How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs

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You can make a homemade diet by preparing a combination of a protein source with a highly digestible carbohydrate source. The most common recipe consists of lean hamburger or skinless chicken (as the protein source) mixed with boiled rice (as the carbohydrate source) at a 50/50 ratio. You may use potatoes as an alternative carbohydrate source.

Feed only small amounts of this bland food at a time. Many dogs will overeat and vomit. By going slowly, you minimize the chance of creating additional problems such as vomiting. Begin with only a small meatball size portion. If there is no vomiting, offer another small amount approximately one-half to one hour later. Offer small amounts of this bland food frequently such as every 3 to 4 hours for the first day.

You can gradually increase the amount of food and decrease the frequency as your dog tolerates this food. After feeding in this manner for 24 hours, you can begin mixing in some of his regular food assuming there is no vomiting and the diarrhea is resolving.  Go slowly when reintroducing your dog’s regular food. For example, mix in only a few kibbles of the regular food with the bland food for the first feeding. Gradually increase the amount of regular food over several feedings weaning your dog to his regular food over a couple of days.

It is also important to know what to avoid and what foods can make diarrhea worse. Avoid spicy food, uncooked vegetables, human foods, and any foods that your dog has had a problem with before. It is best to stick with the bland diet discussed above.

Types of Dog Diarrhea Medicine That Will Help Your Dog Recover

The topic of medications to help dog diarrhea is an interesting and controversial one. Some veterinarians eagerly reach for various diarrhea medications while others don’t. The controversy is this. Diarrhea is Mother Nature’s way of ridding the body of something. By giving medication to slow or stop diarrhea, you are keeping that “something” in the body.  Many experts recommend that you allow diarrhea to run its course.

Many cases of dog diarrhea may be self-limiting and resolve quickly with no treatment and no need for diarrhea medicine. Other causes of diarrhea, especially those associated with an infectious problem, can benefit from medication.

To be safest, if you choose to use diarrhea medications for your dog, please do so under the supervision of your veterinarian. Below is information about the types of medication you should look for – some require a prescription and some are over-the-counter (OTC).

One commonly used medication to treat diarrhea in dogs is called metronidazole, also known as Flagyl. This commonly used prescription medication is a synthetic antibiotic and antiprotozoal that treats bacterial infections and certain parasitic infections in dogs and cats.

Dogs can be given deworming medication that is safe and effective. This can be done even if the stool testing is negative for intestinal parasites because parasites do not always show up in every fecal examination. Two very commonly used dewormers in dogs include Pyrantel Pamoate (also known as Nemex®, Strongid® T) and Fenbendazole (also commonly known as Panacur®).  Both Pyrantel and Fenbendazole are available at your veterinarian’s office or over-the-counter without a prescription.

Another medication that can be used in dogs with diarrhea is Diphenoxylate (Logen®, Lomotil®, Lonox®). Most pet owners know this drugs as “Lomotil”. This drug works by slowing down the gastrointestinal tract, decreasing the production of intestinal secretions, and enhancing absorption of liquids. Lomotil should be used under the direction of your veterinarian. Lomotil can be found over-the-counter in most human pharmacies. Please see this article on how to safely dose and give Lomotil.

Another drug that can help diarrhea in dogs is Immodium. Loperamide, commonly known as Imodium® can be used to treat diarrhea in dogs. It works primarily by slowing the movement of the intestines. It may also decrease intestinal secretions and enhance mucosal absorption. Learn more about how to safely dose Imodium in dogs and drug interactions that you should know about.

If your dog is showing concurrent vomiting, lethargy or weakness, it is best to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian. 

It is also important to know risks with medicine and what to avoid. Unless directed by your veterinarian, it is best to avoid steroids (such as prednisone) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Rimadyl, Meloxicam, Deramaxx, and many more) that can cause irritation to the gastrointestinal tract.

The best treatment for diarrhea is to remove the underlying cause if known. In many cases, diarrhea may be caused from a sudden food change, new treats, bones, and dietary indiscretion such as getting into the trash or being offered human foods that your dog isn’t used to. Remove all predisposing causes. If you started a new food – go back to the old food then slowly introduce the new food. Here is an article on the best formula and specific instruction on how to introduce a new dog food.

Tips for Handling Diarrhea in Puppies

Diarrhea in puppies can be more serious than in an adult dog depending on the age of the puppy. The younger the puppy, the more serious the problem can be. Puppies don’t have reserve energy stores and even minor bouts of diarrhea can lead to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), which can be life-threatening.


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