How to Feed a Dog after a Bout of the Runs

How to Feed a Dog after a Bout of the Runs

Health & Safety

Anyone who owns a dog knows their pet likes nothing better than when they find something really disgusting to eat or roll in and it's many a pet owner who has had to drive home after a walk with all the windows down in the car just to survive a trip back home. You can give your dog a bath when they have rolled in something smelly, but when they've eaten anything really nasty they can suffer serious bouts of diarrhoea which could mean a trip to the vet.

Unfortunately, when dogs eat anything that disagrees with their digestive systems, they get the runs which is nature's way of getting rid of nasty bacteria as quickly as possible albeit very messily. However, dogs can get the runs for other reasons too which includes them having picked up a virus or a digestive bug. Internal parasites can also trigger the “runs” and so can an allergy to certain foods. If you change your pet's diet too quickly, they might suffer a bout of diarrhoea, but there are other more serious health conditions that can cause this too which include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ingesting poison

However, you don't have to take your pet to the vet every time they get the runs because most of the time you can treat your dog's symptoms yourself. The thing to bear in mind is that when a dog's poo smells really bad and is runny, the chances are they either have worms or they've picked up an intestinal virus. But if they show two or more of the following symptoms, then a trip to the vet is essential:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Blood in their faeces

When a dog gets too dehydrated, it can be potentially life-threatening which means a vet would need to make sure your pet receives enough fluids if they refuse to drink any water when they have a bad bout of the runs.

Best Things to Feed Your Dog

It's best not to feed your dog for around 12 hours after they have had a bout of the runs which is just about the right amount of time for their digestive systems to get back to normal. If you give them any food before their stomachs are settled you could just trigger another bout of the runs. The most important thing is to make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh clean water and it’s a good idea to add electrolytes to it making sure you ask your vet to recommend a safe product to use.

The First Meal

You should offer your dog some plain boiled rice for their first meal adding a Pepto Bismol tablet to it which is safe to give to dogs when they are suffering from the runs, but it should never be given to cats. Mix 2 tablespoons of canned pumpkin to the cup of rice which is another great ingredient that will help settle their stomach. You’ll find your dog’s stools will be black in colour, but this is the result of having given them the tablet and nothing to be worried about. Pumpkin contains lots of valuable nutrients which your dog needs when they have had the runs. Other properties contained in pumpkin include the following:

  • It's a rich source of Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Dietary Fibre
  • Vitamins A, C and K
  • Iron
  • Manganese

Another valuable thing that helps dogs when they have diarrhoea is a product called FortiFlora which is made by Purina. It helps put all the friendly bacteria back into their digestive tract which in turn helps get things back into balance.

If your dog's system is improving and they don't have the runs any more, you can increase the amount of rice to 2 cups, adding 3 tablespoons of pumpkin to it for their second meal and then see how things go. If all is okay, you can start adding your pet's normal dog food to the rice and pumpkin and if their stomach is completely settled after this, it should be okay to put them back on their regular diet.


When a dog gets the runs they can dehydrate very quickly which is why it’s important they drink enough water. However, if you are at all worried you need to get your pet along to the vet so they can be thoroughly examined and to rule out any serious underlying reason why they may have diarrhoea. Once their condition is diagnosed, the vet might recommend giving your dog some kind of medication to ease their discomfort, but you need to take care and only feed them things that will help settle their tummies until they can go back to their normal diet.



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