Treating Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats

Diarrhea in dogs and cats is a common complaint. Diarrhea is a very common presenting complaint in both dogs and cats, and can be acute or chronic in nature.  Causes of diarrhea may include viral/bacterial infections, gastrointestinal parasites, dietary indiscretion or food allergies, various metabolic diseases such as inflammation of the liver or pancreas, as well as primary bowel disease involving the intestinal lining resulting in malabsorption and secondary diarrhea.

Animal guardians will often ask for palliative measures they can use for treating diarrhea at home. I only recommend at-home treatment if a pet is still energetic and active, as well as if the diarrhea has only been going on for a few days at most. Treatment of acute diarrhea may involve restricting food for 24 to 48 hours to allow the digestive tract to heal. During this time I will sometimes use small amounts of Immodium or Lomotil to help calm an inflamed digestive tract.

I find that the herb slippery elm, as well as oral charcoal products  from health food stores are also quite helpful with acute diarrhea. I often direct animal guardians to the diarrhea section in book Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, Ph.D., for an in-depth discussion of treatment of diarrhea using slippery elm and other natural methods.  The probiotic Fast Balance-G.I. is wonderful to use on all pets with acute diarrhea, changing to NatureVet Enzymes and Probiotics for long term use, once the acute episode of diarrhea is over.

During the first 24 to 48 hours of a fast, I will often recommend allowing access to water several times daily, as well as using oral electrolyte solutions like Gatorade or Pedialyte to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance in pets with diarrhea.   After 24 to 48 hours, a bland diet is introduced while some of the above measures are continued.  Bland easily digested diets such as a 50-50 mixture of sweet potatoes and lean white meat turkey, as well as turkey and chicken baby foods, can be used when re-introducing solid food intake.   I usually recommend 3-4 small meals a day, and then gradually changing back over to original diet, once the diarrhea has resolved.

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