Your dog is a walking garbage disposal!
Dogs can eat rotten carcasses, drink filthy water … and most of the time they’ll be fine. Dogs’ digestive systems are amazingly resilient!
But every once in a while, the digestive system meets something it can’t handle. And then your dog gets diarrhea.
Whatever caused the diarrhea, you’ll want to stop it FAST! And you’ll want to avoid drugs and chemical fixes that can damage his gut even more.
But when you get time, make sure you delve into the causes of your dog’s diarrhea. Then you can take steps to stop it for good.
What Your Dog’s Poop Can Tell You
You can learn a lot from your dog’s poop. So let’s look at what’s consider normal and abnormal.
Normal Stool Textures
A normal stool has a consistency that’s formed but malleable… think Play Doh. The stool will be:
- Log shaped with a wet surface
- Little to no segmentation
- Leaves residue but holds firm when picked up
Crumbly or chalky poop is normal for dogs on a raw diet with plenty of bone. Don’t confuse it with constipation. This stool will be:
- Firm, but not hard
- Segmented sections
- Hardly any residue when picked up
Normal Frequency: Most dogs have 1 to 2 bowel movements a day. … usually around the same time of day.
Soft stool – like soft-serve ice cream (sorry if this puts you off your summer treat!). The stool will be one of the following consistencies:
- Log shaped
- Leaves residue and loses form when picked up
- Very wet, distinct shape
- Looks like a pile instead of a log
- Leaves residue when picked up
Loose stool – watery or thin stools. The stool will be one of the following consistencies:
- Has texture
- No distinct shape
- Leaves residue when picked up
- No texture, looks like a puddle
- Can’t be easily picked up
Abnormal Frequency: Abnormal stools can cause several poops a day (maybe on your rug).
If your dog has abnormal stools often, he has chronic diarrhea. You’ll need to figure out the cause so you can fix it.
Abnormal stools can also be …
- Very hard and dry
- Often looks like pellets
- Takes a lot of effort to get out
- Leaves no residue when picked up
If your dog has stool like this, it’s a sign of constipation. I won’t be covering this type of stool today, but it’s a good idea to know what it looks like.
Stool is also abnormal it has blood or musus in it, regardless of it’s look or consistency. I want to talk about bloody stool a bit more, but first let’s look at stool color.
What Does The Color Of My Dog’s Poop Mean?
Normal poop can be many different shades of brown. But what if it’s not brown?
If your dog passes yellow stool he has something going on. The most common causes of yellow stool are:
- The parasite coccidia.
- Pathogenic bacteria overgrowth.
- Changes in the liver.
- Poop moving through the GI tract too quickly to pick up bile. Bile makes poop brown.
You may see yellow stools with acute or chronic diarrhea.
This usually means your dog ate something with food coloring in it. Or the poop may contain small amounts of blood. This is an acute issue that will often resolve with fasting and a bland diet.
Gastrointestinal (GI) hypermotility can cause green stool. It can be a gall bladder issue if your dog’s bile is not fully digested … or if it moves too quickly through the GI tract. It may be acute or chronic.
If green poop continues for more than a few days, see your vet. But your dog can also get green poop from eating a lot of grass or goose poop. So watch what he’s snacking on in the park. And if that’s the cause, don’t worry.
Treat blue poop as an emergency. It could mean your dog has eaten rat poison (which is usually blue) or a toy. Save the stool … then take it and your dog to the vet. This is an acute issue and needs immediate treatment by your veterinarian.
Black or very dark brown stools often mean there’s blood in the stool. It can be a more serious problem. Keep reading to find out more about blood in your dog’s stool.
White “Rice” Poop
White rice-like pieces in the stool usually mean your dog has tapeworms. The stool may be solid or loose.
Grey, greasy stools may mean your dog has a pancreas or biliary issue.
Pink Or Red Specks In Poop
Red in the stool means there is blood in the stool. Again, I’ll cover this in a bit.
Mucus In Poop
It’s not technically a color … but mucus is a detoxification response. Your dog’s digestive system is trying to get rid of something. It’s usually an acute issue and will resolve on its own.
Is It Small Or Large Intestine Diarrhea?
The next important question is where the diarrhea is coming from. You’ll want to know if it’s your dog’s small or large intestine. Why does that matter?
Well, because one of them is more serious …
Large Intestine Diarrhea In Dogs
If the cause of your dog’s diarrhea is in his large intestine, his bowel movements will be more frequent. He’ll need to poop with extreme urgency. So he’s likely to have accidents in your house.
These stools are often semi-formed with some mucus. You might see fresh blood specks on the surface of the poop.
Small Intestine Diarrhea In Dogs
If your dog’s diarrhea is from his small intestine, his bowel movements will be less frequent. He’ll be able to control them better … without the urgency.
But the hallmark of small intestine diarrhea is that there’s no obvious blood. That’s because the blood gets digested in the small intestine.
You might think small intestine diarrhea is less severe … but it’s actually more serious. Your dog digests most nutrients in his small intestine. When it’s inflamed, he can’t absorb nutrients. The food passes through to the large intestine too fast.
As I promised, let’s talk about why your dog might have bloody poop.
Why Is There Blood In My Dog’s Poop?
Blood can appear in your dog’s poop in different ways:
Blood On The Surface
This often looks scary when you see it. It comes from the colon when the stool is leaving. It’s less serious than blood from the small intestine. It can also happen with an otherwise normal stool.
Don’t panic … but watch your dog’s stools in case it happens more often.
Black, Tarry Stools
These dark brown to black stools look less scary … so you may not realize they’re a problem. But black tarry stools mean there’s blood in them. They can be dangerous for your dog.
“Strawberry Milkshake” Or “Strawberry Jam” Stools
A strawberry milkshake stool is when the blood gets mixed and partially digested into the bowel movement. The stools will look like they have red or pink swirls or flecks mixed into them. It’s different from a “strawberry jam” appearance, which is a more solid pink or red. It can often mean a serious condition called HGE – hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.
These last two stool types alert you to bleeding in your dog’s small intestine. It means there’s a lot of inflammation … and it can be serious.
Causes of Diarrhea In Dogs
Diarrhea and vomiting are nature’s way of removing toxins. Here are a few reasons why your dog’s body needs to do this.
Some of these are acute, which means they come and go quickly. Others are chronic, which means they’re longterm or persistent.
The good news is that there are natural solutions to stop dog diarrhea. But first let’s talk about antibiotics for dog diarrhea.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Antibiotics To Stop Dog Diarrhea
If your dog has diarrhea, don’t panic! I’m going to share some natural remedies to help him recover quickly.
First, let’s talk about why you might not want to go to the vet right away.
If you take your dog to a conventional vet for diarrhea, they’ll usually give you antibiotics … like Metronidazole (Flagyl). It will stop your dog’s symptoms in a few doses.
The trouble is … that’s all it does. It stops symptoms without fixing the underlying issue. So the diarrhea comes back. Antibiotics are not the best solution. In fact they can do more harm to your dog’s gut. And that harm can be permanent … so your dog’s gut never recovers.
Diarrhea means “flow-through” … from the Greek dia meaning through, and rhein meaning to flow . It’s the body’s way of getting rid of toxins.
Using drugs to suppress this natural flow-through won’t cure your dog of his diarrhea in the long term.
Now … there are times you’ll want to consult a vet to be safe. For example, if your dog is:
- Vomiting repeatedly
- Has a large amount of blood in his stool
- Has eaten something dangerous like rat poison
But most acute diarrhea episodes last less than a day or two. And you can manage them at home. So now let’s go over some ways to stop dog diarrhea.
4 Simple Steps To Stop Dog Diarrhea
Step 1: Fast Your Dog
Many dogs will fast themselves when they have a tummy problem. If your dog does this, don’t try to get him to eat.
If your dog doesn’t fast himself, it’s a good idea to stop feeding him for 12 to 24 hours. It’ll let his gut rest and heal. If that seems like too long, you can safely start with 6 to 12 hours of no food or water with most dogs.
Just don’t fast a puppy! Go straight to Step 2 for dogs under 6 months old.
CAUTION: If your dog is very small or prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) … give him tiny licks of honey each hour. If he seems weak and trembly, you can give it more often, as needed.
Once he’s not vomiting and diarrhea has stopped or slowed, offer small sips of water.
- Start with just a few teaspoons in very small dogs every few hours.
- For large dogs, increase the amount, giving ½ to 1 cup.
Be sure to use filtered or spring water … never unfiltered tap water.
After 6 hours of water only, you can start some broth or small amounts of bland food (see Step 2). Bone broth is a nutritious bland option. It provides a hearty mix of nutrients, but it’s easy on your dog’s stomach. It’s simple to make with this recipe.
You can then gradually increase his food over the next 4 to 5 days.
Step 2: Feed Bland Food
When you reintroduce food to your dog, start with a bland diet. It’ll be easier on his digestive system. And it can help prevent more diarrhea.
Think about the last time you had stomach flu or food poisoning. What did you want to eat? Bland food and chicken soup, most likely.
And the same goes for your dog. Once he starts eating again, bland is best to help prevent further tummy upset. And soup is a great way to start…
Your conventional vet may recommend feeding white rice and boiled chicken or ground beef. But starting with soup is a gentler way to smooth your dog’s transition back to his regular diet … without the added starch.
Soothing Soup For Dogs With Diarrhea
- Place three to four chicken thighs in six cups of water. Add chopped celery and carrot if you like.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours.
- Remove skin and bones, and set meat aside.
- Strain broth and use it to boil 1 to 2 cups of chopped vegetables (like carrot, celery, yam, cauliflower) for 20 minutes.
- Allow it to cool before serving.
You can offer just the broth at first or you can make small servings with meat, mashed vegetables and broth. Give small portions (a few teaspoons for very small dogs, and ½ to one cup for larger dogs). Wait 4 to 6 hours and watch for diarrhea or vomiting after those first few meals.
Step 3: Rebalance The Gut
Feeding prebiotics and probiotics will help repopulate your dog’s gut with healthy bacteria.
Research shows probiotics boost the immune system to support the whole body. They also help build and restore your dog’s gut lining. Feeding them supports your dog’s mucosal barrier and repairs intestinal cells.
Giving a probiotic supplement will help. Follow the manufacturer’s dosing recommendations.
Note: Probiotics aren’t only for diarrhea! You can give them regularly to boost gut health and immunity. It’s especially important if your dog ever has to be on antibiotics. Just give them at a different time than the antibiotic.
Probiotics can also be helpful during stressful times … such as weaning, boarding, agility trials or travel.
Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that travel to the colon. Once in the colon they ferment and become short-chain fatty acids (SCFA).
SCFA support your dog’s colon by:
- Inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria
- Providing a source of energy for colon cells
- Preserving electrolyte and fluid balance
SCFAs keep your dog’s intestines moving. When they’re in the bowels, prebiotics promote and support healthy digestive bacterial flora.
Always use prebiotics and probiotics together. Prebiotics feed the probiotics and make them more effective.
If you feed prebiotics alone, they can feed harmful intestinal bacteria. The kind that may cause diarrhea. So again … make sure you feed probiotics too.
Many prebiotic supplements contain FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide) or beet pulp. Be careful with beet pulp as it can cause bloating, nausea and flatulence.
Our favorite prebiotic sources are:
- Chicory root
- Larch arabinogalactan
- Turkey tail mushrooms
- Burdock root
- Dandelion greens
Step 4: Use Natural Remedies To Stop Dog Diarrhea
Steps 1 to 3 above will help you stop your dog’s diarrhea when it starts … but you also need to help the body heal.
So I’ve listed our top remedies to help your dog recover from diarrhea. Choose one or two of these remedies to see what works for your dog.
CAUTION: Avoid Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol (even though some conventional vets recommend them). Both of these conventional medications contain salicylates and are unsafe for dogs.
Slippery elm is a gentle herb that soothes the mucous membranes. It’s safe and effective … and gentle on your dog’s sore digestive system. You can find slippery elm in both capsule and powder forms at most health stores.
Slippery Elm Capsule Dosing
Small dogs … ¼ capsule twice daily
Medium dogs … ½ capsule twice daily
Large dogs … 1 capsule once or twice daily
Empty the capsule and mix it into food.
Slippery Elm Powder Dosing
Give ¼ tsp powder for every 10 lbs body weight. Mix the powder into food.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that heals intestinal cells. You can give it alone or with other supplements. You can buy it at most health stores.
500 mg per 25 lbs of body weight per day
This is another useful herb for soothing the gastrointestinal tract after diarrhea. You can find it in tincture form or ready-made supplements like Gut Soothe.
Marshmallow Root Tincture Dosing
0.5 to 1.5 ml per 20 lbs of body weight, 2-3 times per day
Digestive Enzymes can be great for dogs who aren’t on a fresh, raw diet. They provide the live enzymes they’d get from a natural raw food source.
Most dogs will have improved digestion and do well on digestive enzymes. But some dogs react with abdominal bloating and gas. So watch your dog and start out with at a reduced dose, increasing gradually.
A lot of digestive support and probiotic supplements for dogs contain digestive enzymes … so be sure to read the labels so you don’t give too many.
Bach Flower Remedies
Stress can trigger diarrhea in your dog. If you think that may be what’s causing his diarrhea, consider Bach Flower remedies.
These are gentle, safe essences extracted from flowers. They help heal the emotional aspect of physical disease. If you give them to your dog and he doesn’t need them … they’ll simply have no effect! So they’re completely safe to try.
You can add a few drops to his water bowl or drop them in his mouth several times a day.