Oh no! You just got home and your dog or cat has diarrhea. Don't panic - follow these 3 steps to get some relief after you clean up the mess.
1. Take a good look at your pet and around the house.
Think about anything new or different that Fuzzy might have eaten in the past 24 hours. If you gave a new treat or opened a new bag of food, go to step 2.
See anything potentially toxic or poisonous? Call Poison Control asap and follow their recommendations for care.
If your dog or cat is bright and happy besides having diarrhea, proceed to step 2.
Call the vet right away if:
2. Don't feed.
This GI tract is on overdrive right now and any new food is going to shoot straight through. Hold off food for 12-24 hours to give those guts a chance to rest. Make sure to keep water available at all times.
3. Reintroduce bland food.
Once 12-24 hours have gone by offer a small amount (1/4 of the normal food volume) of lean protein (cooked chicken, cooked ground beef with the fat drained off, scrambled eggs) and an easily digestible starch (canned pumpkin, cooked sweet potato, cooked rice). A spoonful of plain yogurt on top can add in some probiotics. If that doesn't trigger any diarrhea, offer a larger volume of food 6-12 hours later and then continue to feed twice daily. Once the stool firms up, gradually mix your bland food with the original diet and slowly transition your pet back to their regular diet. Note - this diet is not complete and balanced, so should be used short term only. There are several complete and balanced diets like Hill's I/D formula for dogs and cats with GI problems that are safe for long term use.
When to seek veterinary help:
What about human medications?
Some websites recommend giving PeptoBismol or Immodium to dogs with diarrhea. These can be safe to use in certain dogs (not for cats!), but always call your vet first. PeptoBismol contains an ingredient that can cause GI bleeding and turns the stool black, which then masks the bleeding. Immodium can be helpful at slowing down the diarrhea, but dogs with diarrhea from a toxin should not take it because it causes the toxin to stay longer in the body and potentially do more harm. Also, it is not safe to give immodium with certain other medications, so call your vet first.
Probiotics are safe to use in both dogs and cats with diarrhea. Proviable and FortiFlora are made for dogs and cats, and are extensively tested and researched. Equine Probios gel is a good source of probiotics for pet rabbits.
Some cases of diarrhea can be mild and managed at home with these steps. For severe watery diarrhea or diarrhea that persists, seek veterinary care for the most rapid relief for your pet.