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How to treat acute or bloody dog diarrhea naturally: 7 steps
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How to treat acute or bloody dog diarrhea naturally: 7 steps

Home Remedies for Dog Diarrhea

1. Introduction

One of the first things you learn as a dog parent is how to manage the occasional bout of diarrhea.

While there are a variety of potential causes for diarrhea in dogs, you mustn’t forget that dogs are scavengers by nature and their digestive system has developed to purge itself of toxins and bacteria found in food by producing runny stool. Simply put, diarrhea acts as the body’s messy yet effective defence mechanism to eliminate the cause of digestive upsets and restore health.

This is why using anti-diarrheal drugs to stop this natural cleansing process is contraindicated in a large majority of cases. While these drugs can relieve diarrhea symptoms, they also prevent the body from expelling harmful bacteria, toxins, and viruses and suppress a natural protective response.

A much better approach is to support your dog’s digestive system and the whole body, by ensuring proper hydration and using canine-specific probiotics to restore the natural balance of the gut microflora.

If your dog has occasional or frequent episodes of acute diarrhea, or you found blood in your dog's stool, I am glad you’re reading this article. As a dog parent myself, I understand your concern, and want to share a series of proven home remedies for dog diarrhea based on my 30 years of veterinary practice.

In this article, you’ll find natural and inexpensive methods of treating your dog’s acute and bloody diarrhea at home without antibiotics, special veterinary diets, or chemicals.

However, please keep in mind that severe episodes of diarrhea lasting more than 48 hours can indicate a serious health issue and require immediate veterinary attention.

2. Causes of dog diarrhea

The most common causes of diarrhea in dogs include:

    • bacterial infections (canine parvovirus)
    • parasites such as Giardia, coccidia, whipworms, roundworms or hookworms
    • nutrient deficiencies
    • food allergies
    • health conditions such as colitis, IBD, and leaky gut
    • swallowing an indigestible foreign object (could be part of a toy, socks, sticks, etc.)
    • dietary indiscretion (eating garbage or spoiled food)
    • toxins in food
    • a species-inappropriate diet (kibble or canned food)
    • sudden changes in diet
    • antibiotics and other medications
    • stressful events
    • lumbar spinal injuries

Diarrhea in dogs may also be a sign that the body is in a deeper state of imbalance, as parasites or bacterial pathogens like to settle into a weakened body and wreak havoc. Therefore, if your dog suffers from chronic diarrhea, the underlying causes must be addressed first.

Routine investigations such as fecal smears, parasite tests, blood tests, bacterial cultures, and X-rays are often used by veterinarians to get a better understanding of what is causing your dog’s diarrhea and determine the best treatment plan.

3. First aid for acute or bloody diarrhea in dogs

3.1 How to recognize if your dog’s bloody diarrhea is an emergency

Dog parents often panic when they spot blood in their dog’s stool, however, unlike in people, streaks of fresh, undigested blood in your dog’s stool, while not completely normal, are common and usually not a serious health issue.

There are two types of bloody stool to look out for when your dog gets diarrhea:

  • Fresh blood  
    Bloody diarrhea in dogs can be caused by hemorrhagic colitis, a large bowel inflammatory condition that usually is resolved by fasting for 24 hours, followed by feeding cooked squash with vegetable or meat broth and the addition of high-quality dog-specific probiotics. In my experience, dogs with colitis are usually bright and alert without being otherwise affected.
  • Partially digested blood (darker brown)
    If you have a puppy or a young dog and you notice that their diarrhea has partially digested blood in it (darker brown) and is accompanied by fever, lethargy and loss of appetite, you must see your veterinarian as soon as possible. These symptoms might indicate that your dog has contracted parvovirus, a highly contagious viral disease that can be fatal without proper and immediate treatment. This disease usually affects puppies that have parasites and eat poor quality-food, but other bacterial, parasitic and viral pathogens may also be involved.
3.2 When to see a veterinarian

If your dog has had diarrhea for longer than 48 hours or appears to be listless and sick, call your vet immediately.

Other symptoms associated with diarrhea that warrant a trip to the vet include dry/tacky/pale gums, fever, vomiting, and passing large amounts of blood.

Always be prepared to answer your vet's questions about your dog’s diet, bathroom habits, general behaviour, and details about their current diarrhea episode. This information and a thorough physical examination will help narrow down the list of possible causes and help your vet determine if and what diagnostic tests are needed.

4. How to treat dog diarrhea at home: vet-approved 7-step diarrhea protocol

how to stop dog diarrhea


The good news is that diarrhea on its own is not necessarily a cause for concern. If your dog is bright, alert and energetic, it is usually safe to give them 24 – 48 hours before consulting with your veterinarian.

Meanwhile, I recommend you apply the at-home diarrhea treatment plan detailed below to help soothe your dog’s upset stomach.

  • Hydration
    Keeping your dog hydrated during an episode of diarrhea is essential. You can test your dog’s hydration by pinching the skin on the top of their head or at the back of their neck. The skin should go back to its original position in one second. If the skin test exceeds one second and hydration doesn’t improve in 24 hours, see your veterinarian.
    • Fasting
      Fast your dog for 12 to 24 hours before feeding the next meal and give them water in small amounts throughout. Dogs can go without food for many days, so this step will allow their gastrointestinal  tract to rest.
    • First meal
      When the fast is completed, start feeding your dog a bland diet of cooked pumpkin or squash blended with lean meat broth for 24 hours. At this point, feeding your dog once a day is ideal. You can give them two meals, but this might put more strain on their inflamed gut. Use chicken broth if your dog tends to be chilly or beef broth if they tend to overheat. 

      Why pumpkin? Pumpkin acts as a prebiotic food because it promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria by lowering the pH and providing your dog’s body with healthy nutrients. Additionally, feeding your dog pumpkin helps inhibit harmful bacteria in the gut.
      • Probiotic supplements
        Give your dog high-potency canine-specific probiotics, such as GutSense. You can add the probiotic powder into a syringe with a small amount of water and give it orally or simply give your dog the whole capsule. Use a double dose for the first five days, then transition to normal dosing as per label recommendations. 
        • Second meal
          Feed your dog their second meal 24 hours later. This meal should consist of cooked lean meat and blended squash or pumpkin. Once again, if your dog is chilly, feed them chicken or other poultry. If your dog gets hot, feed them red meat such as beef or venison. Transition to their regular food, ideally raw or cooked, after 48 hours.

          Check out the Healthy Dog Food Recipe Maker if you are new to feeding your dog non-processed foods.

          Note: Boil or steam a squash (I like butternut squash) until soft and peel it when cooled down. If you don’t have squash, yams or pumpkins are good substitutes. Freshly cooked is better than canned, if possible. Add broth to create a mashed potato consistency, or blend the mixture in a blender.
        • Diarrhea prevention
          Continue using the non-dairy probiotic GutSense to replenish the intestinal flora. Please note that dogs have a different intestinal microbiome than people, thus human probiotics wont provide them with the same digestive support. Gut health is very important for overall immunity, absorption of nutrients, cancer prevention and mood. 
        • Charcoal tablets (optional)
          If you suspect your dog got into bad or spoiled food, you can use activated charcoal tablets. The recommended dosage is 1 tablet for small dogs, 2 for medium-sized dogs, and 3 for large breeds and you can repeat the treatment in 8-12 hours.

          Activated charcoal will help absorb and eliminate toxins and pathogenic bacteria from the digestive tract.

          5.  Other common dog diarrhea treatments

          5.1 Are antibiotics necessary to stop diarrhea in dogs?

          Antibiotics are unnecessary and sometimes contraindicated for dog diarrhea. In my practice, I only used them as a last resort if a pathogen was confirmed and diarrhea didn’t improve within 48 – 72 hours.

          The administration of toxic chemicals during a time when the body needs to cleanse itself doesn’t make much sense and can overwhelm the digestive system.

          One of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for treating diarrhea in dogs, metronidazole (Flagyl), causes long-lasting disturbances of the bacterial flora, damages the intestinal lining and induces diarrhea, as confirmed in a research study involving healthy dogs.

          5.2 Should  anti-diarrheal drugs be used to treat acute diarrhea?

          As I mentioned above, slowing down intestinal movement can hinder the body’s natural cleansing, rebalancing, and healing process. It is much better to support your dog’s health using the above diet, give probiotics, and ensure good hydration than it is to go against the body’s natural defences.

          Excessive use of anti-diarrheal drugs and antibiotics in diarrhea treatments often leads to health issues such as chronic diarrhea, leaky gut, inflammatory bowel disease, and a weakened immune system. 

          5.3 Is rice good for dogs with diarrhea?

          Many traditional dog diarrhea recipes call for rice, which I dont recommend for several reasons

          Based on my clinical experience with dogs suffering from diarrhea, rice is not as soothing as cooked squash, pumpkin, or yams. Moreover, thousands of HairQ Test results have also confirmed that rice contains high levels of toxic arsenic due to heavy metal pollution in Asian countries.

          5.4 Can chiropractic adjustment help with acute diarrhea in dogs?

          In some cases of recurring dog diarrhea, digestive issues can be caused by an undiagnosed lumbar spine injury. Some exercises, such as ball or frisbee chasing, can result in muscle injuries, tightness, and inflammation due to the dog slipping during an attempt to catch the toy.

          If left untreated, lumbar muscle tightness can shut off the blood, nerve, and energy flow that supplies the small and large intestines, weaken digestive function and lead to recurring bouts of diarrhea.

          Talk to your veterinarian if you suspect your dog might be experiencing back pain. There are numerous drug-free alternative treatment options, such as chiropractic care, massage, and acupuncture, that could help your dog heal.

          Discover more about how you can support your dog in the healing process with natural supplements that help nourish and detox the body, reduce inflammation, and soothe the digestive system.

          6. Supplements that can help with dog diarrhea

          6.1 Canine probiotics

          The most critical step in treating your dog's diarrhea is to restore the balance of their intestinal microflora. Canine-specific probiotics not only support healthy digestion, bowel movements, and immune system function but also help you naturally prevent the occurrence of acute diarrhea episodes in the future.

          GutSense Product page

          GutSense is a non-dairy pre and probiotic supplement and digestive support for dogs, formulated with nine canine-specific probiotic strains and organic natural ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and maintain a healthy gut balance.

          Our probiotic formula is naturally fermented and contains numerous Lactobacillus species, which increase nutrient absorption levels and relieve inflammatory bowel disease and leaky gut syndrome symptoms.

          GutSense also contains organic cilantro, a powerful detoxifying agent that eliminates heavy metals and toxins from the body, and certified organic dandelion, which helps boost digestion and gently cleanse the liver.

          6.2 Nutritional supplements

          For ongoing support and natural diarrhea prevention, I recommend giving your dog essential supplements such as minerals, vitamins, and high quality toxin-free sustainable Omega-3 oil. Heres what I give to my dog Pax to improve his digestion and boost his immunity naturally.

          GreenMin is a nourishing plant-based mineral and amino acid-rich green superfood made from certified organic Brazilian Alga Calcarea and Californian Spirulina.
          SoulFood is a certified organic wholefood multivitamin and organ health support supplement for dogs of all ages. It is fermented which makes it stand apart from synthetic vitamins that have a tendency to cause stomach upset.

          FeelGood Omega is a pure, sustainably sourced, and mercury-free Omega-3 calamari oil with potent anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. 

          Watch the video below to learn more about the modern nutrient cycle and the importance of nutrient supplementation in dogs, or check out the Healthy Dog Tool for a step-by-step approach to your dogs health and longevity.


          6.3 Liver support and detox supplements

          Living in a polluted world can take its toll on your dogs liver, dramatically reducing its capacity to remove toxins from the bloodstream, break down drugs, and metabolize vital nutrients.

          One of the critical steps to preventing liver disease in dogs is to do a liver cleanse and detox every 6 to 12 months. Not only does a liver detox help eliminate all the heavy metals and toxins accumulated within the body and rebalance liver enzymes, but it also prevents digestive issues such as diarrhea.
          For Paxs semi-annual liver cleanse, I use LiverTune, a naturally fermented liver support and detox supplement enriched with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer plant-based nutrients. Made using a patented fermentation process, LiverTune is a highly bioavailable supplement meant to improve digestion and liver enzymes and strengthen your dogs immune system.

          7.  Additional resources & tools

          🐶 Read our comprehensive dog diarrhea guide, or as I like to call it, the Holistic and Natural Approach to Treating Diarrhea in Dogs.

          🦴 Check out the Healthy Dog Food Recipe Maker and learn how to transition your dog from kibble to a natural raw or cooked, balanced diet with easy-to-make recipes.

          Register for our brief Raw and Cooked Natural Diet Course for Dogs and find out how you can easily create a long and healthy life for your beloved pup.

          Join our pack to receive the latest natural health news and become a part of our dog-loving community!  

          Dog diarrhea FAQs

          ●  What do you give a dog for diarrhea?
          Giving canine probiotics and feeding an easily digestible diet can work wonders for dogs with diarrhea by promoting the growth of good bacteria and rebalancing the gut microflora.

          To quickly relieve diarrhea symptoms, withhold food for 24 to 48 hours, then feed a meal of cooked pumpkin or squash mixed with beef or chicken broth once a day. Make sure your dog stays well hydrated throughout the diarrhea episode.  

          IMPORTANT: Never give your dog diarrhea medication formulated for humans unless explicitly instructed by your vet. 

          ●  When should I worry about my dog's diarrhea?
          If your dog has had an episode of acute diarrhea but is otherwise acting normal, its most likely not a cause for concern.

          However, if your pup shows other symptoms as well as diarrhea, including lethargy or lack of responsiveness, fever, vomiting, dry/sticky gums, straining to pass a stool or large amounts of blood in stool, see your vet as soon as possible.

          Recurring bouts of diarrhea over a short period of time associated with weight loss or lack of appetite can indicate a serious health issue (intestinal parasites, chronic diarrhea, IBD or liver disorder) and requires medical attention.

          ●  Why is my dog pooping liquid poop?
          Runny stools are a general symptom of intestinal inflammation, possible toxin, parasite infestation, infection or diet intolerance allergies. Please follow the above guidelines and see your veterinarian if the symptoms do not improve within 24 to 48 or your dog is dehydrated, listless and appears unwell.

          ●  How long does dog diarrhea last?
          Acute diarrhea episodes in dogs usually last anywhere between 24 to 48 hours and will often resolve with fasting, diet adjustment, and probiotic treatment. If your dogs diarrhea goes on for more than 2 days and is accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, and vomiting, please contact your vet. 

          ●  How can I firm up my dog’s stool?
          If you want to firm up your dogs stool, I recommend feeding the bland diet recommended above for a few days until their digestion returns to normal. Homemade meal options can include boiled squash or pumpkin mixed with broth or a small amount of cooked lean meats such as chicken, beef, or venison. Giving your dog canine-specific probiotics is also important to firm up their stools by increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut.

          ●  What is the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs?
          The most common causes of dog diarrhea include dietary indiscretion, species-inappropriate diets, allergies, parasites, bacteria, hormonal issues, diet intolerance, allergies and toxins in food. Another frequent yet often overlooked cause of diarrhea in dogs is lumbar spinal injuries, which can slow down the blood, nerve, and energy flow to the digestive tract, thus weakening the intestines and causing diarrhea.

          You should always seek your vets advice if your dogs diarrhea doesnt improve within 24 to 48 hours or if they have other symptoms.


          About the author

          Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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