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Should I Exercise My Dog When They Have Diarrhea: Vet-Reviewed Care Facts

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on July 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

Labrador retriever dog poops in the green park

Should I Exercise My Dog When They Have Diarrhea: Vet-Reviewed Care Facts


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo


Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

BVM BVS MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Exercise is important for your dog’s health, but what happens when their health has taken a turn for the worse? If your dog has diarrhea or is otherwise under the weather, it is best to let them rest and take a momentary break from exercise.

If your dog has had one bad health day, skipping a day of exercise won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. However, if they’re sick for several days, the inactivity may begin to catch up with them. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can care for your dog when they have diarrhea and when to take them to the vet.

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Why Shouldn’t You Exercise Your Dog When They Have Diarrhea?

When you’re sick, you’re not likely to exercise since your body needs rest to recover, and your dog is the same. Sick dogs need time to rest and recover. Limiting play time, walks, and other forms of exercise will help them in the long run since vigorous exercise can make their condition worse. Depending on the severity of your dog’s diarrhea, they may well not want to exercise anyway.  Instead of taking them on a walk, ensure your dog is hydrated by offering lots of water, keep your dog on a bland diet (such as boiled chicken and white rice) and keep them comfortable.  Clean them up if they mess on themselves, and take them out for regular toilet breaks.

As your dog recovers, you may be able to gradually introduce casual exercise again but don’t be afraid to take things slow. Also, exercising a dog with diarrhea can lead to unpleasant consequences. Exercise can stimulate the intestines to move, which can exacerbate an already highly mobile bowel.  This may lead to a messy potty accident while you’re out on a walk.

beagle dog drinking water
Image Credit: PixieMe, Shutterstock

How to Keep Your Dog Active When They’re Not Feeling Their Best

If your dog has been unwell with diarrhea for a prolonged period, you cannot neglect their exercise entirely. While they shouldn’t exercise to the extent that they would if they were healthy, there are ways to keep your dog moving when they aren’t at their best.

For example, you can give them time in an enclosed yard so they can wander around and stretch their legs at their own pace. You can also take them on a short, slow walk around the house or garden so they can stay active.

When Should You Take Your Pet to the Vet?

When should you take your dog to the vet for diarrhea? A significant factor is how long your dog has been having issues. If your dog had diarrhea for one day (likely due to something they ate), you probably don’t need to take them to the vet, as long as they are still bright.

However, if your dog has been experiencing recurring diarrhea, or diarrhea that doesn’t seem to be improving within 48 hours, consulting your vet is essential to get to the bottom of the issue.

Some signs that your dog needs to go to the vet include the following:
  • Bloody or black/tarry stool
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Lack of appetite that doesn’t improve over a few days
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Dry or pale gums
  • Dehydration

You should also reach out to your vet if your dog has any existing medical complications, such as diabetes, cancer, or other serious conditions. However, your dog doesn’t have to behave differently for you to take them to the vet. If you are concerned for any reason, don’t hesitate to make an appointment. You know your dog best, and if you think they need help, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Dog vomit in the living room on the floor
Image Credit: Cunaplus, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

When your dog has diarrhea, they need rest and cannot exercise as much as they’re accustomed to. Vigorous exercise can worsen their condition, so giving your dog the rest they need while they recover is best.

However, if your dog suffers from recurring diarrhea, you can’t keep them inactive forever. Talk to your vet about how to approach your dog’s exercise routine when they are unwell and how to treat your dog for their digestive issues.

Featured Image Credit: SasaStock, Shutterstock

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