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Cease diarrhea, IBD & leaky intestine in canines, naturally


No pet parent out there can say they haven’t had to deal with the occasional episode of dog diarrhea and the tremendous stress that comes with seeing your canine friend feeling unwell. 

And while diarrhea is essentially the body’s natural way of purging toxins or viruses, a severe bout of diarrhea that lasts more than 48 hours can signal a more serious health issue and require medical investigations to diagnose and treat your dog properly.

As a dog lover and parent, I know how essential it is to make the best decisions and help your dog recover as quickly as possible. That’s why I’ve created a comprehensive guide that narrows down everything I learned in over 30 years of clinical practice while caring for my patients and my dog, Skai, who suffered from an episode of diarrhea as a puppy, helped me discover a common cause of diarrhea that is not mentioned in veterinary textbooks. 

This guide focuses on how to treat acute and chronic diarrhea in dogs and improve gut health through a holistic approach. I will cover everything from the most common causes of dog diarrhea and home remedies to diet recommendations and the importance of probiotic supplements for your dog’s digestive and immune systems. 

1.1 What is diarrhea and why does it happen?

Tell me if this sounds familiar to you — your dog is roaming around the park when you see them eating something entirely disgusting and try to stop them, but it’s too late. 

Our dogs are professional (albeit not very selective) scavengers by nature. For this reason, their organism has evolved to allow their digestive system to cleanse itself of harmful bacteria and substances through diarrhea. Think of it as a messy yet highly effective defence mechanism. 

Compared to conventional medicine, which sees diarrhea as something harmful that must be stopped at any cost and rushes to diagnose localized cases first, integrative medicine views brief episodes of infrequent diarrhea as a method to restore health and purify the body of toxins and pathogens. 

What you should focus on during a sudden bout of diarrhea without any other symptoms is making sure your dog receives the proper care and support while the cleansing process runs its course. 

Depending on its duration and severity, diarrhea can be acute (sudden onset lasting from one or two days up to two weeks) and chronic (frequent episodes lasting more than three weeks, varying in intensity, and not responsive to regular treatment). This guide includes treatment steps and recommendations for both types of diarrhea. 

2. The main causes of diarrhea in dogs

Before we get into the treatment recommendations, let’s have a quick look at the most common causes of diarrhea. There are numerous reasons why your dog may suffer from diarrhea, from viruses and parasites to food allergies, swallowing an indigestible object, and even lumbar spine injuries. 

2.2 Toxins

When toxins enter your dog’s body, the almost instant health response is to expel them through what we know as an episode of acute diarrhea. 

If there’s a nutrient deficiency, however, some toxins like heavy metals can remain in the body, occupying the empty “receptor seats” of healthy minerals and leading to metabolic disturbances and disease.

For example, if your dog has a calcium deficiency, its body is more likely to absorb toxic lead or radioactive strontium from what they eat because these toxins share the same electric charge and the calcium receptors are empty. 

The same happens for minerals such as iron, selenium, and zinc — when they’re missing from the body, harmful substances like mercury might take their place. 

So what can you do to protect your dog’s health and detox heavy metals from their body? First, check your dog’s healthy minerals and toxins levels by running a simple and highly accurate HairQ test. 

Here is an example of mineral and toxin measurements and their ratios I’ve done for my dog, Skai. 

The next step is to do a semi-annual liver cleanse and detox and supplement healthy minerals that will push heavy metals out of the body, provide wholesome nutrients, and promote a healthy digestive tract. 

Since modern agriculture practices have depleted the soils and our food of essential nutrients and international food transportation has broken the natural nutrient cycle, it’s hard to find dogs, or humans for that matter, that don’t suffer from mineral deficiencies. 

That’s why giving your dog a mineral and amino-acid supplement is the best way to protect them against toxins and diet deficiencies and help them live happier, healthier, and longer lives. 

Detox for dogs

 2.3 Food Allergies

Although dietary allergies can cause diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and leaky gut, many dogs are still misdiagnosed with allergies, and the real cause of these digestive problems is never addressed. Meanwhile, the processed pet food companies that have created the lucrative group of special allergy diets continue to thrive. 

Don’t get me wrong, true allergic reactions do happen because the immune system gets overwhelmed and overreacts  to a protein that otherwise would be harmless. 

What I learned from my experience of suffering from hay fever when I was a teenager, is that the body eventually stops having an allergic response to allergens when it’s healthier and the diet contains nutrient-rich, toxin-free food.

If we consider that almost 80% of immune system function resides in the gut, there’s no surprise that heavily processed foods, poor quality ingredients, drugs and vaccines, toxic substances, and food preservatives can get the immune system into overdrive and make it overreact.  

Learn how to create a healthy, balanced, and natural meal plan for your dog using our Recipe Maker. This tool will help you effortlessly create easy recipes that support gut microbiome health and immunity for happy, healthy, and active dogs. 

Dog food recipe maker

 2.4 Vaccines

Vaccines are perceived as an essential part of preventive care. However, heavy vaccination schemes and vaccine frequency recommendations that fail to follow the basic principles of immunology can do more harm than good for your dog’s health. 

It’s important to know that you can maintain the protective levels of antibodies without giving your dog more vaccines or boosters than its immune system can handle. 

Excessive vaccination is unnecessary, and multiple combination vaccines make the immune system overreact, because in nature, multiple pathogens would rarely attack the body all at once.

I’m a big believer in minimizing the number of foreign substances entering the body, especially when it comes to vaccines. They contain mercury and formaldehyde compounds such as Thimerosal, which are recognized as toxic and increase the risk of developing cancer later on. 

Also, besides the risk of developing acute allergic reactions, I have seen post vaccination side-effects that resemble the symptoms of the disease they are inoculating against, including diarrhea. 

For more info about a safer vaccination protocol, click here.

2.5 Parasites

Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, giardia, coccidia, and tapeworms can be a cause of diarrhea in dogs. 

Parasites that cause diarrhea

 

 

If your dog has been diagnosed positive for worms, I recommend using a deworming medication specific to the parasites present and choose one with the lowest possible side effects.

Have a look at the table below to learn about the most commonly used drugs and their side effects:

With almost 30% of dogs younger than six months and 6% of dogs older than six months being parasite-infested, regular semi-annual or at least annual parasite testing is critical in the preventive treatment of digestive disturbances. 

 

Giardia

One word of caution is required here regarding the treatment of Giardia. If your dog is diagnosed with Giardia but doesn’t have any symptoms, treatment is unnecessary. 

Unfortunately, many practitioners continue to prescribe metronidazole to asymptomatic dogs who’ve tested positive for giardia. This is against the general treatment guidelines that suggest not to treat dogs that do not have diarrhea.  

Metronidazole is an antibiotic that should be used with caution as it causes numerous side effects, including nausea, vomiting, hepatotoxicity, diarrhea, candidosis, lethargy, tremors, weakness, and seizures.

 2.6 Deficient diet

Your dog’s diet needs to be rich in micronutrients to ensure the optimal functioning of organs and the digestive and endocrine systems. 

Nevertheless, as I mentioned earlier, what we know as healthy, organic food is no longer enough to keep your dog’s body nourished, which is why most dogs suffer from mineral deficiencies. This can, in time, decrease the digestive system’s ability to process and digest food, leading to diarrhea and other digestive issues.

Feeding your dog a non-processed, raw diet or cooked diet together with mineral and vitamin supplements is the best way to keep them and their digestive system happy and healthy and help your tail-wagging companion live longer. 

There are four basic categories of nutrients that are essential for your dog’s good health and their body cannot produce on its own:

Unfortunately, food transportation and disrupted nutrient recycling has led to the severe depletion of soil and food. This is why it is important to supplement essential nutrients in addition to feeding wholesome food. 

Learn how to create a healthy, balanced, and natural meal plan for your dog using our Recipe Maker. This tool will help you effortlessly create easy recipes that support gut microbiome health and immunity for happy, healthy, and active dogs. 

2.7 Ingesting a foreign object

Ingestion of an indigestible foreign object is another possible cause of diarrhea in dogs. If you don’t know what your dog ate and they’ve been vomiting more than once or having diarrhea for more than two days, I advise you to contact your vet immediately. 

If you know what your dog ingested and they appear to feel well otherwise, you can follow the following first aid steps: 

  • If the object your dog ingested is more than 1.5 inches in diameter, it will likely stay in the stomach. Unless that object is sharp, which would warrant an emergency visit to your vet, inducing vomiting is the correct measure to follow.
  • If the object is not sharp, prepare a mixture of 1/2 -2 cups of cooked squash puree with 1 tablespoon – 1/3  cup (based on the quantity of squash) of whole flaxseed steeped in the same amount of hot water. Add a small amount of smoked fish or cooked liver for flavour and feed the mixture to your dog. This mix will make the object slippery and reduce the possibility of having it get stuck in the esophagus. Keep in mind that although the amount fed depends on your dog’s size and appetite, the maximum food volume shouldn’t exceed a regular meal size.

Next, to induce vomiting, administer undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide orally, one teaspoon per 5 pounds. Use a turkey baster or feeding syringe to make the process easier, then encourage your dog to walk around. As the peroxide mixes with the gastric juice and squash-flax seed blend, it will bubble up, increasing the volume of the meal and inducing vomiting. If your dog doesn’t throw up within 30 minutes, you can repeat giving another dose of hydrogen peroxide one more time. Do not administer more than two doses of peroxide. 

  • If the object your dog ingested is smaller than 1.5 inches, it will most likely pass through the colon and get eliminated in the stool. To ensure the object passes without any problems, feed your dog a mixture of 50% meat of your choice (raw or cooked), 40 % cooked squash puree and 10 % flaxseed steeped with enough hot water to make the meal slimy. I recommend feeding your dog this mix for two to three days until the object gets eliminated from the stomach. 

2.8 Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is a condition that causes the adrenal glands to lose their ability to produce the natural corticosteroid and electrolyte-regulating hormones (mineralocorticoids). 

Such dysfunction causes severe potassium and sodium regulation disruption and many other symptoms, including diarrhea. If left untreated, Addison’s disease can have severe, life-threatening consequences.

2.9 Lumbar spine injuries

Few practitioners consider the relationship between spinal health and diarrhea when diagnosing a dog’s illness. Yet, that’s not entirely their fault since veterinary textbooks fail to address this relatively common cause of diarrhea.

the role of the spine in diarrhea

I wouldn’t have discovered that lumbar spine strains and injuries can lead to digestive issues if it wasn’t for Skai, my first dog and the best teacher I could have as a veterinarian. 

Skai tilting his head

It wasn’t until he suffered from intense episodes of diarrhea as a puppy that didn’t respond to natural or conventional treatments that I realized I was missing something. 

In Skai’s case, it was the act of ball chasing that injured his lumbar muscles and restricted the energy, nerve, and blood flow that supplies specifically the large and small intestines, causing diarrhea. Through adjustment of his exercise, chiropractic care, massage, and acupuncture, his back started getting better quickly, and the diarrhea episodes stopped. 

If your dog has a bout of diarrhea, follow this 7-step diarrhea treatment plan to help restore intestinal balance:

  1. Fast your dog for 12 to 24 hours before feeding the next meal. Give water throughout.
  2. When the fast is over, start feeding them cooked squash or pumpkin and meat broth for 24 to 48 hours. Use enough broth to achieve a runny porridge consistency. 
  3. Transition to a lean meat and veggie blend (the ones you know your dog tolerates well) for one to two more days before switching back to regular food. Use the Recipe Maker tool to see which veggies and meats are canine-friendly.
  4. Keep your dog well hydrated. If you pinch the skin on the top of the head, it should return to its original position in one second. If the skin fold persists for longer than that and hydration does not improve in 24 hours, you should consult a veterinarian.
  5. Use activated charcoal tablets, if needed. In severe cases of diarrhea, you can use activated charcoal tablets (1-4 gm/kg or 0.5-2gm/lb) to aid with toxic bacteria neutralization. If your dog refuses to swallow the pill on its own, you can mix it into a small amount of food. Ideally, have activated charcoal handy at home in case your dog ingests toxic substances, spoiled food, chocolate or raisins that are dangerous to dogs. 
  6. Use a canine-specific prebiotic, probiotic, and digestive support, such as GutSense, made with non-dairy, organic and natural ingredients to replenish the intestinal flora. Check out the section on probiotics to learn more about their role in supporting digestive health and maintaining optimal immune system function.  
  7. Gradually transition to a regular diet within 2 – 3 days.

If an episode of diarrhea continues for longer than 48 hours and your dog is lethargic and exhibits other symptoms such as loss of appetite and nausea, contact your veterinarian.

Apart from the steps above, here are a couple of natural home remedies you use to treat your dog’s bout of diarrhea:

  • If your dog tends to be chilly, you can mix 1/4 – 1 tsp of ginger as a digestive tonic to improve digestion and reduce the chances of nausea. 
  • If your dog tends to be hot, you can mix 1/4 to 1 tsp of wheat or barley grass powder or juice to cleanse the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Homeopathic remedies such as Arsenicum Album 30C/CH or 200 C/CH are also a great way to treat acute diarrhea in dogs. If you get 30C/CH, administer 3 doses daily for 2-3 days or only until the symptoms stop. In the case of 200C/CH, you can administer it twice per day. If the problem doesn’t resolve within 2-3 days, discontinue.
  • Slippery elm is a natural remedy that can help soothe the digestive tract, reduce inflammation, and speed up recovery in acute cases of diarrhea. 

stop diarrhea dogs

4. How to treat persistent or chronic diarrhea in dogs

Most dogs have the odd diarrhea episode when they eat food that does not agree with their stomach or is contaminated. 

Applying the steps mentioned in the previous section should help get your dog’s digestive system back on track. However, if your dog’s problem continues, further steps must be taken, starting with diagnostic testing.

4.1 Why diagnostic tests are essential in addressing your dog’s chronic diarrhea

Without tests, your veterinarian cannot rule out serious conditions such as pancreatitis, parasite infestation, pathogenic bacteria, foreign body ingestion, or a tumour. 

If your dog’s diarrhea doesn’t stop within 24 – 48 hours or your dog is lethargic, diagnostic tests should be done to get a better insight into your dog’s overall health.

 

4.1.1 Tests that should be done for every dog with chronic diarrhea 

Please be aware that in-clinic tests are more likely to be false-negative. If possible, ask for a reference lab test and a formalin-containing vial for stool collection. 

Two basic tests are recommended when checking for intestinal parasites — a fecal flotation test and an ELISA Antigen test.

This test can be done quickly in the clinic to see if a specific pathogen, such as Clostridium, a bacteria that can sometimes cause bloody diarrhea, is present. However, other pathogens can be recognized in a fecal smear as well.

  • Blood tests and pancreatic function

These blood tests include an organ chemistry screen, complete blood count, pancreatic markers, or a tropical disease panel if you live in a warmer climate or have travelled recently with your pet.

X-rays or ultrasound examinations are typically used when checking the intestinal tract for abnormalities, foreign objects, and tumours.

A bacterial culture can be used to see if pathogens such as campylobactersalmonella, or pathogenic strains of E.coli are present in the intestines.

4.1.2 Tests that should be considered if your dog is not getting better

A fecal culture is sometimes done at the first vet visit if a dog is very ill or later on if there is no response to the treatment.

Testing for hormonal disorders such as Addison’s disease and hypothyroidism should be done if your dog has recurrent digestive issues.

Testing your dog for allergies can help you manage your dog’s food hypersensitivity, but it doesn’t change the fact that your dog’s immune system is overwhelmed. 

While eliminating certain components from their diet can help relieve acute diarrhea episodes in the short term, dietary restrictions may lead to nutritional deficiencies and increased diet hypersensitivity if the core cause of the allergies, such as toxicity, kibble-based deficient diet, vaccine side effects, and stress, isn’t addressed.

 4.2  Are antibiotics necessary for treating chronic diarrhea?

Antibiotics aren’t usually required unless the diarrhea is recurrent and longer-lasting and the pathogen has been identified by fecal culture. 

I don’t recommend prescribing antibiotics without a good understanding of what pathogenic bacteria is present in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract since it can cause further disturbances to the digestive system, damage to the healthy intestinal flora, and an increased risk of superbug proliferation.

To alleviate chronic diarrhea, follow the 7-step drug-free treatment and natural home remedies used to treat acute cases, then consult your veterinarian regarding the diagnostic tests needed to determine the cause of your dog’s illness.

4.3 When is fluid therapy needed for dogs?

Keeping your dog hydrated through an episode of diarrhea should be a top priority. You can check if your dog is dehydrated either through the head pinch test I mentioned earlier or by checking their gums. 

A healthy dog’s gums should be a nice medium pink and feel slightly moist. If they’re tacky and off-colour, that’s a clear sign of dehydration. 

You can also check capillary refill time by pressing on your dog’s gums with your finger and lifting it quickly. The colour should come back in 1-2 seconds. If it takes longer than that, your dog could suffer from dehydration or bleeding, which means you should see your vet.

Fluid and electrolyte therapy is not required if your dog has diarrhea for less than 48 hours unless they refuse to eat and drink or are vomiting profusely.

There are two types of fluid therapy — subcutaneous (under the skin), which is used as a form of first aid for dehydration and can be administered at home if your vet guides you through it, and intravenous or IV therapy that’s administered only in a veterinary clinic or hospital.  

 4.4 Is exercise recommended for dogs with chronic diarrhea?

Resting your dog and taking it easy during an episode of acute diarrhea is essential. Outside of these acute periods, you should limit or ideally stop high-intensity exercises such as ball retrieving, excessive jumping, severe sprinting, swimming, and repeatedly leaping into the water. 

As in Skai’s case, many dogs suffer from recurrent bouts of diarrhea due to having injured their spines. When an injury like that occurs, the blood, nerve, and energy flow to the digestive tract is slowed down, weakening the intestines and causing digestive problems such as diarrhea, IBD, and leaky gut syndrome.

Unfortunately, not many practicians know about the link between spinal injuries and poor digestive health. As a result, numerous dogs get misdiagnosed, ending up on a vicious cycle of antibiotics, steroids, and kibble diets while the main problem persists. 

Apart from seeking specialized treatment for the lumbar spine, one homeopathic that works well for exercise-induced chronic diarrhea is Phosphoric Acid 30C or 200C (or CH on some packaging). You can give two doses daily for five days if you get 30C potency or one dose daily for five days if you have 200C.

5. Why probiotics are essential for dog’s digestive health

Probiotics are good bacteria that support your dog’s digestive system by breaking down food, helping the absorption of vitamins and minerals, maintaining a healthy gut balance, and eliminating harmful substances from the body. 

In fact, the beneficial properties of probiotics extend far beyond ensuring the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. The gut microbiome, aka the trillions of microorganisms living in your dog’s intestinal tract, is closely linked with the immune system. 

A balanced microbiome, where good bacteria keep bad bacteria from wreaking havoc within the body, reduces your dog’s chances of catching an infectious disease. That’s why giving your dog probiotics is a great way to naturally prevent and treat many health issues, including acute and chronic diarrhea. 

GutSense is a non-dairy dog pre and probiotic supplement and digestive support formulated with nine canine-specific probiotic strains that help restore the intestinal microflora, promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, and tune up the digestive and immune systems. 

GutSense’s formula contains Lactobacillus species, which are scientifically proven to reduce the duration of diarrhea episodes, increase nutrient absorption, and relieve the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and leaky gut syndrome. 

Our probiotic supplements contain certified organic dandelion, which improves digestion and cleanses the liver, and organic cilantro, a powerful detoxifying agent that eliminates heavy metals from the organism. GutSense also belongs in the category of naturally fermented products, which are shown to be superior in absorption levels and their positive effects on the body. 

There is nothing better for a dog lover than a perfect no.2, right?! 

Trust your GutSense to help you balance your dog’s digestive and immune systems and eliminate toxins and heavy metals trapped inside the body.  

  • Is the diarrhea an emergency?

When your dog’s diarrhea lasts for one or two days and your dog doesn’t seem to be ill otherwise, you can see it as a natural body cleansing process. However, if diarrhea continues for longer than 48 hours or your dog is lethargic, you should see your veterinarian immediately. 

  • Can I give my dog white rice for diarrhea?

If you quickly search for diarrhea recipes for dogs, you’ll notice that many of them include rice. In my experience, rice is not as soothing as squash, pumpkin, or yams, which are ideal for getting your dog’s digestion back to normal.  

Also, another reason why I don’t recommend rice recipes is that rice is generally high in arsenic due to water pollution in Asian countries.

  • Is dry dog food good for dogs with diarrhea?

Nature has never intended dogs to eat dehydrated and processed food that has been sitting on supermarket shelves for months and sometimes years before being fed. 

Not to mention, the ingredient list for dry dog food products includes things such as corn starch, pea starch, powdered cellulose, brewers rice, and canola oil that can worsen digestive problems rather than treat them. 

I’ve been recommending wholesome food diets for more than 20 years and have had the pleasure to witness amazing health transformations in dogs who eat non-processed, fresh foods.

  • Should I use anti-diarrheal drugs if my dog has an episode of acute diarrhea?

Anti-diarrheal drugs block the body’s natural cleansing mechanism and can cause deeper, more serious problems down the line. Instead of giving your dog anti-diarrheal medicines as the first line of defence, you should allow the body to cleanse itself of toxins and bacteria. Meanwhile, provide your dog with essential supplements and probiotics and focus on helping them stay hydrated during this process.

  • Is it ok to use antacids for diarrhea in dogs?

From time to time, I get asked about using antacids in cases of diarrhea. I don’t recommend giving your dog antacids as they decrease gastric juice production, thus negatively impacting digestion.

  • Can digestive enzymes help dogs with diarrhea?

While I don’t give digestive enzymes to healthy puppies and adult dogs under most circumstances, they are highly beneficial for senior dogs or in cases of maldigestion and pancreas insufficiency. I recommend using natural digestive enzymes containing papain and bromelain and giving your dog 1/4 – 1 capsule with each meal, depending on their size.

  • What causes bloody diarrhea in dogs and when should you take your dog to the vet?

If your dog has fresh blood in their stool, this may be a sign of hemorrhagic colitis, which usually responds well to this 7-step diarrhea plan. Fresh blood in the stool is relatively common and doesn’t necessarily indicate an emergency.

However, if you have a puppy or a young dog and diarrhea is accompanied by severe lethargy and loss of appetite, this may be a sign of parvovirus infection, and you must see your veterinarian.

  • What is first aid for diarrhea?

If your dog has a bout of diarrhea, follow this 7-step diarrhea treatment plan to help restore intestinal balance:

  1. Fast your dog for 12 to 24 hours before feeding the next meal. Give water throughout.
  2. When the fast is over, start feeding them cooked squash or pumpkin and meat broth for 24 to 48 hours.Use enough broth to achieve a runny porridge consistency.
  3. Transition to a lean meat and veggie blend (the ones you know your dog tolerates well) for one to two more days before switching back to regular food. Use theRecipe Makertool to see which veggies and meats are canine-friendly.
  4. Keep your dog well hydrated. If you pinch the skin on the top of the head, it should return to its original position in one second. If the skin fold persists for longer than that and hydration does not improve in 24 hours, you should consult a veterinarian.
  5. Use activated charcoal tablets if needed. In severe cases of diarrhea, you can use activated charcoal tablets (1-4 gm/kg or 0.5-2gm/lb) to aid with toxic bacteria neutralization. If your dog refuses to swallow the pill on its own, you can mix it into a small amount of food. Ideally, have activated charcoal handy at home in case your dog ingests toxic substances, spoiled food, chocolate or raisins that are dangerous to dogs.
  6. Use a canine-specific prebiotic, probiotic, and digestive support, such as GutSense, made with non-dairy, organic and natural ingredients to replenish the intestinal flora. Check out the section on probiotics to learn more about their role in supporting digestive health and maintaining optimal immune system function.
  7. Gradually transition to a regular diet within 2 – 3 days.

If an episode of diarrhea continues for longer than 48 hours and your dog is lethargic and exhibits other symptoms such as loss of appetite and nausea, contact your veterinarian.

  • What supplements should I give to my dog when they have diarrhea?

Phase 1 – For dogs with acute diarrhea

Phase 2 – For ongoing support and diarrhea prevention

      



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