So your lovely dog has just been into the garden to the toilet for what seems like the millionth time today. If he or she has diarrhoea, then we will help you understand what to feed and what not to feed, along with signs that you should see your vet. 

How do I know if my dog has diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is liquid excessive stools, they can be any colour from the normal brown to yellow. It may smell, it may have mucus or jelly in it or even streaks of blood. Your dog may strain to pass it or show signs of irritation around his anus. It is important to have a good description or even a sample of it for your vet if needed, as this can help your vet determine the cause.

If your dog is bright in themselves, with no other health issues and not geriatric or a puppy then you can often try a bland diet at home before rushing to your vet. However, if there is blood or anything very unusual with the diarrhoea or your pet is vomiting or showing other signs of being unwell, then we would advise you to contact your vet for advice. 

Should you starve them for a period of time? 

Firstly we would not suggest you starve them unless advised by your vet. This can often do more harm especially in puppies and geriatric dogs. The gut cells actually get their nutrition from the food they absorb, so starving can actually weaken the intestine wall. We would advise access to plenty of fresh clean water to allow your dog to keep hydrated, as they will be losing lots of water bypassing diarrhoea. 

Often sources will say feed a bland diet, but what does this actually mean? How much should you feed? 

A bland diet is usually recommended; by bland, we mean nothing rich, no gravy or extra bits added to their food. The commercial one is often called gastrointestinal and is usually a blend of highly digestible chicken and rice. Dogs love this and the benefit is that they eat it so keep their energy. Importantly, they also have handy feeding guides so you know how much to feed them and how much they are eating. 

Do I have to buy it?

This diet can be one of two types, either a commercial one from your vets or a home made one. The other option of home made would be cooked (typically boiled) chicken, with no salt or gravy or additives which when cooled can be added to either cooked rice or potatoes, again with nothing on them. An alternative can be boneless white fish if chicken is not suitable for your dog. 

The downside with this, although easy to cook at home, is that it is not easy to work out how much to give or how many calories your dog is actually eating. 

What about treats?

No treats should be given to your dog when they have diarrhoea either, this includes both dog ones and any human titbits you may feel like giving them. No other liquids should be offered except water, as products like milk can worsen the diarrhoea. 

Are there any supplements or medicines I can get over the counter?

Some vets sell items over the counter to help with diarrhoea, some absorb the excess water in the stools or help settle their digestive system down, contact your vet for more advice on these. 

What do I do next?

If after trying the bland diet your dog’s diarrhoea is not clearing up, it is getting worse or they display any other worrying signs at any point then please contact your vet for advice and an appointment. Most dogs with acute diarrhoea caused by something they have eaten, will clear up quickly with a bland diet, but if you are concerned please contact your vet. 

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