Holistic Health and Longevity Course for Dogs Chapter 15
One cause of inflammatory bowel disease and diet allergies that is often missed
Some time ago, I wrote that one of the deepest expressions of love is to clean up diarrhea after your poor dog has an accident in the middle of the night. We put on the gloves, take a mop and a bucket, and instead of worrying about losing sleep, we worry about our dogs and making sure they are ok. That is love!
When my dog Skai was a puppy, he had a few month-long episodes of recurrent diarrhea and those times of worry and midnight carpet cleaning led me to a surprising discovery that allowed me to help thousands of dogs and their people to be diarrhea, sleep deprivation and worry free.
First look at the word diarrhea
The origin of the word diarrhea comes from the Greek word diarrho, which means ‘to flow through.’
The conventional view of diarrhea is that it has to be stopped at any cost because it is not good.
The holistic point of view suggests that a brief episode of infrequent diarrhea is usually the body’s protective and cleansing reaction, especially if your dog ate something he or she shouldn't. Diarrhea is the body’s way of getting rid of something that is potentially harmful, toxic, or foreign. For example, the other day I saw a puppy prancing at the beach with what looked like a toy. It only took a few seconds for me to realize that the 'toy' was a dead sea snake. Something like this is definitely a recipe for a midnight accident on a brand new rug.
A big mistake that many people make with their dogs?
If your dog's diarrhea episode lasts for only one to two days and your dog does not appear to be ill otherwise, you can see it as a form of body cleansing. In cases of brief diarrhea, using anti-diarrheal drugs blocks this process. It can be compared to packing your house garbage bin instead of taking it out to empty it. Anti-diarrheal drugs for a short course of diarrhea go completely against what the body and nature are trying to do, which is cleanse and reset.
There have been many articles written on dogs and diarrhea and I do not want to discount them. In some cases, diarrhea can be very serious. However, one needs to be reminded that dogs are not humans nor horses and they have evolved to be impressive scavengers that are mostly unfazed by eating everything from A to Z.
My original intention was to write a brief article, but I realize that if I am to describe all the causes and different types of ‘fast flow throughs,’ I may be unintentionally throwing myself into writing weeks of long ‘diarrhea diaries.’ What I will do instead is mention the rare and lesser known information that can help many dogs with chronic and acute diarrhea, especially if it comes back despite repeated treatments and interventions.
How my dog Skai brought me to the lesser known causes of diarrhea
Millennia of evolution allowed dogs to become masters in cleansing and most dogs are ready to have fun and play the next morning.
Most veterinarians and dog lovers see diarrhea in a very physical sense. They usually try to determine localized causes, such as bacteria or parasites or look for pancreatic inflammation, allergies, intolerance, enzyme deficiencies or hormonal problems.
However, many years ago, my dog Skai taught me something most people do not know.
I believed then that if I was to be a good dog guardian, I had to exercise him and used a ball thrower tool to increase the intensity. Border collies are infamous for their ball obsession and I soon learned that Skai did not know when to stop. In a week or two, he started having diarrhea. I tried all the tricks up my sleeve, but his diarrhea would still come and go for months. All tests were inconclusive and the treatments worked only for a short time. I started to worry because Skai was losing weight. At one point, it got so severe that I even had to put him on IV fluids to prevent further dehydration. This is when I really started to worry, in fact, I felt a sense of panic because I didn’t know what to do.
Unexpected cause, a simple solution
From a conventional point of view, Skai’s diagnosis would be IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) or possibly diet intolerance or allergies, but my gut was telling me that that was not it. I went back in time to see what changes I made and found a strange coincidence. The diarrhea started around the time Skai started to retrieve a ball! Could that be it? Strange, I thought. I carefully examined his body and discovered that his lumbar muscles were tight and sensitive to my touch, suggesting an injury. Then I recalled him slipping and sliding several times when trying to catch the ball. Could the ball retrieving be at the root of my dog's diarrhea?
This was many years back. Today, I have much experience and understanding about how the lumbar spine supplies the energy flow to the intestines. See more info in chapter 7 of the Health and Longevity Course for Dogs on energy flow.
The body is like a garden and the organs are the garden patches. The spine is the “watering system” that supplies energy to the different organs and when a certain segment gets injured and becomes tight, the underlying organ doesn’t get proper energy flow and becomes dysfunctional.
I decided to stop all the ball retrieving and asked an animal physiotherapist and chiropractor for help. I also started Skai on probiotics to calm his intestines down. The results were amazing. Skai’s diarrhea was gone, his body weight was back to normal and that was it.
70 percent of all diarrhea may be related to this cause
This happened years back and, thanks to Skai, I have now been able to solve the problem of diarrhea in thousands of dogs. Some people say that it almost seems too simple, but my estimate is more than 70 percent of dogs suffering from diarrhea have a lumbar injury.
Ball retrieving, leaping in the water while at the beach, jumping up to play frisbee or an accidental slip or slide are some of the most common reasons for recurrent diarrhea, but it can also be excessive sprinting or any kind of faster biking with your dog too.
This is not to discount the importance of a species-appropriate, natural and raw diet or the right natural essential supplements. There are also other causes, such as bacteria, parasites, vaccine side-effects, hormonal issues and allergies that sometimes play a role.
I find diarrhea is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed problems in veterinary medicine. The paradox is that the answer is sometimes very simple, but not what one expects. As Galileo once said: "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered, the point is to discover them.”
Holistic approach to treating diarrhea in dogs
I gather now you would like to know what to do about your dog’s diarrhea. As I said, there are many reasons for diarrhea and this blog cannot discuss them all in one session. However, if you strongly suspect your dog is having digestive problems for the reasons above, here are my suggestions:
1. Limit, or ideally stop, any injurious exercise, such as ball retrieving, jumping up or over, sprinting, leaping in the water from the shore and excessive swimming.
2. See a chiropractor, physiotherapist or osteopath to examine your dog’s back.
4. Never feed kibble and instead choose a premium raw or cooked diet.
5. Feed the right raw bones for intestinal health and remember bones must be fed raw, not cooked. Click here for more info.
6. Always feed a variety of protein and vegetables in the course of the week. Feeding one protein is likely to lead to diet intolerance.
7. Limit beef, buffalo or bison (red meats high in arachidonic acid), which tend to be more inflammatory. Do not feed these more then once to twice a week or eliminate them completely if your dog appears to be sensitive.
8. When diarrhea happens, fast your dog for 24 hours then give two meals of pumpkin and chicken broth or other broth and go back to regular food after.
If there is no improvement or your dog appears to be listless or seriously ill, there may be other factors playing a role. I always suggest having your dog examined in any case of diarrhea lasting longer than 24 to 48 hours. When you see you veterinarian perhaps you even want to share this blog with him to help shift the overall perception and treatment of non-responsive diarrhea in dogs.