dog diarrheaUnfortunately, diarrhea occurs in dogs for a lot of different reasons.

So, I’ve tried to list some of the most common reasons and treatment options for you.

Each of these can cause a dog to have a bout of short term digestive distress.

However, if the underlying problem (such as food or disease) isn’t identified and corrected, your dog will most likely continue with routine problems such as unformed, messy stool.

If loose bowels are caused by something more serious such as disease, then the episodes are often more frequent, on and off, and last for longer periods of time.

So, it’s important that you pay attention to your dog’s stool on a daily basis.  Keep in mind that the appearance of your dog’s bowel movements tells a lot.

Possible Causes For Diarrhea in Dogs

  • Getting into the garbage and eating trash
  • Drinking standing water from puddles, ponds, streams, etc.
  • Over eating
  • Feeding table scraps; not all table scraps, just those that are TOO rich for dogs (gravies, sauces, extra spicy) etc.
  • Low grade kibble
  • Diet change
  • Nervousness and anxiety disorders
  • Disease/Illness (eg: IBD, Colitis, Parvo & Distemper to name a few)
  • Consumed Poison
  • Beach diarrhea (ingesting sea water)
  • Toad licking (there are 2 very toxic toads within the U.S. – Colorado River toad found in the South West & Marine toads found in Texas and Florida)

If any of the following apply – see a vet!

  • If your dog has had diarrhea with no improvement for more than two days.
  • If blood is present.
  • If your dog is lethargic or has difficulty breathing.
  • If accompanied by vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Ingested poison.
  • Weight loss.
  • Frequent episodes of watery , messy stool.

Immediate Treatment to Eliminate Your Dog’s Diarrhea

I’m listing some ideas below on how to immediately treat the stool problem, but also how to treat and eliminate future problems with recommended products. Don’t get carried away and try a bunch of different products at one time.  Take it slow.  Review the products that I recommend and move forward from there.  If one doesn’t work, try another while keeping in mind that food or food related allergies might be the problem if your continues to show little to no improvement.

  • Evaluate your dog’s diet closely. Are you sure that you’re feeding a good food?  What your dog eats can lead to chronic diarrhea that’s often caused by IBS or IBD (irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease).  Trust me, it’s cheaper to feed your dog correctly than it is to try and correct an ongoing problem that is often related to your dog’s food intake.
    • If your dog is generally healthy, but his stool is a mess and nothing happened to cause the messy stool (drinking contaminated water, etc.), then it’s most likely related to poor diet.  You have to be willing to feed your dog a meal that agrees with him. You can’t and shouldn’t try and cover up the problem by relying on products that just temporarily relieves the diarrhea, which happens because the intestinal cells are damaged. See the supplement below that I recommend to help build intestinal cells. You can also add probiotics which provide a healthy flora and keep your dog’s gut intact. But, they don’t always work alone.
  • With hold food for 12 to 24 hours is the first thing Vet’s usually recommend. However, be careful with puppies and smaller dogs who run the risk of hypoglycemia. 12 hrs. might work better for these guys.
  •  Jasmine rice is very sticky once cooked and works best with boiled chicken (squeeze excess water from chicken) or  boiled ground beef (drain fat, rinse and blot beef dry with paper towels) after the 12-24 hr. period and continue this bland diet for 2 days.
  • If and only if your dog isn’t showing signs of any serious illness, restrict his water intake and give him small drinks at a time for 24 hours. It’s important that you don’t allow your dog to become dehydrated.  Give ice cubes if your dog will eat them.
  • Avoid giving dogs with diarrhea pumpkin. More often than not, it causes much bigger problems.
  • Feed 3 small meals daily vs free  feeding.
  • Here’s a recipe for rice water. Boil 1 cup rice to 4 cups water for 25 minutes. Drain the liquid.  Allow him to drink as often as he wants. If he doesn’t respond to the rice water, try adding a little (one teaspoon) chicken baby food.
  • You can administer Pedialyte by mixing 50/50 with his water to help with hydration for the first 24 hours. This helps to replace lost electrolytes.
  • Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate (both of these products contain salicylates – see warning below): The dosage for dogs is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight. No more than 2 tablespoons 3 times daily, or one table per 15 pounds of body weight up to 3 times a day. This should only be used for temporary relief and not on a regular basis. I prefer Pepto Bismol over Kaopectate. Warning: NEVER use any product that contains salicylates if you’re giving your dog aspirin or any type of NSAID such as Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx, Etogesic, etc. without talking to your dog’s vet first. NEVER GIVE CATS PEPTO BISMOL.

Recommended Products To Eliminate Reoccurring Problems

  • The Honest Kitchen Form is an ALL NATURAL EFFECTIVE supplement that supposedly works very well for dogs who experience frequent digestive problems, although I’ve never personally used it for my own dogs. It’s natural and could be a great product to have on hand.  It’s inexpensive and receives glowing reviews.
  • Another great product I recently learned about is called Seacure. It’s a whitefish protein that can work wonders for diarrhea stemming from IBS. Read reviews.
  • L-Glutamine is an amino acid that many dogs lack due to poor diet and not enough quality protein such as meat and fish. L-glutamine works by replacing intestinal cells. It is often recommended for dogs suffering from chronic bowel problems. It’s also very good for leaky gut and food allergies. I use this myself. 🙂  Daily dosage can range anywhere from 250-3000 milligrams.  Start slow!!  This is the exact product that I use myself.
  • The MOST IMPORTANT tip of all if your dog continues to have soft, messy stool is to feed a better food .  You have got to avoid supermarket foods and others such as Ol Roy, Purina (including Beneful), etc.  If kibble is a must, look to foods such as Fromms Four Star Nutritionals, Carna4, Acana.  Your dog will be happy and it will show in his or her stool.

You can find additional help in the comments below. If you have any home remedies for treating doggy diarrhea that you can share, please add your own comment below.

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  • Ann Marie

    We have a 19 month old Doberman that gets intermittent diarrhea … She’s fine for 2 or 3 weeks and then out of the blue she gets loose stools… We’ve been feeding her Blue Buffalo since she was 4 months old and only Blue Buffalo treats…. We are in Florida for 3 months now so we thought it might be the stress of the change…. We tried to switch her food to Canidae (slowly) and no improvement …. We had her stool checked several months ago after a bout of diarrhea and all was neg. .. What food would you recommend?

    • yourolddog

      Hi Ann Marie:

      I’m very sorry for the delay in responding to you. After reading your comment, I realized I needed more time than I had to respond that day. Anyway, here’s my thoughts.

      Over the years, many people would ask me what I would recommend for their dog’s intermittent diarrhea; just like you are. I would ask what type of food they feed and MANY, MANY would tell me Blue Buffalo. I’ve read the ingredients on Blue many times and the ingredients seemed pretty good; but, I came to the conclusion that something wasn’t quite right with the food regardless of what the ingredients. I would always tell these dog owners to get the dog off of Blue. Well, last year Blue Buffalo admitted to using by-product meal in their food line and not readily sharing that with the consumers.

      Ann Marie, you have a young dog there and I can’t recommend to you enough that you start her on a raw diet. Almost all dogs thrive on raw; it is after all what they are designed to eat. It’s not just a matter of going to the store and purchasing raw meat and dumping it in a bowl. It’s a little more involved, but I will help you if you need some guidance. When fed a raw diet, most dogs no longer have digestive distress.

      Let me know okay.


  • Stephanie

    How much is too much?
    I’ve recently switched my(5) dogs’ from pedigree dry to pedigree wet. A view of them were battling with hard stools. I’ve been mixing in(3cups) jasmine rice, (1 cup)roasted carrots with the new wet(2 16 oz cans) food adding(12oz frozen not canned) salmon once a week.
    I feed them twice a day in the morning and then again around 6pm.
    Eventhough their stool is much softer it’s not loose, it’s firm but moist.
    I’ve noticed that my 4 year old chihuahua’s coat is shiner and appears to be deeper in color. He’s also put on a little weight. I can no longer see his ribs.
    This method of feeding seems to be working.
    However,how much is too much?
    Should I continue to feed them jasmine rice? Or should I limit the frequency to once a week?

    • yourolddog

      Hi Stephanie:

      Thanks for sharing what you’re doing for your dogs. I’m not sure what your budget is or how big your dogs are, but I wanted to share a little about Pedigree dog food. It’s the bottom of the barrel when it comes to food for dogs. It’s up there with Purina. Here’s the ingredients from one of their wet foods:


      Let me break it down for you. This food contains more water than anything, then chicken instead of chicken meal. Chicken contains more water weight; chicken meal is more meat. Then MEAT BY PRODUCTS which are total garbage and should be avoided at all cost. It contains wheat flour and wheat gluten which are also very bad for your dog.

      If you can afford to change to a better wet food, I urge you to do so. Avoid dog foods such as Purina, Beneful, Pedigree, Ol Roys or any other low budget foods. If you can afford it, look into using something such as FRESH PET which can be found in refrigerated sections of pet food isles. You can get it in a roll and add it to your dog’s dry. However, I recommend that you get away from Pedigree altogether and look into Fromms dry and if you can swing it, add their wet food as well.

      I wouldn’t feed the rice all the time. Although it may seem like it’s working a little because the food is slightly formed but soft; unfortunately your dogs will always have soft, sloppy stool because of what they are eating Stephanie. I’m sorry. 🙁 If you need help choosing foods that may be more affordable, etc., feel free to ask.


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