12 Human Foods to Give to Dogs With Diarrhea or Upset Stomach
Diarrhea and upset stomach are common issues for canines. If you have a pet dog, you know that they often eat things that they shouldn't. It's normal for their digestive system to respond by becoming sensitive and purging itself through vomiting or diarrhea.
Nearly all dogs will experience nausea and diarrhea at some point. Depending on your dog's diet, age, and temperament, this issue will vary in frequency, extent, and intensity. Usually, an upset stomach or diarrhea are acute, meaning they're a spontaneous response to something the dog ate. Chronic, or repeated, digestive issues may indicate a serious issue. If your dog vomits or has diarrhea often, contact your vet immediately to rule out the possibility of a chronic illness.
If the problem is only temporary, consider these 12 foods that can help alleviate an upset stomach, help avoid dehydration, and help your dog feel better.
Foods to Give Your Dog When He Has Diarrhea or an Upset Stomach
All of the following foods should be served plain and unseasoned:
- white rice
- boiled boneless, skinless chicken breast meat
- mashed boiled potatoes
- mashed cooked carrots
- cottage cheese
- pumpkin (canned or pureed)
- mashed sweet potatoes
- boiled egg
- vet-approved probiotics
What to Do When Your Dog Has Diarrhea
When dogs are suffering from an upset stomach or diarrhea, they need more of your care and attention. Here are some things you can try to help relieve their upset stomach and make them more comfortable.
- Call Your Vet Just to be on the safe side, call your vet and let them know your dog has diarrhea. It's a common issue for dogs, but your vet will ask you questions to help determine the cause and best treatment.
- Fasting The American Kennel Club recommends withholding food for 12-14 hours while providing adequate amounts of fresh water. Water consumption may relieve dehydration. Note that fasting is only recommended for healthy adult dogs. Dogs under one year of age and geriatric dogs are at risk of developing hypoglycemia/low blood sugar if they do not eat. Also, dogs with a chronic illness (like diabetes) should not fast unless their vet suggests otherwise.
- Bland Diet After fasting, you can start feeding your dog a bland diet of three parts plain cooked rice and one part boiled, unseasoned boneless and skinless chicken breast.
- Slowly Incorporate Regular Food With the support of your vet, you can slowly incorporate your dog's regular food into his diet (e.g. 1/4 dog food and 3/4 bland food from the list below, then 1/2 and 1/2, and so forth).
- No Physical Activity Any physical activity, such as long walks, running, chasing, jumping, or playing with another dog should be avoided until your dog is behaving normally. Strenuous physical activity will slow down recovery and could make your dog even sicker.
- Watch for Dehydration If your dog is losing body fluids through vomiting and/or diarrhea, keep an eye on them for signs of dehydration. See below for what to look for and how to respond.
When to Call Your Veterinarian
If your dog has diarrhea, call your veterinarian to be on the safe side. Your vet will ask you a series of questions to determine how severe the diarrhea is:
- When it started.
- How many bowel movements your dog has had.
- What the poop looks like (especially, is there blood in it?).
- How your dog is behaving (fever? in pain? vomiting?).
- Whether your dog has recently eaten something toxic.
1. White Rice
Vets often recommend white rice as the most ideal option for curing diarrhea caused by dehydration because it is easily digestible. Rice contains soluble fiber that absorbs water passing through the GI tract, which helps to stabilize the stool.
How to prepare and serve:
- Boil a cup of white rice in 4 cups of water for 20-30 minutes (or until it becomes creamy white).
Do not add salt or sugar.
Don’t serve the rice warm. Serve at room temperature instead.
- You can serve the rice with plain boiled chicken or unseasoned ground beef.
2. Boiled Chicken Meat
Boil some boneless, skinless chicken meat and then shred it into small pieces. The best way to serve this food to your dog is to spoon out three parts cooked plain rice and combine with one part cooked chicken. This combination is recommended by many veterinarians in cases of canine diarrhea, but only if the dog has not vomited for six hours.
Pumpkin is another good food option to calm an upset stomach and treat diarrhea, as recommended by the American Kennel Club.
- Pumpkin is a rich source of soluble fiber and water, which helps to delay gastric emptying and slow down GI transit times (and the number of episodes of diarrhea).
- It is also easily digestible and delivers instant energy.
How to prepare:
1. Canned Pumpkin
Give 1-4 tablespoons of unsalted, canned pumpkin per meal depending on the size of your dog, says Dr. Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian in New York City. Pumpkin provides about five calories and .4 grams of soluble fiber per tablespoon.
2. Cooked Rice and Boiled Mashed Pumpkin
- Boil pumpkin until soft.
- Mash the pumpkin into a purée and mix with a little bit of rice. Serve at room temperature. Don't add sugar or salt.
4. Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes are a good source of vitamins C, B6, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Note: Dogs should only eat mashed potatoes occasionally because they contain high amounts of sugar and starch, which can develop into fat and cause weight gain.
5. Boiled and Mashed Carrots
Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A, contain good amounts of vitamins K and C, and are good sources of potassium and fiber. Because they are soft, bland, and packed with nutrients, cooked carrots are good for dogs suffering from diarrhea or digestion problems.
How to prepare:
- Make sure to remove the end of the carrot and wash thoroughly before cooking.
- You can cut carrots into little pieces and cook together with rice.
- Another option is to boil and mash the carrots into a purée.
6. Baked and Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are among the richest food sources of Vitamin A. They also contain vitamins C, B6, B5, manganese, potassium, and fiber. Like pumpkins and carrots, the fiber in sweet potatoes may help alleviate an upset stomach.
How to prepare and serve:
- Make sure to cook sweet potatoes thoroughly. Never serve raw.
- Cut the sweet potatoes into quarters and boil for about 20 minutes. Then mash with a potato masher.
7. Boiled Egg
Eggs are very nutritious and contain ample amounts of protein and vitamins.
How to serve:
- Never feed your dog raw eggs. Raw eggs may contain bacteria like salmonella, which can cause food poisoning.
- Either mash up boiled eggs or make them scrambled and mix with white rice. Again, don't add salt or any other seasoning.
Probiotics are microorganisms that help stop bad or undesirable bacteria from overgrowing in the gut. Vet-approved probiotics for animals, like Fortiflora made by Purina, increase the level of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. Fortiflora comes in a powder form that can be sprinkled over food.
Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber, which helps delay gastric emptying and helps control diarrhea. It is very effective for senior dogs with bowel irregularity issues.
How to serve:
- Cook thoroughly. Raw or half-cooked oatmeal can be dangerous, especially when your dog is suffering from diarrhea.
- Don't add any sugar or flavoring. Serve at room temperature.
10. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese contains high amounts of protein and fat, which help solidify waste. Vets recommend feeding cottage cheese to dogs sparingly and only if the dogs do not have lactose intolerance. Cottage cheese may be too rich and could exacerbate diarrhea if served in excess. Try mixing it with rice for a well-balanced meal.
Watermelon is low in fat, calories, and cholesterol but high in vitamins A, B6, C, and potassium. It also contains lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and strengthens the immune system. The high fiber and water content in watermelon also serves double-duty to relieve your dog of dehydration and solidify waste.
Note: Some dogs may not take well to watermelon. Stop feeding immediately if unusual symptoms appear.
How to serve:
- Remove the seeds. Seeds will cause intestinal blockage and worsen the problem.
- Remove the rind. Ingestion of the rind may be dangerous.
- Cut into small pieces for easy digestion.
Dr. Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian in New York City, recommends offering banana to dogs with stomach upset or diarrhea. Some vets even suggest offering sliced banana as a treat for healthy dogs.
How to serve:
Mash banana and offer it alone or with rice. You can also slice the banana up and serve it in small pieces.
Signs That Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach
- Licks lips and/or swallows repeatedly. This may be a response to acid reflux.
- Eats grass. Grass can soothe a dog's upset stomach, or induce vomiting.
- Loss of appetite.
- Behavioral changes (lack of interest).
If your dog has any of the following symptoms, there may be a more serious issue going on. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Fever and/or shivering.
- Mucus or blood in stool.
- Sudden weight loss.
- Appears to be in pain.
- Lethargy or listlessness.
For Puppy Owners
Puppies experiencing vomiting and diarrhea should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible in order to rule out life-threatening conditions such as parvovirus (black and tan breeds and terriers are particularly susceptible).
What Causes Upset Stomachs and Diarrhea in Dogs?
- They ate something that didn't agree with them. Dogs are curious and tend to mouth or ingest things they shouldn't.
- A change in their diet.
- Anxiety. Separation anxiety, lifestyle changes, or environmental stressors may cause upset stomach in dogs. A dog's stomach is influenced by the nervous system.
- A mild food allergy.
- Antibiotics. Upset stomach and diarrhea are common reactions to antibiotics. Call your vet, as your dog may not be keeping their medication down.
- Medications served on an empty stomach that were prescribed to be given with food.
Less common, but potentially more serious, causes of stomach irritation and diarrhea include:
- Bacterial or viral infection.
- Parasites, including roundworms and tapeworms.
- Viral fever.
- Accidental ingestion of human medications.
Signs of and Treatments for Dehydration in Dogs
One of the biggest worries for owners of pets that have diarrhea is that their animal will become dehydrated. Diarrhea leads to more rapid-than-normal fluid loss, which can lead to dehydration. This condition is particularly dangerous for puppies, juvenile dogs, and geriatric dogs, who could potentially develop emergency organ failure if dehydrated.
Some signs of dehydration include:
- Loss of appetite.
- Sunken eyes.
- Dry gums.
- Lack of skin elasticity. Lift the skin on the back of your dog's neck. If it doesn't slip back into normal position when you let go and stays tented, your dog may be dehydrated.
If you suspect your dog is dehydrated, contact your vet. Your vet may administer intravenous fluids. You can also give your dog unflavored Pedialyte at home to help him rehydrate.
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