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So, what to feed a raw-fed dog with diarrhea?
I remember asking myself this question after I transitioned my Boxer mixes Missy and Buzz from kibble to raw dog food.
The first option that came to mind was boiled chicken and rice along with FortiFlora. You know, that bagged probiotic by Purina that traditional vets love to prescribe for dogs with acute diarrhea.
The thing is though, as a raw feeder, I’m neither a huge fan of boiled chicken and rice nor of FortiFlora.
QUICK RECOMMENDATION: An alternative to FortiFlora that we’ve used is Native Pet Probiotic for Dogs.
Interestingly enough, I came to prefer something else over both options even before the pups started eating raw dog food.
That was when Buzz had a nasty case of diarrhea and I had tried both chicken & rice and FortiFlora as they came recommended by our traditional vet.
But neither worked, so after almost a week of ongoing diarrhea, I browsed the internet for other solutions for dogs with diarrhea and found one that made a huge difference after just 12 hours.
I’ll share what that “magic potion” was, why I continue to rely on it for raw-fed dogs with diarrhea, and what else works really well too.
DISCLAIMER: If your dog has diarrhea or any other health issues then please see your veterinarian. This blog post is for entertainment purposes only.
What Can Cause Acute Diarrhea In Raw-Fed Dogs?
But first, let’s take a look at what can cause acute diarrhea in raw-fed dogs!
Besides getting into the trash and eating poop from sick animals such as other dogs, cats, cows or horses, common culprits are:
Feeding too much secreting organs
Too many secreting organs at once and not enough raw meaty bone will almost inevitably cause diarrhea in raw-fed dogs.
So for anyone making their own raw meals, it’s important to understand the different components of raw dog food, as well as how much of each to feed.
For adult dogs, you’ll want to divvy up their daily raw dog food allowance as follows :
- 70-80% muscle meat (70% in BARF feeding, 80% in PMR feeding)
- 10% secreting organs (5% liver, 5% other secreting organs like kidney and spleen)
- 10% raw meaty bone
- 10% plant matter like veggies, fruit, seeds & nuts (only in BARF feeding, omit in PMR feeding)
While it’s OK to achieve nutritional balance in adult dogs over the course of 7-10 days, you should never feed a giant meal of secreting organs at once.
That’s because they’re VERY rich in vitamins and minerals, and too much of anything is rarely good, right?
Good to know: Besides causing diarrhea, a giant meal of liver for example can also cause Vitamin A toxicity.
So stick with the 70-80/10/10 raw feeding ratio!
Introducing a new protein source too quickly
Similar to switching kibble-fed dogs slowly from one dry dog food to another, the same approach applies to raw-fed dogs.
If you introduce a new protein source from one day to the next, many dogs react with diarrhea.
Now, it doesn’t have to result in a cannon butt, but it can, especially in dogs with sensitive stomachs.
So remember to introduce any new protein sources slowly, ideally over the course of a week.
Feeding too much gizzards, heart and lung
While gizzards, hearts and lungs are muscular organs that don’t secrete anything, they’re still an organ meat.
As such, they’re a rich cut of meat that can cause diarrhea in raw-fed dogs if too much of it is fed at once.
That’s why you should limit your dog’s daily organ meat intake to 15-20% of their muscle meat allowance.
Feeding too much of a fatty food
Likewise, if you feed too many raw cuts of meat that are fatty, your dog is probably going to end up with diarrhea.
That said, the following cuts of meat are known to be fatty and should only be fed sparingly:
- Poultry skin in general, but particularly chicken necks with skin
- Trim meat
- Duck meat
- Lamb meat
- Pork meat
Good to know: Farmed animals are always going to be fattier than their pastured counterparts because of their different diets and lifestyles.
For example, farmed chickens and cows are fed a diet rich in grains, and grains are a sure way of making the amount of fat increase in the meat.
If you can’t source or afford meat from pastured animals, look into supplementing your dog’s raw diet with whole fish like mackerel, sardines, trout or herring.
You’ll want to feed 1 ounce of fish per pound of meat.
What To Feed A Raw-Fed Dog With Diarrhea
Now, let’s look at some natural remedies for raw-fed dogs with diarrhea!
Pumpkin purée is the “magic potion” I mentioned earlier that cured Buzz of his diarrhea within just a few days.
While it didn’t get rid of his diarrhea overnight, it made a HUGE difference in his poop consistency after just a few spoonfuls.
Two days of feeding it to him and the diarrhea was gone.
That’s because it’s naturally rich in fiber that absorbs the excess water in the dog’s gastro-intestinal tract!
A batch of my homemade pumpkin purée
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any homemade pumpkin purée in the freezer or fridge, just pick some up from the grocery store.
But make sure it’s 100% pure pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie filling! The latter would definitely make your pup’s diarrhea worse.
You can usually find canned pumpkin purée in the baking aisle.
Come fall, I like to pick up some fresh pumpkins and make a big batch of pumpkin purée that I mostly keep on hand for acute cases of doggie diarrhea.
But I’ll also use some for my homemade plant matter component of my pup’s raw meals.
Good to know: Since PMR feeders don’t add any plant matter to their raw meals, they’re typically not in favor of feeding pumpkin to raw-fed dogs with diarrhea.
While I get the hesitation, I would still opt for pumpkin purée to stop an acute case of doggie diarrhea if pumpkin was all that was available.
You can give your pup one teaspoon of pumpkin purée per 10 lb of body weight 2-3 times per day.
Thawing some of my homemade pumpkin purée
Slippery Elm Bark Powder
That said, slippery elm bark powder is much more aligned with PMR feeders as far as what to feed a raw-fed dog with diarrhea!
It’s a healing herb made of the bark from slippery elm trees. They’re deciduous trees that are only found in the States and Canada.
Slippery elm bark is most effective when it’s turned into a syrup. That’s when it coats the stomach lining while reducing inflammation and absorbing excess water in the GI tract.
Just as a side note, it also helps pass objects your pup ingested accidentally (like a toy for example).
It even helps with megaesophagus because it makes it easier for dogs to drink and swallow AND you can also use it topically on hot spots.
Pretty powerful stuff, right?
Now, here’s how to make the slippery elm bark syrup:
Mix a spoonful of the powder with cold water, then boil it for a few minutes while continuing to stir.
Once it’s thickened, let it cool off.
Most holistic vets recommend feeding it before or after meals because it has the potential to interfere with the nutrient absorption of raw meals.
For Wally, I’ll usually just put 2 tablespoons into his bowl, and then he’ll lick it up no problem.
I’ve only had to syringe-feed him the syrup once when he really wasn’t feeling well, but the syringe-feeding is an option for dogs who may not care for the taste.
You can feed your pup the slippery elm bark syrup twice per day and give about 1 teaspoon per 15 lb of body weight.
Slippery elm bark powder
Runs Be Done By Dr. Harvey’s
This is a digestive tract supplement for dogs that’s made with both pumpkin AND slippery elm!
That said, Dr. Harvey’s Runs Be Done is an anti-diarrhea supplement that consists of:
- Calcium Bentonite Montmorillonite Clay
- Slippery Elm Bark
- Apple Pectin
- Marshmallow Root
The supplement comes in powder form that you mix with your dog’s food.
As far as dosage instructions, it’s best to read the packaging directions, but I believe that it calls for ½ scoop per 10 lb of body weight (the scoop is included).
Sometimes, a 24 hour fast is better than anything else because it helps reset your dog’s digestive system – similar to how fasting helps us humans feel better when we have a stomach bug.
Fasting is actually something that dogs do naturally when they’re feeling sick, so when your pup doesn’t feel like eating anything, don’t force feed them.
However, always offer fresh, clean drinking water!
Note: Fasting is neither the right approach for puppies nor pregnant dogs, diabetic dogs or older dogs.
As far as what to feed a raw-fed dog with diarrhea, there are several options:
- Canned or homemade pumpkin purée
- Slippery elm bark powder syrup
- Runs Be Done supplement
- 24 hour fast
While most cases of diarrhea in dogs are mild and resolve on their own, there are situations where you should take your pup to the vet.
For example, when your dog has:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Chronic (ongoing) diarrhea
- Severe diarrhea that lasts for more than 48 hours, especially if they’re puppies or seniors with potentially weakened immune systems
We hope your pup feels better soon!
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