Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
Determining the Severity of the Diarrhea
Diarrhea in dogs is a clinical sign that may be indicative of various ailments. For this reason, diarrhea in a dog is something that should never be looked over especially when it is accompanied by other symptoms.
Rule Out an Emergency
It is important to note that any dog with diarrhea that is lethargic or feverish should be attended to by a veterinarian. Dogs that start vomiting or have bloody diarrhea, especially the young, should be seen right away. If your dog still appears bright, alert, and playful, and the diarrhea is not chronic, some home remedies might help.
The Risk of Dehydration
The main concern about diarrhea is the fact that it may lead to dehydration. This is very likely if the dog has chronic and severe "liquid squirts." Small puppies are very vulnerable and can become dehydrated very quickly. A good way to tell the level of hydration of the dog is by examining the level of elasticity of the skin.
Check the Skin for Hydration Levels
Basically, the skin on the shoulders or back will be gently lifted with fingers to form a tent. Upon releasing the skin, it should spring back into position promptly. In a dehydrated dog, the skin's return will be delayed, or worse, it will remain lifted. Another sign of a dehydrated dog is dry, tacky gums.
Severe Cases Will Require IV Fluids
A slightly dehydrated dog generally will improve as he is hydrated with water and electrolytes. Dogs can be given some unflavored Pedialyte in their water bowl to help them rehydrate. However, dogs that are severely dehydrated will need IV fluids given by a veterinarian. Small puppies should be treated promptly as they dehydrate quite quickly and go downhill pretty fast.
Home Remedies for Dog Diarrhea
Dogs with an upset stomach may be helped at home with a short period of fasting followed by a bland diet. The following guideline may help dogs affected by diarrhea.
Fast Your Dog
Adult dogs (excluding geriatrics) should be fasted for 12 to 24 hours. This fast is a natural way to allow their stomach to get some rest. Some owners may be a bit reluctant to fast their dogs, but dogs in nature are used to fasting. Indeed, dogs in the wild do not eat every single day. They eat depending on the results of their hunting sprees. At times, nature may not be too generous and dogs may not eat for 2-3 days. At times, a 24-hour fast may help a dog feel better while detoxifying their system.
Feed a Bland Diet
A bland diet consists of boiled rice and your choice of boiled skinless and boneless chicken or boiled hamburger meat with the fat drained off. It is important to note that the meat portion of this bland diet is small compared to the rice. The meat acts more as an enticer to eat the rice which plays the main role of the bland diet. Rice helps absorb excess water and will help the stools firm up and bind. Generally, the bland diet is given only until the stools are better formed.
Return to Normal Diet
Once the stools are better formed, it is important to monitor their consistency over the next few days. You want to make sure the diarrhea has completely subsided. At this point, the dog's regular diet may be re-introduced but this should be done gradually to prevent a relapse. A good way to do it is to add the regular diet gradually while removing the bland rice slowly until the regular diet completely replaces the bland one. This process will usually take 3–4 days.
Do Not Hesitate to Get Veterinary Help
These home remedies may help the dog suffering from a mild form of diarrhea due to a recent diet change or because the dog ate something that did not agree with its stomach. This diet should not be given to dogs that are lethargic, sleepy, not active or dogs that are vomiting, that have bloody stools or other symptoms.
If the diarrhea does not subside with the bland diet, this may be indicative that there is something more going. The dog may have internal parasites, a virus (Parvo is common in puppies) or an underlying condition that requires veterinary attention.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 02, 2009:
I already posted to use Pedialyte. It must be unflavored and yes, it works great to replace lost electrolytes. At the vet office we often recommended it. The chicken broth is good but must not contain garlic or onion to prevent Heinz anemia, we preferred to recommend to add boiled skinless and boneless chicken to entice dogs to eat the bland diet.
Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on December 02, 2009:
When my dog had excessive diarrhea our veterinarian suggested that we give her some Pedialyte to help replace the liquids she was losing. It's prescribed for small children and is available at the grocery store or dollar store.
Rice is a great bland food and you're right, it helps. You can encourage them to eat it if you pour some chicken or beef bouilon over it.
Darlene Sabella from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ... on December 01, 2009:
Excellent article, this always something to understand. One year my dogs got into an Easter basket on top of my table. They ate all the chocolate and boy were they sick. Thanks for sharing