Diet for Dogs with Diarrhea

Chronic diarrhea is common in dogs. Among the primary factors causing diarrhea are inflammatory bowel disease, infection, tumor, and inflammation of blood vessels. Inflammatory bowel diseases and particularly those of dietary origin are the most common causes. Secondary factors include diseases of the pancreas, the liver, and the kidneys as well as other diseases of endocrine system and diseases of the cardiovascular or central nervous system. Parasitic or algae infections are a frequent cause of chronic diarrhea in dogs, particularly with Giardia.

Inflammatory bowel disease is the term given to a group of conditions that are characterized by inflammation of the intestinal tract. Causes of inflammatory bowel disease are numerous and include internal parasites (whipworms, giardia), fungi (Histoplasma, prototheca), bacteria (Salmonella, Campylobacter, pathogenic E. coli), food allergy, and cancers (lymphosarcoma, adenocarcinoma). Allergies to food components usually involve cereal grains (wheat, barley, and oats), meats, and rarely eggs. Many mild cases can respond to dietary manipulations. According to Dr. M. Fox, "Emotionally sensitive dogs can develop diarrhea when stressed, and this can turn into chronic colitis. Many cases of suspected IBD and irritable bowel syndrome may fall into this category."1

Numerous viral infections are known to affect the health of dogs. Canine kobuvirus, the first sequenced canine picornavirus and the closest genetic relative of the diarrhea-causing human Aichi virus, was detected at high frequency in the feces of both healthy and diarrheic dogs. Canine sapovirus is a new genogroup within the genus Sapovirus, a group of viruses also associated with human and animal diarrhea. The characterization of two novel canine viruses from only 18 diarrhoeic faeces samples from a single geographical region (CA, USA) indicates that a significant number of dog viruses probably remain uncharacterized, as exemplified by the recent characterization of a close relative of human hepatitis C virus in canine respiratory secretions.3

Dogs with gastrointestinal disease need low-fat diets that include highly digestible proteins and carbohydrates, such as low-fat cottage cheese (0.5 cup), brown or white rice (2 cups), and boiled or baked potato. Potassium supplements such as Tumil-K (available through veterinarians) or potassium chloride salt. This diet would provide approximately 500 kcal with 27 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat. Two to three bonemeal tablets (10 grain or equivalent) or 3/4 teaspoon of bonemeal powder to supply calcium and phosphorus with a multivitamin mineral supplement is added as the pet improves. However, vitamins from foods, rather than synthetic vitamins are preferred, as the natural vitamins also supply plant phytochemicals, enzymes, and other nutrients not found in chemically-synthesized vitamins. Most vegetables provide approximately 25 kcal per cup. In general, the above recipe supplies the daily nutritional and caloric needs for a 12-13 pound dog. The actual amount to feed will vary based upon the pet's weight (feed less if weight gain), more if weight loss.)

A new oral supplement for long-term management of canine inflammatory bowel disease containing chondroitin sulfate and prebiotics (resistant starch, β-glucans and mannaoligosaccharides) was developed to target intestinal inflammation and oxidative stress, and restore normobiosis, without exhibiting any side effects.3


Chihuahua in a pasts pot


  1. Healthy Information (
  2. Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review
  3. Viruses in diarrhoeic dogs include novel kobuviruses and sapoviruses
  4. Oral chondroitin sulfate and prebiotics for the treatment of canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease: a randomized, controlled clinical trial Sergi Segarra,corresponding author Silvia Martínez-Subiela, Marta Cerdà-Cuéllar, Daniel Martínez-Puig, Alberto Muñoz-Prieto, Fernando Rodríguez-Franco, Antonio Rodríguez-Bertos, Karin Allenspach, Alfonso Velasco, and José Cerón.2016
  5. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Unsafe Foods for Your PetUnsafe Foods for Your Pet
  6. Chronic Diarrhea in Dogs – Retrospective Study in 136 Cases. J Vet Intern Med. 2017 Jul-Aug; 31(4): 1043–1055.

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