Although home remedies for dog diarrhea may not be at the top of your reading list, chances are if you ended up on this page you may be in a bit of a bind.
When your dog gets diarrhea, it’s exhausting. Middle of the night wake ups, surprises on the carpet, and repeated dog baths have you desperate to figure out what is wrong with your dog’s G.I. tract and how to fix it.
Worst of all, your dog is miserable and you want to help him feel better.
What Causes Dog Diarrhea?
Before considering any home remedies for dog diarrhea, it’s important to evaluate possible causes. Narrowing down what may have caused your dog’s G.I. issue will help you choose the best natural remedy to try.
Here is a list of the most common diarrhea triggers:
- Stress: Don’t discount stress as a cause of diarrhea. A dog can be stressed after being adopted, after a move, if you add a new pet, move the furniture around – all sorts of changes can cause stress and G.I. upset in our pups. They can even get stressed because they sense that you are stressed! One innovative tool that can help a dog’s stress and anxiety is a dog decompression walk. Other pets may benefit from doing enrichment activities for dogs or using mentally stimulating dog toys to distract them for their worries.
- Getting into the garbage: We all know one of these dogs – they get into garbage, whether it’s in the garbage can or on the side of the trail during a walk.
- Eating a poisonous plant or substance: If your dog is vomiting as well as diarrhea, check for any visible matter that may give you a clue as to what they ingested.
- New dog food: Changing your dog’s diet can be hard on their intestinal system. This is why vets and dog food manufacturers recommend going slow when switching from the old food to the new.
- Thunderstorm anxiety If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, you may be dealing with a day or two of diarrhea each time a storm rolls through. In addition to considering the home remedies for dog diarrhea listed below, consider trying these natural ways to relieve thunderstorm anxiety to permanently reduce or eliminate your dog’s fear.
- Allergies: Some dogs will develop loose stool as part of an allergic reaction to a food or environmental trigger.
- Food intolerance: If your dog is eating a new food or treat, it may be sensitive to one of the ingredients. In these cases, eliminating the offending food stops the diarrhea.
- Worms and other parasites: One symptom of a worm or parasite infestation is diarrhea. This can be caused by roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, giardia, and coccidia. If you take a stool sample in and find out your dog has worms, ask your holistic vet about natural ways to deworm a dog.
- Ingesting a toy, clothing item, or other foreign body: We’ve all had one of these dogs at some point in our lives! They eat things that are not meant to be eaten, get diarrhea and a tummy ache, and if you’re lucky they finally pass (or throw up) the offending item. Socks, sticks, and stuffed toys are common culprits.
- Viral and bacterial infections: It’s important to note any other changes such as appetite change, lethargy, or or vomiting. Multiple symptoms may mean a virus or bacteria is the cause.
- Reactions to medications the dog is taking: Some medications, such as antibiotics, can cause diarrhea.
- Illness: Many illnesses and chronic conditions can cause diarrhea.
- Spine injuries: Spinal muscle inflammation can affect blood flow to the intestines and cause diarrhea.
Causes for Concern
Important Disclaimer: I am not a vet. Not even close! My degree is in marketing. My goal is to share my own personal experience and information I have gathered; not to give medical advice.
If you think you want to try something you read about here, talk to your vet! But first read this and many more articles to empower yourself for a good discussion in which you can ask your vet great questions about what you want to try.
Knowledge is power – never forget that!
If you have a puppy, senior dog, or a dog with other medical issues, diarrhea can become serious very quickly. Dehydration occurs more rapidly in these dogs so you need to monitor them closely and call your vet much sooner if the diarrhea persists.
With any dog, check in with your vet immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Repeated Vomiting
- Lethargic or depressed behavior
- Dark, tarry diarrhea
- Extremely watery diarrhea
- Showing signs of pain or discomfort
Home Remedies for Dog Diarrhea
Home remedies for dog diarrhea can involve changes to your dog’s food or environment and may need the addition of supplements, medicines, or alternative health modalities. I’ll start with food since many times a dog needs help healing their intestines regardless of the cause of the diarrhea.
**Note: this post contains affiliate links. No one paid me to recommend these products, I recommend them because I like them. However, using the link to buy the products helps support happynaturaldog.com.**
When you want to try home remedies for dog diarrhea, the first thing to do is to fast your dog.
Note: If you have a puppy or senior dog, or a dog with an underlying medical condition, don’t fast the dog unless you are working with your vet.
Fasting gives your dog’s intestines a chance to rest and recover. In Dr. Richard Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats (4th Edition), he recommends stopping solid food for the first 24-48 hours.
Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water during this time to prevent dehydration. You can add a little low- or no-salt chicken or vegetable broth and some rice water to help replenish sodium and potassium lost from having diarrhea.
If you haven’t made rice water before, Dr. Rob Silver has a great article describing how to make rice water for your dog.
Once you have fasted your dog, you can try giving him some of the bland foods listed in the next section. Feed your dog small amounts of food 3 or 4 times a day.
If the dog is doing well on these safer, more bland foods, gradually start adding a small amount of their regular food and monitor their stool carefully to make sure the diarrhea doesn’t return.
Bland Diet Ideas
As a part of using home remedies for dog diarrhea, switching your dog to a bland diet will be easier on his intestines and help him recover.
White rice is very gentle on your dog’s intestines and is a good food to start with after fasting your dog.
Add some rice water to your cooked rice; it’s a good source of carbohydrates to give them a little energy, helps replace potassium lost due to diarrhea, and is full of other nutrients as well. If you dog won’t drink it add some low- or no-salt chicken or vegetable broth to make it a little more tempting.
If my dog handles a small portion of white rice well, I add small pieces of chicken, gradually increasing the amount of chicken with each small meal.
I cook the chicken in the oven or the crock pot (remove the skin – it is too fatty and could cause diarrhea) and cut it into small pieces. If you use the crock pot you can just use two forks and shred it.
Make sure you buy plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, which contains additional spices. If your dog is tolerating the chicken and rice well, add 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon canned pumpkin with each meal.
If your dog tolerates milk products, adding a small amount of unsweetened yogurt gives them beneficial bacteria for intestinal health.
Carob powder is known to help with diarrhea and vomiting. Online dosage information ranged from ½ teaspoon to 2 teaspoons with meals; check with your holistic veterinarian to find the correct dosage for your pet.
Probiotics, Yeast, & Enzymes
If your dog has a sensitive stomach or G.I. tract, got into the garbage, or ate gross unidentifiable stuff outside, giving them probiotics can help heal and rebalance their intestine. Adding a high quality probiotic such as Rx Biotic to their diet encourages long term intestinal health. I also found a product called Fast Balance that contains natural organisms that help quickly rebalance intestines in times of intestinal distress.
From the Manufacturer: Vetri Science® Laboratories’ Fast Balance G.I. Paste contains a specialized yeast extract, rich in mannan oligosaccharide (MOS), derived from the cell wall of yeast. It also includes probiotics in several strains, fungal-derived enzymes, and B vitamins, which work together to help normalize the G.I. tract. Fast Balance is recommended for garbage gut, nervous gut, and food sensitivities, as well as stress, quick normalization of digestion, and older pets in need of digestive support
Rx Biotic is a high quality probiotic for pets. I use this on a regular basis to maintain healthy gut flora in my dogs.
This enzyme formula will help your dog digest its food. Dr. Rob Silver mentions that in many cases, giving enzymes to help your dog more completely digest its food helps resolve diarrhea.
In Dr. Richard Pitcairn’s most recent edition of New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats he gives a recipe for using slippery elm bark for dog diarrhea.
If you are a do-it-yourself herb person, the book can guide you on how to make a slippery elm bark mixture for your dog’s diarrhea.
If you’re like me and prefer to buy something already made, here is a slippery elm product for dogs that uses sustainable, human grade ingredients including slipper elm bark, marshmallow root, licorice root, and plantain leaf.
Many reviewers have pets with chronic GI issues and had turned to this as a last resort after invasive treatments, endoscopies, and steroids. Story after story spoke of amazing turnarounds; I plan to buy a bottle to have on hand for my dogs.
Another herb formulation I read about was NutriGest. It is made by Rx For Pets, a highly regarded brand, and contains:
- Anti-inflammatory herbs like cat’s claw, ginger root, garlic, and Oregon grape root.
- Soothing herbs like aloe extract, licorice root, and psyllium seed coat and calm the inflamed bowel lining.
- N acetyl D glucosamine which has been shown to help with chronic bowel inflammation.
If you think your dog is stressed, take a look at your dog’s environment and ask yourself what you could change to reduce that stress. If you just got a new puppy, are you giving your resident dog a safe place to go where they can relax and escape the constant puppy energy?
When your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, do some desensitization and counterconditioning to help change the dog’s emotional response to being alone.
I read another great idea from Justin Palmer at Iheartdogs.com. When his dog had major separation anxiety (as in busting through wooden window shutters and scaling 6’ concrete walls), Palmer made a 5 minute recording of himself talking about nothing in particular. Then, the next time he left, he put one of his t-shirts (with his scent on it) on the dog’s bed by the door, turned on the recording of himself talking so it would continuously repeat, and when he came home his dog was ASLEEP! I thought that was pure genius.
If you think your dog’s diarrhea is a reaction to unavoidable stress or nervousness, you can try adding a calming supplement to their diet.
Thera Calm K9 by Biostar contains adaptogens and calming herbs including casein powder, chamomile, ashwagandha, yeast flakes, Indian gooseberry powder, and holy basil. I used this product on my dog and saw a noticeable benefit.
Another thing I like about this company is that if I have a question about a product or ingredient, I call and real people answer the phone. Knowledgeable ones. And they want to help.
FurroLandia and Zesty Paws have calming products that contain valerian root, chamomile, passion flower, L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, Melatonin and more. Take a look at the specific ingredients in each product to see which herbs they use.
Chiropractic and Acupuncture for Dog Diarrhea
Dr. Peter Dobias tells an interesting story about his dog Skai’s bouts with persistent diarrhea when the dog was young. When Dobias’s natural remedies for dog diarrhea weren’t successful in reducing the diarrhea for more than a few days, he thought back to when it started and traced the beginning of the diarrhea back to acquiring a Chuck-It tennis ball thrower (and Skai retrieving the ball for hours on end).
Upon checking Skai’s back muscles, he found many were tight and inflamed. After a visit to the animal chiropractor, acupuncture, and massage (and eliminating intense ball fetching) Skai’s diarrhea went away.
Dr. Dobias knew that the spine supplies energy, nerve impluses, and blood flow to the intestines, and connected the dots that the inflammation and muscle tightness around Skai’s spine could be causing diarrhea.
If your dog might be injured, or is an extremely active dog, this might be an avenue to pursue if your dog is struggling with diarrhea.
There are many healthy benefits of acupuncture for dogs. In addition to reducing inflammation and stimulating tissue healing in cases like Skai’s, acupuncture can provide digestive relief for dogs experiencing diarrhea for other reasons.
Acupuncture stimulates digestive secretions, helping normalize digestive activity. It also increases blood flow, helping reduce gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and nausea.
What if my New Puppy or Rescue Dog has Diarrhea?
Note: If you have a new dog with diarrhea, be sure to pick up all of their poop until you have figured out the cause. This keeps your other dogs from being exposed to anything that is contagious and also keeps any parasites out of your yard, reducing chances of reinfection.
Diarrhea is common in newly adopted dogs. Common causes include:
- stress from moving to a new environment
- Changing to a new dog food
When you have a new dog with diarrhea, make a vet appointment to rule out illness and parasites (bring a stool sample).
If possible, ask the rescue or breeder to give you enough of the dog’s current food to last a few weeks. Better yet, get the name of the food they use, buy a large bag of it, and wait a month or two to switch the dog to a new food
Can I Use Human Anti-Diarrhea Medicine For My Dog?
Warning: DO NOT use products like Pepto Bismo, Metamucil, Immodium, or Kaopectate without consulting with your vet first. They can react with medications that your dog is taking and worsen certain unrelated medical conditions. In addition, Immodium can cause problems in breeds prone to multidrug sensitivity.
Your vet may advise you to use an over the counter medicine as a home remedy for dog diarrhea. Some of them reduce fluid loss, some help to bulk up your dog’s stool. Given with a vet’s supervision they can help your dog, but in my opinion it’s not worth the risk to try them on your own – there are too many potential complications.
What if I Can’t Get Rid of My Dog’s Diarrhea?
The right time to contact your vet will be different for each dog. If your dog is young and healthy, has common stress-related diarrhea, or is going through a change that is stressful (new pet, new home), then you may want to try the home remedies above and give them time to work.
If your dog is showing other symptoms of illness, if they are refusing to eat or drink, or if your gut is telling you something is wrong, give your vet a call to discuss what is going on and they can help you decide if your dog needs to be seen.
Before you call the vet, observe and write down the following information to help the vet:
- Date the diarrhea started
- Additional symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, pale gums
- Consistency and color of the diarrhea
- How often the dog is going, or trying to go
- Note any blood or mucous on the stool
- List any medications your dog is on or has been on recently
- Is your dog eating and drinking normally?
- Are you noticing any changes in energy level?
If you take your dog to the vet, a common prescription for unexplained diarrhea is Metronidazole and a prescription food (ka-CHING!). Like any prescription medication, there are times when Metronidazole is necessary and useful. But I prefer to avoid it whenever possible.
If you have a holistic vet, there is a much better chance they will help you devise a plan using home remedies for diarrhea that target the root issue. They are also much less likely to recommend prescription food, and instead will help you use the foods listed above.
Home Remedies for Dog Diarrhea Can Work!
Knowing how to stop dog diarrhea at home can save you countless trips to the vet and minimize your dog’s diarrhea episodes.
I think the biggest things to remember are:
- Take the time to think through all possible causes of your dog’s diarrhea; if you can narrow down possible underlying issues it will be helpful
- Go slow – don’t rush back to their normal diet.
- Trust your gut. If you feel something is wrong but you don’t know why, call your vet.
If you have helped your dog with diarrhea using home remedies, tell us what worked in the comments below!
Until next time-