When your dog has diarrhea it can be a scary time and lead to unwanted stress. You may want to try to fix this issue at home, but you may not know where to start. Maybe try something at home, but it just doesn’t help. You probably also want to avoid large veterinary bills and unnecessary prescriptions if your dog has a simple case of dog diarrhea. All of these concerns are completely normal! We’ll give you the remedies that work so you don’t have to waste time and money.
How do I know if a home-remedy is the right thing for my dog?
If your dog is having diarrhea but otherwise eating, drinking and energetic, an at-home remedy sounds like a perfect plan. Certain antidiarrheal prescriptions, like certain antibiotics, can disrupt your dog’s natural microbiome and lead to on-going digestive issues. If it is best for your dog, a home-remedy can be the perfect solution to your dog’s diarrhea that won’t harm your dog’s gut flora in the process.
In certain situations, we recommend contacting your veterinarian first to let them know your dog’s signs and making sure that a home-remedy is the best choice.
Contact your veterinarian if your dog is:
- Older in age with other health issues
- A young puppy (particularly puppies less than 6 months)
- Showing other signs such as vomiting, lethargy, low appetite and not drinking enough water
Top Home Remedies for Dog Diarrhea
Identify common stressors or causes of diarrhea
If you can, try to identify the cause of your dog’s diarrhea. Common causes of dog diarrhea can include:
Changes to food or treats.
Many times, diarrhea is caused by changing foods or treats. Even changing to different protein sources within the same brand can sometimes lead to dog diarrhea.
Stressors like veterinary visits, grooming appointments, and boarding or daycare can also lead to diarrhea.
Changes around your home, like construction, family members moving away or visitors, can also impact your dog.
It’s always important to keep your dog up-to-date on their dewormers and fecal exams, especially if they spend a lot of time around other dogs or at dog parks. A recent study found that over 70% of dog parks tested positive for giardia!
While not all of these are avoidable of course, it’s still important to have an understanding of what affects your dog so you can be prepared for future cases of diarrhea.
*Note: puppies and older dogs with other health issues (e.g. diabetes) should not be fasted.
Temporary bland diet
A temporary bland diet can be a great way to rest your dog’s GI system after a fast or in place of one. The goal with the bland diet is to provide easily digestible foods that will prevent further inflammation. A bland diet typically consists of lean meats or eggs mixed with an additional fiber source.
Often, white rice is chosen as a fiber source when feeding dogs with diarrhea. While this is safe, it may not be the best choice when feeding a dog with digestive issues and gut inflammation. Simple carbohydrates like white rice, crackers or bread and other carbohydrates (barley, oats) can contribute to poor general health. They can affect gut health, slower healing and chronic inflammation. White rice is also known to contain a high level of arsenic, which has been linked to many diseases in people after long-term exposure. While a couple meals containing rice won’t harm your dog, there’s a better option for adding fiber to their bland diet.
Plain canned pumpkin is a great source of fiber that actually contains six time more fiber than rice. Make sure to use 100% plain canned pumpkin with no additional sugar, spices or salt.
Here’s our recommended at-home bland diet recipe:
- 1 lb of ground turkey, 96% or 99% fat free (Note: You can substitute ground turkey for ground beef)
- 1 ½ cups of plain canned pumpkin (Note: Not pumpkin pie filling. This should be free of sugars or spices.)
- ⅓ cup of water
- Slippery Elm Bark Powder (optional)
- Multi-Species Probiotics (optional)
- Psyllium Husk Powder (optional)
- Over a medium heat in a non-stick pan lightly cook the ground turkey, breaking it into small crumbled pieces. Do not include any oils, butters, or spices.
- Strain the cooked turkey and discard any fat that has cooked off.
- Let cool to room temperature and add pumpkin and water.
- Top with optional add-ins for boosted anti-diarrheal support.
- Feed the usual volume for a meal alongside plenty of fresh, clean water. This diet should not be fed for more than 2-4 days as it’s not balanced for long-term canine nutritional needs.
It’s important to note that a bland diet should only be needed for 2-4 meals to help your dog’s diarrhea resolved. Reintroducing your dog to their regular diet should also be done slowly. This will avoid an abrupt change and prevent further digestive upset. Once your dog’s stool gets back to normal, mix 50% of their dog food with 50% of the bland diet for 1-2 meals before fully transitioning them back to their dog food.
If your dog requires a bland diet for an extended period, it may be a good idea to discuss this with your veterinarian. In this case, your dog may benefit from a fecal exam to check for signs of parasitic infections, additional supplements like probiotics or a diet change.
Probiotics can help boost your dog’s gut health when your dog has diarrhea. When your dog has diarrhea, it’s best to use a powdered broad-spectrum probiotic so that it is easily absorbable and bioavailable. Foods, such as raw kefir and fermented vegetables are also a great source of probiotics. Long-term, probiotics can reduce the chance of diarrhea and loose stool in the future and help to improve your dog’s immune system.
- Slippery elm bark is one of our favorite diarrhea remedies, especially for loose stool with mucus. It protectively coats the gastrointestinal tract and helps to reduce inflammation. Slippery elm bark should be mixed with water and can be given with a meal or separately (1 teaspoon per 20 lbs of body weight. Because of the effective coating it forms in the stomach, it shouldn’t be given within 2 hours of other medications or supplements.
- DiaGel is a great diarrhea hack for diarrhea caused by food or environmental stressors. It is safe for all dogs, even puppies. The active ingredient is carvacrol, which is a phytonutrient (plant extract). It has shown to be effective for diarrhea in other animals and humans and has also had a positive effect on the microbiome of mice.
What should be avoided when treating dog diarrhea from home?
Anything that’s found in your medicine cabinet should not be the first thing you reach for, especially before talking to your veterinarian. Pepto-Bismol(R) or Kaopectate(R), in particular, is one human medication that should be avoided due to its low effectiveness and its ability to mask serious digestive issues like gastrointestinal bleeding.
Imodium (loperamide) is a synthetic opioid and has the potential to lead to negative side effects. Imodium should not be used in specific cases:
- Dogs with other signs (vomiting, lethargy, signs of pain (painting, groaning, sensitivity to touch)
- Very young or very old animals
- Dogs with infections or other diseases (e.g. Liver disease, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, or Addison’s disease)
- Certain breeds, like Shelties and Collies, because they can have a genetic mutation that affects the breakdown of certain medications
Whether you follow a home-remedy or visit your veterinarian when your dog has diarrhea, monitoring your dog’s progress is key to helping them get better. Taking photos and jotting down notes about their diet, lifestyle or medications and supplements is a great place to start.
By doing this, you can track the frequency of their diarrhea and see what is helping them get better. In general, it’s always a good idea to keep a log of your dog’s stool to know their ‘normal’ so you can catch subtle changes or problems early. No need to break out a notebook though! Download the DIG Labs app to do all this and more (hint: live chat with an expert!) for FREE from the comfort of your home!
Get the DIG Labs App
Download the free DIG Labs Digestive Health Tracker to get personalized insights and recommendations for your dog based on their stool.