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 symptoms of 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

  • Our Core Bowel Treatment Package includes 3 supplement combination products to restore your dog’s digestive health to normal.  Learn more here.
  • The MOST IMPORTANT tip of all if your dog continues to have soft, messy stool is to feed a better food and diet .  You have to especially avoid supermarket foods and others such as Ol Roy, Purina (including Beneful) and any low caliber foods and treats, etc.  Avoiding kibble period is one of the best things you can do for your older dog. It is extremely hard on their kidneys. Two options for a healthier diet for your old friend include using the recipes in our 5 Ingredient Cook Book or using a dehydrated stew such as this where you add hot filtered WATER and allow it soak. Better yet, do both. Cook from the book for the morning meal and feed the stew for dinner. This gives your dog variety and change. They need this! Just like you need to eat different things, so do they. They were never meant to live on the same food day in and day out.  Avoid feeding the same formula of food all the time.

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 225 comments
  • Shannon
    Reply

    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.

    Thanks,
    Shannon

    • janie
      Reply

      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.

      Janie

      • Shannon
        Reply

        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
          Reply

          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?

          Janie

    • Lell
      Reply

      Hi interesting article thank you. I have a 7 year old Alaskan Malamute who has regular loose stools. He’s been to the vets but they couldn’t find anything. He’s feed cooked meat, hearts, chicken, fish and high quality dog biscuits, he also has boiled eggs occasionally. I supliment with kelp powder & salmon oil. I’ve tried for years to find a diet he likes (he’s quite fussy) and is really heathy, but he’s had this issue for some time and I’m out of ideas. He’s in good health otherwise. I wondered if you would recommend anything or a different diet. Many thanks in advance for your help. Lell

      • janie
        Reply

        Hi Lell:

        I’m so sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’ll send you a private email.

        Janie

  • Medina
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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.

      Janie

  • Karolina
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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.

      Janie

  • Sarah Williamson
    Reply

    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
    Thanks
    Sarah

    • janie
      Reply

      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.

      Janie

  • Crystal
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      Hi Crystal:

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

      Janie

  • Sara oz
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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.

      Janie

  • Sara Oz
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      Thanks Sara, you too!

  • April
    Reply

    I have a 17 year old girl who has had diarrhea off and on for months. The vet has examined her stool and such but all that’s come up is a bacterial infection and she’s put on anti biotics. I make her rice and chicken I’m worried about withholding food because she’s 17 and her weight fluctuates so much. She acts fine other than the diarrhea. Her stool is normal colored but water basically. I’m making her chicken and rice right now. Also making her rice water. Any suggestions or anyone have similar experience?

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi April:

      I’m sorry to hear about your old girl. 17 is impressive.

      Are you giving her any supplements or do you regularly? What was her normal diet before the chicken and rice?

      Janie

  • Jill
    Reply

    Hi! I’m in desperate need for advice! I have 2 8 month old Yorkies, Tyrion and Kimi. Kimi is very tiny, 3.9-4.2lbs. They’ve been getting Royal Canin yorkie puppy since I got them at 12 weeks. Tyrion has been fine. Kimi always had rock hard stool and would sometimes have problems passing it. They were like small stones. A weeks ago she started getting diarrhea. So complete 180. She doesn’t have any symptoms and she saw the vet today. Blood work and stool ok. She’s still a very happy energetic pup but I don’t know what to do.
    When we had our Boston Terrier we always fed him Nutro. When we got her my breeder said she was picky and stopped eating certain foods. She gave me a baggy of the food she was currently on and I transitioned to Nutro. She wouldn’t eat it. I’ve tried Blue Buffalo, Purina One Pro Plan, and Taste of Wilderness. I have gotten free samples of other holistic foods such as Fromm. She wouldn’t eat any of it. She’s always had a good stomach as far as tolerating “people food”. Over the summer(way before this started) she loved her DQ ice cream cones. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions?

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Jill:

      I can’t recommend enough that you take both of them off Royal Canin and avoid any of the kibble foods. You have such little dogs that you could (and should) either home cook or feed a raw (or partially raw) diet for them.

      If you want to see your little ones thrive, you need to move to a better diet and that means to move away from kibble period. We talk to many Yorkie owners routinely whose dogs end up with kidney stones and this is common in the breed and also common in dogs fed kibble. If interested, our own cookbook would be helpful for you since you have such little ones. Because they don’t really have any disease (except digestive issues), you can feed any of the recipes in the book. All the recipes are for the crockpot. You can read more about it here if you like.

      I would do this for both dogs, not just Kimi. If you don’t, I can almost guarantee that Tyrion will show problems eventually.

      If you want to encourage better bowel movements and help her, then I would include our Diarrhea Relief formula to help restore her stool to a normal consistency and you can learn more about that here. You most definitely should include our Daily Multivitamin which will help with her overall health including all her skin, glands, organs, resistance and energy levels. Daily Multivitamin formula.

      If you do home cook or feed raw, or do both, you’ll need to include calcium Jill. I typically recommend calcium carbonate. You have to add roughly 900mg per POUND OF FOOD. Don’t panic, it’s not so bad. 900mg of calcium carbonate powder is 3/4 teaspoon.

      1 pound of food equals 16 ounces. If you have a glass measuring cup place 16 ounces in there and add 3/4 teaspoon of calcium carbonate after you cook it. If you feed raw meat and cooked veggies, just add it after you combine the meat and warm veggies.

      Calcium Carbonate

      Next, please avoid chemical flea and tick treatments. Go natural. If you need help here, just ask.

      Last and most important, UNDERSTAND THE DANGER OF VACCINATIONS. While rabies is the only one required by law every three years, many vets are fighting this because one vaccine is good for life. It’s a money maker for vets. You can learn more at Protect the Pets by Dr. Robb who is fighting this awful law that is not only believed to cause disease, paralysis, neurological disorders, but death as well. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE educate and understand this. This alone is one of the most important things you will ever do for Tyrion and Kimi.

      I hope this all helps.

      Janie

  • Stacey
    Reply

    Hi,

    I’m grateful for your article here. Cricket is a Jack Russell who is about 8.

    She has had diareah for about two days. A few minutes ago she had either vomit or poo we can’t tell. It smells fishy and is reddish in colour and liquid.

    I gave her a small piece of a diareah pill. She is lethargic. Has no fever. I checked and it is 100.3.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated. She has had no vaccinations since with us for about 6 years. We did treat her with Advantage about 2 weeks ago. 0.4 ml I think.

    Thanks so much. I don’t usually write to articles but wanted you to know I appreciate your approach.

    In caring,

    Stacey Le Jeune

    • janie
      Reply

      You’re welcome Stacey. If she is lethargic, I would see a vet.

      However, they will most likely give her antibiotics. If you see a vet, please write back and let me know what they say so that we can work from there.

      The problem very well could have been from the Advantage. Has she shown any signs of seizures at all Stacey?

      Janie

  • Holly Brochmann
    Reply

    Hello Janie! My vet has so far been unable to help in my situation, so I turn to you in desperation! My sweet pug will be 16 in December, and although she’s pretty creaky, she’s been in good health. Until…she had a severe abscess tooth and accompanying infection, so we had no choice but to put her under. She ended up having about 15 teeth removed. That was about a month or so ago, and she’s be struggling with diarrhea ever since. The vet has run a million tests (that all turned out ok) and tried probiotics. For years she has eaten ID, a prescription bland diet dog food for dogs with sensitive stomachs, but she can’t even tolerate that now. We’ve been making her homemade chicken and rice but the diarrhea is continuing and is bad enough that she is going in the house, which is something she NEVER did before. I should also note that she takes Claritin, Pepcid AC and Galiprant (for arthritis). Heartguard once a month. We have given any flea treatments in awhile. Any ideas?? Many thanks!!

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Holly:

      I’m sorry about your situation.

      I first would take her off of the Claritin, Pepcid AC and Galiprant and give the girl natural food and supplements. I would dump the Heartguard as well!!! I would avoid ALL chemical flea and tick treatments and vaccines for life!

      Would you be willing to home cook for her Holly using my cookbook and include some supplements for her immune health and arthritis?

      Janie

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