It’s a messy issue, but dog diarrhea is just a slightly unpleasant part of being a dog owner. While nearly all dogs will have a case of the runs from time to time, there are a few easy ways to prevent loose stool in your dog. If your pup is already dealing with a case of the runs, there are also ways to cure (or at least temporarily stop) dog diarrhea fast.
Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea?
The number one reason dogs experience diarrhea is a change in food. Gary Weitzman, DVM, President of the San Diego Humane Society and author of the book The Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness, says: “We all know not to change a dog’s food abruptly, but this can happen from a new treat.” Even small amounts of unusual food, like a bite of pepperoni, can cause issues for dogs who have particularly testy digestive tracts. Be wary of any dietary changes for your dog and take caution when introducing a new food or treat.
Other reasons that your dog might have diarrhea include:
- Food allergies “These are not as common as people think,” says Weitzman, “but it could be a food sensitivity.”
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
- Bacterial infection.
- Pancreatic disease
- Parasites, including roundworms and whipworms
- Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Eating a toxic substance
- Gastrointestinal injuries, including those brought on by eating household items that can’t be digested
- Cancer—but this is not likely
Three ways to cure diarrhea, fast
If your dog’s loose stool is caused by anything more serious than new food, food sensitivity, or a stomach bug, you will need to address the root cause. However, there are a few measures you can take to stop diarrhea in dogs, fast.
1. Switch your dog to a bland diet.
A bland diet will allow your dog's digestive system to not work as hard. Weitzman suggests boiling white rice, which can bind the stool, and mixing it with a lower-fat protein. Steamed chicken or ground beef that has been cooked and drained of fat should work well. This will also prevent the issue from getting worse while you sort things out.
2. Ask your vet if you can give your dog Pepto-Bismol.
The recommended amount from the American Kennel Club is one teaspoon for every 10 pounds. Immodium is generally safe for dogs as well, but it’s typically used as a last resort since it can lead to constipation. Use a 2-milligram pill for every 40 pounds of body weight. “It’s for those 2 a.m. emergencies,” says Weitzman.
3. Figure out why your dog got diarrhea and treat the root cause.
Once you’ve started to resolve your pet’s symptoms, you’ll need to play a bit of detective. You’ll need to figure out what caused your dog to get sick in the first place.
Start by thinking through the obvious. Did your dog eat something he shouldn’t have on a walk? Did he have new food or a new kind of treat? Are any of your dog’s toys (or your kids) missing? Could your pet have eaten a toy or other non-food item?
If not, think also about where your dog has been over the last few days. Does your dog spend time at doggie daycare or the dog park? Could it be a virus that has simply run its course? If the issue is frequent or isn’t resolving you may need a vet to help you diagnose the issue.
The doctor may do a physical exam or x-rays to check for abdominal injuries, and bloodwork or a stool sample analysis to check for bacteria, parasites or other health-related issues. Once the cause has been determined you can work on a treatment plan. This might include avoiding the food that caused the issue or staying home from daycare for a few days.
When Should I Be Worried About Dog Diarrhea?
In most cases, dog diarrhea is not serious. However, if your dog’s diarrhea persists for more than 36 hours, it’s time to call the vet. Make an appointment and collect a sample if possible to bring in for the vet to inspect.
Additionally, if your dog’s diarrhea is accompanied by other troubling symptoms, like lethargy, vomiting, or pain or if you see that the stool is streaked with blood it’s likely that there’s something else wrong. Make an appointment with the vet immediately.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.