Uh Oh… What to Do About Dog Diarrhea!

Unfortunately for everyone involved, dog diarrhea is a common canine ailment, and one both you and your dog would rather avoid. But a common occurrence or not, a case of dog diarrhea can really catch you off guard.

Timing, as they say, is everything. And intestinal distress seems to strike at the most inopportune moment.

Whether zipping out the door pressed and polished for a job interview, opening the door to dinner guests, or just coming home after a long day, there is no good time to encounter dog diarrhea.

We’ve heard just about every dog diarrhea anecdote, and we understand the worry, frustration, and uncertainty that can accompany these moments. Although we are only a call away, we want you to feel comfortable and competent handling these situations solo… or at least until we can arrive.

Identifying Dog Diarrhea

One of the most common dog ailments, dog diarrhea is also one of the easiest to identify. A simple clue is stool consistency. Super soft, loose, or runny stool is a sign of diarrhea. Color is also key, as certain shades can correspond to illness.

Black or tarry stools could be indicative of an ulcer. Red streaks in the stool might be caused by an anal injury or bleeding from within the GI tract. Yellow lets you know of a possible food intolerance and green could just be from eating too much grass or a sign of something more serious. White flecks are likely worms.

Basically, any color that veers too far from medium brown lets us know that there is a problem, which we can generally diagnose with simple testing.


Typically, an official diagnosis of dog diarrhea can be done through an examination of fresh fecal matter, blood tests, ultrasounds, x-rays, or endoscopy (which is done following general anesthesia). The type and number of tests required usually depends on the presence of other symptoms.

Additional symptoms like vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss might accompany dog diarrhea, depending on the type.

There are two types of dog diarrhea — small bowel and large bowel — that can be diagnosed through various tests. The primary difference between these two comes down to the cause with specific diagnostic testing required for each.

In the case of small bowel diarrhea, just about anything from bacterial overgrowth to a common parasite or a more serious disease could be the culprit. The cause of large bowel diarrhea can be more difficult to determine but is often the result of whipworms, Clostridial colitis, food allergies, lack of fiber or even stress.

Diarrhea associated with large bowel occurs more frequently, usually more than five times daily; small bowel diarrhea is sudden but less frequent.

Whether small or large bowel, there are other causes that you can control in order to minimize episodes of dog diarrhea.

Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs

Unfortunately, so many factors cause diarrhea in dogs. Some of these you can control, but others, like preexisting health conditions or age, are out of your hands.

Senior dogs, for example, frequently suffer from diarrhea. The good news is awareness can help you guide your dog away from those that can get him into trouble. In some cases, avoidance depends on good habits.

For instance, not paying close attention to what or how much your dog eats can contribute to him developing what some vets dub “garbage gut,” also referred to as dietary indiscretion.

If this sounds like your dog, you should be aware that suddenly restricting his diet overnight or changing dog food brands can also result in dog diarrhea. Similar to humans, some dogs struggle to digest certain foods and can present sensitivities or allergies to particular ingredients.

Bacteria and infections can also wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system, as can common canine viruses like distemper. Naturally, any encounter with a poisonous substance like weed or pest killer, can cause dog diarrhea. Swallowing non-poisonous, but foreign objects like a baby’s pacifier or shreds of mail can also result in intestinal distress.

Let’s say your dog is diagnosed with diarrhea and treatment includes administering the antibiotic amoxicillin. Antibiotics can also cause diarrhea and special care should be taken to ensure that your dog stays hydrated until the issue is resolved.

Persistent bouts of diarrhea are best left to the professionals in order to rule out more critical illnesses. But for lesser cases, in addition to consistent hydration, there are other at-home remedies you can try for cases of mild dog diarrhea.

At Home Remedies for Dog Diarrhea

You’ll be relieved to know that most mild cases of dog diarrhea can be effectively treated with items from your own kitchen.

But, before you introduce anything into your dog’s system, you might want to consider a fast first. This involves restricting food for 12-24 hours, while offering frequent but small amounts of water. However, we don’t recommend this approach for puppies, senior dogs or very small breeds.

A fast can then be followed by giving your dog food found in your own kitchen.

Possible Pantry Cures

The key with these possible pantry cures is simple preparation of typically bland items that will help soothe and settle your dog’s upset stomach. The following are the most popular pantry cures that have proven effective in curing dog diarrhea.

  • Rice Water – A common staple for treating dog diarrhea is rice water. This is easy to prepare by boiling white rice in more water than usually called for, then straining the grains, and giving your dog the resulting white liquid left over. If your dog doesn’t seem interested, you can always up the flavor factor with a shot of baby food or broth.
  • Potatoes – Another starch that comes in handy as an at-home dog diarrhea remedy is boiled potatoes. Be sure to peel the skin off first though, as potato skins can be toxic to dogs.
  • Pumpkin – Perhaps surprisingly, pumpkin is a powerhouse ingredient when it comes to both diarrhea and constipation in canines. Canned pumpkin is the easiest option, but be sure to use pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix that contains sugar and spices.
  • Chicken – Skinless chicken is a smart protein to serve your dog when suffering from diarrhea, and one your dog will probably enjoy eating.
  • Yogurt – The probiotics naturally found in yogurt can soothe upset stomachs and help restore order to your dog’s digestive tract.
  • Other Protein – Eggs or cottage cheese are also good sources of protein that should help settle intestinal distress.

Generally, these cases of mild dog diarrhea will clear up within 3-4 days. However if your dog doesn’t show signs of improving or if symptoms worsen, you should contact your vet.

Medicine Cabinet Cures

Some pet owners have relied on over-the-counter items from their own medicine cabinets when treating dog diarrhea.

Medications like Imodium and Pepcid are commonly used; however, the American Kennel Club’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein cautions against Pepto-Bismol, “If it must be given, offer no more than one to two doses after consulting with your veterinarian.”

Although Pepto-Bismol is considered safe, Klein is quick to remind pet owners that the salicylates found in the medication can cause gastric bleeding. Unfortunately, this symptom can go undetected because the bismuth contained in products like Pepto potentially turns stools black.

Another option, particularly for canines with chronic diarrhea is to purchase dog food that has been specially formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs or those prone to digestive issues.

Help From a Mobile Vet

Depending on the frequency and severity of your dog’s diarrhea, you might feel better giving us a call at 1-888-838-2738. Our mobile vets can come to your home and diagnose your dog’s condition to rule out other illnesses.

We are committed to the best, most convenient care for your pet and invite you to contact us online online whenever you have a concern.

Schedule your mobile vet visit

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