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Vet Advice: Treating Your Dog's Diarrhea
Common canine ailment responds to home care and familiar remedies
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Question: Help! my dog has diarrhea—is there anything in my medicine cabinet or on my kitchen shelf that could be used to save both of us a visit to the vet?

Answer: As a veterinarian, this author sees many patients with minor problems (such as the dog in this story) who could be treated at home safely and effectively. At the same time, there are dogs whose problems, if not addressed early enough by a veterinary professional, suffer more than they need to.

Probably the most common complaint received by veterinarians is that of diarrhea. It’s such an easy condition to identify: The smell is unmistakable, as is its chocolate-pudding appearance. Most of the time, diarrhea is caused by a dietary indiscretion or stressful circumstances, and is self-limiting. Diarrhea is not a disease; rather, it is a symptom of a dysfunction of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). When associated with bad food or food-borne pathogens, diarrhea serves to rapidly remove pathogens from the GIT before they have a chance to be absorbed and cause more damage.

Warning Signs That Diarrhea Needs Medical Attention
• Black, tarry stool, or stool with copious amounts of fresh blood (bright red)

• Loss of appetite

• Marked lethargy

• Frequent vomiting

• Signs of abdominal pain (bloating, groaning, panting rapidly or avoidance response when belly is touched)

• Lasts longer than 48 hours (Since it can rapidly weaken puppies and geriatrics, or dogs with chronic diseases, they may need veterinary attention sooner.)

However, when your dog has mild diarrhea and doesn’t meet any of the above criteria, the best things to start with are a 24-hour rice-water fast; white rice balls that contain active probiotic cultures; and the oral administration of an intestinal protectant such as kaolin clay and pectin (KaoPectate™) or a suspension containing bismuth subsalicylate (PeptoBismol™). Loperamide (Imodium™) can be given if the diarrhea doesn’t resolve easily; caution is required when using this OTC medication in Collies, and don’t use it for more than five days. (Another caveat: While dogs can tolerate PeptoBismol or KaoPectate, these medications should never be given to cats, as they contain salicylates, which are potentially toxic for felines.)

Fasting your dog allows her GIT to rest and recover from whatever insult it has received. During the fast, make sure she has plenty of rice water to drink. Rice water is the creamy liquid that results from boiling white rice in water. It’s important to use a good quality white rice; “minute” rice does not work and brown rice has too much fiber in it, which does not help firm the stool because it speeds the transit of digested material through the colon.

To make rice water, boil one cup of white rice in four cups of water for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on your altitude) until the water turns creamy white. Decant the liquid and allow it to cool. You can serve the rice water to your dog as often as she will drink it. If she isn’t interested, mix a teaspoon of chicken baby food (or another flavor that your pet likes) in the rice water to increase its palatability. (Hint: One cup of white rice makes a lot of rice water!)

Probiotics—living bacterial cultures intended to assist the body’s naturally occurring gut flora in reestablishing themselves—may also help speed recovery. These live microorganisms are found in yogurt, for example, and are also available from your health food store or your veterinarian as high-potency powdered acidophilus cultures, which are more effective than yogurt for diarrhea. Mix these cultures into the rice water that you are serving your pet during its fast.

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Submitted by Dawne Picciolo | December 26 2013 |

My lab had the same problems, and developed into seizures. after much trial and error we found he has corn allergies. We read all bags and avoid any kind of corn, or poultry digest.

Submitted by Maria | March 17 2014 |

My dog had diahorrea for months and the vets did the same as you say you have done for your dog. Thing is...turned out my dog was allergic to CHICKEN, so all the chicken and rice in the workld would not help her. A friend who bred Shepherds met me and said get her off chicken and give her raw TRIPE instead. I did and there was no more diarrhea

for another 13 years, when she passed away with severe arthritis. Try getting all chicken OUT of her diet and opt for the tripe or fish instead. Always check the labels tho, as they put chicken in so many things. Good luck!

Submitted by Chip's mom | March 24 2013 |

My dog has a healthy appitite, activity level and overall seems fine except his sudden watery poop. I have been feeding him white rice and boiled chicken for 3 days now, it seems to run right thru him and he us not drinking his normal amount of water actually he is barely drinking water at all. I called the vet sat and left a message and they are closed on sun...i dont know what to do..

Submitted by joe | May 29 2013 |

Take it to an emergency vet service you idiot. Why would you wait so long? Or don't you know that such services exist?

Submitted by Stefan D. | April 23 2013 |

It looks to me that the dosage is copied from one place to an other perpetuating the same mistake over and over again.
It is hard d to trust some one advice when the main point of the article is a copied mistake with no personal input,(other than the bla-bla-bla)
Recommended is 2mg of Imodium per 40lb dog and then 0.1mg / pound dog,
so which one is real:
- 1mg / 20lb dog (2mg /40lb divided by 2)
or
- 1mg /10lb dog (0.1mg/1lb X 10)????

Thank for the rice recipe.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 24 2013 |

dogs is a simple stomach animal.for mild non infective gastric problems of dogs, hold food for few hours ,give ample water with little sugar and pinch of salt you can use electral powder.can try astrigent like chilled milk+egg-beaten toghether. do not change diet abruptly.however if it is infective /if diarrhea is frequent with vomiting water loss may become serious dullness indicates fever &loss of energy,kindly consult veterinarian for timely intravenous fluid therapy and antibiotics.

Submitted by Dolores | May 10 2013 |

My black pug just had puppies 4 days ago, I gave her some milk (alittle mixed with dry food to help her since she is breast feeding) and she has gotten the diahrea for 2 days now. So I need to know what I can give her that is not going to affect the babies, or should I take her to the vet???/She is so hungry!
Thank you!

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | May 11 2013 |

Yes, take her to the vet asap!

Submitted by Debbie | May 16 2013 |

My dog has had diarrhea since this afternoon, along with very loud bouts of gas. My question regarding treatment and fasting is this: she is taking medication for seizures, which we give her in a teaspoon of peanut butter. Is that little bit of "food" okay if she needs to fast for 12 hours? Since she is given the pills every 12 hours, that would mean only 1 teaspoon of peanut butter.

Submitted by sassha | November 2 2013 |

could be allergic to nuts, in the wild a dog would not eat peanut butter

Submitted by kelsie | May 20 2013 |

my German Shepard pup got her 3rd shot last Thursday and has had diarrhea since last Friday they gave me meds (78$) for them and told me to do that but its not helping would the Imodium be to much for her she is 4 1/2 months old

Submitted by Anonymous | February 2 2014 |

Is imodium good for a 2 months puppy? She is a cross breed all I know is part of her is a chow chow

Submitted by Shem | May 23 2013 |

just wanna ask, one of my puppy is pooping fresh bloods with mucus in it and it smells really bad..but her brothers and sister dont..what could it be?

Submitted by Anonymous | May 25 2013 |

This puppy should see a vet ASAP.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 11 2013 |

hi she has worrms ,my puppys get that to ,go to the vet and worm meds and will be fine

Submitted by Sdeb | May 31 2013 |

My 11 year old canish(female) is suffering from diarrhea from last 1 month. The first vet gave me some pills for diarrhea(cant recall the name now)but that didnot help me, asked another vet, he gave tinidazol twice daily, but that didnot help either. She doesn't eat rice. She has become very weak, what should i do? Please dont tell me to put it down..:(

Submitted by Sdeb | May 31 2013 |

The first medicine i gave her was entero chronic. it didnot work. So please could i get some advice?

Submitted by Lizzy | June 3 2013 |

find another vet ASAP and get that puppy help! Keep looking until you find someone that can help! don't just sit around waiting! I have never seen so many stupid comments from people, who are asking other people who have know idea what they are talking about! Ask a vet instead! They are the ones that have the answers to help!

Submitted by Ron | September 15 2013 |

Lighten up a bit. Multiple trips to different vets at $100 or more a pop plus meds and labs is really tough on a lot of people. When one of our kids would get sick it wasn't at all unusual to check with friends and family for advice. Sometimes the advice was "it sounds serious you need to go to a doctor or e/r. Sometimes there were simple otc or home remedies. The kids all lived. There's nothing wrong with asking for advice as long a you're not just being lazy. It doesn't mean we don't love our pets if we're asking for others to share their experiences. The fact that people are asking shows that they care.

Submitted by nick | October 26 2013 |

Fast for 24 hours give 100% canned pumpkin 1 tablespoon every 2 hrs
Then start off with one boiled egg gradually increase
Give pumpkin 2 hrs before and after her meals

Submitted by jhalsey | December 24 2013 |

find a vet that does not charge money or one that accepts donations there are some out there

Submitted by Carly | June 22 2013 |

My dog (15 month old pyrenese cross) had a bout of diarrhea today. I followed the advice of this blog and my only issue is the recipe for making rice water didn't make water but almost a gluey rice pudding! What did I do wrong? I'm sure it's just as good...but I'd like to know a better recipe for the future.

Submitted by mel | June 24 2013 |

hi wandering if anyone could help me? My dog is 2 and a half and i have been back and forth to my vet with a diarrhea prob since we got her. I have tired dif diets including putting boiled rice in her food currently she is on beta sensitive. She was much better on it but lately things have been going back to the old way which consists of a normal stool then a runny one or just runny ones, or just diarrhea out of the blue sometimes she is out walking and its just dripping from her she doesnt seem to realise its really getting to me as u dont no what way she will be when walking and it can be very hard to clean up when out. Any help or advise would be great thank you.

Submitted by Diana | November 7 2013 |

I also am going through a horrible diarrhea bout with my border collie. did the fast , rice and etc. only worked for a while. dang it if you find what helps PLEASe email me , dianasmuck@gmail.com.
thank you

Submitted by Lynn | June 24 2013 |

Try canned Pumpkin - Pure pumpkin, not the pie mix.
It's good for both diarrhea and constipation in dogs. If a small dog, then only about 1/2 - 1 tablespoon.

Submitted by Sidney | July 28 2013 |

My Airedale has food allergies, and after slowly switching kibble brands due to the last one having 2 recalls, the current food - Instinct Rabbit - seems to be causing him diarrhea. Is it OK to try supplementing this food with pumpkin, or should I try yet another brand.

Submitted by Bobbie | August 19 2013 |

my shepherd pup got into a plate of food that was my kids set down, and now she has diarrhea. She is 6 months old is it ok to give her an amodium? I saw that some gave it to their dog, but i didn't know if she was old enough?

Submitted by Ron | September 15 2013 |

I don't believe it can be given to Shepherds. I think that Collies are a no, as are a handful of other breeds and cats. Do more research to see if your breed is one of them. Pepto was listed as safe in the article I read. If you have a regular vet you should be able to call and ask. I'll look for that article and post an update if I find it.

Submitted by Karen | August 20 2013 |

Hi all, just a bit of advice needed. I have had my 10 month old yorkshire terrier for 6 weeks. Last week it sounded like she had something stuck in her throat followed by severe diarrhea. She was then sick the following night. I got up this morning to another load of diarrhea even though she has only had a small amount of her regular food. She is absolutely fine in herself, still giddy and drinking and even still going for her food bowl with dry biscuits. Do you think it could be the meat i am giving her (pedigree chum with gravy) or something more serious. She got a clean bill of health from the vets last week but this was before the diarrhea started. Any advice would be appreciated.

Submitted by Elizabeth Reed | November 25 2013 |

Did you ever find out what the problem was? So strange... my 6 y.o. pit bull seems to be going through the same thing. Last night, he had a little reverse-sneezing episode with a gag/hack at the end, and now totally liquid diarrhea. 4 times in the past 10 hours. Poor guy. Other than that, though, he's totally normal and happy. Gave him an Imodium after last potty a couple hours ago, and just took him out again - still liquid.

Submitted by Monica | December 8 2013 |

Hi, I have a Yorkie at home who has a seriously sensitive tummy and what I am guessing is an allergy to beef. I have to give him prescription food (DD formula made with venison and rice) and this keeps him stable. I mix a little canned chicken into the food to help it to have a more appetizing odor.

Submitted by jp59 | August 21 2013 |

I brought a dog home from the help shelter yesterday. While training him I was rewarding him with treats. He developed diareha, so bad he went in his crate last nite. He has not eaten any of the dog food (science diet) that the shelter provided. Today he has had a dentistix and half a milkbone but that's it. He is drinking water but not eating. He's been laying around all day. I did give him a small amount of Imodium this morning. I'm concerned....what should I do. I have an appointment at the vet on Tuesday.

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | August 21 2013 |

I would call your vet today and explain what is happening. They'll be able to offer advice even before the office visit. Do NOT wait a week.

Submitted by Suzanne | September 12 2013 |

My otherwise healthy 15.5 year old Aussie has had nearly chronic diarrhea since early June. Three months. It's very liquid often, like water, occasionally pudding like, usually gaseous and rarely more often than her usual 2 times a day. She's had several vet checks, blood tests, one round of antibiotics for a bacteria found, and no improvement, even with probiotics and ID (Science Diet GI formula). She didn't like the rice/chicken I made one week, and I'm stumped. Can you please advise? I'm so baffled!

Submitted by Caroline wilkes | September 13 2013 |

Hi Suzanne, firstly im no vet but I have a lurcher who has intermittent diarrhoea and I give very well boiled rice and I mean boil it till it looks like pudding rice! I also boil chicken with the rice then give her the rice and the left over rice water 3 or 4 times a day either plain or add small pieces of the chicken every other feed! Ive also been to the vets and shes had various tests etc and nothing was found either! :/ very frustrating isnt it! Anyway if your doggy wont eat the rice maybe just try her with the cooled rice& chicken water and leave off any food for 24 hrs. My vet gave her some pro-kolin+ to mix with the rice or normal food and that helped too :) hope this helps your dog kind regards caroline

Submitted by rmpbkly | October 28 2013 |

she maybe allergic or have ibs, make sure no milk products. change the foods one by one , process of elimination to see what's causing that

Submitted by Debi | November 13 2013 |

We have 2 Elkhounds, there was nothing but problems and Vet bills from many different brands of dog food and treats on the market. We make their food - boiled chicken breast, steamed ground turkey, spinach, canned carrots and rice or boiled potatoes (one can't eat potatoes and the other can't eat rice) and a tad of pumpkin. For a treat, I make silver dollar size turkey burgers or baby carrots. Please remember, any time they have some different expect diarrhea. It seems to be trial and error until you find the right food for them.

Submitted by Slf | September 22 2013 |

The calculated dosage for Imodium is incorrect; 2mg/40 lbs = .05 mg/lb not 0.1mg/lb.

Submitted by Mr Pete | October 24 2013 |

Hopefully the Doc doesn't administer too many anesthetics like this. I re-read the dose particulars and realize I have just overdosed my dog by 100%. Dosage with Imodium is probably not too critical.

Submitted by Mr Pete | October 24 2013 |

I've now found another link on this topic from Washington State U, Veterinary School. It seems some dogs and Collies in particular are predisposed to alarming side effects because of an inherited condition which effect the way substances cross the brain blood barrier, particularly a narcotic such as Imodium.

http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/announcements/ivermectin/index.asp

Submitted by cs | November 24 2013 |

Imodium is not a narcotic. Narcotics are controlled substances that require a doctor's prescription, whereas Imodium (loperamide) is sold over the counter. Narcotics can in severe cases (at least in humans) be prescribed to treat diarrhea because one side effect of narcotics is constipation.

Submitted by Miss Joey | October 9 2013 |

I'm so worried about my 9 week old puppy, she has had green mucus like diarrhoea for 4 days she has lost so much weight since I got her a week ago. She isn't eating even though I got the same food that the breeder gave her. I have tried all other types of food including boiled chicken, rice, scrambled egg and even a/d that the vet prescribed but she won't touch it. She is getting so skinny and I am worried that I will lose her if she doesn't eat soon. The vet we saw just said to keep her hydrated with a syringe, but is there anything else I can do? Any help would be very much appriciated.

Submitted by bethb | October 12 2013 |

Get that puppy to the vet, ours just got over Parvo. She was older than yours at 12 weeks, but it is very severe. Is she vomiting?

Submitted by Alex | October 15 2013 |

Thank you very much for your helpful post. My daughter's vet would not give any information over the phone about over the counter or home remedies, merely said if the diarrhea persisted more than 24 hrs or got dehydrated to come in. The dog was in obvious distress and pain, and it seemed impossible that there was nothing at all that could be done at home as opposed to an emergency visit that would likely be unneeded. Thank you very much for the references to safe over-the-counter medications and instructions on how to cook rice water. If he needs to be seen, that is fine but I am hopeful that this is just a minor thing that will pass and that these suggestions can alleviate his cramping. I note, also, that the rice gruel is something we learned to cook while living in China, it being a breakfast food and also a staple food for babies, old people, people who are ill, puppies and sick pets (did I cover all the bases there ha ha). Plain white rice is mixed in about one part rice to six or eight parts water and boiled until it is a gruel. Sometimes bones are cooked in it to impart some flavor. Bits of meat or or just enough vegetable for flavor are added at the very end. For example, bits of chicken, and perhaps some fresh slivered ginger, diced spring onion, and cilantro. When used for breakfast by adults, other things are added such as vegetables, boiled egg, fish or meat, and hot sauce. The word for this in Mandarin is zhou, in Cantonese it is pronounced juk and the British call it congee.

Submitted by adnor | November 7 2013 |

Are you all noticing how many of our dogs have constant diarrhea???
What's going on here? Is it grain/food allergies?? My little border suffers chronic diarrhea - for about 4 yrs now. Cannot count the dog foods, home remedies, vet bills, medications we have tried - all to no avail. Metronidizol does clear it up - but when the dosage is finished, the diarrhea returns. I believe our grains have been so genetically engineered, they are making our animals sick - and notice the increase in celiac disease in humans! By the way, rice is a genetically engineered grain.
Good luck to you all. I (we) feel your pain!

Submitted by Susan | November 10 2013 |

It has been my experience if Metronidizol has an effect, the diarrhea is caused by parasites. Giardia has become very common in N. America, and unfortunately Flagyl is not working as well as it used to. And parasites may not be present in all dogs in a household - I keep multiple dogs and have had one out of the lot be affected. The Giardia causes intermittent diarrhea that is slimey.

Submitted by rmpbkly | October 28 2013 |

all those that say chicken baby food, come on don't be lazy.
Buy Chicken legs and boil , you have broth and healthy meat for later. that the advice from my Vet.

Submitted by Jessica | November 11 2013 |

I lost my little Erik the hound dog mix on October 15th, 2013, he was 9.5 years old. He had on-and-off bouts of diarrhea or inconsistent stools for quite a while. He had been doing well on probiotics and was being weened from prednisone. I honestly thought that after 2 months of probiotics it would be okay to stop them because he was on low-fat I/D dog food and still tapering off the prednisone. Two weeks after stopping the probiotics (September 30th) he had explosive liquid diarrhea. I immediately started him back on the probiotics, upped his prednisone, gave him immodium, and gave him a bland chicken and rice diet. His bowel movements weren't "normal" per se, they would be small but I thought that was due to the small diet.

I had been instructed by my veterinarian in August -- the last time he had a bowel upset -- to use Tylan (it's some strange horse medication that helps upset doggy bellies). I was afraid to use it because our Labrador had gotten a terrible dermatitis from it [I regret that fear terribly now. Who cares about dermatitis if your stomach feels better???].

After about 1 week I considered taking him to the vet but, although the stools were a little off they seemed to be starting to improve -- except for the mucous that was developing (again, something he had had before on occasion). On Thursday, October 10th, his dog sitter suggested pumpkin (he was always a picky eater, but I was ready to try anything that would be a more "natural" approach). He never got to try the pumpkin approach...

October 11th (about 12 days since his first incident), though, he started shaking and whining. We went to the emergency veterinarian at 3am and she couldn't find anything so gave him pain meds, a subcutaneous water pack because he was dehydrated, and let us go home (I thought he would be better at home). We couldn't get in to see the regular veterinarian on Saturday, so we went back to the emergency vet and they began seeing fluid in his chest cavity. They didn't know what it was and assumed cancer in the abdomen but the veterinarian who did ultrasounds wouldn't be in until Sunday morning. Sunday morning he was in respiratory distress by 7am and we rushed back the emergency veterinarian. They diagnosed him with pyothorax and thought he'd be home in a couple of days. Monday morning he went into cardiac arrest and was saved. Tuesday morning he collapsed outside of the veterinarians and crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

I don't know for certain what ended his life. This last month I've searched high and low for an answer. Scouring the internet for sources.

I think I just got lulled into complacency and what I thought would be a battle I could fight without direct veterinary care. The predniosone and probiotics had worked before - I told myself ... then I look back before August, back in January or even December, and see he had been on Metronizadole (an antibiotic) before and done well ...

Now, I read these boards and I ask myself, why didn't I take his change bowel movements more seriously? In all the years I rushed to the veterinarian, why did I not rush this time? I rushed when it was too late. I rushed to an emergency veterinarian, but by then, whatever ailed him had overtaken him.

It's better to be safe than sorry. Now, I'm very, very, very sorry and I'm without my doggy soulmate and cry tears of guilt and feel sick with pain and sadness.

Submitted by Em | January 13 2014 |

Hope you don't mind me commenting here. Sounds like there was an underlying problem that wasn't picked up in the first place, you really did everything you could and sometimes that seems afterwards like it wasn't enough, as a bystander though it reads much different. Don't be so hard on yourself xx

Submitted by Pat | November 13 2013 |

I have a 8 1/2 week Shithzu. she is just 2 1/2 lbs. She has had diarrhoea for 2 days. She was pretty lethargic the first day and wasn't eating or drinking, but better the 2nd day, however she still has diarrhoea. She is eating today and drinking. I cooked up some chicken breast, carrots and rice and she just love it. Hopefully it will help. Should I be taking her to the vets?

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