What to do if your dog has diarrhea
Go ahead…..ask this question of a fellow dog owner the next time you are at the park and steady yourself for a barrage of advice. Why all the veterinary medical opinions? Because this is the most common disorder we see at Valley Veterinary Service’s veterinary hospital (and I would dare say all veterinary facilities). When I’m out and being a dog-owner and not a dog-doctor, I get asked about this a lot (although the question is usually preceded by “Dr. Steinebach, could I ask you a quick question”). My first question back is always, “how long has this been going on” followed by “what have you been doing for this so far”?
Regardless of the response, if you are concerned or you think this is severe or your pet is acting ill in any way, you are always best served with a quick trip to the veterinary hospital where the problem can be sorted out and relief administered. But what if the vet is closed when this is occurring?
So what do you do if your dog has diarrhea and your vet is closed?
A reasonable first step is withholding of food for 24 hours. This will give the stomach and intestines a chance to “rest” and
this is often all they need to set things right. If you are going to take this step, ensure that your dog continues to drink water in order to stay hydrated.
After 24 hours, ease your dog back into eating with low-fat, easily digestible foods such as cooked white rice. Ensure that the meals in the ensuing 2-3 days are small and frequent (3-4 meals per day….it is okay if the total volume fed is less than what you would normally feed during this time). If the diarrhea is persistent despite the 24 hour fast or re-emerges with feeding, you will have to see the vet as soon as possible.
In case of emergency
It is important to seek immediate veterinary care if the diarrhea:
- is black or contains blood
- is accompanied by vomiting
- lasts for more than 24 hours
- causes your dog to appear weak or have a fever
These signs signify much more serious issues and could be potentially life-threatening or require more aggressive therapy to counter including hospitalization.
If your dog has a case of simple indigestion, the diarrhea will cease after the 24 hour fast and will not recommence with feeding. Your dog will thank you for knowing when they need professional help.
Posted by: Dr. Mark Steinebach