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!