Unfortunately, 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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Showing 215 comments
  • Shannon

    Hi Janie,

    We have a 3 yr old french bulldog. Tucker has had horrible diarrhea for almost 2 months and I’m not sure what else we should do. We’ve gone to the vet, had done blood work, fecal tests, a round of antibiotics, surculfate. Our vet “thinks” it might be IBD. We fed raw for almost a year and a half, and then out of nowhere he got horrible diarrhea and was obviously in pain. The only change in his routine was a move across the country. We were feeding him Vital Essentials raw, but when we moved to Montana we started feeding him Tucker’s, because the diet appeared to be better. He was fine on the food for 3 weeks, and then his problems started. After the vet visits and testing, I was able to get his old diet, but that didn’t fix anything. He was obviously in major pain and was refusing to eat. We tried different proteins, probitotics, and digestive enzymes, but nothing seemed to work. Now we’re feeding him ground turkey and rice, in hopes that his tummy gets better, and we we’re even giving him l-glutamine. The pain has appeared to pass, but his stool is not getting any better. I think the pumpkin in then Tucker’s may have made him sick, so we are giving him that, and I’m slowly trying to get him on Honest Kitchen, but without his stools firming up, I feel like the food is going to be a waste. Raw doesn’t work for us anymore, and I really want to stay away from kibble. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    • janie

      Hi Shannon:

      I’m so sorry to hear about Tucker.

      It sounds like you’ve tried hard to do a good job with regards to diet. That’s great. 🙂

      IBD is a junk diagnosis that doctors and vets often use when they don’t know what’s causing the diarrhea. I’ve had this same conversation with a very respected and well known holistic vet.

      Have you vaccinated him recently and if so when, and what was he vaccinated for?

      Let me know.


      • Shannon

        He’s hasn’t been vaccinated since last year. He’s due for them in April. He’s had his rabies, distemper, lepto and Lyme vaccinations, but like I said, all last year.

        • janie

          Hi Shannon:

          I would not vaccinate again. The only one required by LAW is rabies. I urge you to start taking your dog to holistic vet in your area who will do a titer test to check the levels of vaccine in the dog. They know that vaccines last between 8-10 years Shannon. So please, understand and educate yourself about vaccinations and how dangerous they are. More and more dogs have severe skin problems, diarrhea (aka IBD), seizures, cancer and the list goes on. I relate the problem to vaccinations, chemical flea and tick products and poor diet which we know you were feeding a very good diet.

          Does he have any other symptoms besides diarrhea? Ear or skin issues, licking anywhere, anal gland issues, runny eyes, etc. I meant to ask this earlier and I lost my first response to you (I forgot to save it) and then I forgot to ask this question as well. Please let me know if there’s any other symptoms?


  • Medina

    My 7month old puppy, Elvis, started having diarrhea 2 days ago and today he vomited. He recently recovered from a big allergy (his wet food contained fish and we didn’t know), before all this started. We made him rice with ground chicken and ground turkey. He only ate that yesterday morning. Today I gave him peanut butter and some treats that he likes because he wasn’t eating. I am thinking that’s why he threw up – too much peanut butter. He is still playful though. His nose is cold which could indicate no fever is present. Also, I don’t know if this is related in any way, but a week or so ago he stopped using his wee-wee pads and urinating around the house, sometimes in front of us, even though we are telling him no and taking him outside. Not sure if this is because of his age and different developmental stages he is going through or these are all related…

    • janie

      Hi Medina:

      Diarrhea involving dogs is often much more than “what did he eat?” You have to take into consideration what you’re feeding and how much that diet resembles what he’s meant to eat naturally. You also have to take into consideration what is pushed upon our animals that harm their immune systems, often to the point of no return. So, there’s a big picture to look at and if you don’t, I can almost guarantee that your dog youngster will have continuous problems the rest of his life and they will get worse with age.

      Vaccinations are one of those things that veterinarians push that are very harmful to our pets. Learn about them and educate yourself. You can read my article here. The rabies vaccine IS THE ONLY VACCINE REQUIRED BY LAW. Read my article on rear end paralysis related to rabies vaccinehere.

      When was your dog vaccinated? Also, what brand and type of food do you feed?

      You have a young dog and I can’t recommend to you enough the importance of what you do with your dog from this point forward and how it will affect all the rest of his days. Meaning, feed him a HEALTHY raw meat, green diet. Lots of fresh meat and steamed vegetables. AVOID kibble. If you don’t want to prepare meat and vegetables, then look into the Honest Kitchen where you simply add hot filtered water.

      Include a good multivitamin for your dog to keep his immune system strong. Nuvet is very good for this and all he needs is one a day. It’s very economical.

      You MUST avoid chemical flea and tick products, which like vaccines, break down the immune system. The actually poison your dog. Use natural products like Triple Sure.


  • Karolina

    Hi Janie,
    Thank you for writing this article. I have a 1.5yo GS and I suspect IBS. I have gone through three vets now (the last one is holistic). The second one has over-vaccinated my GS (no prior proof of any vaccines, so, the 5 or 6 “standard ones” were given – after learning more on vaccines after the fact, I got very upset with that vet). The holistic-current vet has her on yin-yang diet, animal based digestive enzymes with probiotics and herbal medicine. I cook for her the food, Seemed to do ok for a while on ground beef cooked with farro or arborio rice, peas and carrots, but now has again diarrhea. Liver, chicken, lamb, duck, diary -cow and goat, sardines, salmon, sweet potato, pumpkin, lentils – all are causing diarrhea. Per allergy test, there are none… No kibble (causes diarrhea) or raw food (severe constipation). Per your article, I will start giving her rice-water and L-Glutamine. I still feel helpless as when I got her she ate only two cups of dry food (~40lbs, about 4 months ago, barely any appetite, had staff infection, ribs showing, severe itching body + ears), now roughly 8 cups of cooked food (a little under 60lbs, great appetite, ribs still showing, still some itching on the body, ears are ok). My worry is still the loose stool… She is not absorbing all the foods then… Is there anything else I could do?

    • janie

      Hi Karolina:

      You’re very welcome.

      I’m really sorry to hear about your young girl. So many stories just like yours. There is something very, very wrong that all of these dogs are suffering from chronic skin and yeast infections and can’t put weight on. I can’t tell you how many stories I hear on a regular basis. It’s heartbreaking!

      I will send you a private email Karolina.


  • Sarah Williamson

    Hi Janie,
    My dog (German Shepard collie cross) who will be 16 years old next month started having diarrhea on Saturday night, it seemed to stop after a couple of days, the first 24 hour I stopped her food intake, she seemed ok since she has had chicken lambs liver and boiled rice, and two days in a row she has had two episodes in the house through the night, there are no signs of blood and it is a hazelnut brown in color, for two or three days she did have pedigree chum instead of her normal shop brand tinned dog food, I am very worried about her can you help and advise me

    • janie

      Hi Sarah:

      Have you had her liver checked lately? I would keep her away from the Pedigree AND tinned dog food for good and look into Pure Pet Food which is available in the UK. Here’s a link: https://purepetfood.co.uk/shop-by-life-stage/senior

      However, I would also avoid the chicken formula for now and look into their Super Sensitive formula made of turkey. Remember, variety is a must for dogs. So, if you can use that formula and also use their Vegi Mixer. BUT, YOU MUST add protein to the Vegi Mixer in the form of meat, fish and/or egg.

      I would also DEFINITELY give your old girl a good multivitamin, milk thistle and Spirilina or another green food listed in this article. You only need a little.

      I also highly recommend that you have a vet do blood work including a liver panel. These type of diarrhea episode seem to happen when the liver is failing.

      Please stay away from ALL CHEMICALS ON HER OR IN HER….

      I hope this helps and hope your old girl recovers nicely.


  • Crystal

    Hi !
    Thank you so much for this article and comments and truly appreciate all the help and support you are showing everyone. I live in Canada where we have a beautiful 8 years young lab, Kawi. He has had diarrhea for 2 months. I got him vaccinated and have felt sick about it ever since. Since the vaccines he had 4 at once the digestive issues started. I can’t seem to get him to have a formed movement. He has lost 15 pounds. The vet thinks it is IBS and wanted to put him on a processed hydro (some process where it is broken down to be absorbed easier?)chicken vet food. He has been on freeze dried with raw ground beef mixed together. As chicken and fish make it explosive ?. I don’t know what else to do to help. Have been giving him l-glutamine and probiotics. Any suggestions would be amazing. It is heartbreaking to see him in pain.

    • janie

      Hi Crystal:

      I’m sorry for the delay. I will send you a private email.


  • Sara oz

    Hi, have a 12 year old Papillion who is super sweet and does great with her food. However, an uninformed person fed her treats as food by mistake so she got diet change diarrhea. I withheld food, gave her rice water, jasmine rice, and pure pumpkin (thought it was good for this). The diarrhea has stopped but now her poop looks the right color, is more solid but is sticking to her fur. Is this a normal occurrence in the healing process? Thank you!

    • janie

      Hi Sara:

      If her poop is the right color and texture, then this is good. If it’s sticking to her fur, I would just trim the fur in that area.


  • Sara Oz

    Thank you. We did do that. Just making sure we were on the right track. She gets so nervous at the vet so did not want to stress her more. Have a wonderful day!

    • janie

      Thanks Sara, you too!

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