How to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs

Diarrhea is one of the most common medical symptoms that veterinarians see in their hospitals, making “how to treat diarrhea in dogs” one of the most common dog owner questions. Before we review diarrhea treatments and various diarrhea medications, we will quickly define “what is diarrhea” and the possible causes of canine diarrhea.

Diarrhea is defined as having loose stools which are often more frequent than normal.   The consistency of diarrhea can range from watery, liquid with some form, pudding, to a formed but softer-than-normal consistency.  Some diarrhea can contain blood and/or mucous.

Diarrhea can be a standalone symptom or it can be associated with other symptoms. Some dogs will have diarrhea and otherwise be completely normal. This means they have a good appetite, no vomiting, and a good energy level. Other times diarrhea is associated with vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy, and/or weakness. In these latter cases, we recommend that you see your veterinarian to help determine the underlying cause and to get your dog the diarrhea treatment that will work best.

There are many different causes of canine diarrhea that range from very mild or minor problems to severe life-threatening problems. Specifically, causes of canine diarrhea may include the following:

  • Eating inappropriate food or materials (commonly referred to as dietary indiscretion)
  • Infectious agents such as bacterial, viral, fungal, protozoal, or parasitic infections
  • Drugs (in humans there are over 700 medications that are known to cause diarrhea)
  • Toxins
  • Telescoping of the bowel on itself (Intussusception)
  • Intolerance of materials in the normal diet
  • Intestinal obstruction that can be caused by ingestion of indigestible foreign material such as toys, socks, fabric, underwear, rocks
  • Metabolic disorders, such as liver problems or kidney disease
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)

Some of the underlying causes of diarrhea are minor and can resolve quickly while other causes can be serious and life-threatening. Below we will consider how to treat diarrhea in dogs, when you should see your veterinarian, what you can feed a dog with diarrhea, types of dog diarrhea medicine, and tips for handling diarrhea in puppies.

Tips for Treating Dog Diarrhea at Home

It is important to take special care when treating dog diarrhea at home.

First of all, it is important to consider if diarrhea is the only symptom and your dog is otherwise acting normal or is he is acting sick with diarrhea? It is recommended that if your dog is acting sick and showing other symptoms, you would seek help from your veterinarian. There may be a life-threatening problem and treating dog diarrhea at home is not a good idea. Such symptoms include:

  • Not eating or drinking
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Concurrent vomiting
  • The diarrhea contains blood
  • Or your dog is showing any other signs of illness

Second, we will give you tips on dog diarrhea medication below but it is important to NOT give any medication without the recommendation of your veterinarian. Some human medications not listed below are unsafe and can cause harm to your dog.

Finally, read “what you can do at home for dogs with diarrhea”. This short article contains specific instructions on how to feed a dog with diarrhea, recipes to feed at home, and medications that are safe to give dogs.  

One last tip – the best way to avoid accidents in the house is to ensure your dog has frequent opportunities to go outside. Don’t wait for your dog to wake you up, as by then it is often too late. Offer your dog frequent opportunities to “go out”.

What You Can Feed a Dog With Diarrhea

If your dog has diarrhea but is acting otherwise normal with a good energy level, no vomiting, weakness, lethargy or other abnormal symptoms, then it is generally safe to offer some water and some food.

The recommendation for water intake is to offer free choice water if your dog is not vomiting and otherwise acting normal. If your dog is having vomiting in addition to diarrhea – please read this article on home care for dogs with vomiting and diarrhea. This article will give you specific instructions on how to introduce water and food when both vomiting and diarrhea are affecting your dog.

The diet recommendation for dogs with diarrhea is foods that are easy on the stomach. In dogs, we call it a “bland diet”.  You can purchase a bland diet from your veterinarian or make a homemade version at home. Prescription bland foods include Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d (which stands for “intestinal diet”), Iams Recovery Diet, or Waltham Low Fat Diet.

How To Switch Your Dog’s Food: Vet Recommendations

Your vet may have recommended a new food or you may just be thinking about changing your dog’s food to something new. There are “right ways” and “wrong ways” to change the food and we will give you recommendations below on the very best way. To make it extra easy for you, we will share a day-to-day schedule of how to change your dog’s food.

Sudden changes in dog food’s – even from one very good food to another good food – can cause gastrointestinal upset in some dogs. There are dogs that do fine with a total fast change but other dogs will have problems. The most common symptom a dog will exhibit is diarrhea. The next most common symptom is vomiting. And some dogs will have both vomiting and diarrhea.

The best thing to do is to prevent a gastrointestinal upset by following the recommendations below on how to change your dog’s food.

How to Change Your Dog’s Food 

The key to changing a pet’s food is “Slowly”!

The best way to start a new food for your dog is to begin by mixing a small amount of the new food in with the original food and do this over several days. Gradually increase the percentages over 10 days until you are feeding almost all new food then make the final switch.

For example, here is a schedule of how to change your dog’s food over 10 days:

  • Day one – Feed 90% original food, 10% new food.
  • Day two, Feed 80% original, 20% new food
  • Day three – Feed 70% original, 30% new food
  • Day four – Feed 60% original, 40% new food
  • Day five – Feed 50% original, 50% new food
  • Day six – Feed 40% original, 60% new food
  • Day seven – Feed 30% original, 70% new food
  • Day eight – Feed 20% original, 80% new food
  • Day nine – Feed 10% original, 90% new food
  • Day ten – Feed 100% new food

You can accelerate this by doing it over 3 or 4 days but the ten-day transition works well in most dogs.

What You Should Know About Feeding Your Dog 

Since you are going through the effort of changing your dog’s food, why not make sure you are picking the best food?  Below are a couple very good nutrition articles that may help you provide the best nutrition for your dog:

  • How to Read Dog Food LabelsMost pet owners don’t understand pet food labels. This is an important article to help you understand what everything on the label means to help you choose the very best food for your dog.
  • Commonly Asked Questions about Canine NutritionThis is a really good article that covers topics and answers questions about how much should you feed your dog, how often should you feed, should you feed canned or dry, is it safe to give bones, are rawhides good or bad, do dogs get bored eating the same food every day, should you be giving vitamins or supplements, should you feed raw meat and thoughts about raw meat diets, and much more. There are 22 dog nutrition questions and answers in this excellent article.
  • Nutrition in Dogs – This is a great article on nutrition in dogs. This will help you understand how to feed your dog and exactly what he or she needs to stay healthy.
  • 5 Ways to Combat Pet Obesity – Obesity is very common in dogs and can cause a lot of health risks. Some veterinarians believe that keeping your dog at an ideal weight can potentially increase life expectancy by two years! The formula is generally pretty easy and consists of 3 keys. 1. Eat less. 2. Eat lower calorie food. 3. Exercise more. Learn more about how to combat obesity in your dog.
  • What You Should Know About Feeding Bones – Do you feed bones to your dog? Do vets routinely recommend bones? The answer may surprise you. Check out this article.

What You Should Do If Your Dog Gets Diarrhea and/or Vomiting 

If you follow the instructions above, hopefully, your dog will do fine with the food change. However, vomiting and diarrhea can happen. Below are some tips on what you can do at home. These are really good articles to even save and print in the case it is a problem in your home at any time.

Vomiting and/or diarrhea are two of the most common reasons dogs go to the veterinarian. Anything from changing food, table scraps, viral infections, bacterial infections, liver disease, pancreatitis, diabetes, and much more can all cause vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Dog Nutrition Requirements — Are You Barking Up the Wrong Tree?

Good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential dog nutrition requirements. Your dog needs plenty of fresh water and should be fed good quality food in amounts just right to meet his energy requirements. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful.

Dog Nutrition Requirements

It’s vital that your dog eats a complete and balanced diet. He needs fresh water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins. The most important nutrient is water, which makes up 60 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy; minerals are important for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and other things; and vitamins are important to help your dog process biochemicals.

Some pet owners and veterinarians alike have become concerned that artificial ingredients might have detrimental health effects. To that point, more people are switching to natural pet food formulas or those with fewer artificial ingredients. Natural pet food can now be purchased in most pet supply stores. Kibble can be ordered online in bulk, and many veterinarians now stock all-natural foods. For those who prefer a home-cooked meal, recipes are available that provide a nutritionally balanced meal for dogs using human-grade food that you prepare yourself. These diets range from combining cooked vegetables and meats to feeding an entirely raw meat diet. Many books and websites are devoted to the benefits of an all-natural diet, whether prepackaged or prepared at home.

What should you consider before switching your pet to an all-natural diet? First, bear in mind that “natural” does not necessarily imply that it is appropriate for your pet. Remember that “natural” only signifies that there are no artificial ingredients; the term has no official meaning according to the FDA.

It is important to ensure that the food you have chosen still has the proper balance of protein and other ingredients for your pet’s needs, and does not contain any ingredients that your pet might be allergic to. If your pet has specific health concerns that require a special diet, you should consult your veterinarian before switching foods.

Choosing the Right Food

It’s also important to recognize that not all dog foods are created equal. While most dog foods are soybean-, rice-, or corn-based, better brands may have meat or fish meal listed as the first ingredient.

Although better-quality brands tend to be priced higher, they can prove worthwhile. Dogs typically eat less of high quality-products, since they have greater caloric density. This extends the time this food lasts, helping offset the higher cost.

The choice of dry vs. canned vs. semi-moist food is an individual one, but larger dogs should be fed a dry or semi-moist diet, since they may have difficulty consuming enough canned food to fulfill their caloric needs.

Dry dog foods also have greater caloric density, which means simply, there is less water in a cup of food as compared to a canned food diet. This is not a big issue for our smaller canine friends, but large dogs may have difficulty eating enough volume of canned food to fulfill their caloric needs (because they also get a lot of water in that food). Overall, the choice of dry vs. canned vs. semi-moist is an individual one, but larger dogs (such as those greater than 30 pounds) should be fed a dry or semi-moist food in most circumstances.

Dietary Requirements

Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are necessary for energy. Dietary requirements for dogs can vary according to activity and stress levels and medical history. Dogs expend energy in many different ways. For example, outdoor dogs are likely to experience increased levels of exercise and thus require a higher percentage of protein and fat for energy production than a dog who stays indoors most of the time. Dogs in various life stages [including puppy (growth), adult and senior (geriatric)] require different amounts of nutrients. Special situations such as pregnancy and nursing puppies can dramatically affect nutritional needs. Working dogs need more calories, while the “couch potato” needs less (just like us!).

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” dog and cat foods. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards.

Resources for Understanding Dog Nutrition Requirements

Want more useful advice on understanding dog nutrition requirements? Check out our featured articles:

Is Your Dog Overweight? How to Deal With Obesity in Dogs

Is your dog struggling with his weight? Learning more about obesity in dogs can help you understand how to better help him improve his health.

Obesity in dogs is a common problem for many breeds, and the easiest way to help your dog’s health get back on track is to find the root of the problem and take the proper steps to assist him in losing weight.

Your dog’s lifestyle is often a reflection of your own, so if exercise isn’t high up on your list, it’s likely that your dog isn’t getting the activity he needs to be healthy. Some dogs need more exercise than others, it all depends on the breed. For some dogs, a walk every other day is more than enough, but other dogs need at least a daily run/romp.

Doing research on your dog’s breed can help you have a better understanding of the way your dog gains weight and whether or not obesity is a genetic trait you need to be aware of. Breeds like dachshunds are an example of dogs who gain weight quickly, and being overweight can start a chain reaction of a number of other health problems.

It’s most common for middle aged dogs, or dogs from ages 5-10 to become obese, although any dog at any age is at risk. As dogs get older and their ability to exercise decreases, it’s much easier for them to gain a significant amount of weight because they aren’t as active as they used to be.

What you feed your dog has a significant impact on his weight and his health. Feeding your dog too much, a fluctuating diet, table scraps, and too many treats can all impact and negatively add to your dog’s weight. The right diet makes all the difference in helping your dog keep a healthy weight. Sometimes, switching your dog’s food is all it takes to help him cut a few pounds, but obesity in dogs makes it difficult for change to happen quickly.

Significant and severe weight gain can have a negative affect on your dog’s body and can even cause permanent damage. Excess weight can cause both muscular and skeletal issues for your pet, and along with being painful, they can cause more problems further on down the road.

Obesity in dogs also poses these health risks:

  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Urinary bladder stones
  • Complications with anesthetic

The other major issue with obesity in dogs is that it decreases the length of your dog’s life. Dogs who are leaner live longer, and extra pounds are only taking time away from the years you and your dog have together.

It’s easy to overlook keeping track of your dog’s weight when you’re worried about making sure he stays safe or making sure he doesn’t get sick. You can help your dog live his best life by making sure his health is in check, and even if your dog is obese, it’s never too late to help alleviate your pup’s issues.

Obesity in Dogs — What Can Owners Do to Help?

The best way to deal with obesity in dogs is to make sure that your dog is eating right and exercising. Start with walks and take a deeper look at what you’re feeding him. Talk to your veterinarian to determine if the food you use is really the right choice to ensure the best health. The problem with many dogs’ weight stems from what they’re eating.

If you’re feeding your dog table scraps it might be time to cut it cold turkey. Most food we eat is too fatty for dogs to digest, and it ends up just becoming extra poundage rather than providing any nutritional benefits. You might also want to look at how many treats your dog gets throughout the day, and the brand that you’re using. Giving an unhealthy treat too often can quickly lead to weight gain.

Just like with us, exercising more can help your dog work his way back into a healthy weight range. An active dog is a happy, lean dog, and it’s also a great opportunity for you and your pup to bond. Taking your dog to the park and playing fetch or going on a walk is an easy way to build a bond with your dog and also get him to work off the weight while having fun.

Always consult with your veterinarian before you go on a health journey with your dog. Obesity in dogs can be a serious condition, and you might end up doing more harm than good. Your vet will be able to help you develop an action plan for helping your dog lose weight and recommend the best course of action to lose weight.

Commonly Asked Questions About Dog Nutrition

Need a dog nutrition guide? Good nutrition is no accident. It takes time and patience to learn what your dog needs to stay healthy, happy and active. It also takes dedication and perseverance to make sure your dog eats what he should, rather than what he wants.

To make your job a little easier, here is a dog nutrition guide to ensure your pet gets all of his nutritional needs met.

Dog Nutrition Guide

1. Why is good nutrition important?

It’s vital that your dog eats a complete and balanced diet. He needs fresh water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. The most important nutrient is water, which makes up 60 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy; minerals are important for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, among other things; and vitamins are important to help your dog process biochemicals.

2. How often should I feed my dog?

Puppies under 3 months of age should be fed at least four times a day. Puppies between 3 and 5 months of age should be given three meals a day. Adult dogs can be fed once or twice a day. Dogs like routine, so establish a feeding schedule and stick to it. A good time to feed him is during the family meals. This will occupy him while the rest of the family is eating.

3. How much should I feed my dog?

The amount your og needs to eat depends on many factors, including: life stage (puppy, adult, pregnant or lactating), lifestyle (active versus the “coach potato”), size and general condition. Select a high quality food, weigh your dog (don’t try to guess) and then read the feeding guidelines provided on the package. Remember, though, that every dog is unique, so you might have to adjust his feeding accordingly. Click here to learn more about Feeding Your Adult Dog.

4. Is it okay to give my dog bones to chew on?

You should only give “bones” that have been designed for dogs to chew on. Bones, especially chicken bones, can splinter and become lodged in a dog’s mouth. If swallowed, they can cause constipation, or even bloody diarrhea (the result of fragments scraping the colon). Round bones can get stuck around the lower jaw and if swallowed, can get stuck in the esophagus.

5. When should I change from puppy to adult food?

Puppy food is different from adult food. It is designed for a rapidly growing pup. In his first year, your puppy will grow very quickly. You can begin to switch to an adult diet when he reaches 80 to 90 percent of his anticipated adult weight. For most dogs, this occurs around 9 months of age. Giant breeds, such as Great Danes, have special needs. They require a more specialized diet until they are 12 to 18 months of age. Learn more about how to adjust to your dog’s nutritional requirements by reading the article When to Change from Puppy Food to Adult Food.

6. How do I change my pet’s diet?

Don’t change his diet all at once. Do it gradually over three days. Begin changing his diet by feeding 1/4 adult food and 3/4 puppy food for a few days. Then add 1/2 adult food and 1/2 puppy food. After a few more days, feed 3/4 adult food and 1/4 puppy food. Then, you can feed straight adult food.

7. Can my dog be a vegetarian?

Believe it or not, yes, your dog can be a vegetarian, as long as his meals are well balanced with protein from other sources. There are a number of commercially available vegetarian foods, but you should first discuss his diet with your veterinarian.

8. Are rawhides bad for my dog?

Many people give rawhides to their pet as a toy and to help their teeth. It is theorized that dogs like rawhides, due to their natural instincts as wild dogs. But pets with a history of vomiting, special dietary needs, diarrhea or allergies may have a bad reaction to rawhide. Talk with your veterinarian about whether to give your dog rawhide or not. For more information, see Rawhide, Cowhide: Are They Good or Bad for Your Pet?

9. Can my dog eat cat food?

Your dog may survive on cat food, but he won’t thrive. Dogs and cats are different species, with their own nutritional requirements. Although a dog will get the necessary nutrients, he will be ingesting excess protein and fats that a cat requires to stay healthy. Over time, this can lead to obesity and other health problems.

What Happens to a Dog Who Eats Table Scraps?

Dogs who get to eat a few table scraps at dinner always appear a little more cheerful because they got some of that delicious smelling food, but are you sure what they’re eating is safe? Understanding what happens to dogs who eat table scraps is a good way to take better care of your pet because you’ll know the consequences and what to avoid.

A Begging Dog is Not a Good Dog

One thing to note about what happens to a dog who eats table scraps is an understanding that begging elicits a positive response from you in the form of food.

Feeding your dog from the table isn’t a good practice to start, mainly because dog’s stomachs are much different from ours, and the foods we eat often don’t sit well. It’s also worth mentioning that if you have a smaller dog, eating a large amount of table scraps can have a negative impact on his weight because it’s much more food than his stomach can handle. Smaller stomachs mean one or two french fries for a dog is the same as a large order of french fries for you, so keep that in mind the next time you consider sharing your meal.

Encouraging your dog to beg to get his way is a foundation for further problems later in life. Don’t let your dog become comfortable with sitting under the table waiting for a treat because getting him to stop can be very difficult. That type of behavior can also be annoying and disruptive if you have guests over.

The biggest thing that can happen to a dog who eats table scraps is a serious health issue. Certain foods can be poisonous or even lethal to dogs, and if you’re not paying attention you might not know what he ate and how much.

Knowing the Consequences of What Happens to a Dog Who Eats Table Scraps

Don’t fill your dog’s bowl with table scraps. While it may thrill your pooch to have a bowl full of leftovers, most are too fatty for an animal’s digestive system and can do more harm than good. It can even occasionally trigger a possibly fatal pancreatic inflammation, so the risk is much higher than the reward of your dog wagging his tail.

One of the most obvious foods to avoid is chocolate. The caffeine and theobromine in cacao is toxic to animals, because their bodies can’t break it down like ours can. You shouldn’t give your dog chocolate in any form, especially dark chocolate, which has a much higher concentration of cacao. The risk with chocolate ingestion depends on the size of your dog, the smaller he is, the more toxic a little bit of chocolate will be. In some cases, a single ounce of chocolate can be deadly.

If you’re often pushing your dog’s nose away from the trash, make sure to put garbage into tightly covered cans. It’s too easy for your dog to give in to temptation and make a meal out of things you threw away. Garbage cans are a significant potential danger because not only could your dog end up eating things that are toxic, but he could also ingest things that aren’t actually food, like plastic. Foreign objects like this can cause blockages in your dog’s intestines, which can be a serious issue and require surgery if your dog is unable to pass them.

The other problem you can face with garbage cans is you may not know what exactly your dog ate and how much. This can cause further stress for you because you won’t be sure how to treat the problem, and you might end up with a costly trip to the vet.

Throwing a dog a bone is a classic cliche, and many people will actually give their dogs the bones from their meals to chew on, but this is incredibly dangerous. If your dog breaks the bone and swallows it, the sharp ends can easily puncture his stomach or intestines and cause serious damage, which can even be lethal. So think twice before throwing your dog a T-bone; he’s better off with those made specifically for dogs.

There are foods that dogs can actually find nutritional benefit in, like vegetables, rice, pasta, and some fruits. But in general, table scraps are a bad idea. Do your research and understand what happens to a dog who eats table scraps so you can make sure you’re not putting dangerous toxins in his bowl.

The Science Behind Feline Finickiness and What to do About It

Why is it usually so easy to change a dog’s diet, and nearly impossible to change the food cats are used to eating? The answer to feline finickiness lies in your cat’s brain.

People need to switch a cat’s diet for many reasons — a brand or flavor is discontinued, a veterinarian recommends a dietary change for health reasons, or a food has been recalled. Whatever the reason, it probably won’t impress your cat.

Feline finickiness is not a myth and it’s not irrational. Cats as a species tend to imprint on specific smells, shapes and textures as being "food" or "not-food" when they are still kittens. This is obviously a survival advantage for wild or feral cats, where knowing what's an appropriate meal and what's a poisonous plant is indisputably a good thing. But for housecats? It can be a real problem.

Feline Finickiness and What to do About It

Although the problem lies in the cat’s brain, it’s human beings who turn it from an evolutionary advantage into a problem. We have a tendency to offer our cats only one kind of food from the day we bring them home until forced to change by circumstances beyond our control. Cats who won’t eat wet food instead of dry, or a different flavor or formula of their usual food, aren’t being contrary; they literally don’t recognize the new food as food at all. To them, it’s like we offered them shoelaces and dice and expected them to eat them.

It’s easy to prevent this problem if you’re starting with a new kitten. Just give her a wide variety of different flavors, types, and textures of foods all the time, and she’ll probably be comfortable with dietary changes for the rest of her life.

If, however, you already have a finicky feline and you need to make a diet change, patience and planning are the two most important weapons a cat owner can have: patience because most experts agree that the important thing is making the change, not how fast you make it, and planning because it's much more likely your cat will accept the new diet if changes are made in small increments. Many owners get frustrated when the cat resists the new diet and start making random changes in how they feed their cats — which only confuses the cat and increases the chance of failure. Instead, get clear on the steps you're going to follow and then follow them.

Dr. Lisa Pesch of Sebastopol's Veterinary Healing Arts Center says that the first step in changing your cat's diet is to give meals at specific intervals, rather than letting the cat graze on a bowl of dry food that's left out all day.


"My recommendation for cats who are resisting a dietary change is to offer two meals a day, rather than leaving food down all day for them to eat at will," she said. "Put the food you want the cat to eat down for half an hour. Only if that half hour goes by without the cat eating any of the new food should you put down the food the cat normally eats." For most cats, she says, a few days of this will be all the cat needs to make the switch.

If that doesn't work, the next step is to try putting a bit of the old food on top of the new food. "You can do some mixing, but mixing small amounts of the food they're eating now into the food you want them to switch to usually doesn't work," said Pesch. "If it's mixed in, it'll smell too much like the old food and it won't help them adjust to the new food. When there's a little bit of the old food on top, they'll eat that first and will get some of the new food in their mouth along with it. That helps them to get used to that taste and smell as being part of 'food.' With time, you can gradually phase in more and more of the new food, and they will eventually start eating it because they'll perceive it as food."

Get Festive With the Best Holiday Dog Treats

Baking season is in full swing, and if you’re hosting family and friends at your house for the holidays, you probably have your entire menu already planned out with delicious treats that everyone will love. If you want to keep your pooch’s nose off the counter, try including him in the feast with some holiday dog treats.

Holiday Dog Treats Can Keep Your Dog from Stealing Food

A lot of dogs steal food from countertops, storage cupboards, or even out of the hands of slow moving children. Stealing food is just one of the things that dogs are really good at and are driven to do by powerful internal urges. It’s as if they’re always on a seafood diet — see food and eat it, that is.

Actually, “steal” is rather a strong word. It implies some kind of unscrupulous behavior or moral turpitude. However, it’s far less complicated than that where dogs are concerned. They detect some tasty food, it beckons to them by means of its odor, and they seize it and devour it without guilt. Dogs that have been punished for stealing will not usually steal food in their owner’s presence but that’s because they are avoiding punishment, not because they think that what they are doing is wrong. So, if dogs have no conscience about stealing and they enjoy food, what can a poor dog owner do to protect their barbecued offerings or holiday feast? Is punishment and constant policing the only answer? Not really — there are a few other things that can be done to help.

Keep your dog well fed. Powerful motivation is at the root of many commando-style hit-and-run thieving missions by dogs. Motivation is a double-edged sword: There’s the drive from within (hunger) and the lure from outside (the attractiveness of the food). Hunger can be assuaged but good food is always good food. It helps to feed your dog a robust meal before you have friends over for a barbecue if you want him to be less inclined to be mooching vittles. It’s much harder for him to get worked up over a hot dog when he’s got a belly full of kibble.

Feed Your Pup Holiday Dog Treats Over Table Scraps

Winter is the time for holiday parties and large, traditional dinners. But as much as you may want to include your pet in this fun, feeding him a few treats from the table is not the way. Table food is too fatty for the digestive systems of most animals and can lead to severe stomach upsets, occasionally triggering possibly fatal pancreatic inflammation. To keep your pet safe this season, remember the following:

  • Chicken and turkey bones are highly dangerous; they can splinter and puncture the stomach or intestines.
  • Don’t fill the dog’s bowl with table scraps. Most are too fatty for an animal’s digestive system.
  • Don’t give chocolate to your dog; it can be toxic.
  • Make sure to put garbage into tightly covered cans to prevent your dog from giving into temptation and making a meal of your discards.
  • Call your vet if your pet shows signs of stomach upset – diarrhea or vomiting.

Fill Your Holiday Dog Treats with Good Nutrition

Good nutrition is no accident. It takes time and patience to learn what your dog needs to stay healthy, happy and active. It also takes dedication and perseverance to make sure your dog eats what he should, rather than what he wants.

It’s vital that your dog eats a complete and balanced diet. He needs fresh water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. The most important nutrient is water, which makes up 60 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy; minerals are important for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, among other things; and vitamins are important to help your dog process biochemicals.

Vegetables make good treats for dogs. They are healthy and he can digest them. There are healthy doggie treats available in pet food stores as well. Talk to your veterinarian to find out what treats are best for your dog.

Check out our favorite holiday dog treat recipes and get baking!

Your Dog Will Love These Holiday Dog Treat Recipes

Noel Nibbles

You’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cups white flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened chunky applesauce
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanuts

Holiday Foods: What to Share with Your Pet and What to Keep to Yourself

No matter what’s cooking, your pet is bound to show interest. But, be careful —for as many tasty treats there are, there's just as many dangerous holiday foods for pets.

Fueled by instincts, appetite, and possibly even boredom, pets tend to hang around when the family “chef” occupies the kitchen. They linger under foot, providing great company (albeit while crowding kitchen space) while eagerly awaiting a dropped food morsel.

But the tempting aromas that waft from a kitchen during the holiday season can send your pets into a downright tizzy. The smell smorgasbord created by roasted turkey, smoked ham, and garlic mashed potatoes is enough to drive them dog wild and cat crazy.

It’s the season of giving, and you want to share your holiday feast with your pet. While it’s generally not advisable to serve pets people food — and there are many dangerous holiday foods for pets — there are some exceptions. Here’s our lists of foods to offer or omit from your dog or cat this holiday season.

Holiday Foods to Share with Your Pet

It’s worth stating again – in general, it’s recommended not to serve your food to your pet, or to at least consult your veterinarian before doing so. However, during a special occasion like a holiday dinner, there are a few items you can add scraps of to your pet’s dish once your meal is complete, provided you practice moderation and common sense:

  • Lean, white meat: Provided excess fat has been removed and it’s devoid of bones, a small, cut-up piece of chicken or turkey typically provides a safe source of protein for your dog or cat. Plus, your pet will salivate with delight upon receiving this tasty treat.
  • Select vegetables: Certain veggies – including carrots, green beans, and cucumber slices – can be shared with your pet. Whether raw or cooked, these veggies should be served without butter and salt. Baby carrots, in particular, represent an exciting, low-calorie treat that can be used for training purposes. Your cat, however, may not show much interest.
  • Turkey Broth: Whether canned or homemade, most turkey broths can be used to enhance traditional dog and cat foods. By pouring a small quantity over your pet’s dry food, you can add moisture and flavor that will incite their taste buds.
  • White rice: Often used to calm a pet’s upset stomach, white rice can also serve as a special-occasion snack – especially when mixed with turkey broth or small pieces of white chicken.

Holiday Foods to Keep to Yourself — Avoid These Dangerous Holiday Foods for Pets

While it may be difficult to resist a sorrowful face or ignore a persistent whimper or meow, most delectable holiday foods simply have no business on a pet’s plate. Stay true to your convictions, despite your pet’s protest, and remind yourself you’re doing your dog or cat a favor by withholding these items.

In particular, holiday foods that are fatty, spicy, or sweet should be omitted from your pet’s diet. While you’re readily aware these taste categories encompass the bulk of food deliciousness, your pet doesn’t need to know that (and has a different taste palate anyway).

Special care must be made to prevent your dog or cat from obtaining the following toxic holiday food items:

  • Alcohol: In addition to causing intoxication, consumption of alcohol can throw off a pet’s acidity balance, potentially causing coma or death.
  • Meat bones: As a choking hazard and a possible cause of intestinal bleeding, bones must be removing from any lean meat you serve to your dog.
  • Chocolate: While many pet owners are aware of this risk, it can’t be overstated. Chocolate can wreak havoc on a pet’s heart and nervous systems.
  • Corn on the cob: When consumed, a corn cob is likely to get lodged in a pet’s intestines, causing risk of an intestinal blockage.
  • Nuts: While most varieties should be avoided, Macadamia nuts, in particular, must be kept away from pets for fear of damaging their digestive tracts.
  • Onions: Your aunt’s famous cheesy onion casserole is not appropriate for your pet. Poisonous for both dogs and cats, onion consumption can result in anemia for pets.
  • Sugar: Keep the candy canes and cookies away from your dog or cat. Similar to with humans, excessive sugar consumption increases the risk of dental issues, obesity, and diabetes for pets.

When in doubt regarding a certain holiday food, it’s best to simply withhold that item from your pet until you can consult your veterinarian. With a proper approach to food-sharing (or lack thereof) this holiday season, you can ensure your pet enjoys a special treat while also maximizing the chance your beloved animal will continue to experience holidays for many years to come.

Malnourished Kitty? How to Make Your Cat Gain Weight

The term “fat cats” conjures up many images, but you never hear much about “skinny cats.” But if your kitty isn’t getting the nourishment she needs, you may have to learn how to make your cat gain weight.

“My cat eats anything, it doesn’t matter which food I buy,” isn’t uttered by many cat lovers. Cats and picky-eating pretty much go hand-in-hand. Just ask any feline parent who stocked up on his cat’s favorite food, only to find out that she suddenly can’t stand the sight of it.

Joking aside, feline weight loss is a serious issue. Weight loss is a physical condition that results from a cat’s negative caloric balance. This usually occurs when the cat’s body uses and/or excretes essential nutrients faster than it can consume them. Essentially more calories are being burned than are being taken in.

Weight loss is considered clinically important when it exceeds 10 percent of the normal body weight and is not associated with fluid loss. During weight loss, a cat’s appetite may be normal, increased, or decreased, so it can be difficult to diagnose. Always consult with your veterinarian, but watch out for things like poor hair coat, diarrhea, vomiting, regurgitation, and/or difficulty swallowing.

If you think you may have a malnourished kitty, check out these tips on how to make your cat gain weight.

Time For a Check-Up?

Your cat may have food allergies or digestive issues that are causing her to lose her appetite. Abdominal pain is very uncomfortable and is one reason your cat will ignore her food. Anorexia doesn’t apply only to humans. This serious condition affects cats, too, so knowing how to make your cat gain weight is vital.

If your cat’s food intake decreases to the point of significant weight loss, your veterinarian will likely diagnose her with feline anorexia. If your cat refuses to eat for an unusually long period of time, seek medical treatment immediately. A trained professional will need to assess how severe your cat’s condition is and what treatment is available.


Cats are natural hunters and predators. However distasteful to you, they prefer warm food that gives off that “freshly killed” smell. If your picky-Persian puts her nose up at dinner time, try warming her wet food first. Be sure to check the food’s temperature, though, making sure it’s not too hot. Also, note that cooked bones are not good for your cat. They’re more likely to splinter and present choking hazards.

Food Changes

Have you recently introduced a new food? Diet changes need to be gradual. Switching your cat’s food out of nowhere can cause her to avoid eating. If she requires a different food, for medical or other reasons, make the switch slowly, adding a little of the new food at a time.

Food Content

Is your skinny Siamese eating, but just not putting on any weight? In these cases, knowing how to make your cat gain weight can be as simple as reading labels. Check out the ingredients in your cat’s food. Premium foods (sold by your veterinarian or pet food stores) tend to have more protein and nutrients than those sold in most grocery stores, which tend to have more filler.

Spice Up the Flavor

If your kitty isn’t purring at meal time, she may have the boring food blues. Entice her to eat with flavor add-ins. Try mixing in some tuna or fish oil. If that doesn’t do the trick, many pet stores sell specialty-made gravy just for cats. When you’re trying to figure out how to make your cat gain weight, anything goes!



If you already serve premium food that your cat seems to love, maybe she needs a few extra calories. Try high-protein treats in between meals. You can even try vegetables, rice, popcorn, pasta, egg whites, cottage cheese, and yogurt.


Your kitty might be stressing over something completely unrelated to her food. Changes in living space, like new noises or a new pet, cause some cats to take a temporary break from eating. Assess your home to determine any differences that may be causing your cat’s anxiety.