Diarrhoea in dogs and puppies

Just about all dogs from time to time will suffer loose stools or diarrhoea. I want to make clear from the start that I am not a vet and have no veterinary training, I am just speaking from my 35 plus years experience.

In many cases (but not all) there is not too much to worry about but if you have a puppy (under 6 months), an older dog (older than 7 years old) or the symptoms persist you should see your vet.


Puppies with loose stools should be monitored carefully because they can dehydrate very quickly and this can cause more severe problems, so for me these are the levels of diarrhoea that I think you should see your vet: –

  • Stool is red or pink – go right now
  • Consistency is that of water – go right now
  • Stool is normalish colour but is loose, consistency of thickened cream – I would observe over 12 hours.

During this observation I would not feed any food but I would try to ensure that the pup drank 100mls of water per 5 kilos of bodyweight minimum every 8 hours. This means no less than 300mls of water in a 24 hour period for a 5 kilo puppy. This number was gained from my own experience.

I will use a syringe to get this fluid into a pup if they choose not to drink.

Elderly dogs (7 years and older)

The same as above only I would add, if you feel your dog is in pain or his or her behaviour has changed then go to the vet now.

Most adult dogs

Again red or pink coloured stools would suggest a vet visit and whilst the risk May not be as high as the other groups, there is no point in waiting. A bacterial infection could be the cause and better to start treatment now.

If your dog has loose normal coloured stools then I would observe at home for 12 hours closely and then periodically until the problem is gone. In this time I would fast my dog for 12 hours but give him or her access to fresh water, as much as he or she would like.

I would encourage drinking if I had not noticed my dog drink for four hours, I may even squirt fluid in with a syringe.

After the 12 hour fast I would boil some chicken or turkey meat (breast or leg) until meat falls apart, then cool. I mix this with either sweet baked, steamed or boiled potato or pumpkin at the ration of 30% vegetable : 70% meat.

I cool the vehetables and mash them through the meat so they cannot be avoided. It is also a good idea to add a teaspoon of corn flower to the meal and mix through too, just to help firm the stools. I offer 3 – 4 small portions of this for 3-4 days.

If the problem persisted beyond 3 days I would see my vet. If your not sure, worried etc then see your vet straight away.

Bacterial, fungal and illnesses aside, I feel most diarrhoea comes from eating something they are either not used to or should not eat and this would be a high percentage of the causes.

In other cases, bacterial infection, fungal infection and other specific illness can lead to diarrhoea in dogs too. If there are one of the above illness related causes at play, the diet I gave you will not cause any harm but you will likely not see the problem resolve and a vet visit may be required.

I find that if I had already had fasted the dog for 12 hours and then only fed my elimination diet, this saves time at the vet, if I do have to go to the vet and they will often ask you to do the above mentioned things or similar first.

If you have already done that, they can take swabs and bloods right away.

Other causes

We run a small kennel for rehabilitation of behaviour problems and we try and follow practices that will not trigger loose stools, some of these include –

  • Keeping the dog on the same diet he or she has at home.
  • Managing the dogs stress if they have not been boarded previously
  • Making sure that during their stay they are not being intimidated or stressed by other dogs staying here. Our kennels are designed so that dogs cannot see each other throughout their stay.
  • We exercise them often to keep motions regular and we keep a close eye on the dogs in our care.
  • We don’t provide bedding that can be chewed hence causing stomach upset
  • We don’t give the dog access to things he or she should not eat.

Diarrhoea can be worrying and scary as you are concerned that your dog may be very sick or in trouble, in many cases, it is due to eating something they should not have or are not used to. Perhaps you have added something to their diet or changed something in their diet, some dogs can react badly to this for a few days. Ideally make dietary changes slowly over a few days.

Diarrhoea Maybe you are moving from kibble to raw, I would swap them over one day to the next but you can also ratio in some raw into their kibble bowl moving to full raw over a week or two. This will lesson and upset bellies.

Perhaps your raw diet doesn’t contain any or enough bones, this may also cause loose stools in some dogs. If you need to know about raw feeding, my eBook Raw Feeding made Easy!” is here. It explains how to feed, what to feed, portions, percentages etc too, you really can’t go wrong if you want to switch.


I am not a vet, red stools, brown water, persistent symptoms must all go to a vet.

About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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