Dog Diarrhea Relief: Causes & Home Remedies

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9 min read
9 min read

Updated - Apr 17th, 2023

Calling all pet parents with a dog suffering from diarrhea! We know what you’re thinking: this isn’t fun for anyone and my pup needs relief fast!

We’re here to help.

Key Points

  • Most cases of dog diarrhea are not serious and it just needs to run its course.
  • If your dog has been experiencing diarrhea for over 48 hours or has additional symptoms such as vomiting, fever, and loss of appetite, see your veterinarian ASAP.
  • Your vet may recommend fasting, anti-diarrhea medication, or a bland diet to get your pup back on their feet.

Types of diarrhea in dogs

Here are some common types of dog diarrhea and what they might mean:

Small intestinal diarrhea

This type of dog diarrhea is often watery and can be caused by food intolerance, sudden changes in diet, or bacterial overgrowth.

Large intestinal diarrhea

This type of dog diarrhea is typically more frequent and may be accompanied by mucus or blood. Causes include inflammatory bowel disease or parasites.

Acute diarrhea in dogs

Sometimes, dogs may experience a bout of diarrhea that resolves quickly. This is known as acute diarrhea. Your pet will usually recover with a little TLC from you. However, if your dog’s diarrhea persists for more than 48 hours, it’s time to schedule a vet visit.

Chronic diarrhea in dogs

Persistent or recurrent diarrhea in dogs may be more serious and requires veterinary attention. Causes may include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Dysbiosis
  • Parasites such as worms
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Chronic diarrhea in dogs may lead to weight loss, an unhealthy coat, and low energy levels. Also, your pet’s diet can contribute to chronic diarrhea. So watch out for marketed “healthy” dog foods with high fat and protein content or low fiber. If unsure, consult with your vet for guidance.


What are additional signs of diarrhea in dogs?

Common symptoms seen alongside diarrhea include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Drooling secondary to nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery to soft stool consistency
  • Voluminous amounts of stool (small bowel) versus small, mucous-y, bloody spotting (large bowel) 
  • Increased urgency to go outside or increase in the frequency of bowel movements (large bowel)
  • Painful abdomen
  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Black or tarry stool
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss (with chronic diarrhea)
  • Fever or hypothermia

The most common causes of diarrhea in dogs

A lot of health issues can cause diarrhea. If your dog has diarrhea, it’s typically due to an acute inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (called “gastroenteritis”). However, there are a lot of other potential causes of diarrhea in dogs as well:

  • Inappropriate or sudden changes in your dog’s diet whether it’s getting into “people” food or a change in dog food
  • Intestinal parasites (i.e., hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, etc.)
  • Bacterial infections (i.e., Salmonella, Clostridium overgrowth)
  • Viral infections (i.e., parvovirus, distemper, etc.)
  • Stress-related 

That said, diarrhea can often be the first sign of a more serious dog health issue! That’s why numerous other problems need to be ruled out as treatment can vary significantly. These include:

  • Metabolic problems (i.e., liver disease, kidney problems, hypoadrenocorticism, etc.)
  • Gastrointestinal tract disease (i.e., inflammatory bowel disease, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), pancreatitis, protein-losing enteropathy (PLE), etc.)
  • Foreign objects stuck in the stomach or intestines (i.e., called foreign body obstruction)
  • Gastrointestinal obstructions (i.e., intussusception, mesenteric torsion, gastric dilatation volvulus, etc.)
  • Poisonings 
  • Colitis (i.e., inflammation of the colon)

Less common yet serious causes of diarrhea in dogs include:

  • Hemorrhagic diarrhea (HGE) (i.e. bloody poop)
  • Boxer colitis (often called histiocytic ulcerative colitis or granulomatous colitis)
  • Medication-related (e.g., antibiotics, etc.)
  • Fungal infections within the digestive tract (more common in certain regions of the U.S. than others)
  • Cancer

It’s important to note that this list is not final and your vet is the best source of knowledge for an exact diagnosis.

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Are certain dogs predisposed to diarrhea?

Younger dogs and puppies are more likely to experience diarrhea due to parasites, stress, or diet changes during weaning. As for our senior pups, it’s important to watch out for chronic diarrhea, as it could be a sign of a more serious issue. 

As for breeds, Greyhounds are notorious for their delicate stomachs. You might have noticed that even the slightest diet change or a bit of stress can lead to loose stools. But hey, we still love them for their speedy sprints, right?

And let’s not forget about our lovable Labradors and Golden Retrievers. While they may have more resilience in their tummies, they still tend to sneakily indulge in not-so-healthy treats, resulting in some mild stomach upset. In fact, these breeds come into the ER more often for “dietary indiscretion” compared to other breeds.

Other breeds predisposed to medical problems that cause diarrhea includes Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Shetland Sheepdogs.

Diagnosing diarrhea in dogs

If your dog has a mild case of diarrhea or constipation, your vet may send you home with a change in diet and anti-vomiting medication. But again, cases of diarrhea may be more severe and warrant a medical workup to rule out more serious issues.

If your dog’s diarrhea is acute and goes away with a temporary prescription high-fiber diet, you may be all set! But if it re-develops and your dog gets sicker, your vet may need to do a thorough blood work to rule out medical problems. This typically includes:

  • Your dog’s stool sample to rule out parasitic infections or abnormal bacterial overgrowth
  • Abdominal x-rays to rule out a foreign body, obstruction, or abnormal fluid in the intestines or abdomen
  • A complete blood count (CBC) to evaluate the red and white blood cell count, along with the platelet count
  • A biochemistry panel to evaluate the protein, electrolytes, kidney function, and liver enzymes
  • A urinalysis to evaluate kidney function

Depending on the results of the initial tests and blood work, more advanced diagnostics may be necessary to rule out other underlying problems. These tests may include the following:

  • Abdominal ultrasound to look at the stomach’s appearance and pylorus, intestines, pancreas, and other key organs.
  • A cPL (canine pancreas-specific lipase) test to rule out pancreatitis (note: this test is not 100% accurate and must be interpreted appropriately by your veterinarian). 
  • Specific testing for viruses (e.g., parvovirus fecal tests.)
  • Endoscopy; your vet will place a camera and biopsy tool into the mouth, stomach, and intestines to help rule out inflammatory bowel disease/food allergies.
  • Potential surgery if a foreign object or intestinal obstruction is noted.

Treating diarrhea in dogs

Your veterinarian will likely recommend a few medications and diet plans based on their diagnosis or presumed diagnosis.

If your adult dog is otherwise healthy, your veterinarian may recommend withholding food for 24 hours. You may also need to feed them small amounts of a veterinary diet for gastrointestinal problems. These special diets contain fiber that nourishes the good bacteria in your dog’s gut and antioxidants that boost their immune system while they recover.

Supportive care for dog diarrhea

  • Electrolyte-balanced fluid support. This can be done in two ways – either through an outpatient procedure where the fluid is injected under the skin or via an IV catheter if your dog requires hospitalization.
  • A bland diet for sensitive stomachs.
  • Fasting. While fasting can help some dogs feel better, it may not suit all. So, please consult your veterinarian to ensure it’s appropriate for your pet’s health.

Medications for dog diarrhea

If your furry friend is experiencing gastrointestinal issues, your vet may recommend the following:

  • Anti-vomiting medication (i.e., maropitant and ondansestron)
  • Over-the-counter antacid medication to coat the stomach
  • Drugs to stimulate the movement of the intestines (e.g., prokinetic drugs like metoclopramide)
  • An antibiotic (e.g., metronidazole) to help normalize the bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract (I typically only reserve this for severe bloody diarrhea in sick dogs)
  • A veterinary-recommended probiotic
  • Deworming and anti-inflammatory drugs like prednisone.

Home remedies for dog diarrhea

If your dog is experiencing cases of diarrhea, there are steps you can take to help them feel better at home:

  • Offer small, frequent meals to help heal the GI tract.
  • Feed them a low-fat, high-fiber bland diet such as home-cooked boiled chicken with white rice (My favorite food for diarrhea since I don’t cook? Hill’s prescription canned food called W/D for “weight diet” to help fix the problem fast!) 
  • Canned pumpkin is also a good source of fiber. Add it to your dog’s food to help with diarrhea.
  • For stress-induced diarrhea, start a fiber supplement like psyllium fiber a few days before the stressful event to prevent diarrhea.

What to do if your dog has diarrhea

As an emergency critical care veterinary specialist, I see many dogs come into the ER for diarrhea. True, pet parents can manage diarrhea easily – sometimes even at home. However, some diarrhea cases may require hospitalization and extensive medical attention.

If your dog has diarrhea, here are a few things you can do:

  • Monitor your dog’s behavior and symptoms closely.
  • Withhold food for 12-24 hours, but ensure they have access to water to avoid dehydration.
  • Gradually introduce a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice.
  • If diarrhea persists for more than 48 hours or your dog exhibits additional symptoms such as vomiting or lethargy, seek veterinary care immediately.

Preventing diarrhea in dogs

Preventative care is the best way to keep your dog feeling their best. Here are some tips to prevent diarrhea:

  • Keep your dog or cat on monthly heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives to avoid parasites.
  • Don’t foret to keep your pet up to date on their vaccinations, which protect against diseases panleukopenia or viral infections like parvovirus.
  •  Please keep your pet away from public places until they complete their full vaccine series.
  • Keep your pet safe from potential hazards like table scraps, bones, and household objects that could pose a risk of poisoning or foreign body ingestion.
  • Gradually introduce the new food over several days to weeks, slowly increasing the amount each day. Doing this will give the gastrointestinal tract time to adjust to the new diet.
  • Observe your pet’s reaction to the new diet and adjust as needed.
  • Consult your veterinarian for advice on a safe and healthy dietary change when in doubt.

The prognosis for dog diarrhea

Thankfully, the prognosis for diarrhea in dogs is generally excellent! That said, don’t wait until your dog gets dehydrated from profuse vomiting before seeking assistance. The sooner you seek veterinary attention and treat your dog’s diarrhea, the sooner your pup will feel better.


What are the causes of dog diarrhea?

Dog diarrhea has many causes ranging from mild to severe. This includes dietary changes, stress, and infections (viral, bacterial, or parasitic). Other causes include ingesting toxins or foreign objects, allergies, and underlying medical conditions.

What food causes diarrhea in dogs?

Several foods can cause diarrhea in dogs, including fatty foods, dairy products, human junk food, and foods high in fiber. Other common culprits include table scraps, spoiled or contaminated food, and sudden changes in diet.

How can I stop dog diarrhea naturally?

To stop dog diarrhea naturally, you can feed your dog a bland diet, provide plenty of water, and add probiotics or plain canned pumpkin to their food. Additionally, ensure your dog is up to date on their vaccinations and preventatives, and consult with your veterinarian if diarrhea persists.

How long does dog diarrhea last?

The duration of dog diarrhea can vary depending on the cause, but it typically lasts a few days to a week.

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Dr. Justine Lee

Dr. Justine Lee

Veterinary Specialist in Emergency Care & Toxicology, Writer
Dr. Lee, DACVECC, DABT is a board-certified veterinary specialist in emergency care (DACVECC) & toxicology (DABT).
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