Common Causes of Canine Diarrhea 

Many things can disrupt your dog’s digestive system, causing diarrhea or, less frequently, constipation. Some things, like eating too much grass, are not serious at all. Others can be a sign of a life-threatening problem, such as an indigestible object (like a rock) lodged in the stomach, or a disease like cancer.

Triggers for Diarrhea

       Dietary indiscretion: Eating too much, eating garbage, or spoiled food. There’s actually a name for it in                   veterinary circles—“garbage toxicosis” or “garbage gut.”
       Change in diet: It may take a few days for a dog’s digestive system to adapt to new proteins. That’s why many         dog-food manufacturers recommend that you go slow when you switch from one brand of food to another.
       Food intolerance or Allergies
       Parasites: Most of these will cause illness in puppies or in adults with weak immune systems: 

       Hookworms, Whipworms, Coccidia and Giardia.  See your Veterinarian for de-worming advice.

       Poisonous substances or plants
       Swallowing an indigestible item, such as a toy or a dozen or more socks
       Infections with common viruses such as: Parvovirus, Distemper, Coronavirus and Bacterial infections

       Illnesses, such as kidney and liver disease, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer
       Antibiotics and other medications
       Stress or emotional upset including the stress of transitioning to a new home and family.

Home Remedies for Canine Diarrhea

A great many cases are mild and, with your vet’s advice, may be treated without a trip to the office. They may respond to this regimen of very basic treatments:

1) Start with a Fast
Withholding food for 12 to 24 hours, and providing water in small amounts frequently, can clear the cause of the upset and allow the gastrointestinal tract to settle. It’s usually the first line of attack for the runs. Before you decide on a fast, be sure that your dog is healthy enough to endure it.  Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so make sure to give your dog access to water at all times. Many people also offer unflavored Pedialyte to maintain electrolyte balance.

2) Use a Recovery Diet (Home Remedy Style)
After a fast, food is usually introduced slowly and many people start with binders, which can normalize stool consistency. Some tried-and-true binders include:
       Rice water: Boil high-quality rice in a lot of water, remove the grains, and offer the dog the creamy white soup         that’s left. A splash of broth or a bit baby food will make it more palatable.
       White rice

       Canned pumpkin (plain, not prepared pie filling) can be effective for both diarrhea and constipation.
       Boiled potatoes, without skin
       Plain protein sources such as egg (prepared with no butter or oil) or chicken (without skin)
       Herbs, such as fennel, have gut-soothing properties
       Over-the-counter medications for humans may also be effective for doggie diarrhea, but should be given             with caution and you should talk to your vet before using them.

Methods that work for one dog may not help another, so you might need to do a little experimentation to find the right formula. It might also be helpful to write down what works and what doesn’t so you’ll know what to do the next time you find yourself mopping up a mess.

3) Gradually Transition to Normal Diet
Once you find a recovery diet that agrees with your dog and doesn’t cause a relapse, you can slowly increase the portions over a period of days, and then start to add small quantities of your dog’s regular food, until things are back to normal.

When Doggie Diarrhea Means A Trip to the Vet

The right time to contact a vet depends very much on what’s normal for your dog. Unfortunately, some dogs are more prone to digestive disorders than others, so you have to be very aware of the things that are out-of-the-ordinary on an individual basis.  There are, however, benchmarks that can suggest that you should at least consult with your vet:
       Other physical symptoms, such as lethargy, fever, vomiting, dry, tacky or pale gums;

       Diarrhea that does not stop despite home remedies that worked in the past;

       Long duration;
       Use of medication (a dog on antibiotics, for example);
       Existing conditions, such as advanced age, diabetes, Cushing’s, or cancer, and

       When things just don’t seem right. You know your dog, and only you know the subtle signs that something           is wrong. Respect your instincts and if you think you need veterinary guidance, pick up the phone.

Puppy (& Dog) Diarrhea - Adapted from: AKC "Survival Guide for Dog Diarrhea (

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