Diarrhoea is a symptom

Diarrhoea is typically the response of a gastric or digestive problem in dogs. A symptom, generally of a short-term event such as your dog eating something inappropriate. Dog diarrhoea is a sign all is not well with your dog’s digestive system. It’s not a problem in itself. It is purely an indicator that there is a problem, and that it lies within your dog’s digestive tract.

It’s important here to distinguish between a symptom, a sign, an indicator, and the problem itself. Because that’s where the veterinary profession is going wrong. By treating the symptom rather than the cause, they are actually muddying the diagnostic waters for our pets. They are prescribing medication to treat the symptom because it’s easier for them than investigating what the cause might be. And that’s when your beloved companion can run into real problems.

Because until the cause of your dog’s digestive problem is addressed, it is only going to get worse. A bout of acute (short term) dog diarrhoea can turn into a chronic (long-term) digestive health problem, not as a result of a simple bout of tummy trouble, but as the result of the inappropriate prescribing of medication. Medication which has completely destroyed your dog’s first line of defence. It’s immune system!

Why your dog might be suffering from diarrhoea

There are many reasons why your dog might be suffering from diarrhoea. Most of them are a simple case of dietary indiscretion. Eating something inappropriate. Something it should not be eating. That’s why it’s important to investigate the cause of the diarrhoea before rushing your best friend to the vet. Like tummy bugs in children, most will run their course with a simple bit of home TLC.

Causes of dog diarrhoea include:
Dietary changes
Eating too much
Infection (bacteria, parasites, viruses)
Gut dysbiosis (an imbalance in the good and bad bacteria in your dog’s gut)
Food allergies or sensitivities
Underlying digestive health problem

Treatment of dog diarrhoea

The treatment of each of the causes of dog diarrhoea is different. Or at least, it should be.

Dietary changes
Unless your dog eats an incredibly varied diet like my dogs, dietary changes can be a common cause of loose or runny stools.

If your dog is not used to variety, always make changes to its diet slowly. Your local dog nutritionist will be able to advise you the best way to go about this in order to cause the least digestive disruption.

Eating too much
If your dog has eaten too much, the answer is simple. Feed less next time.

Most cases of acute diarrhoea will clear up with a period of fasting (24 hours should do it), and a bland diet for a day or two.

Naturally if the symptoms continue you should consult your vet. But if you do, make sure your vet does not simply treat the symptoms. Make sure that he or she first investigates what the cause of your dog’s diarrhoea might be before rushing to prescribe antiobiotics.

Gut dysbiosis
Again, speak to your local dog nutritionist. He or she will create a healthy diet that will rebalance the bacteria in your dog’s gut.

Do not consult your vet about your dog’s gut dysbiosis. Antibiotics and steroids are major contributors of the condition, as are annual vaccinations and regularl flea, tick and worming treatments. A dog nutritionist is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat gut dysbiosis.

Food allergies or sensitivities
Food allergies are in fact exceptionally rare in dogs. Far more common are food sensitivities. Food intolerances.

Once again, your local canine nutritionist is the person to advise you in this regard. He or she will create an elimination diet for your dog. Something your vet cannot do because vets are not trained in dog nutrition.

Try to recognise your dog’s stress markers (the causes of your dog’s stress) and eliminate them.

My dietary consultation will provide you with a customised feeding plan for your dog's individual requirements.

Diarrhoea and underlying digestive health problem

There are many potential underlying digestive health problems that your dog could be suffering from. Colitis, pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease to name but a few.

It is important to remember though, that once again your local dog nutritionist is the best person to seek advice from. Many canine digestive problems have their foundation in either gut dysbiosis or leaky gut syndrome. Medication will not cure these or any other digestive problems. Antibiotics and steroids will only create further health problems for your pet.

A dog nutritionist on the other hand will seek to improve your dog’s digestive problem, whatever it might be, through nutrition and natural supplements.


If your dog suffers a bout of diarrhoea, please consult a dog nutritionist before rushing your best friend to the vet. Remember, a dog nutritionist is uniquely qualified to deal with digestive problems. Please don’t compound a minor digestive problem with damaging medication and risk giving your best friend a long-term health problem. Seek the help of a dog nutritionist!

Gerald Pepin

Gerald Pepin

Canine Nutritionist

Gerald Pepin is a qualified canine nutritionist, writer, speaker and homemade dog food advocate. Gerald believes that good nutrition can improve or cure most canine health problems and that the natural way is always the best way when it comes to healing man's best friend. A life-long lover of German Shepherds, Gerald and his wife The Dog Chef have two GSDs and live in rural Somerset.


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