Canine Diarrhoea

Portrait Australian Shepherd

Treatment with herbs

Probably every dog owner is familiar with diarrhoea. Most dogs suffer from acute or chronic diarrhoea at some time in their lives, and for some it's a regular occurrence. Even puppies frequently suffer from disruptions to their digestive systems. Does your dog simply have a sensitive digestive tract or have you also noticed blood or mucous in its faeces? Does your dog whine to go out to relieve himself in the middle of the night? You can find a fast remedy in herbs that combat diarrhoea.

What is canine diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is a condition in which the digestive tract expresses frequent and watery stools. They differ in consistency, colour and odour from the animal's usual output, and may be accompanied by stomach pains.

Like its human counterpart, canine diarrhoea is not a disease in and of itself but rather the result of poor digestion. This means that the causes can be manifold. There are different types of diarrhoea, and not all of them are cause for alarm.

Contact your vet right away if your dog is in pain, if he is producing slimy or bloody stools or is dehydrated. A veterinary appointment is also recommended if your dog's diarrhoea has become chronic and lasted for several weeks, if your puppy has diarrhoea, or if this condition is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting.

How does digestion function in dogs?

The canine digestive tract is a complex system. Your dog takes in food through his mouth, where it then passes through the oesophagus to the stomach and from there on to different sections of the intestine until it is ultimately eliminated through the anus.

The food is broken down into course pieces in the mouth and mixed with gastric acid in the stomach. Here the chime is split up so that nutrients can be broken down and absorbed from it further in the digestive process. Absorption (nutrients entering the blood) takes place in the intestine. The parts that the body cannot use are then eliminated as faeces. When these stations don't function properly, the digestive process is disrupted and this can lead to diarrhoea or other ailments. Household remedies and herbs can be used to strengthen the canine digestive tract.

What causes canine diarrhoea?

As mentioned earlier, canine diarrhoea can have many causes. Basically, the most common causes are infection (through pathogens) or intoxication (the intake of harmful substances, i.e. poisoning in the broadest sense).

It can also be caused by diet, food intolerance or stress. It is also possible that your dog is having a reaction to medication or to damaged gut bacteria. 

What are the most common triggers of canine diarrhoea?

  • A change in food (for example when the dog goes to a new home or when its owner buys a different brand)
  • Food that's too cold, snow, ice
  • Intolerances, allergies (e.g. cereals or certain meats)
  • Stress (e.g. overwork, boredom, solitude)
  • Spoiled, fatty or inappropriate foods (e.g. table scraps)
  • Parasites or other single-cell organisms (e.g. giardia)
  • Poisoning (e.g. from eating poisonous plants or poison bait)

Is canine diarrhoea serious?

Whether a dog should be seen by a vet will vary from case to case. If its faeces contain mucous or blood or other symptoms are present (for example if your dog suffers from diarrhoea along with vomiting, shortness of breath, severe stomach pains or cardiovascular problems), you should contact a vet immediately. You should also do so if your dog has diarrhoea on or after a trip abroad, has recently been taken out of a shelter or if you suspect that it has ingested poison. It is also recommended that you consult your vet if your puppy or young dog has diarrhoea that lasts for more than three days. 

Can dog food cause canine diarrhoea?

If your dog suffers from chronic diarrhoea and all other causes have been ruled out, you should consider whether his food is causing it.
Is your dog able to digest his food well? What substances are contained in the food? Many dogs have an intolerance to cereals (which are found in many brands). Many others have difficulties digesting certain types of meat. To determine whether your dog has a sensitive reaction to cereals, feed your dog cereal-free dog food for an extended period. It gets a bit more complicated if you suspect that your dog is allergic to a certain type of meat (this can be determined through what is known as an elimination diet, with different types systematically tested individually over an extended period of time). 

What should I do if my dog has diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea can be treated through a variety of ways. There are several home remedies to fight diarrhoea as well as herbs and feed supplements that bring fast and effective relief.

  • Proper diet, sufficient exercise
  • A bland diet (chicken with rice)
  • Brewer's yeast (promotes healthy digestion)
  • Herbs

Treating canine diarrhoea with herbs

There are various herbs that can be used to treat diarrhoea quickly and effectively, relieve intestinal inflammations, and promote healthy gut bacteria. These allow you to help your dog through natural means. The following herbs are helpful in treating diarrhoea.

Marsh-mallow: calming, antihaemorrhagic, soothing. Is used for inflammations of the stomach and intestinal mucosa.

Camomile: calming, anti-inflammatory. 

Silverweed: contains tanning agents (draining), drying, astringent.

Walnut leaves: contain tanning agents, astringent.

Yarrow: anti-microbial, astringent. Also used as an appetite stimulant.

Blackberry leaves: contains tanning agents, astringent.

Author: Hanna Novak