by Rose Springer

If your dog has experienced tummy troubles in the past, such as diarrhea, your vet may have suggested to feed it a mixture of white rice, chicken and yogurt -- the latter will help balance bacteria in the gut.

Now, there is a new dietary supplement that helps manage doggy diarrhea. Just as probiotics in foods with active live cultures like yogurt are being touted as a way to maintain human digestive health, they can have the same benefits for dogs. Below, Dr. Trisha Joyce, veterinarian of New York City Veterinary Specialists, weighs in on dog stomach concerns and the utility of dietary supplements that contain beneficial bacteria for preventing them.

What Causes Loose Stool in Dogs

Joyce emphasizes that the most common cause of diarrhea in your dog is you. "Pet owners should not be feeding table scraps," she says. "People food is too rich, and dogs are not accustomed to it. It is likely to cause soft stool or watery diarrhea."

Some dogs simply have sensitive stomachs, especially as they age, and stressful situations like a new pet in the home or even a veterinarian appointment can be the precursor to an episode of runny poop; so can changing your pet's formula. "Always transition from one food to the next by mixing them together in shifting proportions over the course of a few days," says Joyce.

Finally, there are some digestive ailments that are chronic and need to be treated with a prescription diet. These include irritable bowel disease (IBD) and Crohn's disease. "The nature of those digestive signs is different for a dog that got pizza the night before. The pizza eater will go from having formed stools to having sudden watery diarrhea. The dog with IBD will have low-grade chronic signs over a long period."

When to Worry

Joyce says that diarrhea is common in dogs and can be expected to last about five days, though the first 24 hours are usually the worst. Diarrhea is only an emergency if it is:

- Very profuse.

- Accompanied by vomiting.

- Primarily bloody, like raspberry jam, says Joyce. "A little bit of blood is common with diarrhea because the rectum and the colon become inflamed. A couple of drops of blood are not a big deal."

If your dog's diarrhea fits the description above, a trip to the emergency veterinarian is in order.

Ways to Keep Your Dog Diarrhea-free

One good way to start is to feed your dog a supplement that contains Bifidalis, which includes a strain of live and active culture. It can help to balance the microflora in your pet's gut, reducing the likelihood of not only diarrhea, but also uncomfortable digestive issues like gas and bloating. Ask your veterinarian about such supplements.

"Live and active cultures are effective for maintenance of a healthy GI tract," says Joyce. "These treats are not preventive against dietary indiscretions or diseases like IBD, but they may promote general intestinal health. They certainly won't hurt, and they may help. They're easy for a veterinarian to recommend."

Joyce also suggests:

- Avoiding table scraps and quick switches between different pet formulas.

- An annual fecal exam to confirm that your pet is dewormed. "Parasites sometimes don't flare up until your dog is stressed. Doing regular fecals guarantees they're not carrying anything."








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Pets | Dogs: New Supplement Can Help Your Dog's Digestion