Pumpkin, The Great Equalizer for Diarrhea and Constipation!
Veterinarian Reviewed on July 8, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
If you find your dog has soft or looser stools, try feeding him a teaspoon to a tablespoon of canned pumpkin with each meal. Pumpkin is a fabulous natural remedy for soft stools or diarrhea. Plain canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), or steamed fresh pumpkin will help harden the stools back up. If pumpkin is not available, cooked squash is a good substitute and can also be a bit more palatable. If you’re noticing a more runny diarrhea or lots of mucous, fast your dog for 12 to 24 hours. This will help your dog’s gut heal and he’ll often be fine after this. If there is still some diarrhea, feed small frequent meals of plain cooked (boiled) chicken with some pumpkin mixed in. Chicken is easy to digest and the pumpkin can make the stools firmer. Continue this for a few days, until the stools normalize, then gradually transition him back to his regular food. Small frequent meals will help the gut digest while not causing further trauma. For cats, a little pumpkin can be added to the food as well but we caution here that cats should NEVER be fasted as they can get very sick very quickly if they don’t eat, with something called hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease).
Pumpkin also acts as a loosening agent when stools are too hard, or if your animal seems constipated. You can add a little more pumpkin to the food, about 2-3 tablespoons per meal for the average medium sized dog. Salmon oil and other essential fatty acids like Royal Coat EFA Express work very well to help soften hard stool and help it move through the colon and bowel.
If the diarrhea persists after these efforts or is accompanied by vomiting, visit your veterinarian. Diarrhea causes water loss so your dog (and cat) can become dehydrated if it goes on for more than a couple of days, especially if it’s accompanied by vomiting.
Dogs and cats should be having at least one bowel movement daily. If they don’t, they could end up with chronic constipation problems. If your animal is constipated for more than 2-3 days, contact your veterinarian for advice. In cats especially, constipation can lead to mega-colon, a difficult and painful disorder.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan