Managing a mild case of dog diarrhoea

Posted by Dr Dog. August 21st 2014.

Dog diarrhoea is a commonly seen problem – including episodes of both vomiting and diarrhoea, due to their unfussy eating habits.

Diarrhoea can be uncomfortable and can make even the brightest dog feel miserable. However, the good news is that most cases of diarrhoea, in dogs, isn’t too much to worry about. A full recovery can normally take place at home with simple management and without the need for medical intervention.

So if your dog is still fairly bright, alert and not vomiting excessively, then the majority of simple cases resolve quickly if the patient is given a little TLC.

Sick dog

Step One – Dietary rest

Dogs with diarrhoea do not require a period of complete dietary rest. In fact feeding your dog a bland diet will aid their intestinal recovery. The only time a period of rest from food would be advisable would be if your dog was also vomiting. In this instance a period of rest of 12-24 hours may be advisable to allow the stomach/intestines time to recover.

Dogs with diarrhoea have an inflamed bowel and have difficulty absorbing nutrients from their food. If fed their normal diet, then the undigested food will pass straight through the bowel and cause further fluid loss. You must feed an easily digested bland diet plus water, little and often.

Unless your dog is vomiting as well as having diarrhoea, then access to frequent small drinks of fresh water should be provided at all times.

Dogs with diarrhoea often vomit as well especially in the early stages but thereafter; dogs with diarrhoea should not repeatedly vomit. If repeated vomiting or regurgitation of water occurs, you must seek urgent veterinary attention.

Your dog will drink when thirsty, so there should be no need to try forcing it to take water.

Step Two – High digestibility diet

A bland diet fed in small frequent meals of 4-6 times a day should be fed until normal faeces are produced. Many dog diets are very high in meat protein (especially the premium brand tinned dog foods) and can be difficult for a dog with tummy problems to digest. Therefore it is best if the dog’s normal food is temporarily replaced with a home-cooked diet that contains no meat protein.

For example:
1.5 cups cooked rice
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cooked egg – if scrambled use only water and no milk as this may prolong the diarrhoea

The above example diet contains approx.. 700 calories. It should be fed in 4 or smaller meals daily, equal to about 50% of the dog’s daily food intake. After 2 to 3 days, as long as the diarrhoea is starting to clear up, the dog’s normal food can be carefully re-introduced, by gradually weaning the dog back onto its normal food over a period of 3 to 5 days.

Other dog diarrhoea considerations

Be firm with your dog and give no snacks during the recovery period as they can cause a relapse.
Walk your dog on a lead during the recovery period to prevent it scavenging on walks. The same applies when in the garden.

Take your time when reintroducing your dog’s usual diet. Rushing this stage is a common cause of restarting diarrhoea. Imagine yourself in the same situation having eaten chicken soup for 2 days and then tucking into curry, your tummy may object too!

Don’t expect your dog’s poo to look normal straight away, it may take several days. However you should see a gradual improvement every day. If you have more than one dog it may be easier to feed both dogs the same, even if your other pet is not unwell.

Please note, veterinary advice must be sought if your dog’s condition deteriorates or does not improve.

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