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.


      • Arlene

        Has anyone ever suggested that changing the drinking water of a dog might cause a problem? Not all water is created equal.

        • yourolddog

          Hi Arlene:

          I love your point! Most dog owners don’t think much about the water they provide. Besides being laced with chemicals that kill bacteria, it may also include lead, toxic metal salts, pesticides and even hormones.

          We should all be giving our dogs FILTERED water! Thanks for sharing Arlene.


  • 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.


  • Janice

    I feed my 4.5 year-old and 12 weeks old Labs Grandma Lucy, mix in with raw chicken or turkey from Stella & Chewy and both are having loose stool. I did notice about excessive amount of ground flaxseed. Can that be the cause of loose and messy stool? Let me add, they are also passing excessive amount of gas.

    • yourolddog

      Hi Janice:

      I’ve fed Grandma Lucy’s in the past and once in awhile still do. My lab also had soft stool when eating this brand. I recommend trying just the Stella & Chewys mixed with slightly cooked egg like a sunny side up, some very well cooked frozen veggies such as green beans, broccoli, spinach and actually just rotate them. Yes, flax can cause loose and messy stool. I would also try adding a little (1-2 tablespoons for the older lab) cooked tapioca. Make the tapioca pudding recipe, but do not use milk. Only use water, egg and the tapioca. Adding Colostrum can also help greatly. It works very well for dogs with allergies and IBS. You can also try adding a little mashed banana to the tapioca Janice.

      Hope this helps.


  • KHolland

    My Australian Shepherd (18 months old) has had two bouts of diarrhea, one back in January that lasted THREE to FOUR weeks and numerous trips to the vets for medications, stool samples, blood work, etc. It was super, super expensive! We originally switched his food to something extremely expensive the vet recommended, but it gave him awful, awful gas. Then, we switched his food to Purina Proplan (“Focus”–for sensitive skin and stomachs) and eventually his stool hardened. He has been doing fine on this food for a while (months).
    Now, all of a sudden, he is having loose stools again. However, he doesn’t go every day. About every other day he has a decent bowel movement, but it is of pudding-like consistency or watery. We have been feeding him chicken and rice, and recently tried very lean ground beef and rice, but nothing seems to be working. This is going on two weeks! Any suggestions? Should I switch his food again?


    • yourolddog


      I’m sorry to hear about your young boy’s digestive issues. Yes, I would definitely switch his food again, but I would go a step further and start adding at least two of the necessary supplements he needs as I mention below.

      I’m not sure what your budget is, but I highly recommend that you move away from anything that Purina makes. In fact, if you can, I would look into raw feeding or at least include some raw, or some home cooked and raw. Be sure to include a good multivitamin such as this that includes probiotics and digestive enzymes. If you decide to home cook or raw feed, then I rcommend that you include this formula (it’s the same as our other formula, but includes Calcium) daily. Either way, you must include a good fish oil as well.

      If you have to feed kibble, move to a very high grade kibble such as Acana and still include some other whole foods from your own pantry. Don’t make your dog survive on kibble; he’s not meant to and this is a big problem with more than just digestive issues as your dog ages.

      I hope this helps.


  • Tammy

    Hi Janie,
    I have a 4 month old blue heeler he had really bad diarrhea yesterday, i found your page when i was researching it and i gave him a pepto bismol pill this morning at around 7:30 a.m and he still hasnt pooped. I dont know if hes constipated now or what to do. Hes acting normal playing and eating and drinking water very well.

    • yourolddog

      Hi Tammy:

      I wouldn’t worry too much. It’s possible he just doesn’t have much in there right now. If he doesn’t go tomorrow or the next day, then I would get a little concerned.


      • tammy

        Oh good! Thank you so much!

        • yourolddog

          My pleasure.

          • Debbie Magnin

            If he is still constipated try a teaspoon of pumpkin. every 6 hours.

          • yourolddog

            Thanks for sharing Debbie. Pumpkin can be an excellent choice since it can act as a laxative or to firm up the stool. 🙂


          • Tammy

            He still hasn’t used the restroom but he is urinating a lot what else could I give him?

          • yourolddog

            Like Debbie says, you can try a teaspoon of pumpkin every 4-6 hours and see if that helps. When you say urinating a lot, do you mean more than usual?

  • Tammy

    It’s pretty normal I just don’t know where to get pumpkin from. Can I use it from a can?

    • yourolddog

      You can purchase pumpkin in the can from most large grocery stores. ONLY GET PURE PUMPKIN AND NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING.

  • laura bruce

    so my dog has diarrhea and he eats his poop why I am going to try some of the stuff I have read on here to see if I can help it. But I don’t understand why he eats it or drinks his pee is it a vitamin he is not getting??

    • yourolddog

      Hi Laura:

      How old is your dog and what do you feed him? Has this be an ongoing thing? Do you use chemical flea and tick products? What about vaccinations – history?


  • Laura

    I have a 12 year old border collie with diarrhea, she gets 1/2 cup of lamb/rice dry food with a 1/2 can of duck or chicken; we have been giving her a 1/4 cup of kale in the a.m. and 1/4 cup of carrots in the evening.(vegies were to help with her eating moss or tree bark and it did help) Brand I have been using is Merrik.
    I would do the 12-24 hour fasting for her but my house mate feels it is cruel, and feeds her anyway….suggestions?
    Do I do the boiled rice and chicken?

    • yourolddog

      Hi Laura:

      You can temporarily to the boiled rice and chicken to curb the diarrhea, but quite honestly, I would look to changing her diet completely, especially since she was eating moss and tree bark. This is an indicator that the diet is lacking. I would include more fresh foods including meat, egg and veggies with every meal. I would also include a few supplements such as a GOOD non toxic fish oil and a daily multivitamin.


  • carmen n powell

    Hi, I’m writing about my 5 yr. old yorkie mix. He’s always been sensitive since we got him at 7 months old. He was on puppy chow when we got him and I switched him to Fromm. Eventually (because Fromm has cheese in it), I switched him to Orijen (chicken & white fish formula). Some time ago, I had a test done on him that provided information about allergies, beneficial foods, etc. One of the things outlined was encouraging more beef in his diet (along with bison, elk, etc.). I then switched his Orijen to beef. This was too strong and he started having serious digestive issues (diarrhea, gassy, etc.). I switched him back. I’ve not gotten the diarrhea under control for any length of time. He would vomit often and wouldn’t eat or drink much. I could see that he was losing weight. I’ve taken him to vets where he’s been given several rounds of antibiotics, anti parasite, and probiotics. His tests for parasites came back negative. He had only lost about 3 lbs. I had him on a bland diet, and still no improvement. The only thing that improved was by giving him famotodine, the vomiting improved and so did his appetite and drinking; as a matter of fact his appetite came back with a vengeance. He has generally been a picky eater but not he has a voracious appetite and is sticking to a much better schedule with his feeding. However his diarrhea has not improved! We have moved recently and I thought perhaps it was stress. He’s been more comfortable and it’s been about a month now and no improvement. I’ve tried bentonite clay, a new probiotic, activated charcoal, glutamine, diatomaceous earth (combining some of these things together) and still no improvement. Put him back on a bland diet and no change! I will say that it seems that the bentonite clay helps slightly with giving him some bulk – from runny to soft serve. I like the idea of the powdered multi with calcium and the colostrum (which I clearly understand the benefits of that). What else would you suggest.

    • yourolddog

      Hi Carmen:

      You clearly understand the importance of diet and it sounds like you’re doing a very good job, despite the diarrhea issues. I work alot with labs (who tend to have very sensitive stomachs) and the Colostrum and the MultiVitamin mentioned can help a great deal when combined with the right diet. I’m sure you’re pretty busy like most of us, but quite honestly, I would dump the kibble period and move to home prepared that includes raw.

      Owners often shy away from home made simply because of this fear that it’s going to entail too much work, but it doesn’t have to. If you want some help with this, let me know. I’ll share some ideas with you thru email. However I would definitely include both the Colostrum and the Multi.


      • Carmen

        Yeah, I’d certainly like some ideas. I’ve tried raw with him gradually attempting to add it in with the hopes of making that his main diet but he won’t eat it. I’ve gotten raw bones and he will only lick them and I’ve often worried about bacteria from letting them sit out so long. I generally put them back in the freezer if he’s not attacked them within 15 minutes. He gets some freeze dried treats which sometimes I’ve included with his meals. I’ve thought about a vegan kibble and possibly adding meat that way. Hey, but I’m open to suggestions. I’ll look forward to what ever you have to send.

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