- Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN
Upset Tummy Protocol
Updated: Jul 29, 2022
Whether from a new food or stress, rocket butt (aka diarrhea) is never fun. But it is a natural bodily process that owners must deal with. Here is a go-to upset tummy protocol that, more often than not, clears things up pretty quickly.
Any information shared is to be used at your discretion. Any information shared is not intended to replace veterinary advice. If your dog has chronic diarrhea lasting longer than 3-4 days, please check in with the vet. The following protocol is for acute diarrhea only. If there is any blood, fever, changes in behavior, weakness, or signs of debilitation, please go to the vet.
Why Does Diarrhea Happen?
Diarrhea allows the body to rid of toxins and pathogenic materials out of the body. Diarrhea is a loose, watery stool that often disappears within a few days and can be acute or chronic. Acute diarrhea lasts 1-2 days, while chronic diarrhea usually results from a viral or bacterial infection.
Diarrhea can occur due to numerous factors such as:
If there was a sudden change in the dog's diet without a gradual change, it makes sense that there would be some stomach upset. But it may also be a food sensitivity depending on the circumstance.
In both humans and animals, stress can be a cause of loose stools. Whether traveling, fireworks, or the vet, releasing stress hormones can disrupt the bowels.
Parasites & Pathogens
Certain intestinal diseases such as giardia, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms are all known to cause diarrhea. Pathogensincludes Clostridium Difficile, Clostridium Perfringens, Escherichia coli, and Campylobacter. These will be the less obvious reasons as they are internal but if you notice white specks in the dog's stool or suspect that this may be the reason, take a stool sample to your vet for proper screening.
If your dog has had loose stools for more than three weeks and is accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting and decreased appetite, it may be due to a GI tract disease such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Colitis, or Pancreatitis. If your dog has had prolonged continuous diarrhea, it is best to check in with the vet for further testing.
The following protocol is for acute diarrhea only. If there is any lethargy, loss of appetite, bloating, abdominal pain, vomiting, or ingesting harmful substances, please seek veterinary care immediately.
"Normal" occasional diarrhea should resolve within 1-2 days. But with some help, you may be able to get your dog feeling better a bit quicker. If the diarrhea episode is deemed rocket butt, here are some remedies to get them firmed up again.
Upset Tummy Protocol
Fasting (from solid foods)
Fasting is the willful refrainment of food for a period of time. Fasting should only be done with dogs older than a year old. If your dog is younger than 1 year, disregard this step and feed them a bland diet instead.
Fasting adult dogs will give their digestive system a break and allow whatever is messing up their system to have a chance to clear out, reset, and recover from the inflammation inside. Mainly if the diarrhea is caused by something they ate, it can be beneficial to stop putting solid foods in their stomach for 24 hours. Provide fresh, clean water the whole time.
Diarrhea can quickly dehydrate a dog. Therefore, it's vital to supply liquids. Often they do not want to drink water, so offering bone broth or goat milk is a tasty way to convince them to drink. Use bone broth if your dog has never had dairy or does not tolerate it well.
Some easy ways to check if your dog is dehydrated are:
Skin Elasticity Test: Using the skin elasticity test, gently lift the skin on the back or between shoulder blades in a tent using two fingers. If the skin snaps back quickly into position, that's great! However, a delayed response usually means dehydration. Wrinkly breeds with less elastic skin may naturally have less elasticity as a norm. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a baseline of what the dog's skin acts like when hydrated.
Gums Texture: Hydrated gums will have a nice pink color (unless the dog's gums are naturally not pink) with a nice coat of saliva. In contrast, dehydrated gums will be pale and have a tacky touch.
Capillary Refill Time (CRT): This test also uses the gums to measure hydration. First, apply continuous pressure onto the gums for 5 seconds. The pressure should be enough to where it turns. The area where pressure is applied turns slightly white. The gum should instantly spring back to a pink color when you release the pressure.
Marshmallow Root & Slippery Elm Bark
The two herbs that are most frequently used for GI upset are marshmallow root and slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra). Both of these herbs are very similar and essentially do the same thing. However, sometimes one or the other is easier to find.
These herbs are mucilaginous products that function as a demulcent (anti-inflammatory) agent. The mucilage of these herbs is a complex polysaccharide that becomes a gel-like substance when mixed with water. This mucilage creates a coat over mucous membranes and may allow some relief from inflammation.
In one small study, humans suffering from IBS were a mixture of slippery elm. They experienced a small reduction in symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and abdominal pain. An in vitro study noted slippery elm’s high antioxidant content for those with inflammatory bowel disease.
As it coats the digestive tract, it does slow down the body’s absorption and should not be fed long-term. The FDA does not regulate supplements. Ensure you are purchasing a quality herb.
The herb ''dosage'' is 1 tsp per 25lbs (12kg). A great way to dose this is with a cup of goat milk. Allow the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the mucilage to form, then feed. As it's mixed in with the raw goat's milk, they usually eat it willingly, but if your dog is a bit pickier, you can either syringe it on their gum line or dilute even more with goat milk or bone broth.
Pumpkin is another trendy go-to supplement for GI imbalances. Finding a quality pumpkin puree free of added ingredients and BPA-free lining can be tricky. Ensure to purchase 100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria (microorganisms) found in foods and supplements that provide health benefits. While recovering from a rocket-butt episode, incorporating quality probiotics can aid in rebalancing the gut microbiome. Specifically, the strain S. Boulardii is yeast-based and highly effective at treating diarrhea. The NOW S. Boulardii provides a high amount of CFUs.
Stomach troubles are always tiring to deal with for both parties. But hopefully, with these tips & tricks, you can get through it like a pro. I hope you learn something new today & Always Keep Exploring!