dog's irritable syndromeIrritable bowel syndrome in dogs is way more common than it should be.  I’ll share some of the most important things that you can do to get your dog’s digestive tract back in order.

Constant soft, mushy or runny stools with alternating bouts of constipation are classic signs that something isn’t right. Don’t ever let this go and simply ignore it.

Your dog’s IBS is the body’s way of saying that it’s in trouble. Especially when the symptoms are continuous.

Form for dogs with IBSThere’s a natural supplement for the digestive tract that works VERY WELL for firming up your dog’s stool, but, you also need to take a look at the larger picture such as what’s actually causing your dog’s bowel problems. It’s ideal for dogs with IBS, colitis, or occasional digestive issues.  It gets excellent ratings on Amazon. You can read them here if you like.

Irritable Bowel Consists of Both Constipation AND Soft Stool

Every day after I walk my own two dogs, we stop at the neighbors and pick up Boo Bear and bring her home with us. This way she’s not alone all day by herself.

It’s very hard for someone like me to ignore issues that other dog owners might not consider critical. Every day I witnessed Boo moving her bowels in my yard and leave a mess of soft, runny stool with no formation at all. I realize that IBS in dogs and it’s symptoms are a nasty topic, but the details must be mentioned so that you fully understand just how important it is.

I approached my neighbor and explained how Boo was having digestive issues and she was experiencing many classic symptoms of irritable bowel including diarrhea and constipation.  Since Boo was recently at the veterinarian and they were unable to find anything, I felt confident that with a few diet changes and additions, we could get her digestive issues regulated.

One of my own dogs had IBS for many years and I recognized the symptoms right away. We talked about the dog food and treats that she was feeding her. At this point, she had switched Boo from “Purina” (yuk) to “Blue” because she was having problems before I even came along.

I suggested adding a probiotic as well as digestive enzymes daily to see if it would help at all.

Her stool had formation, but the consistency was still not as it should be. This told me one thing, it’s definitely her diet. After about 2 more weeks, Boo’s stool became like water. It had absolutely no consistency at all. I once again approached my neighbor and advised her that it’s critical that she get Boo’s diet in order and the only way to do this is to change her diet completely. This includes all snacks and treats.

For dogs like this, I always recommend a grain free dog food including more quality meat protein, preferably raw. I HIGHLY recommend adding both good bacteria and enzymes daily. Often times dog owners will discontinue both of these products and the problem quickly reoccurs.  I suggest keeping dogs on a good probiotic for life.  You can eliminate having to add the supplements separately by feeding a good multi-vitamin that includes these (as recommended below).  However, DO NOT rely on DOG FOODS that say they are included.  Your dog needs much more than this.

Here’s an article I wrote on how to get your dog’s diarrhea under control.

The Power of Food Backed Up by Supplements

Although I wanted to, the owner didn’t want to place Boo on a raw diet at the time.  Sow, we placed Boo on G.L Artisan which is a freeze-dried grain free dog food formula that’s very close to home made. However, the difference is that all you do is ADD WARM WATER!  My favorites include Dr. Harveys, The Honest Kitchen and Grandma Lucy’s Artisan.

For those of you in the UK, please check out Pure Pet Food which is much like the foods I recommend here in the states.  I also wanted to provide Boo with more quality meat protein, so we included Wellness Ninety Five Percent canned meat and continued the probiotics.

In just one day, Boo’s stool had completely changed from soup to an at least formed consistency and it has pretty much remained that way. Keep in mind that it’s typically recommended that you switch dog food’s slowly to adjust the dog to the new food. However, since Boo’s stool was already a mess, it didn’t matter.

Update 7/18/15:  I finally talked Boo’s owner into adding raw to Boo’s daily diet. Boo absolutely LOVES it, and, her stool is now not only formed, but firm.  Daily she eats prepared raw, Grandma Lucy’s and Carna4 dry.  She is now receiving what her body needs to maintain a healthy digestive system and it shows not only in her stool everyday, but in her personality. She is frisky, playful and more energetic than I’ve seen her in a long time. She couldn’t be happier.

I also recommended several supplements including organic coconut oil and a good multivitamin formula that includes probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes and glandulars for the health of your dog’s liver, kidneys, etc.   Combine this with a good raw diet and your dog’s irritable bowel issues should disappear.

The power of food; don’t underestimate it.

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Showing 24 comments
  • Scott Finnell

    My dog has anxiety and nervousness which causes her to have periods of either loose stools or just a runny mess of poo. I tried using enzymes, but she wouldn’t eat the food. I am afraid to try Pepto Bismol. I am curious if I add rice or kidney beans to her food (She eats Pedigree dry food and when I give her wet food it gets really bad) if she will do better. I can’t afford expensive dog food, so I would like to know what I can add to her food to make her better. I already use metamucil, but it doesn’t work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. She saw the vet, and doesn’t have any parasites. He suggested the fancy food they sell, but it is very expensive. She does fairly well on just Pedigree dog food, but I know it is her nerves. I give her a small amount of milk at bedtime, but as far as lactose intolerance goes, she had the diarrhea problem when I rescued her, and before I started giving her some bedtime milk. Thanks.

    • admin

      Since you feel so strongly that the problem is her nerves, then that might be a good starting point for her although I’m positive that nutritional deficiencies are playing a large role.

      If you can swing $36 to invest in a thundershirt for her, I HIGHLY recommend it. You can read alot about it on my blog along with testimonials from others. It’s not just for thunder; it helps dogs with many different fear and anxiety disorders (walking on certain flooring, door bells, etc.)

      Regarding her food, I’m absolutely certain that Pedigree is the root of many of her problems. Nutritional deficiencies cause many symptoms in dogs including uncertainty and fear which can often be helped with the correct diet. You can try giving her kidney beans but I doubt that kidney beans alone will work as long as you continue to feed a food with little nutritional value. I work with people with this same issue almost on a daily basis.

      There are certain things that your dog needs and you can’t fix her symptoms if you don’t fix the underlying problem. Regarding giving her milk at bed time – many dogs can’t tolerate milk and whether or not the milk is contributing to the problem, it’s not helping with the soft stool issue. You mentioned that you are giving Metamucil. Again, your dog is missing some very core nutritional elements of her diet, so metamucil isn’t going to do it for her.

      Don’t be afraid to give Pepto Bismol for an occasional upset stomach or bout of diarrhea. It’s safe for dogs and works well, but you have to give the right dosage. In your dog’s case, I have a feeling that you would be using it quite a bit just to manage her soft stool symptoms which is NOT RECOMMENDED.

      If you get to the point that you can afford a better food and you’re disgusted that nothing is working and you want to get her stool issues under control once and for all, then I’ll be more than happy to assist you. However, you have to be willing to purchase a better food as well as a few other products in order to finally get her IBS under control. You don’t have to start out buying the most expensive food, but you do have to buy a food that is going to give her what she needs.

      What’s happening is that you are going through the motions of feeding her and she’s eating, but she’s getting nothing from the food she’s eating and you will continue to struggle with the problem, until you’re truly ready and able to fix it.

      Janie 😮

  • Scott Finnell

    Thanks for the response and information. She is not phobic of thunder at all. She doesn’t even wake up when we have a storm, which is everyday where I live in N.E. Florida. She has separation anxiety which is under control with medication. She gets loose stools when she sees us get upset or angry, but even when nothing is going on. I don’t cry around her, because it makes her worse.

    I have read that it isn’t the thunder that is upsetting them, but the electrical charge from the electricity in the air during a storm that builds up in their fur that upsets them, so that is where the jacket comes into play I guess. It must keep their hair from becoming electrically charged. Some dogs go into a bath tub to discharge the electricity on their fur.

    I believe you are correct about her diet, and I believe managing her diet will help her the most.

  • admin

    Since cost is a big issue, we are very limited as to how we can proceed. The one thing that I’m certain of is that your dog needs MEAT. Not just any meat, she needs a good source of meat protein.

    While fiber is important for firming her stool, a quality meat protein is actually more important. I’m going to recommend that you include “Natural Balance Meat Rolls” into her daily diet. They are convenient and pretty inexpensive. This is of course to be included with the Pedigree that you’re already feeding. I’m also recommending that you include canned Kidney beans -drained and rinsed for added fiber. Give her a quarter cup along with at least a half cup of the Natural Balance Meat Roll.

    You need to eliminate the milk completely. If you want to give her something like this – give her a tablespoon of cottage cheese. Not more than this. You CAN’Tover do products like this.

    You can purchase sweet potatoes and cook them up and add a little of those for fiber. DO NOT USE CANNED SWEET POTATOES PACKED IN SYRUP – you can however add canned sweet potatoes if they are all natural in the can – meaning the only ingredient is the sweet potatoes – nothing else.

    You can also give her egg which is an excellent source of quality protein. Another item would be to give her sardines packed in WATER. Don’t give this too often – maybe twice a week at the most and only include maybe two at a time.

    Avoid adding any grains such as rice. Get the fiber from other sources as I mentioned above. Use this as a guide for giving her more quality protein, variety and better sources of fiber. Keep the pepto bismol on hand and don’t be afraid to use it if she gets an upset belly. Follow the dosage that I recommended in the link that I sent earlier. If you have the digestive enzymes, it would be great if you could get her to take them. Including them with a host of others foods is a little different than just tossing them in with dry food.

    It’s important to keep her food more on the dry side than wet which you already know. However, this doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy some tasty alternatives, you just have to be a little creative and know stick to what works.

    Try and give her variety, yet stay within her own personal guidelines.
    I hope this helps. It would be very helpful if you would get back to me here and let me know how it goes for your girl.

    Janie 😮

    • Scott Finnell

      I will try your suggestions. They are easy to follow and not too expensive, so thank you, and I will keep you informed.

  • Glenda Stevens


    I believe that my dog has IBS as well, he is a boxer and I know that they have sensitive stomachs as well. (I am from Canada, not sure where you hail from). I am trying a dry dog food for sensitive stomach, it is quite expensive (it’s Canine Plus, Wholesome Blend, Sensitive Stomach) but my dog looks for wet food too, I’m not sure that the kinds of food you spoke about is available here, is there anything that you recommend adding to his dry that may get him to eat it but still be good for him? Also I’m not sure where to get the enzymes or probiotic from, what form does it come in?

    Thanking you in advance for any help.


    • admin

      Hi Glenda:
      I’m sorry to hear about your furry kid. We’ve certainly had our share of IBS issues over the years. One food that I often recommend for IBS is a Canadian food called NOW! It’s made by Petcurean and includes coconut oil making it a good choices for dogs with IBS and Pancreatitis issues.

      The wet food that I always recommend is called WELLNESS NINETY FIVE PERCENT and it 95% meat with 5% fat/water. This is an excellent addition to any food your feeding (dry, freezedried, dehydrated, etc.). I’m not sure where you can get it in Canada, but here’s a link for ebay so you can check it out if you want.

      (12 cans on ebay for $29) plus $4.99 shipping from ebay

      The probiotics and enzyme formula that I typically recommend is made by Animal Essentials and I find it to be very reasonably priced compared to many others and it works well. Both of my dogs are on it. I purchase the probiotic formula from Amazon.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any additional questions.

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  • Deirdra

    I have a 16 year old dog with dementia and is blind . She moves her bowels in the house a lot but she steps in it ! She will either go once a day or twice ( once in the morning and once at night). At least once a week she goes 3 times (twice in the morning and once at night ) I’m not sure what is exactly wrong with her but I’m hoping it is nothing to serious .

    • janie knetzer

      Hi Deirdra:

      It sounds like you have your hands full with your old girl now. However, I don’t think that irritable bowel is her problem. At 16, she is most likely losing many of her senses. Does she have cataracts? Is that the reason for her blindness? If so, there’s a great supplement with very good results that may help. There’s also a supplement that will help with her dementia which could be the reason behind her moving her bowels in the house.

      Does she pace at night?


  • monique howell

    Hello Janie,

    On febuary 7 you told Deirdra, that there a great supplents that may help for blindness caused by cataracts and supplements that help for dementia.
    Can you please let me know which supplements you recommend for both. I thought I may try oculovet. I live overseas and I don’t mind the price of the supplement but some dog parents mentioned it’s very messy to apply. I must mention that one of the dogs has glaucoma and is on Cosept. But blindness does not seem to be a result of the glaucoma. Is there a supplement I can use safely for both dogs of 12 and 13 years? Can you als recommend a good multy vitamin also? The dog with glaucoma has a problem with nutrient absortion I believe due to Ibs. Because she shows all the symptoms of cushings disease ( vet is ignoring my suspicions because the test is not available were we live) so I feed her raw and no dry food which seems to be the wrong food to feed a dog with cushings. Even though feeding raw, I can’t manage yet to get Ibs under controle. I’m going to be ordering some of the supplements you recommended for other ibs patients. It would be nice if I can get an answer from you as soon as possible, so I can order all at the same time. As I mentioned before, I live overseas and not getting any support from vets on the island because they don’t believe in natural treatments which are the only reason one of the two dogs I mentioned is alive to this day. With the help of the internet I’ ve found several holistic approaches that do seem to be helping. But I believe I’m not there yet and some things I really need some advise on.
    Hope you can give me some helpful tips!
    PS. I already have your book: coocking for a sick dog

    • janie knetzer

      Hi Monique!

      Can you give me until tomorrow so that I can gather my thoughts surrounding all the issues of your old fur kids? I want to address everything in your message and make sure I don’t forget anything. I will have a detailed response for you tomorrow as early as I can.

      Can you please share the exact diet you are feeding your babies as well as ALL the supplements. Do you suspect allergies? Do they continuously eat one meat source? Also, how much does each dog weigh?

      Thank you so much for your purchase of the book too. 🙂


  • Pete

    I’ve had great success with my IBS dog with a supplement called “happy poo”. We had tried everything (raw, hypoallergenic, homemade, probiotics, you name it), but this is the first thing that really works 100% of the time. My boy can eat anything now, no problems. A little goes a long way too, the little canister ($9) lasts me 2 months. I get it locally, but you can find it on amazon too:

    I hope that helps someone; good luck to everyone with ibs problems!

  • Elizabeth


    I have a boxer who is now 5. He started having IBS a little over a year ago now. Our vet played with the different proteins he was having like cow, chicken, fish, etc. He is currently on a soy diet. He takes about 5 pills a day at this point–two in the morning and three at night. I have noticed not only are his stools still not consistently formed, but he just isn’t the same dog with the same energy. I just want to help him feel better and am now starting my research on how to feed him a more homemade natural diet. I am nervous to switch him from a soy diet because he has not been eating any proteins except soy for about 8 months now. Clearly any help would be wonderful! Thanks!

    • yourolddog

      Hi Elizabeth:

      I’m sorry to hear about your dog’s IBS issues. A Soy diet is not something I would ever recommend for a dog. Does your dog take any supplements and has he been on and off antibiotics in the past?


  • Ann S

    I recently adopted Gracie, an older dog of indeterminate age and breeding–seems to have some Husky in her, and maybe Collie or other good-natured herding breed. She came with a TON of health issues–had been languishing untreated in the shelter for months, returned by 3 other adopters because of her anxiety and health concerns. I’ve had her for 4 1/2 months now, and we are trying to tease out and treat her various health issues. She had such horrible IBS when I got her that she was starving to death, even though she eats like a little horse. She couldn’t absorb anything, it just ran right through her. I take her to a veterinary Internal Medicine specialist, and the first thing she did was prescribe weekly Vitamin B12 shots and a high-quality probiotic. Eventually we moved to a prescription diet (which I am regarding as a temporary measure with the idea of moving her to a specialized holistic diet later). But Gracie’s stool was firming up even before the new diet, just from the probiotics and B12. Unfortunately her recovery has been full of ups and downs, so she is still very underweight and coping with all of the issues that that produces.

    Gracie has huge anxiety issues, as you can imagine, given her history, and I’m being referred to an animal behaviorist for that. I am also being referred to an acupuncturist for pain management for her arthritis. I love that my specialist veterinarian, who is a traditionally trained vet with a traditional practice, is so willing to refer me to alternative and holistic practitioners–her idea, not mine.

    At any rate, Gracie has a number of food intolerances/allergies, so it’s been hard to figure out what she will be able to eat once we’re off the prescription diet. Is that the kind of thing a holistic veterinarian could help me figure out?

    • yourolddog

      Hi Ann:

      It’s so nice that you rescued Gracie. I would love to see a picture of her. 🙂

      I understand about the health issues. Unfortunately, anxiety AND IBS are two of the biggest health issues that many of these dogs face. I believe both go hand-in-hand, so to speak.

      I’ve owned and worked with a lot of labs and they are notorious for having IBS issues. My own Maggie has IBS, but very rarely has messy stool or belly issues anymore. I’ve gotten those issues under control. The right Holistic Vet should be able to help you, however, I think you can do this yourself. You said she was eating like a horse. Has her thyroid been checked by someone reputable? All vets can’t accurately read a thyroid panel.

      Eating like a horse is a symptom of low thyroid. If you would like me to help you down the road, just use my contact form. All I ask is that you purchase the products that I recommend from me. Her anxiety and loss of muscle and weight are also symptoms of Cushings Disease Ann.


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