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    Symptoms, Causes, and Natural Remedies for Diarrhea in Dogs

    Medical Information
    • Dietary indiscretion
    • Intestinal parasites
    • Sudden Diet Changes
    • Stress and Anxiety
    • Medications
    • Bacterial and viral infections
    • Soft, watery, or loose stool

    Diarrhea is a common problem in dogs. If you have a dog, it is likely that she will experience at least one outbreak of it during her lifetime. Diarrhea in dogs can be caused by a huge range of conditions. The following is an overview of the most common of these.

    Dietary Indiscretion

    Veterinarians use the term “dietary indiscretion" to mean that a dog has eaten something that she shouldn’t have. This could range from non-food items such as toy stuffing to human foods such as fatty cuts of steak, and everything in between. When the dog’s intestinal tract encounters things that are not part of a canine’s normal diet, it doesn’t know how to deal with them. The result is diarrhea.

    Symptoms of Dog Diarrhea include:

    • Vomiting
    • Decreased appetite
    • Lethargy
    • Fever

    Quick Diet Changes

    Dogs’ systems don’t handle quick diet changes as well as humans’ do. Suddenly changing your dog’s food type can easily cause a bout of diarrhea. If you need to change foods, do so very gradually to give your dog’s body time to adjust to the new formulation.


    Many intestinal parasites such a giardia, whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms, coccidia, and roundworms can cause diarrhea in dogs. Having a stool sample checked at your veterinarian’s office at least twice a year to catch parasites early can help to avoid the development of diarrhea. Also, certain heartworm preventatives contain medications that control intestinal parasites. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on the best heartworm preventative for your dog.

    Viral and Bacterial Infections

    There are certain infections that can affect the intestinal tract of a dog and result in diarrhea. Parvovirus is an example of such an illness, and it can be an extremely serious condition. There are vaccinations to protect pets against some of these infections, including parvovirus. Your veterinarian is the best one to advise you on what vaccinations are best for your individual dog and your area.


    If your dog is on any medication for another condition, especially antibiotics, she may develop diarrhea. This can include heartworm preventatives in some animals. If your dog develops diarrhea shortly after beginning a new medication or has a bout of it every month following her heartworm preventative, talk with your veterinarian about using a different medication.


    Anxiety can cause diarrhea in dogs. This is especially common in puppies when they are being brought into a new home. In fact, puppy diarrhea can be quite complicated to sort out sometimes, as stress, parasites, and certain infections are all commonly occurring at that stage in a dog’s life.

    Food Intolerances

    Food intolerances are common in dogs. Many times, these exhibit themselves in the form of skin signs such as scratching, hair loss, ear infections, and anal gland problems. However, food intolerance in some dogs can manifest as diarrhea. The protein source in the diet is most often the culprit for triggering food intolerances in dogs.

    Other Diseases

    There are a host of other, more serious medical conditions that can cause diarrhea in dogs. Many of them come with additional signs of illness, are more common in dogs of varying ages, and sometimes occur more often in certain breeds.

    Treating Diarrhea in Dogs

    If your dog has a mild case of diarrhea that is not accompanied with any other signs of illness such as vomiting, decreased appetite, or listlessness, your veterinarian may recommend that you try to resolve it by giving your dog a bland diet after a period of withholding food to allow the intestinal tract to rest (do not withhold water). You can prepare a bland diet for your dog in one of the following ways:

    • Cook lean ground turkey by boiling it to remove even more fat. Mix the cooked turkey ½ and ½ with prepared rice, and feed small amounts of the mixture to your dog three times a day until she has had normal stool for 24 hours.
    • Scrambled eggs and rice can also be mixed together and fed to your dog.
    • You may add a bit of plain yogurt to the turkey and rice mixture. Yogurt contains probiotics that can aid the intestinal tract in regaining its equilibrium.
    • Canned 100% pumpkin (not pie filling) can be helpful in resolving diarrhea cases. You can add this to the bland diet that you are giving. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on how much to give your particular dog.

    When to See Your Veterinarian

    If your pet’s diarrhea goes on for longer than 72 hours or if, at any time, any of the following signs of illness are observed, visit your veterinarian immediately:

    • Decreased appetite
    • Listlessness or low desire to move
    • Weakness
    • Vomiting
    • Blood in stool
    • Excessive straining to defecate

    Alternative Therapies That May be Helpful for Diarrhea in Dogs

    • Slippery elm is an herb that is helpful in resolving common cases of diarrhea in dogs.
    • Probiotics are helpful in retaining and maintaining good intestinal health.
    • If your dog is diagnosed with a food intolerance or allergy, feeding a homemade diet with a novel protein source should help.
    • Acupuncture therapy can be useful as part of the long-term therapy for chronic diarrhea in dogs as well as during acute bouts.
    • Chiropractic adjustments can aid in the treatment of acute or chronic diarrhea conditions.
    • TCVM food therapy is a process whereby the individual nutritional needs of the dog are determined based on multiple characteristics such as age, geographic location, personality, and disease process. It can sometimes be helpful in the treatment of diarrhea in dogs.

    Natural Remedies for Diarrhea in Dogs


    Meet Our Expert

    Dr. Janice Huntingford

    Pet Wellbeing's own Dr. Jan has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years. Since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, she's founded two veterinary clinics and lectured extensively on pet herbal therapy, nutraceuticals, acupuncture, rehabilitation and pain management.

    Dr. Jan has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities, helping us to formulate all of our supplements. She is an essential part of Pet Wellbeing.

    And lucky for us, she's only one of the great team of people who make Pet Wellbeing so special.

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