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Dog diarrhea, the healthy gut biome journey & other solutions …

dog pooping in the park

Loose stools can happen to any dog, at any time. But the young and old dogs are more at risk. As dogs age past their athletic peak, their bowels can be very temperamental. Every time they have loose stools, the food is passing through their intestines too fast, and they can suffer from malnutrition.  This coupled with the expected loss of weight via muscle atrophy can be very bad for a dog if they suffer other ill health issues.

Here is our personal journey that might help you …

Spoodles seem to have potential for stomach issues and skin allergies … often inherited from their poodle lineage. As they age, stools can become loose quite easily.

Initially we thought it might be a food allergy, or at least an intolerance. But then when we fed the same thing for a few days in a row, and the stools hardened it seemed to rule that out.

Then we thought it was issues caused by what they ate in the dog park. As dogs age, eating other dog’s stools can increase, so anytime off lead could be an issue. But we found that when our dog retired from pack walks, they could still lick or eat stuff off the street even on a small block walk.

We currently think that his loose stools could be either driven by bad bacteria overgrowth in their intestinal tract, or viruses picked up on walks that he cant kill off. Bacterial infections (that have also been found in his urinary tract lately) are definitely a front runner  – but also loose stools are increase from side effects from the mediations that we are using to treat the side effects of his cancers. ALL of these meds help, but can also reduce immunity.

When you have an ageing dog, with a breed predisposed to loose stools, and then add medications into the mix, there are often many more days of loose stools and/ or diarrhea than solid stool days.

And the curious thing, is that the vets have told us that the medications don’t specifically kill the good biome bacteria, BUT we have read on several vet sites, that these medications do have the side effects of causing diarrhea – and if you have several medications given several times per day. Then with the dog’s body fighting off the cancers, it leaves any leftover immunity or ability for the good bacteria populations ability to digest the food and leave solid waste, severely diminished.

So far this doesn’t sound ideal. In fact, its very concerning for his health, and considering he is such a valued member of our family, we are working around the clock on the least intrusive, longer lasting solutions.  Here is what we have found.

1   Reduce chances for eating things off the street. 

The issue for this is that a dog’s mental stimulation naturally is strongly tied to what it can smell and mentally process. So for the small times out of the house now, we aim for him to do his natural thing, but best around supervision.

2   the dog gut biome

Type of food, meat or vegetable fibre etc all require stomach acid and different bacteria in the upper intestine to extract nutrients.

We know from many sources, that as a dog’s ages, they often need more protein (as they might have diminished ability to extract the amino acids for maintenance and cell growth.  It is possible that they can have more intolerance to raw meats (the enzyme that processes the protein is diminished) – but its just as likely that they can’t process the carbs found in (rice or potato or vegetables in general).

They might have eaten cans of kibble packs of a specific brand for years, but brands can change formulation, or their systems can just get overloaded with processing the carbs. Something they only need in very small doses, much smaller than in the majority of commercial dog food.

In fact the main reason we fed any kind of commercial dog food to our dog in the past, was that in theory in included the semi fermentable fibre that would make the gut biome happy, But sometimes it’s hard to trust a profit driven multinational with your dog’s health.

And if you feed your dog the same food (meat and commercial dog food) for a week, and they have very varied results with the firmness of their stools, its possible that its not JUST the type of food that is causing the issue.


While the general definition of “Probiotics” might be they are a mix of live good bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in a body. Most human probiotics you can buy from the chemist, are just various strains of bacteria (no yeasts).

And dog pro biotics are often similar strains, at much lower quantities, for the same price PLUS a few other exotic yeasts or other additives.

Bacteria for digesting dog food can be found anywhere in the intestine tract from the mouth to the large intestine, but they do most of their good work in the upper small intestine. They are supposed to increase the balance in that tube back to larger populations of good bacteria.

The most common probiotics found in chemist for humans are from two classes. Lactobacillus.  AND Bifidobacterium.  (There are many sub species of specific bacteria in these particular large groups). But you will also find that human probiotics can include the common yeast Saccharomyces boulardii.

Here is a major problem.  Probiotics can be used both for alleviating issues from Diarrhea (both diarrheas caused by antibiotics and from Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infection).  But they are also used for Constipation, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). And irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They can either increase or decrease the flow of waste, and so sometimes add to or cause Diarrhea.

It is very possible that the mix of probiotics that you get (typically bottles come in measures of total bacteria count in the billions AND the number of strains – typically up to 15 maximum.)  ARE what make the gut issue worse!

That is why we changed over the probiotics we initially bought with 13 strains down to a much simpler version.  We think we are having some success with Gastro relreif By ‘inner health’. It has only two active ingredients:  lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) 5 billion, saccharomyces Cerevisiae (boulardii) 5 Billion.

And another major issue is that the good bacteria found in humans and dogs are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BACTERIA.  We have already explored this data in detail here; Ref 1

NOTING that DOG PROBIOTICS are usually the SAME or similar Probiotics as found in Human probiltics, EVEN THOUGH the dogs intestine bacteria are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!

EXAMPLES of DOG COLON bacteria, Dog Probiotics, and HUMAN probiotics

Dog COLON bacteria Ref 1 DOG probiotic

21st Century brand


Gastro Relief Formula (HUMAN) Bowel Biotic (inner health)


Fusobacteria, Bacteroidetes &

Firmicutes” (around 30% each).

“The phylum Firmicutes includes Clostridium clusters, which include Ruminococcus spp., Faecali bacterium spp., and Dorea spp.

1 BILLION bacteria : Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Salivarius, Bifidobacterium Bifidum, Streptococcus Thermophilus,


PLUS CARB Fructooligosaccharide,

lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) 5 billion, saccharomyces Cerevisiae (boulardii) 5 Billion.


 B. Lactis B1-04 14 Billion

B animalis ssp lactis 2 B

B. longum 2 B

B. breve 1 B

B. infaantis 0.5B


B. = Bifidobacterium

NOTE, what we have been told/ suggested, is that perhaps the human good bacteria just happen to make the dog biome more comfortable for the dog’s good bacteria to flourish.  NO ONE, seems to have an adequate reason why dog probiotics don’t actually include the same good bacteria that they also have in their gut !

4  What about the dog stomach and intestinal pain?

dog pooping in the park Diarrhea usually causes consider pain from stomach gramps to bowel gas discomfort. If your dog has any other health issues, this can make them miserable. This is why under extreme cases; dogs are often diagnosed with pain relief. BUT Long term pain relief is typically harsh on the kidneys or liver.

Short term sometimes steroids or cortisone is prescribed, but ongoingly a gentle anti anxiety pain medication is sometimes used.  For Archie’s cancer treatment, and obviously helping with gut pain, we are using Vet prescribed Gabapentin 100 mg  (several times per day) .

5  Lack of appetite

When dogs have severe diarrhea and bloating, and stomach grumbling they will often be miserable enough that they choose to refuse eating food If they do this, not only will they not have any energy, they will also increase muscle wastage, and their bowels can suffer a collapse 9without strong waste passing regularly through the intestine, the intestine walls lose their function too.

In the past we have enticed our dog with small cans of high marrowbone jelly “dog food”.  He seemed to find this irresistible, but these cans can also have high fat, and often questionable ingredients for sick dogs, so if you don’t want to risk that, a vet will sometimes inject your dog with a chemical to increase appetite, as well as we recently got prescribed a wafer that stimulate appetite:  Omdansetron ODT 8 mg

TREATNG Stomach discomfort

Part of a reason for lack of appetite is stomach pain. If the upper intestine is producing gas and arking up, and the stomach is gurgling away and not having sufficient acid to pre digest the food, then its not going to even make it to the upper intestine. This usually means your dog will either throw up, or they will have further diarrhea as their whole-body experiences pain and distress.

A dogs stomach typically has a very high acid level (low pH) – that increases when food is introduced. If a dog is many fed a vegetable diet, some studies have found that the acid level decreases, meaning that over time when meat food is ingested it becomes very difficult for the stomach to process the meat – particularly since older dogs tend rip or chew less.  Also older dogs might decrease the amount of acid that they can put into the stomach meaning it is much harder to digest meat.

That is why a raw feeder will sometimes compromise by cooking red meat as well as chicken meat (that we also suggest cooking).

Since meat is one of the most bio available foods that a dog can eat, (so it is easiest to extract nutrients) – and meat is a very high protein level that they require as they age – it is a real balancing act to get meat into their stomach that they can digest without it staying in their too long and not gurgling.

Stopping dog diarrhea

Once the appetite issue has been resolved.  And the stomach issue diminished, if there still is diarrhea , and you think that its not the food that is the main issue (ie possibly a dogs medication, age or things they eat off the street) – while we try and diminish the effects of the things we control, sometimes a dog with chronic diarrhea  needs short term very effective help.

This doesn’t always work out – and its usually a last-ditch effort. But if the probiotics are not sufficient, then we have trialled a human anti diarrhea to mixed results.

Note the active ingredient in many diarrhoea relief human meds is loperamide hydrochloride 2 mg

NOTE that there are several BREEDS OF DOGS that SHOULD NOT HAVE this medication.   Specific breeds of dogs that are sensitive to this drug class due to a genetic mutation (referred to as MDR1) can actually die from ingestion.

Toxicosis may occur in these dogs even in small doses. Some of the breed that CANT have it are: Australian Shepherds, Collies, English Shepherds, German Shepherds, Longhaired Whippets, McNabs, Old English Sheepdogs, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Silken Windhounds.  Of course make sure with a vet before considering using this drug.

EXTREME MEASURES the dog nappy.

The last resort, when the last dog bed is clean.

For a few months now I have been sleeping on the couch to look after my dog Archie.  Initially this was to care for him as the side effects from his cancer – the night panting and night peeing needed immediate attention. But since the medication seems to mostly have controlled the cancer heart and BP issues, his gut has become particularly more temperamental.

While he seems to be able to tell us when he needs the outside (is not able to negotiate the doggy door) – at night time his energy supplies are depleted and he has not always been able to make it to the door before peeing or pooing.

Initially we tried replacing towels, or putting plastic under those towels, but since he likes to get up and scratch these loose things off his bed for comfort, even that does little to keep the bed hygienic.

So we have finally relented into using night time, and sometimes day time medium sized dog nappies for Archie. Yes it means that once he has had a movement that (if awake) I need to do a night time clean up and use a new nappy for him. But that is what we would do for the comfort of our kids, and so it is what we do for Archie.


The deterioration in the regularity and solidity of Archie’s stools has caused concern on many levels about his health.

While we have occasionally had these kinds of issues throughout his life, the weight loss and lethargy coupled with cancer are things that cant be ignored. Vets will prescribe bland rice and chicken or fish diets, but even if your dog isn’t allergic to these things, they might not entice them enough to be eaten, thus weakening your dog more.

If your dog has a virus or bad bacteria overgrowth In their digestive tract, or underlying chronic complaint where loose stools are a side effect just a change of diet might not help. Likewise, if a dog has diagnosed IBD or IBS, diet without medication can only help so far.

Initially when loose stools are prolonged, you should consider seeing a vet, and maybe getting even a more specialist vet advice.  But in the meantime, over the relative short term, some of the chemicals or practices we have suggested might help.

Always consult your vet for prolonged diarrhea and get your dog as healthy as you can so they can live their best life, for as long as they can !

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