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.  Okay, so that may be a no-brainer, but its

· November 13, 2013
by Dr. Cathy Alinovi Fleisch 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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Rhonda Ortez
May 24, 2020

We have a concern regarding our seven year old Boxer. We are in the process of transitioning to a raw diet and we have noticed diarrhea. This has been the case for three days now and we are starting to get worried. This is our first time feeding raw and we are now wondering if we should continue or go back to regular dry food. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?
Thank you

The BARF World Team
May 27, 2020

Hi Rhonda,

Great question. The transition to a raw diet always varies per dog. Here is some information that may help you transition your Boxer to a raw diet.

Nine times out of ten we recommend that you do a quick transition to BARF® with your pet where you fast him or her 12-24 hours prior to their last meal and then feed the BARF® diet. However, if your pet has a difficult time switching between various diets, has been known to experience digestive upset from time to time, is suffering from a degenerative disease or is a senior, a slow transition is better suited for your pet.

Instructions on how to do a slow switch to BARF®:
Day 1: Fast your pet to allow the body to cleanse itself of any toxins and to make your pet eager for the next day's meal.

Day 2: Feed 90% of the old food diet for the morning meal and 10% of the raw diet in the evening. In other words, if you feed two cups of kibble per day (one at each meal) you would feed 90% of that amount in the morning (1 & 4/5 cups) and a small amount of raw food (1/16 of a lb.) in the evening. This first day, the evening meal is light.

Day 3-12: Gradually increase the raw diet each day by 10% and decrease the old diet by 10% each day for the next 9 days. Your morning meals will get less and less each day.

Day 13: On the 13th day, you should be feeding ONLY the BARF® Diet and you can begin to feed only BARF® in the morning and evening meals. We advocate feeding your pet twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.

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What is BARF?

"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!