It is not a good idea to starve your dog if they have diarrhea. Withholding food for longer than 12-24 hours can be detrimental to their health. Make sure you introduce food slowly after a fast of 12-24 hours by having smaller, more frequent meals.
Starving your dog might seem like the logical thing to do if they have diarrhea, but it’s important to resist this urge. Diarrhea makes your dog very uncomfortable, but it’s not life-threatening in most cases.
Rather than deny them food and water (which can delay their recovery and even make them sicker), you can help them get better faster by giving them the nutrients they need to recover.
Here are a few tips on how to feed your dog with diarrhea without starving them.
How to Feed a Dog That Has Diarrhea
If your dog has diarrhea, stop force-feeding them—they’re sick, not hungry. Keep them hydrated with small sips of water or broth. If you want to try feeding them something, there are a few foods that won’t aggravate their gastrointestinal system, including:
- Boiled white rice
- Chicken and rice soup with no dairy added
- Canned pumpkin (this is OK because it doesn’t have any fat in it)
You can give your dog bland food every 12 hours for 48 hours after their stomach settles down. After that, offer small amounts of bland food twice a day until you can gradually start adding more variety back into their diet.
Consult your vet if there are no improvements within 48 hours, or they refuse to eat anything at all for two days straight.
When Should You Withhold Food From Your Dog?
If your dog has diarrhea, you might wonder if it’s a good idea to withhold food until their bowels stop moving. No one answer fits all cases, so it’s important to understand why withholding food isn’t always a good idea.
In some instances, yes, starvation may be necessary. But in others, it may do more harm than good.
The best way to know whether or not your dog should go hungry for a while is to get a proper diagnosis from a veterinarian and then follow their advice accordingly.
The point of withholding food from a sick dog is to allow their body time and energy to focus on healing itself. Sometimes that means making sure there’s no extra waste being produced by their intestines during this healing process.
There are some circumstances when it may be necessary to withhold food from your dog. For example, if your dog has eaten something that could cause damage to their intestines, withhold food until they are healthy again.
But it’s always best to consult with a vet before withholding any type of nourishment for an extended time. If your veterinarian advises you to not feed for 24 hours, follow their instructions carefully.
How Long Can I Withhold Food For?
If your dog has diarrhea, ask your veterinarian before withholding food from your dog. You should only withhold food for 24 hours max. A mild case of diarrhea won’t cause permanent damage to a healthy dog’s digestive system, but it can be dangerous in some cases.
Dogs with severe health problems or complications from gastrointestinal diseases might require more time without food or water after a bout of diarrhea.
For example, a dehydrated diabetic dog with complications will likely need to remain without food and water until its blood sugar is under control again. A dog that is vomiting or can’t keep its head up because of nausea would also need to be treated separately by a vet before going without nourishment again.
Reintroducing Foods to Your Dog
After not allowing your dog to eat for a day or two, it’s important to reintroduce food back into their diet slowly, or they will overeat and possibly make themselves sick again.
When you start feeding again, mix 1/4 cup of cooked white rice with ¼ cup boiled chicken and give them small amounts every hour until you can see that there is no further vomiting or loose stool.
This could take up to 24 hours, depending on how bad their symptoms were. If it happens again after eating, try giving them more of what you already know works—white rice cooked with chicken breast, as discussed above.
Treats should be avoided for at least 48 hours, as well as fatty foods such as cheese, meat scraps, and greasy table scraps such as potato skins.
Water should also be given to avoid dehydration. In cases where diarrhea continues for longer than two days, visit your veterinarian.
Is My Dog Dehydrated From Diarrhea?
One of the biggest concerns when withholding food and water from your dog is dehydration. Although we might not think about it, dogs drink a lot more than they eat in a day, so their bodies can become dehydrated quickly.
But how do you know if your pup needs hydration? And what happens when they’re dehydrated, anyway?
There are a few key signs to look out for when determining whether your pup is dehydrated. Of course, always check with your vet before making any changes to how you feed them, but these are some things you can monitor on your own.
- Do they have very dry gums?
- Is their skin overly dry?
- Does their urine seem very concentrated (and therefore dark) compared to what it usually looks like?
All of these factors combined with an otherwise sedentary pooch might point toward dehydration, but remember that there can be other reasons they aren’t feeling great that have nothing to do with dehydration.
If you think your dog is showing at least one of these symptoms, consult with a veterinarian before continuing to withhold food and water.
Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs
Diarrhea in dogs is a common symptom of gastrointestinal distress. There are several causes, from dietary problems to stress and illness. It’s important to distinguish between vomiting and diarrhea because these two symptoms represent very different problems.
Vomiting can be a sign of several medical conditions, including acute gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, or liver disease. Diarrhea doesn’t necessarily signal an acute health problem, but is usually a sign that something is amiss in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.
Diarrhea in dogs can be due to many different reasons. The most common of these are gastrointestinal infections, dietary problems, medications, parasites, and even cancer. Some diseases cause acute bouts of diarrhea; others cause ongoing, chronic issues.
If your pet is showing signs of persistent or chronic diarrhea or isn’t acting like themselves—whether it’s vomiting, lethargy, or weight loss—they should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
The vet will start with a physical exam and then may order lab tests and x-rays to help diagnose what’s going on inside your dog’s GI tract. It may take some detective work and testing (and maybe even a few visits) to nail down an exact diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet’s particular problem.
Sometimes it could just be a very temporary bout of diarrhea, possibly from eating human food or eating something they weren’t supposed to.
When It’s Time to Visit the Vet
You should take your dog to the vet if you notice that their diarrhea lasts for more than two days. This is very important because dehydration can occur quickly in a dog with lots of watery stools. If you leave it, it could end up becoming a dangerous situation. Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing
- Not wanting to eat or drink
- Whining when defecating or urinating
- Loss of appetite
If you see any of these symptoms, it’s essential to visit your vet as soon as possible. Severe dehydration can occur quickly in dogs with diarrhea, which is why it’s so important to seek immediate treatment.
If your dog is vomiting and having diarrhea, take them to the vet immediately—don’t wait it out. Your vet will assess their overall condition and make a diagnosis for what’s causing it.
This will help give you peace of mind and help your dog recover quickly from whatever illness they have caught. The sooner you seek treatment, the quicker your pet can feel better again!
In many cases, diarrhea is a straightforward problem that can be solved quickly by visiting a veterinarian. However, in other cases, diarrhea may be a sign of something more serious going on in an animal’s body, and urgent veterinary care is needed right away.
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