Can Dog Treats Cause Diarrhea? 5 Reasons Why It Can Happen

Can Dog Treats Cause Diarrhea? 5 Reasons Why It Can Happen


7 minute read

Gabe Garcia


Vet-Approved

This article has been rigorously reviewed and validated by Dr. Annina Müller, med. vet., an accomplished veterinarian who earned her veterinary degree at the University of Bern, specializing in Small Animal Surgery. Her expertise ensures that the advice provided is both current and accurate in the field of veterinary medicine.


It's no secret that giving your dog some treats to snack on is an enjoyable experience, but it can quickly be ruined if the treats don't suit your dog and lead to stomach problems like diarrhea.

While diarrhea from dog treats is rare, it can happen, and there are several reasons outside of just overfeeding that can cause it to happen.

Stay tuned for a full rundown of all the reasons why dog treats can cause diarrhea and what you can do to prevent it and keep your dog safe and happy.

The 5 Main Reasons Why Dog Treats Can Cause Diarrhea

Here are the five most common reasons why dog treats can cause your dog to have diarrhea.

1. Overfeeding

Overfeeding can cause your dog to suffer from diarrhea, especially with treats.

Dog treats are not designed to be nutritionally complete, which is why they have recommended feeding amounts according to the size of your dog.

If you feed them too much, it can upset their stomach quickly and cause diarrhea.

Always stick to the 10% rule, where 10% or less of the calories that your dog eats in a day should come from treats and the rest from their regular diet.

2. Low-Quality Dog Treats

It should be no surprise that not all dog treats are high quality.

In fact, many dog treats use filler ingredients and several chemicals to preserve the food, and these can cause stomach issues, especially if your dog is used to a higher-quality diet.

Our sweet potato treats were designed with quality and simplicity in mind and are a great example of a single ingredient dog treat that is stomach-friendly.

3. The Treats Are Expired

Alongside the concern about expired treats, it's important to be cautious with raw meat snacks. These can carry resistant bacteria and parasites, particularly if they're not fresh.

All dog treats, including raw meat snacks, have a best-by date, indicating when they start to degrade in quality. Feeding your dog these treats past their expiration can lead to stomach upset. This condition is sometimes referred to as garbage toxicosis or garbage gut, and is more common than one might think, especially with raw meat treats.

4. Allergy

Certain allergies can affect your dog's digestive system and cause vomiting and diarrhea.

The most common allergies for your dog to develop in terms of food are from proteins such as beef, chicken, and lamb, so if you have introduced a new dog treat to your dog with a protein that they haven't eaten before, it could cause an allergic reaction, leading to diarrhea.

5. Offering New Treats

The last reason why dog treats can often cause diarrhea for your dog is if you offer them a new brand or type of treat and they aren't used to the ingredients.

It can take a while for a dog to adapt to a change in their diet, especially if the dog treats contain a different protein from the one they are used to from their regular dry or wet food.

When offering your dog a new treat, start with smaller amounts than those recommended on the label to give your pup a chance to adapt to the new food.

What To Do If Your Dog Has Diarrhea From Dog Treats

If your dog has diarrhea and you suspect dog treats are the cause, they should be fine with a bit of rest. Follow the steps below to get your pup on the path to recovery as soon as possible.

If you're worried about your dog having diarrhea or if they start to show any other symptoms, consult your veterinarian.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated & Let Them Fast

When your dog has diarrhea, the best thing to do is to ensure they drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. For healthy, adult dogs, consider a brief fasting period of 6 to 12 hours, but avoid fasting for more than 12 hours. Puppies should not be fasted at all. Before you decide on fasting your dog, even for a short time, it's important to consult with your vet. They can give you the best advice tailored to your dog's specific health needs.

Stick To Bland Foods

Once your dog finishes fasting, start feeding them again but skip treats and any new foods they haven't tried recently.

Opt for plain, bland, and stomach-friendly options like plain cooked white rice or canned pumpkin. You could also consider dog food made specifically for sensitive stomachs, though these often need a prescription. Importantly, instead of their usual meal portions, offer these bland foods in small amounts but more frequently than usual. This approach can be gentler on your dog's digestive system as it recovers.

Consult Your Veterinarian If Symptoms Persist

If the symptoms of diarrhea are still present after the fasting period and your dog is rejecting foods that are more suited for a sensitive stomach, get in touch with your veterinarian.

Tips For Avoiding Diarrhea From Dog Treats

The last thing anybody wants is for their dog to get diarrhea after giving them a new dog treat.

Here are some easy tips to prevent your dog from getting diarrhea the next time you introduce them to a new dog treat.

Start With Small Amounts

The best thing you can do to avoid stomach problems with new dog treats is to start with very small amounts at first.

A good rule of thumb for this is half the recommended daily amount at first to see how their stomach reacts, making sure to give them plenty of time afterward to let the treats digest.

Check The Ingredient List

Another essential thing to do is to check the ingredient list before you purchase new dog treats for your pup.

Many dog treats have an ingredient list that is incredibly long and full of additives, preservatives, and filler ingredients that offer little to no value to your dog.

You can read our article about ingredients to avoid in dog treats to see which ingredients you need to look out for.

Single-ingredient dog treats, like our sweet potato treats, are the healthiest choice for your pup's stomach because they contain no added chemicals or other potentially harmful ingredients. If you're interested, you can discover more about the extra benefits of single-ingredient dog treats here.

Make Sure The Treats Are Fresh

The last thing to do is to double-check that the treats you are offering are fresh and haven't gone stale or out of date.

Dog treats have a best-by date for a reason, and while it's relatively uncommon for them to cause issues if they're close to the date, those that are far past the best-by date can cause stomach problems.

Summary

Certain dog treats can be more prone to giving your dog diarrhea, especially if they are suddenly introduced to their diet in significant amounts.

If you stick to high-quality dog treats that don't contain lots of added preservatives or flavorings and introduce them in small amounts, your dog should be safe from getting diarrhea.

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