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Treating Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies

Diarrhea is a common occurrence in both puppies and dogs. When mild, diarrhea can often be controlled through feeding a bland diet. When severe, medical help is necessary.


Diarrhea can occur in dogs and puppies for many different reasons. Diarrhea can be mild, moderate or severe. It may be accompanied by vomiting, lack of appetite and other symptoms or may be the only symptom evident.

Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies

Diarrhea can be caused by numerous diseases and circumstances, including:

  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Viral causes (parvovirus, coronavirus, etc.)
  • Bacterial causes (Salmonella, Campylobacter, etc)
  • Parasites (roundworms, hookworms, Giardia, etc)
  • Systemic disease (liver failure, kidney failure, etc)

Treatment of Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies

Mild diarrhea in dogs and puppies can often be managed at home with the help of a bland diet. However, diarrhea can be accompanied by dehydration and other problems. When a dog or puppy becomes dehydrated, the pet may need additional veterinary care to battle the dehydration. This is especially true in puppies because puppies often become dehydrated more quickly and more easily than more mature dogs.

When a dog or puppy is suffering from diarrhea, deciding whether to take the dog or puppy to his veterinarian can be an important decision. Delaying a trip to the veterinarian if the dog or puppy is suffering from severe illness could mean the difference between surviving or not surviving for the dog or puppy.

If the dog or puppy suffering from diarrhea is also vomiting, seems weak or depressed, is not eating or drinking or is showing other symptoms, a visit to the veterinarian should be scheduled. Bloody diarrhea can also be a serious situation and warrants a trip to the veterinarian.

When visiting your pet’s veterinarian, it is also advisable to collect a sample of the dog’s feces for analysis. A fecal sample can be examined for parasites as well as being checked for parvovirus if necessary.

Treating Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies
Treating Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies

Home Remedies: Treating Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies

When diarrhea experienced by a dog or puppy is mild and not accompanied by other symptoms, it is sometimes possible to successfully treat diarrhea at home. A bland diet can be a good tool in restoring the bowels to a normal, well-formed consistency.

A bland diet may consist of:

  • Cooked hamburger (lean) and boiled rice
  • Broiled chicken and boiled rice
  • Cottage cheese

Over-the-counter medications, such as Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth subsalicylate) and Imodium (Loperamide), can be used in dogs, but the dosages may be different than those used in people and they may not be safe for all pets. Consult your veterinarian before using any over-the-counter medication for your pet and ask your veterinarian to determine the proper dosage for your pet if an over-the-counter medication is deemed to be appropriate for your pet.

Probiotic medications are those that contain beneficial bacteria which will populate the intestinal tract of a dog or other animal. Yogurts, such as the Proactive brand, are good examples of probiotic medications used in people.


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Probiotic medications can be useful in promoting healthy bowels in dogs, cats, and people. However, the bacteria which populate the intestinal tract of people are different than those which are found in dogs or in cats. Therefore, it is advisable to use a probiotic product which is formulated for dogs when treating a dog or puppy for diarrhea with a probiotic.

It should be remembered also that probiotic medications are considered to be dietary supplements and are not well controlled by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). While they are considered to be safe products, there is a great deal of variability in quality between products. Purchasing a probiotic product from a reputable manufacturer is important to ensure the efficacy of the product.

Treating diarrhea in dogs and puppies can be effectively controlled through the use of a bland diet and other home remedies if mild and uncomplicated. However, if diarrhea in a dog or puppy is accompanied by other symptoms, veterinary care should be sought for the dog or puppy. Also, if improvement of diarrhea does not occur within 12-24 hours when treated with home remedies, veterinary care should be sought for the dog or puppy.

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