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August 3, 2023

Most of us continue to use the same strategies we always have for dog diarrhea - out of habit or a sense of what seems to work for our dogs over the years. A new study, though, pokes a hole in a commonly prescribed dog diarrhea treatment medication and found that special tummy food works better. 

dog diarrhea image of study summary

Dog Diarrhea Study Recap

It's a small one, with just 59 otherwise healthy dogs presenting for veterinary care with "uncomplicated, acute (ie, <3 days), nonparasitic colitis." That basically means dog diarrhea without any specific diagnosis. 

Researchers used a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial methods to test what works better, with dogs in 3 groups:

  • Easily digestible diet + placebo tablet
  • Easily digestible diet + metronidazole tablet
  • Psyllium-enhanced easily digestible diet + placebo tablet 

"Dogs were evaluated serially using fecal scoring for time to remission, average fecal score, relapse after remission, and dysbiosis index."

Metronidazole Results for Dog Diarrhea

  • Group 1 dogs improved in a mean of 6 days.
  • **Group 2 dogs improved in a mean of 9.3 days.**
  • Group 3 dogs improved in a mean of 4.8 days.

Basically, the commonly used medication for dog diarrhea delayed recovery quite a bit. Yikes! The special food resulted in a faster turnaround.

Easy-to-Digest, Specially Formulated Food Benefits

While researchers found no statistical significance between the placebo groups, the dogs eating the psyllium-enhanced diet + placebo experienced fewer relapses (0.65 and none after day 9). The other placebo group experienced more relapses (1.68 up to day 17). The metronidazole group averaged 1.3 relapses up to day 23. That's a long time for dogs to feel poopy.

How to Apply This Info to Your Dog's Life?

Well, as always, do what your veterinarian recommends!

For me? This supports my at-home care plans of keeping some special "tummy food" (kibble) in the house. I also tend to add FortiFlora probiotics (designed to help dogs with diarrhea, specifically in shelter environments, but it works at home too). 

For a long time, I also added white rice to my dogs' food when they get poopy, but the last time I called our veterinary hospital about a dog diarrhea situation here, they told me that they no longer recommend feeding rice. So, ask your DVM about that too and/or cross it off your list if that's been your go-to for a while too. 

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

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