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What To Feed Your Dog With Diarrhea

What To Feed Your Dog With Diarrhea

Taking care of your dog when they are ill can be overwhelming, especially if you are unsure of where to start. In the situation that your dog is experiencing diarrhea, you are likely wondering what you can do to help them. This is even more anxiety-inducing if your dog is very young.

Dealing with a runny stool is not enjoyable for either you or your pet, but there are several steps that you can take to get your pup in shape when they have diarrhea. To begin, you will want to learn more about the possible culprit for your dog’s diarrhea

This will be helpful because if you know what caused the upset stomach, you can take steps to ensure you prevent diarrhea from happening again. In addition, having the cause figured out will be helpful when it comes to attempting to treat it. 

If you are looking to learn more about helping your pet when they have diarrhea, continue reading. This article will cover information regarding what causes pets to experience gastric distress, what to do if your dog has diarrhea, and how prescription diets might help. 

In addition, you will also discover information about when you should take your dog to the vet and what to do in the situation that you cannot get your dog to the vet. 

Keep reading for more information on this essential topic. 

What causes diarrhea in dogs?

First, you should learn what could cause your dog to experience diarrhea. Diarrhea occurs when there is a faster movement of your dog’s feces through their intestine. This is combined with a decreased absorption of nutrients, electrolytes, and even water. 

If diarrhea is the main symptom your pet is experiencing, there could be a relatively simple cause. It could suggest an intestinal infection, such as bacteria, intestinal parasites like worms, coccidia, or a viral infection.

In addition, if you changed your dog’s regular food, or if they got into some food they were not supposed to (such as that in the trash), this could also cause diarrhea. 

Stress might also lead your pet to have diarrhea. This includes stress from traveling, change in environment or boarding. However, there are some instances where diarrhea is cluing you in that there is a more serious issue with your pet’s health.

These issues could include allergies, viral or bacterial infections, organ dysfunction, or inflammatory intestinal disease. You’ll also want to be sure there are no parasites present

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What to do when my dog has diarrhea?

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, it is natural to feel concerned. There are several steps that you can take to help your dog recover more expediently from their diarrhea. 

If you have noticed that your pet has diarrhea, your first step should be to check in with a vet so they can help you gauge how severe it is and if you will need medical treatment in their office. You should also ensure your pet is not suffering from dehydration and is displaying symptoms like lethargy. 

Then, you will have to wait it out and follow a recommended course of action from a vet. Long-term, however, you might consider adjusting their diet so that this doesn’t occur.

Talk to a vet

The wisest thing to do when your pet is experiencing diarrhea is to reach out to a trusted veterinarian, like Pawp. They will be able to give you advice for treating your pet at home, or if they feel it is necessary that you bring your pet into an office to get in-person help, they will tell you that, too. This could also provide you with valuable peace of mind. 

Not every cause of dog diarrhea is life-threatening. Your dog might just have eaten something that upset their digestive system, and they’re at no risk of harm. Alternatively, there might be something systematically wrong with your pet. Talking to a vet will help you figure out which of the two it is. 

Make sure your dog isn’t dehydrated

If your dog persistently has loose bowel movements, they are at increased risk of being dehydrated. Similar to human beings, dogs need plenty of water for their bodies to perform essential functions.

In a situation where your dog is losing more electrolytes and water than they are intake, their health could deteriorate tremendously. One way to get your dog water is to feed them ice chips if they do not want to drink. Nevertheless, be sure your pup always has access to clean, fresh, cool water. 

Avoid physical exertion

When your dog is experiencing diarrhea, it is unwise to physically exert them. For one, they could already be facing dehydration, and you wouldn’t want to make a bad situation worse by tiring them out more.

In addition, if you take them outside for a run or to play, you risk their condition worsening by ingesting something hazardous or spreading a possible infection to nearby canines.  

Wait it out

If your dog is a healthy adult and the diarrhea isn’t too severe, your vet will typically suggest a more conservative, relaxed approach. They might ask you to wait it out, see how your dog is doing, and then act accordingly. 

Sometimes they will ask you not to feed your pet from somewhere between 12-24 hours and see how things go. Other times, they might ask you to give easily digested foods at a certain interval. This is another reason why seeing a vet is vital; they can help you understand if a relaxed approach will do or if a more robust plan is necessary. 

Adjust their diet

Your last option is to make an adjustment to your pet’s diet. This can also prove helpful if you are looking to prevent another similar situation from occurring in the future. They might recommend a prescription diet, or the vet might be able to help you with food that will allow your pet to get their nutrients and not upset their stomach

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Prescription diets: what you need to know

Read on to learn more about everything you need to know regarding prescription diets and why these are better than home remedies.

What makes prescription diets different from regular food?

A prescription diet is not your typical dog food. If your dog has a chronic illness, or if your pet recently underwent surgery, there is a chance a vet will suggest a prescription diet. This means that the food is specially formulated to aid your pet’s recovery. It’s a more targeted approach. 

How do you get prescription dog food?

As suggested by the name, prescription dog food is only available to a pet owner that has a prescription, so a visit to the vet will be necessary to get this. Similarly to medication, your vet will need to give you a prescription. 

Once you have the prescription from the vet, several different manufacturers/retailers make the food. Your vet will likely have a suggestion of which you should stick with. 

Ingredients in prescription dog food

The ingredients in your dog’s prescription food will vary depending on what ailment your vet is attempting to treat. For instance, your pet might need to be put on a prescription diet because they have arthritis or an allergy. The formula will be thoughtfully curated to help your pet tackle this ailment with the nutrients they need. 

When should I take my dog to the vet?

There is never a wrong time to take your pet to the vet, especially if you fear they are unwell. If you are concerned about your pet’s welfare, then you should reach out to a vet promptly to learn more about your next steps. 

If your dog has other symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea that have been persisting for some time, you should reach out to a vet promptly. In addition, if there is blood in their diarrhea, or they are demonstrating symptoms of generalized illness, you should hear what a vet has to say. 

Some more severe reasons behind diarrhea include liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and food allergies. Your vet may perform x-rays or an ultrasound to confirm a diagnosis. 

What if I can’t get to the vet?

If you cannot get to the vet, your best option is to reach out to an online vet for a telehealth visit to your pet. Because diarrhea can be severe and could itself be a sign that your pet is facing a more serious health issue, you really should talk to a medical professional for your pet to ensure that they are okay. 

In the meanwhile, you might consider temporarily feeding them food that will be easier to digest. Then, when you can talk to the vet, reach out about a prescription diet—that’s your best pet. 

Old-fashioned advice: people food and table scraps

Giving your pet table scraps or people food when they have diarrhea is old-fashioned advice, and it is far less advisable than getting them on a prescription diet. 

Pawp veterinarian Dr. Sylvalyn Hammond says that “The latest recommendations are that feeding “chicken and rice” is not ideal, as the diet isn’t considered complete and balanced.”

She explains that the best course of action is to pick “up a veterinary prescription diet, such as Hill’s I/D, that is specifically formulated to be gentle on the GI tract is better. I like to think of these diets as “chicken soup” for dogs and cats. Obviously, “human food” can work in a pinch if your veterinarian’s office is closed or you are out of town.”

Nevertheless, if you must feed them human food, make sure it is a bland diet. 

White rice

White rice is extremely bland, which is why it is an option for feeding a pet that has diarrhea. You likely already have this in your cupboard, and it’s easy to cook at home, which makes it a good choice for dogs experiencing diarrhea. Rice is a type of soluble fiber, making it extremely digestible by a sensitive gut.

Mashed carrots

You do not want your pet choking on this bland food, so mashing carrots makes them easier for your animal to digest. You can also try to warm them up a bit, so your dog can chew them more easily.

Boiled chicken or salmon

Chicken and salmon are two foods that could also help your dog get back on track with their diarrhea. These are also two common foods, which makes them excellent if your dog suddenly becomes unwell, as you likely already have them in your home. Some dogs have food allergies to a protein source like chicken, so keep that in mind. 

Sweet potatoes

Another option is to give your dog some sweet potato. When you provide this to your pet in moderation, it is possible that you can help them firm up their stool. Therefore, this could prove helpful for a dog struggling with diarrhea.

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Best choice: call on telehealth

Nevertheless, your best option is to reach out to a vet through a Pawp telehealth visit if you are unable to see your in-person vet.

Pawp’s vets are available 24/7 so that your pet can get the care that you need the moment they need it. Pawp’s vets will be able to suggest a course of action or, if necessary, recommend that you go to an in-person vet to get treatment. 

Pawp vets can also recommend dog food types that will be more gentle on your dog's GI tract with the best vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to help your dog. 

Feel better soon

When it comes to canine diarrhea, there are several steps you can take to help your dog feel better soon. Several causes of diarrhea include giardia and parvo, so all puppies should have regular vaccinations throughout their lives.

It’s never fun when you are worried about your pet’s welfare, but with a calm and focused plan, both your pet should recover quickly. Of course, if you are ever concerned about your pet, you should reach out to a vet that can give you personalized advice for your dog.


Evaluation of Three Hydration Strategies in Detection Dogs Working in a Hot 

Environment | Frontiers in Veterinary Science  

Comparison of the effects of four commercially available prescription diet regimens on the fecal microbiome in healthy dogs | Journal of Veterinary Medical Science  

Chronic Diarrhea in Dogs | Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Effect of potato on kibble characteristics and diet digestibility and palatability to adult 

dogs and puppies | Italian Journal of Animal Science 

Acute Diarrhea in Dogs: Current Management and Potential Role of Dietary Polyphenols Supplementation | MDPI  

Prevalence, comorbidity, and breed differences in canine anxiety in 13,700 Finnish pet dogs | Scientific Reports

The Vomiting Dog--Diagnosis | WSAVA 2003 Congress

Extensive protein hydrolyzation is indispensable to prevent IgE-mediated poultry allergen recognition in dogs and cats | BMC Veterinary Research

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