My dog seems fine but has diarrhea – what do I do?

If your dog is acting quite normally and suddenly develops diarrhea, the first question in your mind should be: What caused this?  Often dogs get sudden diarrhea from eating inappropriate things such as greasy foods, bark or mulch from outside, items from the garbage can or compost pile, people food, etc.  Sometimes diarrhea develops from stressful situations.  They can also develop diarrhea from eating plants, getting into chemicals, or eating their toys.  If you fear one of the latter – call your veterinarian immediately.  If you suspect your dog was given barbeque by your neighbor last night, then there are some first steps you can take to try to alleviate the situation.  I always recommend an immediate fast.  No food for either 12 or 24 hours, depending on the severity of the diarrhea.  Please keep in mind that we are talking about a dog that is acting 100% normal in every other way.  Fasting the dog will allow the contents of the stomach and intestines to clear out and hopefully begin the healing process.  Break the fast with a BLAND diet.  Yes, there are diets that are more bland than over-the-counter dog food!  Veterinarians have diets that are manufactured to be used for just such a situation and the diet can usually be purchased in either canned or dry form.  Some examples are Purina’s EN, Hill’s I/D, and Eukanuba’s low residue.  You can also cook a bland meal for your pet to eat that is composed of boiled meat and steamed rice.  It is important that the meat is boiled – not fried or baked.  Boiling meat allows most of the fat and grease to be removed completely.  Most people opt to use ground beef, ground turkey, or chicken for this part.  The rice can be white or brown (I usually recommend white for its ability to absorb liquids).  Some people recommend cottage cheese.  I have no comment.  Some dogs respond well to this, but I have not found it necessary to add this ingredient.  I suggest that you cook a batch of meat and rice in a pot and store it in the refrigerator until gone.  You can dish out the food from here in portions and not have to keep cooking meals for your pet each time.  Feed ¼ their normal volume of food every 4-6 hours for the first day.  If things are going well and beginning to solidify, increase the portion size and decrease frequency over the next 1-2 days.  After the stool is back to normal, begin mixing the bland food with their dog food.  I recommend 25% dog food with 75% bland food to start, then 50/50, then 75/25.  If during this process the diarrhea seems to be getting worse, please call your vet – there are many things that can cause diarrhea and it could be an internal problem. 
  • ·         Fast
  • ·         Bland diet
  • ·         Small meals
Dr. Amy Hellard                                West Chester Veterinary Care                   www.westchesterveterinarycare.com