What to Feed a Dog With Diarrhea

Let's be real . . . dogs are indiscriminate eaters. If you're taking your dog for a walk, he may eat whatever he finds on the ground like cigarette butts, manure, twigs, or even something toxic and dangerous like insulation. In many cases, diarrhea could be caused by whatever he ate simply not agreeing with him. Usually it's not something serious, but it could be a sign of a virus or other disorder.

Side view of tan coloured dog standing in kitchen eating from red bowl
credit: Grace Chon/Image Source/GettyImages

Often, your dog may get diarrhea if you change her food or if she's harboring some sort of parasite. If there are more serious signs of something being wrong, such as fever or excessive thirst, get your veterinarian involved. When you are feeding a dog with diarrhea, look for things that are easy on her digestive system.

Keep your dog hydrated

VCA Hospitals explains that diarrhea can dehydrate a dog very quickly, because a symptom of diarrhea is decreased absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes. The dog's loose stools contain a lot of water, which means there's less water in his system. Make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water. If he's not feeling well, he may not move to the water bowl often enough.

One way you can ensure your dog is drinking enough water is to place a water bowl near her bed so she doesn't have to expend effort to drink. If your vet says it's ok, you can give Pedialyte electrolyte drink to your dog to help replenish any of the electrolytes she may have lost due to the dehydration. The Smart Dog Owners site says that if a dog is severely dehydrated, subcutaneous or IV fluids will do a much better job than drinking liquids like Pedialyte, but it can hold your dog over until you can visit your vet.

Your dog may not be a fan of the fruity taste, so try to find the unflavored kind of Pedialyte. If he's not enthusiastic about drinking it, try mixing it with something like low-sodium chicken or beef broth or mix it in with his food.

Smooth fox terrier puppy eats from bowl in a room
credit: Photoboyko/iStock/GettyImages

Pumpkin

Canna-Pet says that canned pumpkin puree is a tasty way to add fiber to a dog's diet. This is helpful for a dog with diarrhea because the fiber in the pumpkin will help absorb some of the excess water in your dog's system. Rather than the pie filling type of pumpkin, use the unseasoned, sugar-free kind.

Mild proteins

Diarrhea can be hard on a dog's digestive system and they may want to eat but their system may still not be recovered enough to handle their normal food. Canna-Pet says that boiled meat like chicken is a safe and simple protein your dog will likely feel like eating. Other easily digestible foods that are good for feeding a dog with diarrhea are cottage cheese, white rice (save the cooking water from the rice and let your dog have that too), yogurt, or other easy simple proteins such as a scrambled egg. Any of these foods could be mixed with some broth or other electrolyte liquid to encourage them to eat.

Probiotics

The American Kennel Club explains that probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive system of all animals. Probiotics help digest food, make nutrients and vitamins accessible, and help keep the balance of good and "bad" bacteria in check. If your dog is happily eating yogurt, then he is consuming probiotics. If this is not a food he enjoys, veterinarians can prescribe probiotics and there are some commercially available probiotics that can be purchased.

golden retriever eating dog food from metal bowl
credit: LightFieldStudios/iStock/GettyImages

Medicine

A vet can also prescribe what's known as antidiarrheal agents. The Merck Veterinary Manual says that treating diarrhea in dogs includes replacing fluids and electrolytes replacement, maintenance of acid/base balance, and control of discomfort. Your veterinarian can provide or you can purchase some medicines that contain kaolin-pectin or activated charcoal. Certain medicines can help absorb the excess of water due to dehydration and bring the episode to an end more quickly.