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Dog Diarrhea & Vomiting


Feces. They come in6t different colors, consistencies, frequencies and smells. Sometimes, as a pet owner, it can be confusing to “read” the poop.

However, as long as it comes out everyday, and it doesn’t create problems, we dare to forget about it. Of course, when your dog has foul smelling diarrhea and does his business on your living room carpet, it is hard to forget! 

As an emergency care veterinarian, I often see patients coming in who have problems with their stool. Their owners are obviously worried about it.

The patients vary between having loose stool twice to having bloody diarrhea close to sepsis. This means blood poisoning!

Blood poisoning can lead to multi-organ dysfunctions and excessive clotting of the blood. That’s the so called “DIC” syndrome. It stands for “Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation” which is often referred to by veterinarians as “Death Is Coming”.

So how can we prevent a small innocent diarrhea turning into potentially life-threatening situation?

How do you know when to contact the vet? And most importantly, how can we maintain our dog’s bowels so they stay healthy?

Welcome to the wonderful world of dog diarrhea!

Clinical signs of diarrhea in dogs

Most of the time, diarrhea is fairly innocent. Similar to us, dogs can have an upset stomach, just because they ate something bad. Diarrhea are feces which have a different consistency and frequency that normally.

However, when your dog has diarrhea, you should keep an eye on what’s happening!

Here’s a list of warning signs, which indicate the need for possible further investigation.

Abnormal feces. - Red feces indicate the presence of fresh blood. Watch out for mucus. Black diarrhea indicates blood as well, which may originate from the small intestine. (Contact the vet when you notice this!)

Watery Stool.

Vomiting - Vomiting often goes hand in hand with diarrhea.

Lethargy and depression – It’s common for dogs to be less active than usual during a diarrhea episode. However, if it lasts for a longer period of time you should find the cause!

Not eating and/or drinking – When your dog’s stomach is upset, he probably doesn’t want to eat or drink. Watch out for dehydration!! The normal amount of water consumption should be 0.3dl of water per 1Kg of body mass per day.

During a diarrhea episode, your dog loses more water than usual. This means that he or she requires more hydration.

Dog diarrhea causes

You may wonder sometimes: "Why my dog has diarrhea?". Well, diarrhea in dogs can be caused by many things, and at the clinic we often have to speculate on what started it. Sometimes it can be something innocent. However, when the diarrhea has been present for an extended period of time, it is critical to find the reason.

Similar to humans, some dogs have a more sensitive bowel than others. Therefore they may show signs more easily.

However, there are a few common reasons why dogs may suffer from diarrhea:

Several diseases such as kidney and liver diseases, irritable bowel disease, etc.

Foreign bodies.

Ingestion of toxic substances.

Allergic reactions.

Stress, anxiety and excitement may induce diarrhea.

Anesthesia – A few days after your dog has been under anesthesia, diarrhea may be present.

Medication – Especially anti-inflammatory painkillers. If this happens you should contact your local vet immediately.

Intestinal parasites – They can be present in feces of other animals and raw meat.


Bacterial infections.

Any food (even if it’s just a small snack) which they are not used to eat.

Eating a raw diet, especially when they are not used to it.

Chewing bones.

A sudden change in diet.

As you can see, there are many triggers for diarrhea and some can potentially be very dangerous.

When to seek veterinary help?

Seek veterinary advice when:

The dog is in pain.

If you suspect the diarrhea is a result of anesthesia, drugs, foreign body or ingested toxic substance.

Diarrhea lasting longer than 3-4 days

When the general mental or physical condition of your dog is not as usual

The diarrhea turned to red or black – indicating the presence of blood.

Small breed dogs, old and young dogs and dogs with other medical problem are more prone to severe diarrhea. They require veterinary attention early on.

If in any doubt, you should contact your veterinarian.

What if your dog has diarrhea for 3 days or more?

If your dog has diarrhea for 3 days with blood, you should have seen the vet already. However, if my dog has diarrhea but is acting fine, I tend to just wait it out. If it lasts longer than 3-4 days, it's time to investigate what's going on. 

How to stop dog diarrhea?

Smelly diarrhea in dogs is not one of the most pleasant things. Not for us, and definitely not for them. So what can you give a dog for diarrhea? The answer is rather simple, although it seems like many people don't know the correct procedure. In fact, the search term "what can i give my dog for diarrhea" is searched on average 6600 per month in Google. 

What to give a dog for diarrhea?

Although a bit of diarrhea is not an emergency case, it is still an unpleasant situation for your dog. Luckily for you (and your dog), there are a variety of ways to ease the situation. But before we get to that, I want to first make clear on what NOT to give. This should be a no-brainer but you should never give human medicines to dogs. Unless, of course, they are prescribed by your vet with detailed instructions. If you want to give diarrhea medicine to your dog, contact your vet first.

This information only applies if your dog has diarrhea but acts fine. If your dog has bloody diarrhea of his / her general condition is going backwards, you should see the vet immediately. No exceptions! 

Dog diarrhea home remedies

So this is probably the part you've been waiting for. How to treat diarrhea at home. There are in fact a few things you can do to ease the situation and get your best friend out of discomfort.


If your dog is on a normal diet, you can change his diet to an gastrointestinal diet. You can find these from your local veterinary office. These special diets are produced by high-quality brands such as Hill’s and Royal Canine.

In most countries, these special diets can be given without veterinary prescription. You can feed this diet for a short period of time before gradually changing back to the normal diet.

Alternatively, you can feed boiled porridge rice in combination with cooked chicken or white fish. This should harden the stool.

Note: If your dog is already on a special diet, such as a hypoallergenic diet, you should contact your vet first to ask for advice.

Regardless of the feeding options you choose, fasting your dog is not recommended nowadays. Instead, you should feed smaller portions of food, divided throughout the day.


Be sure to watch your dog’s water consumption. Diarrhea often expels a lot of liquid, so you have to make sure that your dog doesn’t dehydrate.

Your dog requires at least 30ml of water per 1kg of body weight (13.6ml/lbs) under normal conditions.

During diarrhea and/or vomiting, the dog needs to drink more in order to compensate for the extra loss of hydration.

If he doesn’t want to drink, you can add some fish-stock or anything flavorful to promote water consumption. You can add extra water to his food as well. If your dog still has difficulties consuming water, you can feed canned gastrointestinal wet food.

Wet food contains much more liquid compared to dry kibble.


There is a wide range of supplements available from your veterinary office, pharmacy or reputable pet store.

Just like humans, dogs can benefit from probiotic supplements.

Be aware though, that you can’t give probiotic supplements destined for human consumption. They contain a different type of bacteria!

Probiotic supplements may also be provided before expected diarrhea, for example before travelling or a change in diet. Your local pharmacy or vet can inform you about other available supplements.

Most supplements for diarrhea can be provided without prescription, so it’s handy to have some at hand.

Note: NEVER give supplements or medicines for humans to your dog without prior approval of your vet!

Dog diarrhea F.A.Q.

There often is a lot of confusion regarding diarrhea in dogs, and unfortunately, there is a lot of wrong information on the internet as well. Therefore I did some extra research and I tried to figure out the most commonly asked questions regarding canine diarrhea.

Should I starve my dog if he has diarrhea?

No, absolutely not. Fasting a dog during a diarrhea episode used to be common practice. However, the first aid guidelines have changed and now it is recommended to feed small portions of food, divided throughout the day. Preferably wet food with a high moisture content. 

Should I exercise my dog when he has diarrhea?

No, also this is not recommended. Often times, diarrhea goes hand in hand with vomiting. This means that the food is not processed or absorbed completely, thus giving the dog less energy. Aside from that, diarrhea also causes dehydration. If your dog is also vomiting, his body can't take up a lot of moisture. 

Therefore, exercising your dog when he has diarrhea is not a good idea. Give him a few days of rest so he can recover faster. 

Can treats give puppies diarrhea?

As discussed earlier, there are a lot of potential triggers for diarrhea in dogs. Puppies and young dogs are quite prone to diarrhea, especially when there's a sudden change in diet or they have to process some food their body isn't familiar with. Often time, treats contain preservatives, artificial coloring and other chemicals that may upset your puppy's stomach. If you decide to give treats (of course you will), it's best to find 100% organic treats that haven't been processed. Luckily there has been a big change in the pet food industry where the demand for healthy, organic snacks has been increasing over the years. 

Ask for advice from your veterinarian or a reputable pet supply shop. 

Can a dog get sick from holding in poop?

Okay, in this case we are not talking about diarrhea but about constipation. And yes, your dog can get very sick from holding in his poop. If your dog suffers from constipation you should contact for vet and ask for a laxative specially for dogs. As a general rule, your dog should poop at least once a day. If this is not the case, and you notice your dog hasn't pooped for more than 2 days, you should call your vet and ask for advice. Severe constipation in dogs can lead to painful and dangerous conditions! 

That was it for today! 

Thank you for staying with me, I hope you've learned some useful information. 

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