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Why Do Dogs Get Diarrhea On Raw Diets?

by Dr. Cathy AlinoviFleisch für den Hund

There are two different times dogs may have some diarrhea with raw diets: at the initial transition, then later down the road.  Okay, so that may be a no-brainer, but its important to distinguish, as the causes are different.

Let’s start with soft stool at the switch to raw food:

For many dogs, this is a dramatic change – their intestines are used to the super processed, really hard, dry, crunchy stuff.  Dogs who were used to eating kibble drank gallons of water to digest their food, partly because many of those foods were really high in salt.  So, their bodies are used to drinking a ton of water. When all of that water isn’t needed any more, there can be some soft stool the first few days after the transition to raw.

Another reason why your dog’s tool may be soft is that doggies need to wash some of the toxins out of their system – and there are different products that can help with detoxification, which I will go over later.

What about “soft serve” stool later, after your dog has successfully switched to raw?

These reasons can range from an intestinal virus, aging, and variation in food or treats. Just like us, dogs can have a little intestinal flu from time to time.  As long as there isn’t also vomiting, sometimes it’s as easy as giving your dog some bentonite clay in their food or water for a few days to firm up the stool.

Sometimes the problem is that our pup is aging and, where he could once digest cold, raw food with no difficulty, he may now need some help in the form of digestive enzymes and/or probiotics (like E-BARF Plus).  Simply warming the food to room temperature by mixing in a little warm water might also help.

Realistically, while we have been trained to expect every bowl of food to be identical to the last (although we humans do not eat this way), there is batch to batch variation as food sources may vary.  Every plant and every animal is different from the last, so sometimes sensitive tummies will make a little squirt at the end of digestion.  If your pup’s tummy is that sensitive, you will know it…and in these instances, she will do well with digestive aids.

In an ideal world, every dog eats raw with no trouble and fully assimilates each meal.  In the real world, dogs have been overbred, over-vaccinated, and overmedicated – thus, they don’t digest as well as they could. That’s why these dogs often need a touch of digestive help.

To be thorough – let’s talk about vomiting, which can go along with diarrhea.

If there is vomiting: take away all food and water for 24 hours.  If there is more vomiting, take your dog to the vet ASAP.  This is a sign of something very serious.
If after 24 hours, there’s no more vomiting, you can offer small amounts of water once an hour until your dog no longer guzzles it up.  (If vomiting returns – this is a medical emergency.)  If after 24 hours of just water, there’s still no vomit, then slowly give very small meals and get your pup back to speed eating.

Other digestive emergencies:

Red or black diarrhea or vomit: this is blood and this is bad.  If you know a toy or an object is missing, don’t wait – take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.  If the vomiting clears up, the diarrhea usually does also.  Nux vomica helps with vomit and diarrhea in cases where you know your pooch gorged in the trash can.  Diarrhea that lasts longer than 5 days in an adult dog is also reason to go to the vet.

May your pup have great stools and keep food moving down the escalator through the trash heap!

Dr. Cathy Alinovi is the owner of Hoofstock Veterinary Service in Indiana. Certified in Veterinary Food Therapy, Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, and Aromatherapy, Dr. Cathy’s approach provides whole body support through both the best in veterinary medicine as well as high-quality, all-natural foods, supplements, and health care products.  She offers phone consultation services as well as in-office appointments. Visit www.hoofstockvet.com for more information.


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6 Responses

  1. […] BARF Diet – Why Do Dogs Get Diarrhea On Raw Diets? – by Dr. Cathy Alinovi. There are two different times dogs may have some diarrhea with raw diets: at the initial transition, then later down the road. […]

  2. Paul

    hi, good article. I also have a dog,french bulldog. She had watery diarrhea
    and I found this what causes watery diarrhea

  3. Andrea

    You say that if a dog vomits you should take away all water for 24 hours and i dont see how that can be good advice. If I couldn’t have water for 24 hours I would be very uncomfortable and dehydrated – so would my dog – it would be cruel. It would be a rare occasion that I could see a reason to withhold water ever and I think you need to amend this article or give clearer information. Dogs and people throw up sometimes you would never take water away from a person for that amount of time.

  4. Dave

    We started our 9 year old male Pit bull on a raw meat diet, going on 5 weeks. I understand there are symptoms of withdrawal that they could get. He has not shown any, but 4 days, when we take him out for his walk, he starts out fine, eager and with energy, but about 30 minutes into the walk he looks as if he get disoriented, and today he walked as if loosing his balance (drunk) and would fall. We got him home and he has been fine, He jumped into the pool, got out and laid down.
    We thought maybe he had low blood sugar, and gave him small amounts of peanut butter, which he loves. But seems that, that did not help.
    Is there anything that it could be? We live in Phoenix , AZ area and thought about Valley Fever, too.

    • Monica Samson

      Hello Dave,

      Does your pitbull have any health concerns that you are aware of? Is he feeling better now? Give us a call so we can discuss the health concerns of your dog. 1-866-282-2273

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