Let me just say I empathize if you have ever come home to this.
It’s entirely my fault of course. I made the rushing out the door and not putting up the trash can mistake. I know my dog and I know she’s a trouble-maker. Why else would they make trash cans with locks on them?
We all know what comes next don’t we? The middle of the night or the “while you were away” tingles of digestive upset. First you smell it and then you arrive upon that pool of poo. It’s on the rug of course, or the carpet, never on the tile or the hardwoods or god forbid the backyard, always on the rug. The trash is just one of many in a long list of poor choices that cause our dogs some abdominal discomfort and eventual diarrhea. Thanks to that predictability, I have become quite familiar with a little machine called the Rug Doctor. Other things to add to the list, rubber gloves and paper towels….you do not want to be in this situation with no paper towels.
After the initial shock is over, the sad reality sets in. This is really diarrhea….and this is only the beginning. You can be almost 100% certain that your dog won’t just have one mad dash to the living room rug or the bedroom carpet…which brings me to my point. What is diarrhea? Let’s take a side trip from Science to English. Diarrhea is defined as a condition which feces are discharged from the bowels frequently and in liquid form. Does your dog normally go twice a day? Are they now going 6-8 times a day? This is not the same as your dog having soft stool. There’s a difference. And a need for vet care is different too. For soft stool, not diarrhea, the watch and wait approach is generally ok. Keep a close eye on them for indications your pup might have something more serious going on. If you need a review of in the ins and outs of examining poo, check out my blog on Fecal Matters.
If your dog is going multiple times a day and/or having accidents in the house and what’s coming out is more liquid than solid, they probably have diarrhea. Your dog is at a much higher risk of dehydration and a possible serious illness if they have diarrhea. Diarrhea means irritated and inflamed intestines and anything you put in is only going to make things worse. For diarrhea, as long as your dog is acting otherwise completely normal, I typically recommend withholding food for about 24 hours (don’t worry they won’t starve), but allow plenty of water to drink. I know sometimes they seem hungry, but trust me, if you put it in, it’s going to come shooting back out….on to your rug. Once the gut has had time to rest, you want to ease it back in to working. Imagine waking up your spouse from a nap, you want to do it gently or they might slap you….seriously no one likes to be woken up.
The goal is to start back with something easy to digest, to wake the intestines back up, but not make them work really hard. Boiled chicken and/or plain white rice are often recommended for just this purpose. Just go easy, a little bit at a time and do several small meals during the first day. There are also some commercial diets available. They are normally canned which is a great source of water for your dog if they are dehydrated and haven’t been drinking as much. These diets require a trip to the vet and probably an exam since they are prescription diets, but they work wonderfully. In a pinch and after you’ve been up to your elbows in, ehem, Rug Doctor, going out can seem less desirable than just cooking at home. A decrease in frequency, especially if you are withholding food, is the goal. Once your dog starts eating again, it’s normal for them to take a few days to build back up a normal-looking stool, after all, they did just empty their entire gut on your area rug.
The list of potential causes of diarrhea is longer than a double roll of toilet paper. As frustrating as it is, nine times out of ten, we won’t know what caused our dog’s bout of intestinal infidelity. Just remember if your dog really does have diarrhea, keep that machine close by when you’ve finished cleaning up that first accident. If its diarrhea, you can be 100% sure there will be more. If your dog continues to have frequent, liquid stools, begins vomiting, acting lethargic, refuses food, or the diarrhea lasts longer than 48 hours, they need to be seen by your vet right away.
I’d say we’ve bonded. We have visited the need to eat poop in Poop Snacks. We conquered the stench of canine flatulence in Love Stinks and we have waded thru nearly a dozen blogs about parasites that seem to always be found in our dog’s poop. I hope by now we can all be on the same page when talking about poop, which we talk about because we’re friends and that’s what friends do.