A client rang me this week to say that her dog had a major case of runny poos – the runs – or diarrhea to be exact. She said her dog was her normal happy self but was going to the toilet regularly with fairly dramatic consequences – would I keep our massage appointment?
My answer was ‘no’ – not advisable – not because I was concerned that I’d have poo all over my massage table but because this dog’s body was telling us something. Diarrhea is a symptom and not a disorder in itself and the dog’s body was working double-time to rid itself of an irritant. Her system had enough to handle and a massage would only add to her metabolic load as lactic acid was released by the massage. She didn’t need that.
My advice was to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours and to keep up the fluids. Some people add low salt chicken or vegetable stock to the dog’s water bowl to encourage them to drink and keep hydrated, for example. When food was again on the menu, I suggested replacing half the normal volume of food with cooked pumpkin to add fibre to the diet that the dog could easily tolerate and to keep this up for a few days until the stools returned to a normal consistency.
Other home remedies include a diet of boiled chicken with white rice, for example.
Typically, diarrhea is the result of a digestive indiscretion but it can be the result of poisoning from household or garden chemicals, a symptom of parasites such as hookworm, or a food allergy. Some worming treatments can also stimulate a bought of diarrhea.
If a dog has additional symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, blood in the diarrhea, vomiting and fever then you need to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. In this case, the dog seemed happy in herself and so that was a sign that she was probably not in danger.
A trip to the vet is a good idea if the diarrhea lasts for more than five days or so.
Diarrhea isn’t any fun for the dog owner or the dog. Keeping an eye on symptoms is critically important to ensure you do the right thing when your dog has the runs…