“My dog has diarrhea” is the number one result with Google search. Here are 5 things you can do about it.

Was it impossible to resist those begging eyes at the Brats and Beer fest or the family BBQ?  Or did the dog just have a Garbage Fiesta while nobody was looking?

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We understand.

We’ve BEEN there.  We’ve had that conversation with our dogs:

  • Dog: My tummy hurts.
  • Mama: It’s your fault.  You ate too much.
  • Dog: But there’s NO SUCH THING.  There was room!
  • Mama: If there was room, your tummy wouldn’t hurt now, would it?
  • Dog: Grmph. Dog scientists have proved that’s a myth, you know.
  • Mama: Dog scientists.  Uh huh.
  • Dog: Rub my belly?

And then you wake up at 5AM to a smell like no other, and a dog who’s giving you a look that clearly says “I don’t know how that steaming pile of stink got there, either.  You should probably do something about it.”

So you do.  Then you do again later, and by evening, you have to face it.  Your dog ate something they really shouldn’t have, and by morning you realize your dog’s got a bit of a chronic situation.  Nobody loves chronic diarrhea, but we do love our dogs, so here’s five things you can do RIGHT NOW to help your little fur buddy feel better.

1: Take a good look at that poo.  

And we mean a GOOD look.  Get a glove if you need to, because we need to know what kind of digestive misery we’re dealing with.  Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • White bits.  This could indicate worm segments or eggs in the poo.  If so, your dog needs de-worming, but at least it will help them feel better, and you can pat yourself on the back for catching it.
  • Mucus.  Not necessarily good or bad in itself, but it does indicate there’s irritation going on.  It will look like snot, unexpectedly, whether there’s a little or a lot.  It’s also more common with upper GI irritation and turns up often with light colored poo, which brings us to:
  • Color: The color of your dog’s stools tells you a lot about their diet and health. Here’s a quick run-down on the most likely colors you’re going to be dealing with:
    • Yellow poo, maybe with bits of undigested food in, suggests that the problem is in the upper digestive tract and the digestion process was rushed along before bile could turn things the usual brown color.
    • Orange could be upper GI or lots of orange food, but it could also be a sign of something more than typical gastric upset, so don’t panic if you see orange, but do get a sample for the vet.
    • Green or green-brown could mean your dog has been eating a lot of grass or other greens, but it can be a sign of some toxic stuff, too.
    • Grayish colors tell you to cut back on the fat in their diet. If it’s green, keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior, get a sample, and get it to the vet.
    • Red or black/tarry means the same thing in dogs as it does in humans: get that dog to the vet to find out where they’re bleeding inside and why.
  • Blood.  Again, blood means a trip to the vet.

Read more about the colors of your dog’s poop and why they matter from vet Dr. Katy Nelson on Barkpost: What does the color of your dog’s poop mean?

It’s generally a good idea to get a sample, too.

We know, it’s nobody’s idea of a good time, but it will help your vet (or you, if there’s no way at all to get to the vet) to investigate the situation and determine progress.

Here at Puppity Mamas, we keep disposable gloves on hand, and that makes turning them inside out around the poo a relatively painless process.

Since the poo should be kept cool and sealed, make sure you avoid any cross-contamination while putting ice in a bag or cooler or finding a cold place for the sample. There’s no need to keep it longer than the next sample (to compare or bring to the vet).

We’re not advocating a cooler full of dog poop!  That would be weird.

2: Now we’re getting into the actually making puppy feel better part of the program with the wonders of HYDRATION!

Hydrate that dog! Just like humans, dogs can dehydrate quickly when they have the trots, and they may not feel like trotting over to the water dish to top up.  If that’s the case, here are a few things you can offer them to get them back on track:

  • Broth (ideally without added salt)
  • Lactose free milk (50-50 with water, and not full-fat)
  • Plain yogurt mixed with water
  • Rice gruel (Cook up rice with twice the usual amount of water)
  • Carrot juice pupsicles (This is one of our foods of last resort, and can be made with a bit of pumpkin added, too.  Just freeze carrot juice in ice pop molds or an ice cube tray.  Pop it in the blender with a little juice, broth, or water, to make it a slush if that makes it more appealing to your dog.)

3: Plan to feed a bland diet for a few days.  

A bland diet, in veterinary parlance, is a diet specifically designed to give the digestive tract a rest. It consists of foods that are easy to digest and unlikely to be linked to canine food allergies.  Because it’s not a complete diet, with all the vitamins and nutrients needed long-term, it’s only meant to be fed a week or two at a time while recovering from digestive troubles.

Typical foods included in a bland diet which you can mix and match by your pup’s preferences:

  • White rice (remember, we’re cutting back on fibrous things that take more effort to digest)
  • Greek or traditional plain lowfat yogurt.  Probiotics help the dog gut rebalance itself just like they do for humans.  Just make sure you’re feeding plain yogurt because added sugars are likely to increase gut inflammation.
  • Low fat cottage cheese (avoid if your dog does not digest cheese well)
  • Plain boiled chicken or beef with the fat poured off.
  • Plain rolled oats cooked in water
  • Eggs cooked without added fats.  Boiled eggs (egg whites only, if the whole egg seems to make your dog worse, or you suspect high fat may be the cause of the irritation) or scrambled eggs made without added fat are the easiest.  We find it easiest to scramble or poach an egg in the microwave when we’re doing bland diet. Here’s how:
    • Scrambled egg in the microwave:  Scramble two eggs in a paper bowl, microwave on high for 60 seconds.  Immediately break apart and stir.  Let the egg cool a bit before feeding to the dog.
    • Poached egg in the microwave: Add 1/2c water to a microwave safe mug, and gently crack in one egg.  Microwave for 1 minute and check that the white of the egg is all white.  Cook more in 10 second intervals until the egg is done if needed. Then break the egg apart in the eggy water and serve when cool.

4: Consider medication to relieve diarrhea and allow the dog to rehydrate. 

Pink Bismuth Subsalicylate, better known as Pepto Bismol, was invented to treat babies with diarrhea, which could easily kill through dehydration, and it is generally regarded as safe for treating dogs for the same condition.

VeterinaryPlace.com recommends the following dosage:

To treat acute diarrhea, 0.5 mL/lb (1 US teaspoon for every 10 pounds your dog weighs) can be given every 4 to 6 hours for 5 days. The dosage can be higher depending on how severe the symptoms are and other contributing factors, with a maximum recommended dose of 0.9 mL/lb to be given every 6 to 8 hours. Shake the bottle well before use.

Follow the Veterinary Place link above to read the full dosing, interactions, and safety information about Pink Bismuth in dogs.  Be aware that excessive use is not recommended, and the drug can lead to constipation.

5: Make sure the dog can’t get more of whatever it ate before.

Dogs are the master species when it comes to testing things that might be edible, unfortunately.  Now, while your dog is recovering on a bland diet, is the time to go through your house and make all illicit food sources and garbage cans off limits.  (Putting garbage cans in cabinets with a baby lock on is a cheap, quick, and easy fix).

If your spoons, abilities, or lifestyle requires that you have food stashes away from the kitchen, putting them in dog-proof containers is the ideal option, but even a box with a lid in each room that has food the dog might try to get into is a functional solution.

Pick up the poo.  Even if you’re pretty sure your dog doesn’t eat poo (and especially if you’re sure your dog does), it’s time to clean up their outhouse and make sure they can’t reinfect themselves.

Now, do a sweep of all areas of the house and yard looking at things through the eyes of a dog whose main question is “I wonder if I could eat that?” and do a little re-arranging before your ever-loving four legged stomach is up and roaming again.

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Just follow these five easy steps, keep inspecting the poo for improvement or signs your pup is getting worse.  But remember, if your dog seems to be getting worse and a change in diet doesn’t stop that, it could be something more serious than a simple digestive upset from an easily treated malabsorption syndrome to a blockage or organ damage.

If you suspect the condition is more serious, it’s time for a visit to the vet.

And for those of you with service dogs, taxable income, and health coverage: remember that your dog’s maintenance and healthcare are allowable health tax deductions and are reimbursable through Health Spending Accounts if you happen to have one.

This post brought to you by our 5AM wake up call yesterday to PoopaPalooza: Elsa Edition.  She’s feeling much better today, poor baby, but we’re still knee-deep in laundry.

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