Most of us have dealt with the mess and concern that comes with caring for a sick child or pet. Like humans who visit the doctor when they just can’t get well, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the veterinarian if they are enduring prolonged suffering. However, it is easy to learn how to treat diarrhea in dogs who have committed the common doggy crime of sneaking people food or garbage. First, try to verify why your dog is feeling unwell.
Diarrhea in dogs can come about through a variety of ways, though ingestion of something disagreeable is the most likely cause in healthy dogs. You dog could have been chewing on some house plants or other greens in the yard, or maybe they have the rarer habit of eating things which aren’t food in any form, such as a plastic bag or a sock. If you have recently changed the kind of food you feed your dog, this can also cause diarrhea, as it may have disrupted the delicate balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract. Allergies are another cause- like humans, dogs can become allergic, at any time in their lives, to a wide range of foods and common household products. Dogs also get diarrhea when they are stressed and anxious, and this may account for briefer periods of upset.
How to Treat Dog Diarrhea
If the diarrhea is accompanied by any of the following- bloating, vomiting, panting, lethargy, or fever, you need to see a vet. You also need to see a vet immediately if there is blood in the runny stool, or if the stool is black or tarry- it could be a sign of internal bleeding. Excessive straining while trying to pass the diarrhea is also a sign that something more serious is wrong. Always default to veterinary treatment if your dog has diarrhea for more than two days.
Many pet owners default to the belief that dogs can benefit from many of the same diarrhea remedies we use on ourselves. Pepto Bismol is the most common over the counter medication used, although Kaopectate is available as well. While it is true that dogs can typically ingest these safely, it isn’t the most reasonable option. Those medications, as everyone knows, aren’t formulated with dogs in mind, so the side effects on your particular pet may vary. Additionally, dogs digest things at a much faster rate than humans, so if the diarrhea is from something they’ve ingested, the damage is done, but should be over with soon. By the time the medication has made it’s way into the dog’s system, the cause of the diarrhea is well ahead of it.
The first thing to do is remove all food- the dog should have no access to anything edible. Do not feed your dog anything for 12-24 hours as the diarrhea persists. This includes all treats, regular meals, and of course, table scraps. Water should be made available in small amounts to prevent dehydration.
After that, you are going to cook a meal for your dog. It may seem a little strange to not simply open a can or bag, but they deserve it. The caveat is, nothing fancy. Boil some white rice and some skinless, boneless chicken together. You may start to feel a little inspired, but do not add anything to this, the recipe is simply water, rice, and chicken. Adding oils and spices maybe cause the diarrhea to recur or worsen as your dog’s tummy is trying to heal. Make sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked before adding it to the rice. Offer a very small amount, based on your dog’s size, and see if they will eat it. Refusal of food can be normal if it happens once, but any dog that refuses food for an extended period of time needs treatment.
While your dog’s diarrhea should have subsided drastically by now, keep feeding them the chicken and rice, slowly increasing the portion over the next few days to the regular amount of food your dog regularly eats. Now that your dog no longer has diarrhea, you have to carefully help them rebalance their gastrointestinal tract.
A small amount of plain yogurt contains probiotics that are very beneficial after a bout of diarrhea. Make sure the yogurt is absolutely plain, with no sugar or flavorings. It also needs to have the probiotic strain L acidophilus included in the ingredients. You can add a spoonful or two to the chicken and rice dish, or feed it to your dog on the side as a ‘treat’. If this is the first time your dog has tried yogurt, monitor the intake and stick to even smaller amounts, to be sure that the yogurt does not aggravate your dog’s stomach.
Continue with the bland diet until your dog passes a bowel movement that looks normal. After that, it is best to slowly transition back to normal eating habits by adding small portions of the dog’s regular food into the chicken and rice. If the diarrhea returns, eliminate the dog food and go back to chicken and rice only. If the diarrhea seems to clear up again after going back to the chicken and rice, it is possible that the food is the cause of the diarrhea to begin with, and you will have to find a different brand or texture. Wet foods tend to cause diarrhea more easily than dry foods, so consider that as well. Also evaluate the kind of treats you give your dog; if you have recently bought them something rich and foreign to their palate, this may be the culprit.
To prevent further cases of ingestion diarrhea in your dog, keep garbage cans shut and placed away from common areas the dog frequents, never leave food laying out unattended, and watch your dog when you’re outside to make sure they aren’t getting into potentially poisonous plants. Pay attention to what kind of dog food you buy, and try to stick to brands with simple, wholesome ingredients you know your dog can tolerate. Also consider getting your dog an allergy test, so you can seek safe and beneficial treatments that will keep them comfortable for a long time.