.
I use the bland diet – ground turkey. This would be so good to have on hand and ready any time. Thanks for sharing.
i would love to try this my dog has had digestive problems all his life.
Sometimes I will use a little Pepto Bismol. Thankfully my dogs don’t have the runs too often.
I haven’t had a serious doggy tummy upset to deal with for a while now (knock wood, but I know eventually we will have). Right now, if one of the dogs starts having issues, I give them a big spoon of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, but straight pumpkin) and it’s been enough to take care of any recent problems. But, with three rescued Treeing Walker Coonhounds, I know there will eventually be at least one of them needing something. Funny thing is, my biggest dog – Seiji – has the most sensitive stomach. I have made up chicken and rice for him and the others. When my deaf hound girl, Ran, who I lost just over 2 years ago from an autoimmune disorder, first starting having her issues, I would have loved to have had a product like this.
We do the bland diet and use canned pumpkin to try to firm things up.
We do boiled chicken & rice.
We do boiled chicken & rice or buy the canned food from our vet.
Bland diet and extra love for my pup! Glad Charlie is feeling better, Arrow had a similar situation this weekend (x rays and all), so we know the feeling!
Runs be Done sounds like a good way to solve the issue. We rarely get the runs here, but when we do, then Mom watches our drinking and gives us that bland diet until things clear up.
The minute I know one of my dogs is showing digestive problems, I make white or brown rice and add in some boiled chicken and give them just enough to help them feel better. They usually get better right away. I then start mixing in their usual food with a little chicken and rice. I also keep canned pumpkin on hand.
Ground chicken and noodles is our bland diet of choice around here. I use a probiotic from THK but would also like to try Dr. Harvey’s product as well.
I use a probiotic but Purina makes an OTC probiotic that works miracles, Fortiflora.
i dont feed them any food for 24 hrs to see if they can get it out of their system. i use plain canned organic pumpkin. i have used coconut flakes, no sugar on top of their food, i use pepsid, (ask your vet the correct amount to use). i have used Fortiflora in the past. i make a bland diet of very soft rice and pureed chicken in chicken broth, no salt. i also use the primal probiotic goat’s milk on a daily basis. it also has tumeric in it.
We do a bland diet of mostly ground meat… Mr. N picks out all the rice. And some slippery elm.
We have tried the bland diet.
For Lucky, we give him sweet potato and chicken. He gets sweet potato often and loves it so its easy.
I usually do chicken and rice and make sure that my dog drinks water if she has diarrhea.
I always use pumpkin with my toy poodles! To keep the rest of the can spoon into old ice trays in correct size for dose. Freeze, pop out then place in a freezer bag. You can take out what you need!
Great tip, thank you!
I boil a chicken breast then cook the rice in the chicken water. Little bits of chicken make it like a treat.
Allergies can be complicated to handle. Thanks for the post.
To keep our, into everything 2-1/2 yr old, lab’s digestive system in check, I take 1 cup of white rice and cook with about 2-1/2 cups of water. Then while still warm, mix in 1 can of plain pumpkin. I portion out into either regular muffin or mini muffin tins and freeze. When frozen, flip over in sink on top of a cooling rack and run warm water over to release. Keep frozen in freezer. She paws the freezer door for one each morning. It’s her favorite “treat.” If she does have diarrhea, she gets an extra one and by next day she is fine.