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This blog post was originally published January 2014, it has been updated with new information.
As a pet blogger and dog owner, I know that diarrhea in puppies happens. But as a dog mom, a day of diarrhea is just too much and memories of Canine Parvovirus start swirling through my head.
When My Puppies Developed Diarrhea
1. The puppies didn't have a change in behavior beyond having to go to the bathroom more often.
2. The puppies received way to much oil the day before – camelina oil, sardines in olive oil, and coconut oil – it may have been overkill for their little bodies (but they haven't had trouble before).
3. The puppies weren't dehydrated and didn't have a fever.
4. On day two of Poopapalooza, they were doing well and even had a solid poop until about 4 hours after their final puppy vaccinations and dinner time (when they ate their normal food) when the diarrhea returned.
5. There was no blood and there were no foreign objects in their diarrhea.
6. The puppies didn't lose their appetite.
7. There wasn't a recent change in the diet and the puppies aren't being overfed.
8. All the activity at the vet' office (other dogs, people, vaccines) caused some stress for the puppies.
9. I changed the raw food diet formula this time, adding in more liver; this batch was liver and gizzards, the last batch was hearts (which counts towards muscle meat, not organs).
Feeding Raw to Puppies Caused Diarrhea
In the past when our dogs had diarrhea, I would take them off of their normal food and give them plain boiled chicken (no bones) until it cleared up, feeding the dogs 100% plain pumpkin (canned without pie spices) to soothe their digestive tract.
Today, I only take them off of their food if I think it's the cause of the diarrhea. If food is the issue, then I change the protein. For example, Rodrigo and Scout will get diarrhea if I feed them a full meal of green tripe (it's very rich and higher in fat); so I switch their protein and add Olewo carrots to their meals and the diarrhea goes away.
If the diarrhea doesn't go away and there is no general illness (no vomiting, no bloody stools), I do the following:
Day 1 Bone Broth + Luxolite:
I withhold their normal food and feed my dogs bone broth mixed with Luxolite by Vitality Science, which consists of pure white Bentonite, a Montmorillonite clay. While it may be tempting to buy any old food-grade clay supplement, it's important to know that not all are ideal for ingestion. The white Bentonite clay used in Luxolite offers the perfect balance of sodium and calcium, along with other high-quality allowing it to neutralize acid, yeast, fungi, and pathogen overgrowth in the gastrointestinal tract.
Day 2 Bone Broth + Luxolite + “Safe” Protein:
On day two, if my dog is showing signs of improvement, then I'm ready to start slowly adding back in a “safe” protein, which is a protein that I know doesn't cause digestive upset. For instance, Rodrigo does well on duck, quail, and rabbit – all of which I usually have in the freezer. If I can, I like to give my dog whole raw to slow down their eating and prevent gulping. Duck frames and duck necks are perfect.
Day 3 Bone Broth + Olewo Carrots + “Safe” Protein:
On day three, I continue with the “safe” protein, and mix in 1 tbsp of hydrated Olewo carrots, which are made from carrots harvested in fertile-rich soils, immediately dehydrated to retain all of the nutrients, and shipped to your door. It not only promotes gut health, it also promotes skin and coat health too. If my dog's diarrhea is due to a rich food, then I add Olewo carrots as my first step; but if I'm not sure what caused the diarrhea, I prefer to slow it down (allowing toxins to quickly leave the body) and then sooth the gut with Olewo Carrots on the third day. It's a lot easier to mix Olewo carrots into ground raw, so I feed a combination of whole and ground.
Day 4 Bone Broth + FullBucket + “Safe” Protein:
On day four, if my dog is continuing to show signs of improvement (in my experience, they're doing great), then I replace the Olewo carrots with 2x the dosage of FullBucket Daily Canine Powder, which is a digestive supplement and probiotic. My goal is to add to the healthy gut biome. I continue with the double dose of FullBucket for the remainder of the week.
I was introduced to FullBucket Daily Canine Powder when I was trying to find a supplement to support Rodrigo's gut health, which is more challenging than our other dogs. FullBucket is fantastic and I believe having the paste on hand in our first aid kit is helpful for his bad (diarrhea) gut days.
If the diarrhea is a serious problem – it's combined with vomiting or bloody stools – I'll contact our veterinarian.
Cleaning Up After Poopapalooza
I have to say that I never thought I'd get that smell out of our house. It was terrible.
But we had the products from The Good Home Store and I used the floor cleaner to clean up the poop that didn't make it on the potty pad despite Zoey doing her best (good girl) and added a capful to our Rainmate to freshen the air. 30 minutes later, you wouldn't know we were celebrating Poopapalooza at our house!
Today, I use white vinegar and essential oils to clean our floors. I add in hydrogen peroxide if I want even more cleaning power. Checking out my blog post about DIY cleaning products for ideas.
If Diarrhea Lasts Longer Than Expected
If the diarrhea sticks around for 72 hours, then I'm on the phone with the vet on day three and in their office the moment they tell us to come in. If the diarrhea is joined by fever, vomiting, blood in their poop, or lethargy (they seem depressed) then they go to the vet IMMEDIATELY, because this is serious.
I bring in a sample of the diarrhea our puppies produced; yep, I will bag it up in a poopy bag and bring it to our doctor. If there are any parasites or other things swirling around in their gut, we want to know right away so that we can start treatment.
Back to my puppies…the diarrhea wasn't caused by vaccinations. Although the vaccinations led to 24 hours of pain and tenderness for Scout (think how sore humans get after a flu shot), it wasn't the reason for the diarrhea. We were able to get it cleared up with the bland diet, but it came right back when they went back to their food. Why?
Too much liver. I did some more homework and found that the change in this batch's recipe (adding more liver instead of adding the chicken hearts) resulted in diarrhea.
At the time of the original version of this blog post, we fed 80% muscle meat (including chicken hearts), 10% bones, 10% organ meat (5% of which was liver). Speaking with other raw feeders, I found that I should feed liver 2-3 times a week, not daily unless in small amounts. I learned that liver can cause loose stools if we feed our dogs too much too quickly. It's important to gradually build up the liver – so we started adding more muscle meat (chicken or turkey) to their food which worked.
Update: I now balance our dogs' raw diet over time. This is much easier than constantly calculating 80/10/10. I use a spreadsheet to track what nutrients they need (I only look at it when I add a new food to their diet) and that gives me the confidence that my dogs' diet is complete.
I consulted with a holistic veterinarian who confirmed that I was feeding too much liver and hearts, both very rich, especially for a puppy. Another problem was that the chicken we were getting from our grocery store wasn't a good fit for feeding raw – bacteria growth was also a contributing factor. Adult dogs can process bacteria quickly; some puppies cannot.
As a result of this consultation, I had our dogs tested and all of them tested with a level of intolerance to chicken. Today, my dogs don't eat chicken, guinea hen, turkey, or pheasant. However, they do well on duck, quail, and emu.