Remember to get to the vet if
Warning Signs That Diarrhea Needs Medical Attention
• Black, tarry stool, or stool with copious amounts of fresh (bright red) blood
• 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.)
Home Treatment of Diarrhea
The most important step in treating acute diarrhea is to rest the GI tract by withholding all food for 24 hours. The dog should be encouraged to drink as much water as he wants. With persistent diarrhea, consider giving a supplemental electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte, available over the counter in pharmacies and grocery stores. Dilute it by one-half with water and add it to the dog’s drinking bowl. Custom canine electrolyte solutions and sport drinks are also available, such as K9 Thirst Quencher. These are flavored to encourage the dog to drink. If the dog won’t drink the electrolyte solution, offer only water. A low-salt bouillon cube dissolved in the water can help encourage him to drink.
Acute diarrhea usually responds within 24 hours to intestinal rest. Start the dog out on an easily digestible diet that’s low in fat. Examples are boiled hamburger (one part drained meat to two parts cooked rice) and boiled chicken with the skin removed. Cooked white rice, cottage cheese, cooked macaroni, cooked oatmeal, and soft-boiled eggs are other easily digestible foods. Feed three or four small meals a day for the first two days. Then slowly switch the diet back to the dog’s regular food.
Obtain immediate veterinary care if:
- The diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours
- The stool contains blood or is black and tarry
- The diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting
- The dog appears weak or depressed or has a fever
Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies
Vet Advice: Treating Your Dog's Diarrhea | The Bark
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.