Like humans, Labradors can get diarrhea, a common affliction that occurs as a symptom of gastrointestinal issues. Although it’s often mild and short-term, canine diarrhea can be acute or chronic, causing dehydration and imbalances in the electrolytes (body minerals). Therefore, it’s essential to treat Labrador diarrhea promptly.
Here are 9 easy ways how to treat Labrador with diarrhea:
- Fast and hydrate your Lab.
- Give your Lab a bland diet.
- Preempt Labrador diarrhea with a fiber supplement.
- Give your Labrador probiotics.
- Keep your Lab off human food.
- Give your Lab GI-soothing herbs to manage diarrhea.
- Change your Labrador’s diet.
- Give your Lab diarrhea prescription drugs (consult a vet).
- Allow your Lab to have enough rest.
Before addressing each of the 9 ways of treating Labrador diarrhea, I’ll focus first on the prevalence and causes of diarrhea in Labradors. Focusing on these topics will help you know what to expect regarding your Lab’s proneness to diarrhea and what causes to look out for.
Are Labradors Prone to Diarrhea?
Labradors can be prone to diarrhea because they’re high-energy dogs. High-energy dogs typically are prone to diarrhea. A Labrador’s age may also influence its tendency to get diarrhea. Because Labradors are also vulnerable to intestinal parasites, they can be prone to diarrhea.
A study assessing the prevalence of diarrhea in Portuguese police working dogs found that high activity levels triggered incidences of diarrhea. In deduction, being a high-energy dog could predict a Lab’s proneness to diarrhea when the dog is engaged in increased activity levels.
Also, puppies and older dogs have weaker immune systems, a factor that predisposes them to disease and infections. Younger dogs are especially exposed because of factors like catching parasite-carrier prey, contact with contaminated objects and locations, and interaction with children.
A study found that dogs younger than 6 months had the highest risk for endoparasitic infections, and parasites are a common cause of diarrhea.
Regarding susceptibility to diarrhea-causing health conditions, a study on the prevalence of intestinal parasites in dogs ranked Labradors 6th after Border Collies, Bulldogs, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and mixed-breed dogs.
This ranking implies that Labradors can be quite prone to diarrhea because runny poop is a recurrent clinical symptom in dogs with intestinal worms.
That said, there are many other general causes of dog diarrhea that can affect Labrador Retrievers and predispose them to diarrhea. Read about these causes in the following section.
Why Does My Lab Have Runny Poop?
Your Lab has runny poop, probably because of health issues like infectious diseases, pre-existing medical conditions, dietary issues, exposure to toxins, anatomical problems, or sudden disease.
Your Lab May Have Runny Poop Due to Infectious Diseases
These are diseases that Labs can contract directly or indirectly from other dogs or animals. They include:
- Intestinal parasites: These include hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and giardia.
- Enteric pathogens: These organisms reside in the intestines and can cause disease. A study in North America found that 22% of fecal samples from healthy dogs and 30% of fecal samples from dogs with diarrhea had potential pathogens.
- Viral infections: These conditions include parvovirus, distemper virus, coronavirus, rotavirus, and canine adenovirus.
- Protozoa: This microorganism includes giardia, coccidian, and cryptosporidium.
- Bacterial infections: These infections include Salmonella spp., clostridium difficile, and pathogenic E.coli.
- Algal infections: They include prototheca (algaemia).
- Fungal infections: They include histoplasmosis.
Dietary Problems Can Cause Runny Poop in Labradors
Dietary factors are those that cause Labrador diarrhea by disrupting the dog’s digestive system and processes. These include:
- Sudden diet change
- Food allergy and intolerance
- A poor-quality diet
- Scavenging (dogs eating things they shouldn’t)
Your Lab Might Have Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Labrador runny poop isn’t normal and is likely linked to medical conditions that can interfere with your dog’s metabolic processes. They include:
- Addison disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Intestinal cancer
Your Lab has Anatomical Issues in the GI
Anatomical issues are those that affect the structure of your Lab’s GI structure. These are symptomized by vomiting, excessive drooling, regurgitation, constipation, and diarrhea, among other signs.
An example of a GI anatomical issue that causes Labrador diarrhea is intussusception, a condition in which a segment of the intestine inflates into the opening of an adjacent part of the intestine. Intussusception can occur if your Lab swallows foreign bodies, has viral intestinal infections, untreated intestinal parasites, or intestinal tumors.
Your Labrador Has Been Exposed to Toxins
Toxins that can cause diarrhea in dogs include:
- Pesticides: Most pesticides have arsenic which can poison a dog if ingested and cause symptoms like diarrhea.
- Drugs: They include human drugs for diarrhea that contain bismuth subsalicylate (a derivative of aspirin and salicylic acid). According to Preventative Vet, these drugs, including Kaopectate and Pepto Bismol, can be toxic for your dog, especially if given in the wrong doses.
Your Lab Has Runny Poop Due to Sudden Diseases
These diseases can happen suddenly without pre-announcing signs or following triggering experiences. They include:
- Acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome: This condition refers to sudden severe bloody diarrhea accompanied by vomiting and has the potential for fatal dehydration.
- Acute pancreatitis obstruction: This condition is a reversible pancreatic inflammation that can come with high-fat diets, hereditary factors, or trauma and has diarrhea as one of the clinical symptoms.
Other Factors That Cause Runny Poop in Labradors
Other factors that cause Labrador runny poop include:
- Garbage toxicosis or eating toxic foods such as grapes and chocolate, overeating, or eating spoilt food.
- Ingesting foreign objects such as toy pieces, a piece of clothing, or a piece of a stick, known as pica. Check out this post for more info, Why Do Labradors Eat (Poop, Grass, Bees, Dirt, Socks, & More)?
- Indulging in too many fatty foods or table scraps.
- Reaction to antibiotics and other drugs.
- Stress or anxiety.
Learn How To Fix Loose Stools In Your Dog…
Whichever these factors affect your dog, you must know how to treat your Labrador with diarrhea.
How To Treat a Labrador With Diarrhea
A weak, dehydrated Labrador resulting from diarrhea isn’t a pleasant sight for any dog owner. As such, any owner with an affected Lab will be wondering: How do I stop my Lab from having diarrhea?
Fortunately, there are several options you can use to prevent and treat Labrador diarrhea effectively. I listed them for you at the beginning of the article, and we’ll explore them here in detail.
1. Fast and Hydrate Your Lab
Diarrhea, especially acute, can have severe effects on the stomach, including inflammation and the strain of rushed bowel movements. For this reason, you should allow your Lab’s GI to rest and recover through fasting.
Fasting means not giving your Lab any form of food, including treats, snacks, or main meals, for at least 12 hours.
While fasting your dog, proper hydration should also be done by giving your dog plenty of water to replace what’s lost with loose stool. If your dog can handle it, you can feed him a bit of rice water (water from boiled rice) once in a while to provide a bit of energy and minerals.
2. Give Your Lab a Bland Diet
A bland diet is the best home remedy for Labrador diarrhea. Your dog should start this diet 12 hours into fasting. This diet is easy to digest and works well with your dog’s delicate stomach following diarrhea.
There are several bland diet options you can choose from, such as:
- Boiled rice and chicken steak: This diet is the standard diet proposed for dogs with diarrhea because it’s easy to digest.
- Turkey or chicken baby food: The food has no garlic or onion and is made for a baby’s delicate stomach, making it suitable for a Lab with diarrhea. Gerber Baby Foods is one of the best brands, with no added salt or artificial colors and flavors. You can choose the Gerber Purees 2nd Foods Chicken & Gravy, available on Amazon.
- Vet-prescribed bland diets: These are great for dog owners who don’t want to make a bland homemade diet. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet from Amazon can be used for dogs with either long-term or short-term diarrhea.
- Other convenient alternatives: Consider Under the Weather Bland Dog Food Diet from Amazon. This comes in various options and can be purchased without a vet’s prescription.
Whichever option of bland diet you go for, it’s important to start your dog on small amounts (a tablespoon or two every hour) and increase the serving gradually. Also, always consult with your vet about the choice of bland diet for your Lab with diarrhea.
3. Preempt Labrador Diarrhea With a Fiber Supplement
Suppose your Labrador has had stress-induced diarrhea episodes in the past. In that case, you can preempt this from happening by giving it fiber supplements before it gets exposed to stressful experiences like going to the vet.
The good bacteria in your Lab’s GI consume fiber and make short-chain fatty acids that have a healing effect on the intestines. These can prevent stress-induced diarrhea from starting.
Psyllium fiber is an over-the-counter option contained in products like Metamucil. Because it’s not formulated for veterinary use, you should only use Metamucil for Labrador diarrhea after consulting with a vet. The fiber supplement comes in capsule and powder form and should be given with plenty of water.
You shouldn’t give flavored options of Metamucil to dogs with diarrhea. Also, pay attention to the label to ensure the fiber supplement doesn’t contain xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol in plants that’s highly toxic for dogs.
4. Give Your Lab Probiotics
According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, the GI makes up 70% of your dog’s immune system. That means a healthy gut is crucial in preventing and curing diseases and conditions such as diarrhea.
Probiotics help stabilize the acidic conditions in the GI by facilitating the release of short-chain fatty acids.
Like fiber supplements, you can give probiotics before a stressful event that can trigger diarrhea in your Labrador. But probiotics are also a healthy daily option for your dog’s digestive health since they help fight harmful bacteria in the gut.
A chewable probiotic tablet such as the Purina FortiFlora Probiotics for Dogs from Amazon is suitable for dogs with diarrhea. It’s recommended for both adult dogs and puppies with runny poop. Though the powder option is easier to use, it has to be added to your dog’s food, and a Lab with diarrhea is fasting.
5. Keep Your Lab off Human Food
Your Labrador might always succeed in convincing you to give it some of your plate contents with its puppy dog eyes. But it would be best if you don’t give in, especially when your dog has diarrhea.
Some human foods are poisonous for dogs, and yielding to your Lab’s begging eyes can be the cause for Labrador runny poop.
Human foods that can cause diarrhea in Labradors include:
- Milk and other dairy foods: Labradors shouldn’t take these due to their lactose content. Dogs don’t have enough lactase enzymes to digest dairy products.
- Nuts: You want your dog to stay away from nuts, especially pecans, almonds, and walnuts which contain high amounts of fats and oils.
- Salty snacks: These snacks can cause sodium ion poisoning.
- Alcoholic beverages and food products: That’s because alcohol decreases your dog’s control and coordination and affects the working of the Central Nervous System.
- Coffee and chocolate: They contain methylxanthines, a substance that can trigger diarrhea.
- Coconut, coconut water, and coconut oil: These foods are high in potassium and should be kept away from your Lab.
You can read more about this topic here, What Foods are Poisonous to Labradors?
6. Give Your Lab GI-Soothing Herbs To Manage Diarrhea
If your Labrador’s diarrhea is mild and caused by temporary triggers like diet change, giving herbs with GI-soothing properties can help resolve your dog’s runny poop. These include:
- Fennel seed
- Slippery elm
Caution: Always talk to your Lab’s vet or an expert in veterinary herbal medicine before giving home herbal remedies to a dog with diarrhea.
7. Change Your Lab’s Diet
Especially if your Lab’s diarrhea seems to be triggered by the food he’s eating, changing your dog’s diet can be the solution to the question: How do I stop my Lab from having diarrhea? Your best bet is to ask your dog’s vet about an alternative diet that could be a hypoallergenic option.
If your Labrador’s diarrhea results from protein intolerance, hydrolyzed protein diets are a great option. These foods have the protein source broken down into tiny pieces, similar to those at the digestion stage. Pre-breaking proteins stop the dog’s digestive system from detecting the allergenic food content and initiating an allergic reaction.
8. Give Your Lab Diarrhea Prescription Drugs (Consult a Vet)
I’ve left the use of drugs as my last proposal for curing diarrhea in Labs. There are two reasons for this:
First, many Labrador diarrhea cases are mild and resolve within 24 hours. For these cases, home treatment and care can successfully resolve Labrador runny poop issues.
Second, dog owners often run to give over-the-counter diarrhea drugs to their dogs. Usually, these drugs are meant for the treatment of diarrhea in humans. Drugs like Imodium and Pepto Bismol indicated for treating diarrhea in humans should never be used with your dog unless prescribed by a veterinarian.
For these reasons, the best approach is to consult a vet if your Labrador has diarrhea going on for more than 24 hours. Your vet may do the following to treat your Labrador’s diarrhea:
Check Your Labrador’s Health History
A recount of your Labrador’s health history related to the diarrhea episode. Telling your Lab’s health history will reveal details on:
- How long the dog has had diarrhea.
- The nature of the stool (color, texture, presence of blood, etc.).
- Any meds or home remedies administered.
- Your Lab’s regular diet.
- Any suspected triggers.
- Any interactions with other affected pets.
Perform a Physical Examination on Your Lab
The vet will perform a thorough physical examination to detect any issues related to your Lab’s diarrhea. The physical examination focuses on issues such as a painful abdomen, fluid collection in the stomach, any detectable masses, anal sac infections, and dehydration, among others.
Do Diagnostic Testing
Diagnostic testing to detect any possible diarrhea causes beyond the physical. The tests that the vet will perform on your Lab with diarrhea include:
- Fecal floatation to detect the presence of intestinal worms.
- Blood testing for diarrhea-triggering underlying conditions such as pancreatitis or liver disease.
- Abdominal x-ray to detect any foreign bodies in your Lab’s digestive tract.
- An endoscopy to assess the intestine for abnormal tissues.
Give Your Lab the Necessary Treatment
Treatment is in line with the results from the physical and diagnostic testing. Treatment options will include:
- A prolonged bland diet for Labrador diarrhea with no underlying causes or caused by diet issues.
- Intravenous fluids for dogs with extreme dehydration.
- Anti-diarrhea meds.
- Dewormers, according to fecal flotation results.
- Anti-nausea meds.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers if needed.
- Antibiotics, where bacterial infection is discovered.
- Fiber and probiotics to help support your Lab’s intestinal health.
- Surgery, if foreign bodies are blocking your Lab’s digestive tract.
9. Allow Your Lab To Have Enough Rest
With all the Labrador diarrhea treatment options discussed above, you must allow your dog to get plenty of rest. Diarrhea causes the loss of body minerals and fluids and takes plenty of your dog’s energy. As such, you must avoid giving him physically engaging activities until he has fully recovered.
Rest also aids in the recovery and renewal of body tissues strained or injured by consistent loose stool movements, such as the intestinal lining and the anus.
Other Crucial Issues on Labrador Diarrhea
Labrador owners often ask about these crucial issues related to dog diarrhea.
What To Feed a Labrador With Diarrhea
A Labrador with diarrhea should be fed a bland diet. This diet should be started after at least 12 hours of fasting. Bland dog diets usually consist of boiled chicken and rice. Pumpkin, baby food, bone broth, or shredded chicken are also alternative bland diets for sick dogs.
Bland diets for dogs with diarrhea have the following characteristics:
- They have one protein source and a simple carbohydrate.
- They are made with easy-to-digest foods that are also soothing to your dog’s digestive system.
- The ingredients of a bland diet are low-fat and low-fiber to help restore solid stool and delay your Lab’s need to go the bathroom.
As the article explains, ready-made commercial bland diets for dogs are also available.
While your Labrador is on a bland diet, provide your dog with plenty of fresh drinking water to prevent dehydration.
Bloody Diarrhea in Labrador
When it happens, bloody diarrhea in Labradors is a medical emergency that you should address immediately.
There are two main types of bloody diarrhea or stool in Labradors and other dogs:
Hematochezia is bloody diarrhea or stool that happens due to bleeding in the colon or the lower digestive system. The blood has a bright red color.
If only a line of blood is seen in the stool, its occurrence could be merely a fluke. However, the consistent appearance of blood in your Lab’s diarrhea could be indicative of serious conditions, including:
- Bacteria or virus infections
- Colitis (inflammation in the colon due to infections or autoimmune conditions)
- Ruptured blood vessels in the small intestines
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
This kind of dog bloody diarrhea or stool has a dark red color because the blood in the stool has been digested.
Dark, bloody diarrhea announces a serious health problem in your Lab’s upper digestive tract. It can be caused by:
- Foreign bodies in the digestive tract
- Inflammatory disorders
Whichever type of bloody diarrhea your Lab presents, the most prudent move is to immediately call and take your dog to the vet. Bloody diarrhea is potentially fatal.
Labrador Puppy With Diarrhea
Diarrhea in Labrador puppies is caused by the same triggers that cause adult Labrador diarrhea. Nonetheless, puppies are more prone to diarrhea because their immune system isn’t yet fully developed and because of the increased exposure to diarrhea-causing factors such as contact with intestinal parasite larvae in infected soil.
Some of the most serious causes of Labrador puppy diarrhea include:
Disease and Infections
Diseases and infections that mostly predispose Labrador puppies to diarrhea include:
- Canine Parvovirus and Canine Coronavirus: A study with puppies below 12 months of age found that the two diseases were more significantly associated with puppy diarrhea than other diseases and infections such as salmonella and giardia. Another study found that the primary risk factor for weaning diarrhea among puppies was exposure to fecal excretions contaminated with canine parvovirus type 2.
- Intestinal parasites: Puppies are often born with intestinal parasites or easily pick them from the environment. Diarrhea is a recurrent clinical sign in intestinal parasite infections such as roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, giardia, whipworms, and coccidian.
Like other systems in your dog’s body, the brain controls the GI system. When your Lab is stressed, the brain chemicals send messages to your dog’s GI, which he can respond to with physical symptoms such as diarrhea.
Examples of stressful situations that can cause diarrhea-triggering stress in your Lab include:
- Meeting new people
- Moving to a new place
- The first days of being left home alone
Ingesting Garbage and Toxins
Puppies often swallow or eat stuff they shouldn’t. These could be pieces of toys or food taken from the garbage. Also, puppies may lick or chew leaves of poisonous plants in your garden and suffer diarrhea.
Change in Diet
Puppies have a more delicate stomachs than adult dogs. Changes in their diet can easily be met with resistance and cause diarrhea.
If your Lab puppy has diarrhea with fever, pale gums, pain, vomiting, or bloody diarrhea, take him to the vet immediately.
Labrador diarrhea is usually mild and short-term. However, it can become acute and cause serious health risks, including dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and death.
Knowing how to stop Labrador diarrhea can be the determining factor between restoring your Lab’s health and increasing the risk for severe disease.
Diarrhea-causing factors in Labradors include disease and infections, diet issues, stress, and ingesting objects.
Fasting and feeding your dog a bland diet is the most effective home remedy for mild Labrador diarrhea. When severe or triggered by underlying health conditions, Labrador diarrhea requires the immediate attention of a veterinarian.