In Digestive Complaints

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of the Rice-Water Fast as an initial intervention for children who have diarrhea in developing countries where access to medical care is difficult.

In my veterinary practice I’ve recommended the Rice-Water Fast to my clients for many years with great success in firming up those messy stools.

I’d like to share with you the recipe for Rice-Water here. This is just in case your four-legged friend wakes you up some night with raging diarrhea. If you give them rice water, and a few other simple things that I’ll also recommend here, things will go much better for your poor pet’s diarrhea. ☹

The rice water diet is really pretty simple. Its based on the fact that rice contains a polypeptide that affects the large intestine. This digestive organ is the last place you’re pet’s stool gets worked on by the digestive system before the stool is eliminated, or defecated through your dog or cat’s rectum and anus. In the large intestine the body reabsorbs excess water in the stool, which firms up the stool and turns it into a healthy, normal solid waste.

When diarrhea occurs, often it is due to the large intestine’s inability, due to infection or inflammation, to reabsorb water. The wet stool that is eliminated is the diarrhea. Rice water’s polypeptide is stimulates the large intestine to reabsorb water, thus firming up the stool. Pretty simple, really. This is how rice can help to stop diarrhea.

Rice-water recipe

  • 1 cup white rice (not minute rice, not brown rice)
  • 6 cups of water
  • Bring water and rice to a boil for 10-15 minutes until the water turns
  • Pour off the  creamy water and save.
  • Keep the white rice and water, you can add more water and boil it again for more rice water.

Serve your pet the rice water to drink for the first day of diarrhea. Withhold all food, and just give the water. This is a modified fast, and will help stop your pet’s diarrhea. If your pet is reluctant to drink the water, you can add a teaspoon of Chicken or Turkey or Beef baby food to the rice water to give it a good flavor.

If your pet won’t drink the water, even with the baby food in it, and you know that it is hungry, that it just doesn’t like the taste of the rice water with baby food, you can go ahead and cook up the rest of the rice.

Cooked white rice is my follow-up break-fast for the Rice-Water fast. I’ve found that when you cook it wetter than you might like to eat it yourself, it works better in stopping the diarrhea than when it is cooked with less water, or al dente. Depending on the altitude you find yourself at, usually 1 cup of rice for each 1.5 cup of water at sea level. At altitude, where water boils at a lower temperature, you would need to increase that ratio to 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water. In Chinese cooking this kind of rice is called: “Congee” or rice porridge.

I recommend feeding the cooked white rice half and half with cooked chicken or turkey, which are good, bland, low fat meats to use when cooking for your pet with diarrhea. Cook the lean meat and then cut it up into cubes so it blends in with the wet-cooked white rice.

How much to feed? A rule of thumb: For the first three days of feeding your pet with diarrhea after the first day feeding the rice-water you would feed it half as many cups of food as you are normally feeding it. This puts less burden on the digestive system to feed less food. Once the stool is returning to normal you can increase the amount you are feeding to as many cups as you normally feed them on a daily basis. When you are transitioning your pet back to its daily diet, do that gradually as well.

Gradually transitioning back to their normal diet involves adding a small amount of your pet’s old diet (maybe 10-25%) to the rice and chicken/turkey for a day or two and if its stools remain normal, gradually increasing that amount of their old diet you are adding to the rice and chicken diet, until they are getting 100% of their old diet with no digestive problems.

Supplements you can add to help stop your Pet Diarrhea

1. RxClay™ is a supplement designed by myself and manufactured by RxVitamins for Pets. It is a 100% Montmorillonite clay, chemically, described as a calcium aluminosilicate clay. There is a published study in dogs with diarrhea from cancer or chemotherapy using the RxClay™ that was able to stop the diarrhea in 65% of the dogs studied. These dogs had not been able to have their diarrhea controlled with standard conventional therapies, and there were some in this group that had diarrhea for as long a month with no improvement. You can mix this powder in with the white rice, mixed with baby food and formed into balls. These rice balls can be used to administer all of the supplements for diarrhea to your pet. The recommended dosage for acute diarrhea is 1/8 teaspoon (1 scoop) for each 10 pounds of body weight twice daily until the diarrhea has resolved. Lower doses can be used for maintenance or chronic diarrhea problems.

2. RxBiotic™ is a four strain, high potency, hypoallergenic probiotic powder with supportive prebiotics included. Each 1/8 teaspoon contains a total of 2 billion living organisms. By re-inoculating the bowel with friendly bacteria the healthy ecology of the bowel becomes restored, which usually results in the resolution of diarrhea fairly quickly. The recommended dose for RxBiotic™ is 1 scoop for each 20 pounds of body weight twice daily, mixed with the food.

3. RxZyme™ is a highly-potent digestive enzyme formula with added glutamine and lecithin designed by myself and made by RxVitamins for Pets. Digestive enzymes are normally produced by the pancreas and the lining of the stomach, duodenum and small intestines. By more completely digesting the food, in many cases the diarrhea will resolve. Digestive enzymes can also be useful in the case of food allergies, food intolerances or even with environmental allergies. Dose this supplement by mixing ¼ teaspoon of digestive enzyme for each cup of food fed, each meal.

4. NutriGest™ is an herbal combination containing living probiotic cultures that was designed by myself to help with the bowel inflammation that leads to soft stools or diarrhea. It has potent anti-inflammatory herbs like Cat’s Claw, Ginger root, garlic and Oregon grape root. It has soothing demulcent herbs to coat and calm the inflamed bowel lining such as aloe extract, licorice root and psyllium seed. It has n acetyl D glucosamine which has been shown to help with chronic bowel inflammation. Nutrigest™ is provided by RxVitamins for pets as capsules or as a scoopable powder and can be mixed with the food to administer.

5. Traditional Chinese herbal formulas have a long history of successfully treating digestive complaints such as diarrhea in both people and in pets. There are many different formulas, each one specifically adapted to a certain type of patient or a certain type of digestive problem. In my experience using Chinese herbs to treat diarrhea in my patients, there are two formulas that have been most able to address most forms of diarrhea in my patients.

Pogostomom and Perilla Formula, also known as Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San has been most effective with the majority of my patients who present with acute diarrhea. It comes as little tea pills, or larger tablets, and can also be provided as a scoopable powder to mix with food, or with white rice balls with baby food. Don’t let the strange names turn you off, or that these formulas come from China. Although China has had a bad reputation for some of its adulterated foods herbs and drugs, the herbal products that are exported to the US, Europe, Canada and Australia are of the highest quality, unadulterated and with good quality control.

Ginseng and Atractylodes Formula, also known as Shen Ling Bai Zhu San is a formula that I use for a certain type of presentation of diarrhea. This is where the stools are soft and pasty, or runny, and have that yellow color. There may be mucus and blood as well in the stool. Sometimes the type of diarrhea that responds to this formula is due to the failure of the pancreas to secrete enough digestive enzymes. It comes in the same formats as the Pogostomom and Perilla formula.

So, when your pet gets diarrhea this list summarizes what you should be doing to help it out:

  1. Fast for 24 hours with rice water or white rice balls and baby food
  2. Collect feces and submit to your vet for diagnosis
  3. Mix in with your rice balls the RxClay and RxBiotic
  4. Administer drugs when your veterinarian recommends them if they are based on the microscopic fecal examination or fecal culture.
  5. If stools don’t firm up in 48-72 hours, try the Chinese herbal formula that best matches your pet’s presentation and diarrhea
  6. If that doesn’t improve things in another 48 hours, then add the RxZyme to the protocol and recheck feces microscopically for evidence of what is causing the diarrhea to continue.

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Doc Rob
Dr. Robert Silver DVM, MS, CVA achieved his lifetime goal of becoming a veterinarian when he graduated from Colorado State University’s (CSU) College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. In the 90s, after creating Boulder’s Natural Animal, a Holistic Wellness Center, Dr. Silver established effective protocols for a number of serious, potentially life-threatening chronic diseases in dogs and cats, such as cancer, allergies, chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disease, Canine epilepsy, and behavior problems. Dr. Silver's has also designed nutritional and herbal formulas for RxVitamins for Pets and worked directly with pets who have been given cannabis and hemp by their owners to address a number of difficult conditions such as epilepsy, pain, cancer and behavior problems. Although retired from day-to-day practice, Dr. Silver still consults on difficult cases referred from veterinarians, and continues to work as Chief Medical Officer for RxVitamins for Pets.

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