Diarrhea in Dogs: Causes and Treatment
Home Treatment of Diarrhea
The most important step in treating acute diarrhea is to rest the GI tract
by withholding all food for 24 hours. The dog should be encouraged to drink as
much water as he wants. With persistent diarrhea, consider giving a
supplemental electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte, available over the counter
in pharmacies and grocery stores. Dilute it by one-half with water and add it
to the dog’s drinking bowl. Custom canine electrolyte solutions and sport
drinks are also available, such as K9 Thirst Quencher. These are flavored to
encourage the dog to drink. If the dog won’t drink the electrolyte solution,
offer only water. A low-salt bouillon cube dissolved in the water can help
encourage him to drink.
Acute diarrhea usually responds within 24 hours to intestinal rest. Start
the dog out on an easily digestible diet that’s low in fat. Examples are boiled
hamburger (one part drained meat to two parts cooked rice) and boiled chicken
with the skin removed. Cooked white
rice, cottage cheese, cooked macaroni, cooked oatmeal, and soft-boiled eggs are
other easily digestible foods. Feed three or four small meals a day for the
first two days. Then slowly switch the diet back to the dog’s regular food.
Obtain immediate veterinary care if:
- The diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours
- The stool contains blood or is black and tarry
- The diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting
- The dog appears weak or depressed or has a fever
The first step is to find and treat the underlying cause. Diarrhea resulting
from a change in diet can be corrected by switching back to the old diet and
then making step-by-step changes to pinpoint the cause. When lactase deficiency
issuspected, eliminate milk and dairy products from the diet, particularly as
they are not required for adult dogs.
Diarrhea caused by overeating (characterized by large, bulky, unformed
stools) can be controlled by tailoring the diet more accurately to the caloric
needs of the dog and feeding his daily ration in three equal meals.
Chronic, intermittent diarrhea that persists for more than three weeks
requires veterinary attention.