Q. My 3-year-old terrier mix, who weighs 38 pounds, has had loose stools for about two weeks now. I bought some diarrhea medicine and have been giving it to her in her food, but but no change. She doesn’t go any more frequently then before, and there seems to be no other change in her. She plays, goes for walks, and sleeps well. I hear no unusual bowel sounds, nor is she drinking excess water. Her nose is cool and wet.
A. Loose stools are certainly not my favorite topic, but they are one of the most common complaints we get in our emergency clinics.
Ideally, you can take a stool sample – and your dog – to your veterinarian and have them both examined. The stool sample is to be examined microscopically, of course, and checked for parasites such as giardia or an overgrowth of a particular bacterium which could secrete diarrhea-causing toxins.
Dogs with diarrhea who are happy and healthy otherwise often respond to dietary management. If you would like to try some at home treatment, do the following:
1. Fast your dog for 24 to 36 hours, offering water only. Dogs can go for days without food as long as they have access to water.
2. Introduce very small feedings every 4 to 6 hours of a highly digestible bland diet, starting with a few teaspoons of plain yogurt, and about 1/4 cup of a mixture of boiled white rice, plain cottage cheese, and pieces of boiled chicken.
3. After several days, gradually reintroduce your dog’s regular diet.
This simple strategy gives your dog’s intestines a chance to heal up during the fast. If the diarrhea recurs, it is time for a visit to your vet.