How Fast Does Pumpkin Work for Dog Diarrhea?

Dog ownership is great. You have a loving companion, running buddy, and someone to buy cute dog gear for. But it’s not always sunshines and rainbows. Sometimes your dog gets an upset stomach and you, as the responsible adult, are left to face the consequences.

You may already know that pumpkin is full of benefits for dogs, including the treatment of diarrhea. We’ve also covered pumpkin alternatives here, if you’re having a hard time finding it in stores.

Pumpkin contains fiber, which helps relieve diarrhea by adding bulk to the food waste. You should see an improvement in 4-12 hours (however long it normally takes them to digest a meal), but it may take 24-48 hours for a full recovery.

This post will cover why pumpkin is good for pups, how to give pumpkin to your dog, how quickly you can expect results, and what signs to look for that indicate that the diarrhea is more serious–in other words, when to take them into the vet.

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Why Is Pumpkin Good for Dogs?

Pumpkin is a great food for dogs for a number of reasons. It contains potassium, iron, and Vitamins A, E, and C. It also acts as a prebiotic, causing healthy bacteria growth in the stomach.

And most importantly for the topic of diarrhea, pumpkin contains fiber. This helps (how do we say this delicately?) bulk up their poop so it’s less runny.

Interestingly enough, it can also help with constipation (again, thanks to the fiber).

happy dog with pumpkins

How Much Pumpkin Should I Give My Dog?

First off, let’s talk about what kind of pumpkin to give your dog. You want pureed, cooked pumpkin. You can probably find this available in a can at your local grocery store.

Make sure you do not buy pumpkin pie filling, which has sugar and spices mixed in. You want just pure pumpkin!

As for how much, the AKC recommends adding 1-4 Tablespoons to your dog’s food.

Pumpkin is higher in calories than most dog food, so you don’t want to overdo it. You also don’t want to introduce too much fiber at once, so if you’re unsure, start out on the lower end of that range.

We should mention that this isn’t necessarily just for cases of diarrhea. You can give your dog pumpkin regularly to help increase their fiber intake.

One more thing–if you can’t find canned pumpkin, there are also canned pumpkin alternatives that you can try.

How Fast Will Pumpkin Help With My Dog’s Diarrhea?

To answer this, let’s talk about what normal digestion cycles would look like.

Dogs have significantly more acid in their stomachs than humans do, and the resulting pH level of their stomach is much more acidic. This helps them digest food, even if it starts out fairly solid (you might have a dog that seems to “inhale” food without chewing–the acid in their stomachs helps them out).

It can take dogs anywhere from 4 to 12 hours to fully digest food. Yes, we know, that’s a bigger window than what the cable company provides. Sorry.

Let’s try that again: smaller dogs typically take 4 to 6 hours to digest food, while bigger dogs typically take 8-10 hours. But digestion time can be affected by your dog’s health, age, and activity levels, as well as the type of food.

dog pooping on lawn
Dog ownership is multi-faceted

By that logic, you should see an improvement in your dog’s diarrhea between 4-6 hours for smaller dogs, and 8-10 hours for bigger dogs. But one dose of pumpkin likely won’t cure everything, so you can expect to see a return to normalcy in 24-48 hours. If your dog’s diarrhea lasts longer than that, or if they are very old, very young, unvaccinated, or have underlying health issues, consider getting them to a doctor sooner. We’ll discuss more tips on that in the next section.

Additionally, if there is a serious underlying condition causing the diarrhea, rather than just some upsetting food, then you’ll need to get the underlying cause addressed before the symptoms go away. For more information on what’s “serious”, keep reading.

When to Treat Diarrhea at Home vs. When To See a Vet

If your dog is still showing normal levels of energy and appetite, is not throwing up, and is up-to-date on their vaccines, you are probably safe “riding it out” at home.

This also assumes that your dog is not a young puppy or a senior–if so, their health can be more fragile. Likewise, this also assumes that your dog does not have any serious existing health conditions like kidney failure. If either of these things describe your pup, consider getting them to the vet.

Let your dog rest and keep them hydrated. Some people use rice water (the milky-looking water left over from boiling rice) to help their dogs rehydrate. You can also feed your dog a bland food diet, with an optional 12 hours of fasting to start off.

What do we mean by bland diet? Chicken (boiled, skinless, boneless), and rice, in small amounts every 4 hours. This is in addition to the pumpkin discussed earlier.

chicken and rice dog treatment for dog diarrhea

When to See a Vet for Diarrhea

As mentioned above, if your dog is a young puppy, a senior, has pre-existing conditions, or is not up-to-date on their shots, you should consider bringing them to a vet.

Diarrhea can be caused by ingesting bad food or garbage, stress, medications, and changes in diet. It can also be the result of more serious issues like ingesting poisons, viral infections, bacterial infections, parasites, or issues with the liver, kidney, pancreas or intestines.

If your dog matches any of these conditions, get them to a vet:

  • Very old or very young, not up-to-date on their vaccines, or have pre-existing medical conditions
  • Low energy
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea lasting more than 24-36 hours
  • Gums that are pale or bluish (more information about dog gums here)
  • Bloated stomach.
  • Poop that contains blood or worms, or poop that is black in color
  • You suspect that they have eaten something poisonous, or something that is blocking their stomach

We know that seeing your dog sick can be very stressful, especially for new dog owners. Trust your gut and err on the side of caution. We hope that your dog feels better soon!

PuppyLists is written by Kat, who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 15 year old Lab mix.