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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

 

Chronic Diarrhea

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.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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