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Why Does My Ridgeback Have Diarrhea? Full Help Guide

It’s almost certain that your Rhodesian Ridgeback will have a few episodes of diarrhea in their lifetime. It’s worrisome when it happens, and understandably, owners want to know the reasons and remedies. This article will delve into the usual causes and effective solutions. Let’s dive in.


8 Common Causes of Diarrhea In Ridgebacks

Let’s run through the common causes of diarrhea that I’ve personally seen in ridgebacks. And just to be sure, I’ve consulted about the following with veterinarians I work with on my other blog.

  1. Eaten table scraps/rotten food/foreign object
  2. Not agreeing with the kibble/diet
  3. Switching kibbles or diets too quickly
  4. Bacterial infections
  5. Parasites
  6. Stress and anxiety
  7. Dehydration or heatstroke
  8. Health issues or medication

1. Eaten table scraps/rotten food/foreign object

One of the most common instances of diarrhea comes shortly after your ridgeback has eaten something he shouldn’t have.

Either table scraps that were too rich (or he’s never had before), he’s rummaged through the trash and eaten something rotten, or he’s eaten any other kind of foreign object or item.

And don’t be too quick to rule this one out… Even if you haven’t knowingly fed him tidbits or seen him rummage through the garbage, this can happen easily when out on walks or if someone else in the household has slipped him something they shouldn’t have… (happens with kids all the time! lol)

2. Not agreeing with the kibble/diet

The world of dog food is large and quite confusing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it easy getting it right for your Rhody. And with many having sensitive stomachs, it can take a while before you find one that works well.

If your ridgeback doesn’t agree with the kibble he’s eating then this could certainly be causing him diarrhea. Even if you’ve been feeding him this kibble for a while, it’s worth considering.

There could be common allergens he’s not getting on well with, or it could that the quality isn’t quite where it should be. If you’ve recently switched kibbles before the diarrhea started, this becomes a likely cause.

3. Switching kibbles or diets too quickly

Whenever you switch your ridgeback’s kibble, it’s crucial to do it slowly and gradually over the course of 7-10 days. You must phase out the old food while adding more of the new food over time.

If you don’t do this and instantly switch foods, it usually too much of a shock to the system, and rightfully causes diarrhea.

This could lead you to believe that the new kibble isn’t working well when in fact it will, it’s just that the switch was too abrupt.

4. Bacterial infections

Your ridgeback is exposed to a lot of bacteria each and every day. From bacteria on his toy, water bowl, his own bed, and your yard, it’s mostly everywhere. And although that sounds gross, it’s not actually a hygiene issue. Bacteria is unavoidable and for the most part normal.

Unfortunately, some bacteria can develop, or become too strong for your ridgeback’s immune system to handle. In these cases, a likely result while his body fights the bacteria is diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and appetite changes.

Bacterial infections usually require a trip to vets and a course of antibiotics. I will cover below how and when to know it’s time to visit the vets.

5. Parasites

Although more uncommon than bacterial infections, parasites are another known cause of diarrhea in ridgebacks.

There are a few ways in which parasites can happen. Either your ridgeback ingests an infected flea, the eggs of an infected flea, or has caught them from his canine mother before leaving the breeder (this is why it’s crucial for all pups to receive deworming medication).

And you might have guessed, one way to know if your ridgeback has parasites, is to inspect his poop (although not always reliable). You might see visible worms which can sometimes grow quite large. Parasites also have other symptoms like vomiting, nausea, bloody stools, weight loss, or a lack of appetite.

6. Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety is something many owners, including myself, wouldn’t necessarily link to diarrhea. But it’s possible and even common.

The problem with stress and anxiety is that so many things can cause it. The most common causes of canine stress include a lack of exercise, mental stimulation, noisy environments, being left alone too often, as well as punitive training.

If your ridgeback is lacking anywhere in his basic requirements then he could be suffering from additional stress and anxiety, which could be causing diarrhea. As this is fairly hard to diagnose, the only thing you can really do is to take a second to fairly judge your ridgeback’s day and be honest about whether he’s lacking in any area.

7. Dehydration or heatstroke

Dehydration or heatstroke, are both well-known causes of diarrhea. Unfortunately, our dogs are slightly dehydrated most of the time, as many don’t drink enough water on their own accord. So this certainly doesn’t help.

Both of these issues can happen easily throughout summer (with heatstroke being much worse and even dangerous) so it’s important to do what you can to keep your Rhody cool and hydrated. << I have an article about this you might want to check out!

If you’re in the middle of summer and diarrhea happens after a full day of sun exposure, this could likely be the cause.

8. Health issues or medication

Lastly, if your ridgeback is currently on any medication, this could be what’s causing him diarrhea.

Additionally, your ridgeback may not be on any medication, but if he has underlying health issues (not yet known to you) this could also be causing diarrhea.

All health issues start somewhere, and this is why I remain adamant it’s important to have generic health checkups scheduled with your vet at least twice a year.

Additional info: VCA Hospitals Diarrhea in Dogs Source

When To See Your Veterinarian

As it can be hard to truly know the cause of your ridgeback’s diarrhea problem, the best advice is to visit your veterinarian if you have no genuine idea as to what’s caused it.

Additionally, if you can’t seem to improve your ridgeback’s diarrhea within 1-2 days with the tips below, it’s best to call your veterinarian for further advice.

Times to call a vet:

If you have no idea what’s caused the diarrhea
If the diarrhea is accompanied by other symptoms (vomiting, nausea, lethargy, etc)
If you suspect the diarrhea is caused by a bacterial infection, parasites, heatstroke, medication, or underlying health issues
If you are dealing with a puppy or senior with diarrhea
● If your ridgeback refuses to drink fluids along with having diarrhea

Fortunately, most situations will not require you to rush to the vet’s office, and there are a few very effective solutions that owners can put into action themselves at home.

How To Help Your Ridgeback With Diarrhea

Let’s run through some of the best ways to help your Rhodesian ridgeback overcome diarrhea. In most situations, your veterinarian will offer the same solutions I’m about to run through.

1. Temporary fasting

As long as your ridgeback is not a puppy, senior, or has existing health issues, then fasting should be the first port of call to help your ridgeback.

Withholding all food for 12-24 hours will help your ridgeback’s digestive system and stomach rest, recover, and regain some strength before it needs to work again. As digesting food puts a lot of stress on the digestive system, a temporary fast usually helps significantly.

Fasting should not be done for more than 24 hours, and it’s vital to ensure your ridgeback consumes plenty of fluids while fasting.

2. Bland food diet

The next step after a short fast is to put your ridgeback on a bland food diet. If your ridgeback couldn’t partake in a fast, then the bland food diet will be the first step.

The bland food diet is the recommended solution given by veterinarians when trying to overcome diarrhea.

It involves feeding your ridgeback three small meals a day consisting of known bland foods. The most common being plain boiled chicken breast with plain white rice. There are additional ingredients, but this is the most well-known and simplest.

The purpose of this diet is to provide your ridgeback with the essential macronutrients while allowing his digestive system to recover. The reason this works so well is because plain boiled chicken and white rice are incredibly easy for his body to digest, and puts very little stress on the stomach.

It’s usually recommended to remain on the bland food diet until your ridgeback no longer has diarrhea. Then a very slow and gradual reintroduction of his kibble is necessary. (assuming it wasn’t his kibble causing diarrhea).

3. Antidiarrheal medication

It’s always advised to first try the bland food diet alone, but if that doesn’t seem to help his situation, antidiarrheal medication can be given along with his new temporary diet.

One of the most common antidiarrheal medications is Pro-Pectalin. This is a safe medication that you usually buy over the counter. While this is given the okay by most veterinarians, it’s still advised to check with your vet first.

Additionally, you could schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if the bland food diet doesn’t work to receive prescribed medication and a stool hardener.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics can be a great alternative to medication (at least in the beginning). As diarrhea is typically gut-related, probiotics usually help significantly. You can incorporate probiotics along with a bland food diet to maximize effectiveness.

Probiotics contain a lot of healthy gut bacteria, which simply put, work to strengthen and restore balance in your ridgeback’s gut microbiome.

You can buy probiotics from most pet stores or you can get them from your veterinarian. Ensure to read the label and give the correct dosage.

How Long Will The Recovery Take?

Once your Rhodesian ridgeback is put on a short fast (if that’s possible for him) and then transitioned onto the bland food diet, it shouldn’t take more than 1-2 days to see an improvement with his diarrhea problem.

If it seems to be taking longer than 1-2 days to see any kind of noticeable improvement with his stools, then it’s recommended to contact your veterinarian for further help.

How To Prevent Your Ridgeback From Getting Diarrhea

Although it might be too late to prevent his ongoing bout of diarrhea, here are a few pointers to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Avoid giving table scraps
Always change kibbles slowly over 1-2 weeks
Always try to avoid inferior brands
Wash her toys, bed, and bowls regularly
Keep trash cans and garbage inaccessible at all times
Keep a close eye on your ridgeback when out on walks
Ensure his environment is calm and relaxing
Ensure his basic needs are met, particularly exercise levels
Try to avoid leaving him alone for prolonged periods of time
Keep on top of boosters, jabs, and worming medication (puppies)
Avoid letting your ridgeback play with unvaccinated dogs

While it’s going to be impossible to prevent all bouts of diarrhea, taking on board some of the above will certainly help reduce the chances of diarrhea happening again in the future.

Thank you for reading! More Rhodesian Ridgeback articles >


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.