On Monday, I arrived home later than usual after work and found my husband scrubbing the carpet, a roll of paper towels lay on the floor and a scowl across his face. Buffy, my tan cocker spaniel had made a huge mess all over the living room rug. Diarrhea.
I had forgotten to give her a probiotic that morning after I noticed very loose bowel movements. Probiotics typically help after one or two capsules, so I usually give Chipper or Buffy one if their droppings become runny.
I fed Buffy a quick dinner (+ a probiotic), walked her and enclosed her in the kitchen while we left to go to our Argentine Tango lesson in Chicago, an hour drive away.
We came home three hours later—another mess, but easier to clean up on the tile. The next morning, the same thing.
The Home Remedy
Trying to avoid another $50 – $100+ vet bill, I dug through my dog file and found the care sheet from the last time Buffy got sick.
- Feed a bland diet: circled items included sweet potato and ground turkey. Other options included boiled chicken, ground beef, white or brown rice.
- The next morning I boiled a few chicken legs and microwaved a sweet potato, then dished it out to Buffy. An hour later she vomited.
- Give a double dose of the (store bought) probiotics.
- Give ½ pill twice daily for acid reduction (Famotidine).
Still diarrhea every few hours and vomiting her bland diet. Buffy kept down pieces of whole wheat bread, which I gave her when she asked for treats because Chipper was getting them.
Two days later, Buffy was still having diarrhea and vomiting. That morning she had refused her food, although she still kept down the bits of bread. I had checked her several times (or so I thought) for dehydration, and her skin and gums had seemed fine to me.
Finally, late on Wednesday, I called the vet to have her squeeze me in late on Thursday afternoon.
The Vet Remedy
- Buffy was dehydrated. The vet gave her an injection under the skin giving her a camel-back appearance for an hour while her body absorbed the fluid.
- The vet also gave her an antibiotic. A slide of her diarrhea showed a ton of bacteria.
- She prescribed more powerful probiotic.
- The vet again recommended ground turkey instead of chicken, but to keep using sweet potatoes.
Within an hour of returning home, Buffy seemed perkier. The vet said rehydrating her would likely do the trick. I confined her to the kitchen at night and while we were at work, but no diarrhea at all after her vet visit. Our vet gave Buffy a miraculous speedy recovery. Yes, it did cost me about a hundred dollars, but well worth it.
Other things I could have tried:
Withholding food and water for 12 hours – but I already do this with going to work or at night, well, maybe closer to 10 hours.
Giving her rice water – boiling rice in a lot of water, but removing the rice. This tends to calm a dog’s stomach.
Should I Have Gone to the Vet Sooner?
Buffy seemed to feel fine, willing to go for walks with Chipper and eat bread snacks. So she didn’t seem too sick to me, but was likely concealing her pain.
She only vomited her meals, and seemed to not like them. She kept her bread treats down.
Plus my work schedule is always a consideration since the vet is about a half hour from home plus I have to travel home to pick up my dog.
I had hoped the home remedy would work—most of the time it does, sometimes not.
When is Diarrhea Serious enough to go to the Vet?
- Some websites recommend bringing your dog to the vet if he has diarrhea for more than a day.
- This seems extreme to me, but certainly after two days, unless your dog has other symptoms.
- Is your dog a young puppy, a senior or has another illness? Then you should bring him in sooner.
- Is your dog vomiting frequently? Both diarrhea and vomiting will dehydrate your dog quickly.
- Is he lethargic?
- Is he refusing food?
- Does he have abdominal pain?
- If your dog has black tarry stools, this indicates internal bleeding.
- Does he have a fever? Illnesses will give him a fever plus cause diarrhea. It’s a good idea to have a thermometer and take your dog’s temperature if he is ill for more than a day.
- Does he have pale gums? This indicates dehydration.
How to Determine Dehydration
Lift the skin on the back of the dog’s neck. It should spring back in place within a second. I did this on Buffy’s face and it sprung back immediately. I also poked Buffy’s gums to see how long before the pink color returned. But if the dog is overweight, or is only slightly dehydrated, these exercises may not work. I tested Buffy the evening before visiting the vet, so her dehydration may not have obvious.
Additional dehydration symptoms include:
- Sunken eyes
- Refusal of food
- Dry mouth
- Reduced urination
Dehydration can occur from other factors than diarrhea. At this time of year especially, over exposure to heat and not enough intake of food or water may also cause dehydration.
When in doubt, call your vet.
Below are several articles to give additional information.
Check out the poop charts at the website below:
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