What to do if your dog has diarrhea

This past weekend I was walking my dog when a lady (without dog) stopped me on the street. “Can I ask you a question?” she asked, followed by “what do you do when your dog gets diarrhea?”

My first response was that I would probably take her to the vet, depending on the severity, to which the lady responded that she would as well, but that her vet was closed that day (Sunday).

So what do you do if your dog has diarrhea and your vet is closed?

After doing some research on pets.webmd.com, their first suggestion is to let the gastrointestinal tract rest by withholding food for 24 hours. Encourage your dog to drink as much water as he wants in order to stay hydrated. You might even consider providing an electrolyte solution such as K9 Thirst Quencher or Pedialyte diluted by one-half water.

After 24 hours, ease your dog back into eating with low-fat, easily digestible foods such as white rice, cottage cheese, or chicken with the skin removed. Some other options are cooked oatmeal and cooked macaroni. The food should be separated into 3-4 meals throughout the day.

In case of emergency

It is important to seek immediate veterinary care if the diarrhea:

  • is black or contains blood
  • is accompanied by vomiting
  • lasts for more than 24 hours
  • causes your dog to appear weak or have a fever

Learn more detailed information including the causes of diarrhea in the WebMD.com article about dog diarrhea.

About Stacy @Trupanion

Stacy Kowalchuk is a dog mom to her rescued Whippet-mix, Ellie. During the week, you can find Stacy surfing (the internet, that is) and managing Trupanion's presence in the social media world. In her free time, Stacy likes to bake, especially cupcakes! To balance her culinary affinity, she also likes to stay active, especially with activities that include her dog such as hiking and going to dog parks.

13 Responses to What to do if your dog has diarrhea

  1. Tim Nelson says:

    For nearly two years I worked at a Petco (not that that’s the best place to go for your dog’s needs)and my best friend was a vet tech for a few years as well. I learned from both that canned pumpkin (plain, not spiced or flavored) is a great remedy for doggie diarrhea. My dog had the runs for a day or two and after trying the pumpkin, nice solid poo. I still use it on occasion as a remedy twice for a day after seeing diarrhea, usually after he gets into something he shouldn’t (finds a piece of food on the sidewalk that I don’t catch in time) and it works. You don’t need much. My dog is about 60lbs and I was recommended to give him a tablespoon with his breakfast and dinner. My mother’s dog was having diarrhea for a couple days so I suggested the pumpkin, and it worked for her as well.

    • Stacy says:

      Tim thanks for the tip! You’re right, pumpkin is great for dogs! Just be sure not to accidentally buy canned pumpkin pie mix with all the added sugar and other ingredients. :)

  2. Darise says:

    Antibiotocs can also cause some imbalances in the gastrointestinal tract which result in diarhea. I have found that feeding plain yogurt to a cat, dog, or human will help to alleviate the diarhea. Also, if you feed the yogurt at the same time the antibiotic is started you may be able to avoid the diarhea altogether.

  3. CD says:

    Having recently gone through this ordeal with a very sick dog, I can attest that pureed pumpkin is the closest thing to magic I have ever seen! Libby’s produces a plain pumpkin puree that is almost half the price of the organic pureed pumpkin. Check the ingredient list on the can because the picture on the front of the Libby’s can that we buy shows a slice of pumpkin pie, but the sole ingredient is pumpkin.

    Pumpkin can be a daily additive to every meal for your dog. An additional benefit is that pumpkin helps to deodorize the dog’s poop!

    In the event you are unable to locate a can of plain pureed pumpkin, sweet potatoes are an excellent substitute. Unlike canned pumpkin, most canned sweet potatoes are canned with sugar and spices. Fresh sweet potatoes are available year round in most grocery stores. It only take half an hour to peel, cook and mash sweet potatoes in order to serve to your dog, and they love the taste.

  4. Lily says:

    Here’s what some creeps told me to do is to not feed your dog for 24 hours and give a small cup of rice and nothing worked so I tryed the pumpkin and worked awesome so try pumpkin

  5. Candace says:

    my dog has had diarrhea very often weve changed his food four times i just learned about the pumpkin so ive been giving him that and rice and the mistake we mixed it with a new food its limited in gredient diet an it worked for the first few days but lst night and today it came out stright water we went to the vvvet a month ago he said its probably just allergies or we have to find a new food… i feel bad and dont know what else to do ..on the plus side he still has energy and acts completly normal…what do i do

    • Stacy says:

      Hi Candace,
      If your dog is having regular diarrhea, it sounds like there is definitely an underlying issue here. If your vet’s advice wasn’t very helpful, it certainly doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion from a different veterinarian!

  6. Sugar says:

    I have more of a question then a commet. My chihuahua has had diarrhea for a few days, it didnt start out bad but has slowly been getting worse. I tryed giving her oatmeal, cheese, bread, a small amount of peptoe. Nothing has seemed to work. My husband found you artical, im hoping that it works. Is there anything that you can suggest other then the pumpkin if it dosent? I really dont wont to take her to the vet.

    help

    • Stacy says:

      Hello,
      If the diarrhea continues for several days then it is definitely wise to seek veterinary care because your dog could become dehydrated. We would definitely recommend sticking to pumpkin, cooked lean chicken and cooked rice as a bland diet to help keep food in your dog’s system. You might also add a little bit of chicken broth to your dog’s water bowl to encourage her to drink.

  7. Kelly says:

    I find pumpkin works great, then ease them back on food with boiled chicken and rice with the water to help with dehydration:) also chicken broth in there water helps them drink more.

  8. Jeannie Wright says:

    Get the bony pieces of chicken and preshure cook them. Drain broth in bowl put in fridge.Take meat off bones throw fat and skin away put meat up for when he gets well.Mash bones into mush,make sure u cook them to look all most like cream potatoes.This is for small house dogs.After the broth has got cold dîp the fat off that has hardened on top and let ur dog have the broth, make sure u get all the fat ,if u don’t he will have the runs again.Lol……..

  9. Patricia kaufman says:

    For dogs with intestinal problems we have found fage yogurt to be very helpful. The probiotic s help calm their stomach down .

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