What Should You Feed a Dog with Diarrhea

When human members of your household are suffering from diarrhea, you probably have some tried and true methods of helping to alleviate it. One of the first things you do is likely to involve the choice of foods the person eats. Obviously, what one eats can have a direct effect on diarrhea and the same is true for pets. So what should you feed a dog with diarrhea?

First, it is important to understand that there are many possible reasons that your dog could be suffering from diarrhea. Diarrhea is not an illness, but rather it is a sign or’ symptom’ that something could be wrong with your pet. Loose bowel movements that last for less than 24-hours and are not accompanied by any other symptoms are not a cause for alarm. Often, the’ diarrhea‘ will clear up without any intervention. Any of the following could be the cause of the diarrhea:

Change in Diet

If you noticed the diarrhea shortly after’ switching the food‘ that you were feeding to the dog, that could be the cause of the digestive problem. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that the food itself is the problem. Instead, it could just be that the dog’s system had been very used to the old food and now is having trouble adjusting to something different. You can try going back to the old food and then slowly introducing the new food back into the diet.

Dirty Food Bowls

Sure your dog licks his bowls clean each day, but that doesn’t mean that the bowls are free from mold and bacteria that can potentially wreak havoc on your pet’s system. Wash bowls with warm soapy at least every other day to prevent this problem. If bowls are kept outside, they should be washed each day. Be sure to rinse thoroughly so that all traces of soap are rinsed away.

Intestinal Worms/Parasites

Some think that there must be visible signs of worms in the dog’s stool in order for this cause to be considered. While some worms are visible, that is not always the case. A quick trip to the vet can rule out this problem.

Ingestion of Poisons

There are many substances around your home and yard that could be toxic to your pet. Be sure to keep any materials that could harm your dog out of his reach. This isn’t always easy, but it’s vital to your pet’s good health.


Certainly this should be one of the first things you consider if your pet has been on any medications. This is not to say that you should discontinue the medicine. Instead, talk to the vet and see if there is an alternate medicine he could prescribe, or if he thinks it’s important to continue the current medication in spite of the side effects.


Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreatic gland. The disease can be the result of trauma, ingestions of toxins, a virus or other causes. Diarrhea is just one symptom of this disease.

Ingestion of Certain Foods (such as chocolate)

Dogs are not shy when it comes to trying new foods. Some of that experimentation, however, can lead to health issues. If you think that your dog is experiencing diarrhea or other symptoms as the result of something he ate, you may want to call the animal poison control center or your vet for advice.

Ingestion of Foreign Objects

Again, that inventive eating can get dogs in trouble every time! Because it’s not just new foods they are willing to try but also shoes,’ grass, ropes and just about anything else that looks interesting, it’s not uncommon for them to ingest something against which their digestive system rebels.


Stress is not good for the human digestive system, and the same is true for dogs. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea after a time of stress such as a trip to the vet or a stay in a strange place, that could be the cause of the problem. Once the stress has been alleviated, the symptoms are likely to stop.

If the diarrhea, regardless of the cause, does not stop, you will need to take some action. The first thing you should do is try to adjust what you are feeding the dog. Switching to a bland diet is often all it takes to resolve any problem in the digestive system.

Here is how to properly put your dog on a bland diet.

First, withhold all food for 24 hours. This will allow your dog’s system to clear before beginning the new foods. A bland diet typically consists of the following:

  • Low-fat, cooked meats such as chicken or lean hamburger with the fat drained off
  • Boiled white rice
  • Cooked oatmeal
  • Boiled sweet potatoes
  • Plain yogurt

Feed a mixture of about 50/50 of the meat and either rice or oatmeal. You can also include small quantities of the sweet potato and/or yogurt. Simply add either of those ingredients into the meat/rice or meat/oatmeal mixture. Be sure that at all times, including during the 24 hours in which you withhold food, that fresh water is always available to your pet.

Another food that many pet owners swear by for the treatment of diarrhea in their pet is canned pumpkin. It must be 100% pure pumpkin and not a flavored pie filling. Interestingly, pumpkin may help with constipation as well as with diarrhea.

If the cause of your pet’s diarrhea is fairly minor, it is likely that feeding a bland diet will clear it up. Once the stools are no longer loose, you may begin to slowly reintroduce the dog’s regular diet.

As mentioned earlier, there are times when it is important that you get your dog to the vet right away. This is true the diarrhea is accompanied by any of the following symptoms.

  • Lethargy
  • Appears to be in pain
  • Is sleeping a lot more than usual
  • Has runny or watery eyes
  • Has a fever
  • Appears to have abdominal pain or is bloated
  • Seems to be dehydrated.

Any of the symptoms listed could be the sign of a very serious condition. Getting your pet to a vet or medical hospital quickly is important in such cases. When visiting a vet or emergency pet hospital, it’s a good idea to bring a fresh stool sample. This can assist in diagnosing any medical problems.

So what should you feed a dog with diarrhea? The answer is a bland diet, but only if no other symptoms are present. If there are other symptoms, then a visit to the vet is a good idea.



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