Diarrhea can be a messy, painful, and all around bad experience – and not just for your dog. It’s not easy seeing your best friend sick, and it’s no fun cleaning up after him, either. Unfortunately, poop happens and when it does, a lot of questions can come to mind.
Dr. Ihor Basko is a holistic veterinarian and dog nutrition expert with over 35 years of experience in his field of study. His clinic, All Creatures Great and Small, keeps the pets of Kapaa, Hawaii healthy. He believes that fresh, natural diets support great health and chooses to befriend the patients he treats to give the best possible care. We felt he was the perfect authority to come to with questions about our dogs’ digestive dilemmas.
iHD: Can stress or anxiety cause diarrhea in dogs?
Dr. Basko: Yes. I see many cases of diarrhea for separation anxiety and stress, especially in kennel situations. Other causes of diarrhea include over-use of antibiotics by veterinarians, change of diet or treats, eating dirt and other animals’ poop, and parasites: roundworms and tapeworms primarily. Any of these things can cause an imbalance in the GI microbiota which could cause diarrhea or a number of other health problems.
iHD: What should I do if my dog’s diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours?
Dr. Basko: Ask your vet for an intestinal parasites / fecal flotation test and a culture before antibiotics are used. You need to know which pathogen is causing the problem – don’t just guess. Most veterinarians will reach for an antibiotic, and although it will help, it will not cure the problem. The first step is to introduce a probiotic – these will replenish and increase the “good” bacterial colonies in the GI microbiome, create resistance to any new bacteria or toxin causing harm to the intestinal tract, and prevent pathogenic bacteria from attaching to the walls of the GI tract. They will also help ferment indigestible fiber and convert it into nutritive substances and vitamins and antibacterial compounds that will help kill the “bad guys.” If you use the proper strain of probiotic, you shouldn’t need to use an antibiotic.
Should I feed my dog while they are experiencing diarrhea?
Dr. Basko: Absolutely. You need to feed the beneficial bacteria with prebiotic foods! For acute diarrhea hydration is more important, but if your dog has an appetite, give prebiotic food with probiotics. Prebiotics will nourish the probiotics and allow them to flourish.
This simple recipe will help balance your dog’s GI tract and ease their digestive troubles.
½ cup chicken breast or lean steak
1 cup rice
½ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh dill
½ teaspoon ginger powder
½ cup water
Bring to a boil and simmer until the rice is cooked. The dill will relax cramping in the gut from diarrhea and the ginger powder will fight inflammation and nausea. Add a probiotic that contains prebiotics such as Protegrity GI. Once the problem is gone, prevent future issues by adding prebiotic foods to their diet.
(See more healthy recipes from Dr. Basko in his book Fresh Food and Ancient Wisdom: Preparing Healthy and Balanced Meals for Your Dogs.)
iHD: Will my dog be at risk for dehydration? If so, how do I prevent that from happening?
Dr. Basko: Maybe. It depends upon how much your dog drinks liquids and eats food with moisture. If your dog is vomiting, you probably have something severe. Coconut water is a great water and electrolyte rich drink. You can also boil bones and make bone soup and administer that with a syringe if the dog does not drink it.
iHD: Should I take my dog for walks while they have diarrhea?
Dr. Basko: Of course. It will help rid the dog of toxic by-products in the gut.