Diarrhea and loose stool are one of the most common health problems dog owner have to face with their four-legged friends. In fact, virtually every dog will have diarrhea now and again. One of the best things you can do to combat this issue is switching to the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea.
Usually, diarrhea is the result of something minor – something the dog’s eaten, an allergic reaction, a bacteria, sometimes even stress. Generally speaking, diarrhea is the body’s way to cleanse and remove toxins. However, diarrhea can also be the symptom of something more dangerous and it can also be quite prolonged.
- blood in the stool
What can we do in such cases? Obviously, the first thing that should pop into anyone’s head is to consult with a veterinarian. Especially if your dog's loose stool has been continuing for more than 24-48 hours, a visit to the vet is a must.
Other than that, there are several things that you can do to help your Fido, including finding the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea. Diet is crucial to fixing any type of GI issues, like diarrhea, gas or vomiting.
Best Dog Food for Dogs With Diarrhea and Loose Stools and How to Feed Your Dog
Before You Switch Your Dog's Food
If you notice that your pet has diarrhea one time, you don't need to fret immediately. Keep a close eye on his bathroom activity, and take him outside to do his business more frequently than normal. If you notice the stool progressively getting more firm over the course of his next few bowel movements, you've got nothing to worry about.
However, if you notice a loose stool and then it gets progressively more loose, it's time to get concerned. If your pup just ate something that he shouldn't have, it will pass through his system in about 24 hours. If there is something more serious going on, the bout of diarrhea is going to last longer and some upset stomach treatment will be needed.
Aside from switching to the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea, there are some other options that you can try first, including:
Anywhere between 12 and 24 hours the dog should fast. Feeding your dog during diarrhea is (a) pointless, because diarrhea is the very act of pushing food out of the body overly fast. Plus, (b) feeding the dog will further stress the stomach and aggravate the condition.
Diarrhea causes a lot of dehydration for the body, so it’s important that your doggy drinks water. Sometimes, diarrhea can cause some apathy, so you’ll need to encourage the dog to drink.
Make sure it doesn’t drink too much either, however – put a little water in the water bowl regularly and refill when the dog has drunk it.
3. End the fasting with a specialized food
Once the fasting period is over, it’s important not to go back to the dog’s regular diet. Either consult with a veterinarian on a specialized prescription diet, or try some bland food yourself. We will go over some commercial alternatives in detail below, but the idea is to feed your dog with a food that is gentle on the stomach – nothing fatty, rich, and spicy or with red meat.
Serve either some skinless, non-flavored chicken with rice/pasta/potatoes, or a prescription food for healing stomachs – nothing else. Especially avoid all diary and eggs – diary is bad for dogs in general, but while eggs are acceptable overall, avoid them as well on a sensitive stomach after and during diarrhea.
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4. Ration the food
Along with the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea, smaller portions are much better for the stomach in general. That’s especially important when he is healing. You don’t need to feed your dog less than you normally do, once the fasting over, however, you need to feed him far less per portion
For a rule of thumb, just make the portions two or three times smaller and feed the dog two or three times more often. This will prevent the diarrhea and stomach problems from reemerging.
5. Take your time transitioning back to a normal diet
Once the diarrhea is 100% passed, don’t go directly back to the dog’s regular food. Transition him slowly, so that the bowl has had enough time to heal and is not irritated by the frequent changes.
Generally speaking, keep the dog on the “healing diet” of bland food or prescription food for 2-3 days (or more, if the vet has said so), and then take the next 2-3 days to slowly transition from it to the dog’s regular food (or a new food, if the vet has advised against what you’ve been feeding your dog so far).
During the transition, mix the food as follows:
- Mix two thirds bland food with one third regular food on the first day.
- Mix one third bland food with two thirds regular food on the second day.
- Go to regular food on the third day.
6. Add supplements if necessary
The best dog food for dogs with diarrhea may not be the only change you need to make to his diet. You may also need to add probiotics, or whatever other medication or supplements your vet has suggested.
Just as with humans, probiotics are very important after diarrhea. During the diarrhea, the organism loses a lot of the bacteria that help with digestion, so probiotics should be administered to help cultivate a new population of bacteria in your dog’s bowels. Usually, 5 days of probiotics, mixed into the dog’s food are enough, but consult with your vet in case the diarrhea was more extreme.
Keep in mind that the natural digestive bacteria in dogs is very different from that in humans. Do NOT give your dog human probiotics! Dog probiotics are available, usually without prescription, at your local pharmacy, veterinarian's office or pet store.
Other than probiotics, don’t give your dog any medication that isn’t recommended by your veterinarian. Also, don’t give your dog any human medication, although that should go without saying in general, not only after diarrhea.
RELATED: Top 7 Best Dog Probiotic Supplements
How Can Dog Food Help With Chronic Diarrhea in Dogs?
No, the quality of the food is essential for the well-being of the dog, both during, as well as after diarrhea. Dogs may be omnivores, but that doesn’t mean that they can literally eat anything and get away with it. If you don’t care for your puppy’s tummy when it has diarrhea, you risk making it worse and causing some serious, long-lasting damage to his bowels.
Plus, a lot of dogs have sensitive stomachs and loose stool in general. Such dogs need a specialized diet all the time, not just after extreme episodes. Diarrhea and loose stool make the dog’s stomach highly susceptible to a lot of bacteria, diseases, allergic reactions and other health concerns.
The best dog food for dogs with diarrhea has a lot of advantages, whether it is prescribed or homemade (given that it is well-made). The benefits of the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea include:
- It prevents additional / prolonged diarrhea. Diarrhea may go away within a day, most of the time, but improper food can prolong it quite a lot and even turn it into something much more unpleasant than what it already is.
- It prevents inflammatory bowel diseases. After diarrhea or loose stool, your dog’s stomach is in much more risk of bowel diseases.
- It prevents allergic reactions. A loose stomach is in danger of a lot of possible allergic reactions that it hasn’t experienced before. A proper bland diet prevents that.
- It offers proper nutrition for your dog. a loose stomach has a hard time absorbing the nutrients from the food, which is why you need a more specialized diet to make up for that.
Best Commercial Dog Foods for Diarrhea
There are quite a few great commercial foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs, whether due to chronic reasons, or after a diarrhea/loose stool episode. We’ve done the research and culled through thousands of reviews from pet owners who have used these products as the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea. Now, we'll list the 10 commercial brands that made our list.
Don't forget, it's imperative that you speak with your veterinarian before changing your dog's diet, especially if you're changing it for a medical reason. Choosing the best puppy food will be different from picking an adult dog food brand. And some of these foods may not be right for your Fido, but your vet can help you select an option that will meet your dog's nutritional needs, match your budget and help clear up your pup's upset stomach.
1. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Formula
Famous as not just one of the best dog foods, but one of the best dog foods for sensitive dog stomachs, this Purina formula offers everything that a doggy stomach in distress requires. It is made with a high quality salmon meat that’s rich in nutrients, giving your dog all the protein it needs.
The recipe also has rice and oatmeal, making it very easy to digest by even the gentlest stomach. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Formula has zero corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or colors. Instead, it has all the vitamins and supplements it needs to have, including Omega 6 Fatty Acids and Zinc.
2. Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
To stay in the Purina family for a moment, this is another great choice from them. Made out of the finest salmon meat together with oatmeal and rice, this is a great choice for a dog with a sensitive stomach, either after a diarrhea/loose stool episode, or to prevent them altogether.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food also has prebiotic fiber to further help with digestion. This recipe lacks any meat by-products or any wheat, corn, soy or artificial colors and flavors.
3. IAMS Sensitive Naturals
This food for adult dogs with sensitive stomachs is made out of high quality real fish meat. It is very easy to digest and provides everything a stomach in distress needs, including a rich set of vitamins and antioxidants.
This recipe features a rich blend of vitamins and antioxidants to support a healthy immune system. IAMS Sensitive Naturals has zero artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, resulting in a great dog food for your dog’s stomach and immune system.
4. Instinct Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet
Known for its higher digestion rates, this Instinct food is processed with no gluten or grains. Instead, it is made out of high quality animal proteins, as well as vitamins, Omega 3, Omega 6 Fatty Acids, and more.
Instinct Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Diet contains no dairy, eggs, potato, corn wheat or soy. This best dog food for dogs with diarrhea is made in the USA with easily digestible ingredients to aid dog's with a sensitive stomach.
5. Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet
Another premium choice as the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea, Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet stands up to its name. No soy, corn or wheat, but instead it is made out of the highest quality ingredients – novel protein (lamb, duck or salmon), canola oil, vitamins, minerals, and tomato pomace.
It has no by-products and preservatives, no artificial flavors and coloring, and no dairy or eggs, which are also bad for a sensitive stomach. It is specifically formulated for dogs with food sensitivities.
6. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin
Another dog food brand that’s famous both in general and for its sensitive stomach foods, this Hill’s formula is a prime example of why this is so. Hills Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach and Skin is made only out of the highest quality ingredients, plus a clinically approved blend of vitamins like vitamin C and E, as well as antioxidants.
This best dog food for dogs with diarrhea is very likely to be what your vet recommends as well. This food contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. It is made with natural ingredients and high quality protein sources.
7. Blue Buffalo Basics Grains-Free Formula
Using high quality deboned turkey as its single protein source, Blue buffalo also makes the cut with this grains-free diet. It contains zero corn, wheat, soy, diary, eggs, or any meat by-products. Instead, together with the turkey, it also has oatmeal, brown rice, potatoes, pea fiber and pumpkin to further help with digestion.
The addition of a great blend of vitamins and antioxidants, make Blue Buffalo Basics Grains-Free Formula an ideal choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs that are recovering from or prone to diarrhea and loose stool. One of the benefits that makes this the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea is that it includes pumpkin, a key ingredient for healthy digestion.
8. Nutro Natural Choice Adult Chicken, Whole Brown rice and Oatmeal Formula
A great formula of wholesome chicken, whole brown rice and oatmeal, Nutro Natural Choice Adult Chicken, Whole Brown Rice and Oatmeal Forumla is another great option for dogs with a highly sensitive stomach. It has all of the vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids required to rebuild the flora in a troubled stomach.
This recipe is also lacking all the artificial flavors and colors that plague other dog foods, or any soy corn, or meat by-products. The first ingredient is farm-raised chicken that is sourced in the United States.
9. Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food
As with all other entries in our list, this Holistic Select dog food formula has no meat by-products, no corn, wheat or soy, as well as no artificial flavors or colors. Instead, it is made out of the highest quality lamb meat.
Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food also contains a great cocktail of probiotics, prebiotics, natural fibers, botanicals, and digestive enzymes. All of these ingredients are intended to help your dog’s disturbed stomach heal.
10. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Dog Food
Another great option your vet may suggest for your dog’s sensitive stomach is this Natural Balance’s wet food formula. Devoid of any artificial flavors and colors, as well as of any meat by-products, soy, corn, or wheat, this diet is made of the highest quality free-range chicken and sweet potatoes.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Dog Food has added vitamins and antioxidants to help your puppy get through the tough times and live a healthy life. In fact, this recipe is formulated for dogs in every stage of life.
MORE OPTIONS: 10 Vet Recommended Dog Food Brands That Are Inexpensive
General Tips for Dogs with Sensitive Stomach
Before we go, there are a few things that must be said about dogs with sensitive stomach and how to feed a dog with stomach upset. These few tips below will help you care for a dog with a sensitive stomach to avoid any further complications.
As I mentioned earlier, finding the best dog food for dogs with diarrhea isn't the only worry that you'll have. Keep these tips in mind as well:
Avoid giving your dog any kind of human food and avoid treats from strangers in general. Make sure you know everything that’s going in your dog’s mouth.
Know all of your dog's allergies.
Always check your dog’s poop not just for diarrhea, but also for blood and mucus.
Make sure your dog doesn’t eat too much fat and carbohydrates.
Limit all grains from your dog’s diet as well.
The foods to focus on are – brown rice, liver, beef, garlic, tuna, chicken, lamb, carrots, and broccoli – they will strengthen your dog’s stomach and intestinal linings.
Get a food bowl that slows your dog’s eating. Fast eating is a serious problem for proper digestion.
When buying commercial dog food, always go for the highest quality diet. Select certified dog food is simply worth it in the long run. It’s better to pay for food, than for vet fees.
Change your dog’s diet regularly. Once every 2-4 months you should change things up, by adding and removing ingredients. Nothing too drastic, just make sure that your doggie’s stomach sees enough variety.
Never change your dog’s diet too suddenly. Always change it just a little bit and in the span of a couple of days.
Avoid chocolate, raisins, ice cream, milk, or coffee at all costs. It’s important not just to not give them to your dog, but to keep them out of its reach as well. Also, never give your dog any nuts like macadamia, walnuts or peanuts.
Make sure he doesn’t have an access to the garbage, as eating it can easily turn into a very unhealthy (and nasty) habit.
Avoid easy-splintered bones of poultry at all costs – they do far more harm than good.
The ideal intake of water for your dog is one ounce per pound of body weight per day.
Avoid raw eggs. If you are going to give eggs to your dog as a part of its homemade diet, always cook them beforehand – raw eggs bring the risk of salmonella not just for humans, but for dogs as well.
Make sure to feed your dog with small but regular portions. He will generally eat everything you put in front of him, but smaller and more regular is better than bigger and less frequent when it comes to food.
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