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What to Feed Your German Shepherd When Diarrhea Strikes

Reviewed By: TB Thompson DVM
Last Updated: January 23, 2024

I think you’ll agree that dealing with your German Shepherd’s runny stool is quite an unpleasant task, but it’s normal for dogs to suffer from diarrhea now and again. To complicate matters, your dog will probably not want to eat his usual food. So, what do you feed a German Shepherd with diarrhea?

For a German Shepherd with diarrhea, offer a bland diet like boiled chicken and white rice, avoiding spices and oils. Plain canned pumpkin can help due to its fiber content. Include probiotics for gut health and ensure ample water to avoid dehydration. Opt for small, frequent meals.

Dealing with your German Shepherd experiencing diarrhea can be challenging. This common health issue requires not only patience but also a strategic approach to diet and care.

In this blog, we’ll explore the best dietary practices to help your furry friend recover from diarrhea.

From understanding the importance of a bland, easily digestible diet to knowing when to seek veterinary advice, we’ll guide you through the essentials of managing your German Shepherd’s digestive upset.

German Shepherd feeling unwell.

Causes of Diarrhea in German Shepherds

Causes of German Shepherd diarrhea are parasites, viruses, bacterial infections, illness, stress, or medication. GSDs are also prone to a sensitive stomach.

Other causes include eating toxic or moldy food, a sudden diet change, food allergy or intolerance, and overeating.

The German Shepherd breed is well known for having a sensitive stomach and can relatively quickly get diarrhea. But don’t worry, as your dog may have just eaten something it shouldn’t or may have caught a mild stomach bug.

Even if you continually keep a watchful eye on your German Shepherd, it’s incredible how they sometimes manage to get hold of something they shouldn’t!

Learn More on the Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs…

It is essential to recognize whether your German Shepherd has a common stomach upset or something more serious. These are the common causes of diarrhea in dogs:

  • Overeating
  • Eating something they shouldn’t
  • A change in diet
  • Stress

And below are the less common or more severe causes of diarrhea in German Shepherds:

  • Ingesting a toxic food or substance
  • Bacterial or viral infection of the gut (e.g., gastroenteritis)
  • Parasitic infection of the gut (intestinal worms)
  • A food allergy or intolerance
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Foreign body blockage, e.g., socks, toys, plastic bags
  • Liver failure
  • Thyroid problems
  • Heatstroke
  • Dehydration
  • Some types of cancer
  • Medications
  • Pancreatitis

So, now we know the causes of diarrhea in German Shepherds, let’s look at how to treat this unpleasant stuff.

What Do You Feed a German Shepherd With Diarrhea?

To treat German Shepherd diarrhea, stop feeding for an initial 12 hours to allow whatever is in your dog’s system to work its way through, but keep your dog hydrated. You can then feed bland binding foods like plain white cooked rice, little and often.

However, if your German Shepherd has not vomited and has mild dog diarrhea with no other symptoms, treatment consists of slowly feeding the white rice with some cooked lean chicken meat.

Vets recommend feeding small amounts throughout the day. Just boil the rice and don’t add any salt or seasonings:

I think it is best to go with multiple smaller meals (say 4 a day) of something that’s easily digestible. That means a low fat, mostly carbohydrate diet. ” – Dr. Mike Paul (DVM), Pet Health Network

Below are some other recommended bland foods for a German Shepherd with diarrhea. It’s also important to consult your vet first if your dog is new to any of these foods and make sure you cook them where appropriate:

  • Pasta
  • Potato and sweet potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Banana
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Yogurt

Pro-Tip! Always cook potatoes as raw potato contains a compound called solanine that is toxic to dogs.

Pro-Tip! Yogurt has beneficial bacteria that can help restore balance in your German Shepherd’s tummy and firm up stools.

Feed this bland diet to your German Shepherd until his stool consistency returns to normal. You can then start mixing your dog’s regular food with the rice meals, slowly increasing the amount you feed until your dog is back on his regular diet.

Most cases of diarrhea will pass quickly, usually within a few days.

You must also offer your German Shepherd frequent small amounts of water to ensure he doesn’t get dehydrated and flush out his system.

Pro-Tip! Give your German Shepherd ice cubes if they are not interested in drinking, or get a dog water fountain to entice hydration.

A sleeping GSD on the couch.
My German Shepherd – Willow

Benefits of Feeding Rice For Doggy Diarrhea

Rice is good for German Shepherds, is a valuable energy source, and contains some macronutrients. However, it is a carbohydrate and should only be fed in moderation.

Cooked white rice (not brown) is recommended to feed a dog with diarrhea, although you can give both varieties to healthy dogs.

Brown rice is never prescribed for dogs having gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea. It is always white rice because our canine companions need the starch. Brown rice can be harder for a dog to digest because it is not as processed.” – AKC

Carbohydrates have become an essential part of a German Shepherd’s diet and are often added to commercial pet foods. Carbs are okay to feed your dog as long as you feed in moderation, as too many can result in weight gain.

Why do vets recommend cooked plain rice to feed German Shepherds suffering from diarrhea?

  • It is exceptionally bland – helps settle the gut
  • Easy to digest
  • Low in fiber
  • It helps to bind the stools
  • Quick and easy to prepare

When To Consult Your Vet

You must always consult your vet if the diarrhea is severe or persistent (more than 24 hours) or if your dog is a puppy, elderly, or suffers from an underlying health condition.

Puppies are especially at risk as they are more susceptible to infections that cause diarrhea and can quickly get dehydrated.

Your vet may advise your German Shepherd to fast for up to 24 hours. However, this may not be appropriate for puppies, small breeds, or elderly dogs. Remember, all dogs are different, just like you and me!

You must also seek urgent veterinary attention if a dog of any age shows any of these additional symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite or thirst
  • Reduced or no urination
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Lethargy 
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Seizures 
  • Blood in poop
  • Signs of worms in poop

Your vet will treat diarrhea depending on the cause, and further investigations may be required.

Never give your German Shepherd any anti-diarrhea medications (e.g., Pepto-Bismol or Imodium) before consulting your vet to ensure these are safe for your dog and advice on specific dosage instructions.

Tips and Tricks to Prevent Diarrhea

It would be impossible for your German Shepherd to never suffer from the odd case of diarrhea. But there are some things you can do.

To prevent diarrhea in your German Shepherd, feed a complete and nutritious diet, and avoid table scraps and titbits your dog is not used to.

Avoid anything toxic and ensure your GSD does not get into the garbage. Ensure worming treatment and vaccinations are up to date.

Follow these simple guidelines to prevent diarrhea:

  • Make sure you know all the dangerous poisonous foods for your German Shepherd.
  • Ensure your GSD keeps to its usual diet. Don’t feed any human leftovers your dog may not be used to.
  • Transition food gradually if you wish to switch your dog’s usual diet.
  • Prevent guests to your home from feeding titbits, especially toxic foods that they may be unaware of, for example, grapes or chocolate.
  • Be wary of feeding bones, as they must be raw and of the correct type and size for your dog.
  • Keep all toxic substances out of reach of your dog.
  • Make sure your garden doesn’t contain any poisonous plants. The Pet Poison Helpline has a complete list of these.
  • If your dog is the “scavenger” type, keep all garbage secure, as moldy food is toxic.
  • Consider a muzzle when you are out in the woods or park to prevent your dog from scavenging if they are that way inclined.
  • Keep worming treatment up to date. Vets recommend every three months – but check for your breed.
  • Keep vaccinations up to date.
  • Exercise your German Shepherd regularly, especially if they suffer from stress.
  • Refrain from exercising your dog immediately before or after a meal. I like to give my German Shepherd a good hour on either side, which may also help prevent bloat.

FAQs

How Long Does Diarrhea Usually Last in German Shepherds?

Acute diarrhea, the most common type, usually lasts for one to two days and can sometimes last up to two weeks. Chronic diarrhea, on the other hand, lasts for at least four weeks. The duration of diarrhea in German Shepherds can vary depending on the underlying cause.

Is It Safe To Switch My German Shepherd’s Food If They Have Diarrhea?

It is generally not recommended to switch your German Shepherd’s food if they have diarrhea, as this can further upset their digestive system. It’s best to stick with their current diet until the vet determines the underlying cause of the diarrhea.

In some cases, a temporary change in diet may be recommended by a veterinarian to help manage the diarrhea, but this should only be done under the guidance of a professional.

Can I feed my German Shepherd boiled chicken during diarrhea?

Boiled chicken is often recommended when your German Shepherd has diarrhea, as it’s gentle and easy to digest. Small amounts can help settle their stomach while still providing nutrients.

How much water should I give my German Shepherd experiencing diarrhea?

Your German Shepherd must stay hydrated when dealing with diarrhea. Offer small amounts of water frequently throughout the day, and encourage them to drink little by little. Make sure they drink enough to prevent dehydration.

How long does diarrhea typically last in a German Shepherd?

Diarrhea in German Shepherds typically lasts 1-3 days, but monitor your dog closely. If diarrhea continues for over 3 days or is very watery, you should consult your vet to rule out potential infections or other issues.

How do you monitor the progression of diarrhea in a German Shepherd?

Check your German Shepherd’s stool regularly when they have diarrhea. Note if it becomes more solid or liquid over time. Call your vet right away if you notice blood, poor appetite, vomiting, lethargy, or if diarrhea lasts beyond three days. Early intervention is key.

Final Thoughts

Even healthy German Shepherds can get occasional diarrhea, so you mustn’t be worried. Feed your dog plain, easily digestible food such as chicken and rice to get him back on his paws.

Sharon Waddington
Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.
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