Poop – Diarrhea

  1. Managing Diarrhea

The following article / information is not a substitute for visiting the vet if your dog or cat has diarrhea. There are many things that can cause diarrhea in dogs and cats and some of them are fatal.

Get To the Vet If:

  1. Dog is depressed
  2. Blood from either end
  3. Dog has no appetite
  4. Belly is distended or tight
  5. Fever

Sometime, diarrhea means the pet is in the process of dying. So staying home with Loperamide is sometimes a “grave” mistake, pardon the pun.

If your dog has any of the “bad signs” with diarrhea – GET IN MAH OFFICE!!!

Diarrhea of consequence can be: Hemorrhagic Enteritis, a symptom of pancreatitis, a symptom of kidney failure, an undervaccinated enteric virus, poisoning. That’s why I always hesitate to recommend anything “over the phone” So….

To start this conversation: If your dog or cat is depressed, or appetite and drinking is compromised: “Get. On. My. Table!”


Sometimes your healthy-aged dog is happily bouncing around with diarrhea after a trip to the parent’s house where they gave some table scraps. Or, some workers came to the house and stressed her out so she’s got some “stress bowel” or maybe a trip to the kennel which can also set up “stress bowel”

What’s Diarrhea from “Stress Bowel”?

So  a dog gets stressed and the stomach starts churning, and churning out more acid than normal. And that acid overflows the stomach and gets all the way into the intestines and burns the intestines. Stress Bowel.

Sometimes the dog just ate something out of the ordinary and some ‘bad’ bacteria grew up, disrupting normal gut function and biology. Diarrhea results.

When Can You Consider Waiting or Managing Diarrhea?

  1. Dog is eating
  2. Dog is drinking
  3. Dog acts normal (so important)
  4. Dog’s not vomiting
  5. Dog’s not bloating
  6. There’s no bloody poop or vomit

So, if your dog doesn’t have ANY of the above signalment for a trip to the vet you can TRY some of the following.

Loperamide 2mg – That’s one caplet of “Immodium” but make sure it’s “Active Ingredient Loperamide 2mg” and NOTHING extra. And the dose [dogs only] is 1 caplet per twenty pounds, once or twice a day. So if the dog was forty pounds it would get two caplets. And if you saw diarrhea within 12 hours of that dose, go ahead and re-dose.

Hard cheese. If you can break the cheese, it’s a hard cheese. If it can crumble or be cracked, broken instead of bending or stretching, it’s the “right cheese” and a dog would get a bit, about the size of a pat of butter per ten pounds once or twice a day. You’d think a bit of cheese would push a lactose button but it actually binds.

No food, or bland food. For diarrhea I really like Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup on a piece of white bread. All that’s super light on the intestine and requires no “work”,

First 12-24 hours: No food, except yogurt, pumpkin, ice.

Second 12-24 hours: White bread or white rice, and small amounts of diced chicken.

Third 12-24 hours: Their regular DRY food, except waterlogged with broth or water.

Fourth phase: Back to regular food.

After a serious bout of diarrhea, the BEST food I’ve seen is a little bag of Low Fat i/D diet – just get through the bag and then segue back to the regular food. MOST of the time that’s overkill, but when you REALLY want the diarrhea gone, it’s an extra step that always helps.

  1. Yogurt. A decent quality yogurt with “live yogurt cultures” is just okay and I say “Sure, why not.” It used to be the best we had to offer and it’s okay. That’d be a tablespoon per twenty pounds twice a day to help keep the GI tract beneficial bacteria ‘in power’ while bad bacteria are being fought off.
  2. Pumpkin. Soluble fiber can help move a hard stool back to limber, but also a loose stool back to formed. The dose is 1 kitchen measuring cup per sixty pounds.  So to dose a thirty pound dog you’d give 1/2 kitchen cup, and so on. You can offer Pumpkin twice a day. It’s plain, canned pumpkin, like Libby’s.

Other stuff I really like to use for diarrhea BUT which you can’t get over the counter is Metronidazole and Propectalin.

Pepto Bismol is of limited benefit to diarrhea in dogs and cats and can cause more trouble than help.

So this is all well-and-good but diarrhea can be VERY serious, so take me seriously when I say that diarrhea that lasts days, or is accompanied by a loss of appetite, depression, not-drinking, or blood in the vomit or diarrhea, swollen belly – are all serious. It can be something other than a little upset stomach or stress bowel. It may be WAYYYYY beyond the above management.

So what ELSE could it be?

  • Giardia (Common)
  • Bacterial gastroenteritis (Common)
  • Worms (Common)
  • Kidney failure (Over 10)
  • Liver failure (Over 10)
  • Pancreatitis (Common)
  • Poisoning
  • Salmonellosis (rare)
  • Coccidia
  • Addison’s Disease (rare)
  • Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (You’d see blood)

Dr Erik Johnson is a Marietta, Georgia Veterinarian with a practice in small animal medicine. He graduated from University of Georgia with his Doctorate in 1991. Dr Johnson is the author of several texts on Koi and Pond Fish Health and Disease as well as numerous articles on dog and cat health topics.