Sometimes pups and even adults can get an upset stomach or develop some other issue that can result in (ugh..) loose stools. We all know that dogs can get into all kinds of things when they’re unsupervised: the garbage, things in the ground, things above the ground, standing water, and so on. Most of the time the canine digestive tract can handle it. Some times, it can’t = diarrhea.
Over the years I’ve become pretty familiar with some of the causes for this condition and through discussions with my vet, other breeders, and research have found some effective remedies.
First of all, you need to understand that a dog’s natural immune system, along with a healthy stomach and intestinal condition, will normally absorb and work through foods and liquids, leaving what is known in the business as a ‘solid waste product’. So, when the dog maybe gets stressed out or its immune system is somehow compromised, full digestion is prevented. When this happens, the liquids are not absorbed through the intestines and voila, you have loose stools, or ‘liquid waste product’.
Causes can include, but are not limited to the following:
1. Drinking standing water, water containing large amounts of harmful bacteria = Giardia
2. Ingesting parasitic worms and worm eggs, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, which reproduce inside the dogs GI tract.
3. In puppies, developing coccidiosis, a harmful bacterial condition causing loose stools that MUST be handled immediately.
4. Over eating dog food. Can happen with both puppies and adults. Even overeating dry kibble can cause this.
5. Eating foods that the dog is not used to. This can include table scraps, whatever it finds in the garbage, parts of dead animals, you get the idea. It can even include eating a different type of kibble than the dog is used to. If you switch ‘cold turkey’ to a new food, you may get this.
6. Suddenly switching from a high protein food to a low protein food will also cause loose stools.
7. Stress. Changes in kennel environment, location, food types, schedules, anything that is a change can sometimes, in some dogs, cause stress. This may upset the dog’s GI tract.
8. Other medical issues. Obviously this cannot be ruled out. Things such as colitis, viruses and other conditions can exist that should be treated with the help of a veterinarian.
Most of the time I have found that the causes are 1-7 and when treated properly, take care of the dog’s digestion issues. Contrary to popular belief, diarrhea in pups is not just a sign of parvovirus, although you should never rule this out as a possibility, especially with pups under a year old. However, in most cases that I have personally handled, the problem was taken care of with proper worming along with a preventative treatment for coccidiosis.
So, here are the remedies that I have found for each of the above. Again, I am not dispensing medical advice, but giving you my own experience in handling this issue. You should certainly cross check my data and continue researching for yourself!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Obviously, the first thing you need to do is TAKE THE DOG OFF OF THE FOOD HE IS EATING. It can do no good to continue feeding a dog when he has diarrhea (see remedies, below). A dog can survive for days without food. However, YOU MUST KEEP THE DOG OR PUPPIE HYDRATED. The best treatment for hydration is Pedialite. You can research online how to make your own and it works just as well as the store bought stuff.
1. The treatments for Giardia are dosing the dog with metronidazole (Flagyl) as per your vet’s instructions; dosing the dog with fenbendazole (Safeguard, Panacur) as per your vet’s instructions; dosing the dog with Neomycin Sulphate (Biosol) as per your vet’s instructions, or per the approved dosages as given by the manufacturers of these products.
2. Treat with an effective wormer. I have found Panacur (also known as Safeguard) to be the most effective wormer on the market. Remember, a one day dose is usually not enough. Three days in a row will handle any of the above worms.
3. Treating the pup with Sulphadimethoxine (Albon) is the only way to handle this condition. Dose as per manufacturer or vet instructions. It can take up to two weeks to get all of the cocci to stop reproducing.
4. Cut back on the dog’s food. Use an actual measuring cup so you can monitor the dog’s intake of food.
5. Wean the dog onto a new food, starting with a 75% to 25% ratio of old to new food. Then slowly move it over until it is fully on the new food. Try to avoid switching from chicken to meat based foods as that can cause stomach upsets as well.
6. I always recommend staying with a higher protein food anyway, but if you must, do it slowly as in #5.
7. Uh, get the dog out of the stressful environment as soon as possible and back to what you know is its normal situation.
8. Okay, take the dog to the vet, already.
OTHER REMEDIES AND ADVICE
Now, I also have learned some good natural remedies for this condition. They should be used ONLY to mitigate the condition, not cure it. You want to limit the amount of irritation to the GI tract while you are treating the cause of the condition, so here is where these dietary tips come in:
1. The Pumpkin Cleanse- This is one of the most amazing treatments for loose stools that I have ever witnessed. You get a few cans of raw pumpkin from the grocery. NOT PUMPKIN PIE MIX. Just raw pumpkin, no suger, nothing else in the can. You feed the dog a can of this a day (split it into two portions each day) and you do this for three days. You don’t feed the dog anything else but the pumpkin and water. This will harden its stool and allow you to treat the dog without its GI tract continuously getting upset with kibble. Remember, when a dog has loose stools, you TAKE THE DOG OFF OF KIBBLE RIGHT AWAY. The dog won’t die, as long as you keep it hydrated, okay?
2. The Cottage Cheese-Rice-Boiled Chicken Diet – This is a very bland, very easy to digest formula. Simply, cottage cheese, boiled white rice and boiled white meat chicken. Feed moderate portions twice a day. It will help bind up the dog. You can add some pumpkin to this diet as well.
3. The High Fiber Supplement - One of the things that will benefit a dog with GI tract issues is added fiber. You see, the liquid in his large intestine is just not getting absorbed adequately by the intestine. Adding a mild fiber to the diet will help. I would NOT use psyllium husk, but rather the white powdered type that dissolves in water, like Benefiber, etc. Dose as per the instructions.
4. The Probiotics Treatment - I did some research a while back and found that a probiotics treatment has actually helped human colitis patients. It appears that when the immune system is compromised, the GI tract will lose the beneficial bacteria, you know, the ones that help digest food? When the intestines are overrun with bad bacteria, proper digestion cannot occur. I recommend an enteric capsule probiotic, mostly because you need the bacteria strains to make it past the stomach and into the large intestines and if you use other types of probiotics, this may not happen.
5. Pepto Bismol – In mild cases you may be able to treat with a product like Pepto Bismol. You can use the liquid or tablets and give a child’s dose as per the package.
Okay, that should do it. Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with any of the above situations. But if you do, maybe some of this will help.