How to Treat Diarrhea in Animals? 2023

Denise Lessard
Authored by Denyse Lessard
Denyse is an in Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy, and the formulator behind most of Zumalka's natural health products for pets.
- May 30, 2023

Diarrhea in dogs and cats is definitely something that you should never ignore. This applies to mild cases of this condition, too. While this health issue is considered as one of the most common gastrointestinal problems in animals, having a know-how in treating diarrhea is essential for all cat and dog owners.

But the thing is a lot of pet parents still don't have a clue on the basic treatments when a cat's or dog's diarrhea gets in the picture. They also mistakenly think that resorting to anti-diarrheal medications is the only option to go for during this problem!

This is the reason why I've put together this comprehensive yet simple-to-follow blog post to educate pet owners on the do's and cat or dog diarrhea. Make sure you follow along because I'm also going to walk you through some home treatment pointers for this health issue in just a few moments.

Let's start things off by finding out what exactly diarrhea in dogs or cats is...


A Quick Look at Pet Diarrhea

dog hiding

At its simplest, cat or dog diarrhea is characterized by your pet's increased bowel movement and his passing of unformed or watery stools. His large intestines may also experience a decreased absorption of minerals like potassium and sodium in the process.

Besides making your pet prone to abdominal pain and tummy upset, diarrhea in dogs and cats can also lead to electrolyte imbalances since only a small amount of the beneficial salts and minerals are taken in by the body.

Moreover, cat or dog diarrhea may even have an effect on your furry friend's overall immune system sooner or later if not properly taken care of. Sudden diarrhea in dogs and cats can also result in severe dehydration in some cases.

If you're noticing that your pet is already suffering from chronic diarrhea or is experiencing bouts of acute diarrhea out of the blue, it is very important to get in touch with your veterinarian immediately.

Your cat or dog might need diagnostic testing like a physical exam or blood work to really determine what the problem is. It's also possible that your pet may also require specially formulated dog foods or cat kibble to help his digestive tract recover.

Now we've got that covered, let's go over the possible causes of cat's or dog's diarrhea...


The Usual Causes of Diarrhea in Pets

cat lying down

Cat and dog diarrhea doesn't just happen. There is a particular reason why it is taking place. Knowing these reasons as cat and dog owners will help you protect your pet even more against this health issue.

A quick reminder, though. While your pet may be acting normal, there is always a specific factor that makes him pass loose stools and may even change his poop color. Here are the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs or cats that you should keep in mind:


Dietary indiscretion

This basically means that the reason why your pet has cat or dog diarrhea is because he has been eating garbage or some other stuff other than a cat's or dog's regular food. This factor is quite prevalent among small dogs and young kittens that are still very curious about their environment.

Dietary indiscretion covers anything from a foreign object to table scraps that your cat's or dog's stomach can't handle. Common examples of a foreign body include wet wipes, rubber bands, plastic containers and small pebbles, among others. And once these things reach your kitty's or dog's digestive tract, it's not uncommon that diarrhea will ensue.


Underlying health condition

It is also possible that a case of diarrhea in dogs or cats is set off by an underlying health issue. The usual triggers of your cat's or pup's diarrhea are hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, liver disease, bacterial or viral infections, kidney disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

According to veterinary medicine, kidney disease causes cat or dog diarrhea because the body cannot expel the ideal amount of toxins in the urine. It will try to get rid of them through your cat's or dog's poop. This causes your kitty's or dog's gut to go on overdrive, triggering diarrhea.


Sensitive stomachs

It's highly likely that your pet has a sensitive stomach if he tends to easily get an upset tummy on a regular basis. While accidentally eating garbage can be considered as one possible reason, your cat's or dog's loose stools can also be attributed to a weak gut microbiome or gut flora.

Additionally, a deficient gut flora can also be aggravated by the presence of viral infections, inflammatory bowel disease as well as bacterial infections. Giving your pet natural probiotics and other supplements can help a lot in this situation.


Food intolerances caused by allergies

Allergies typically disrupt the normal function of your pet's immune system. These health issues can also be worsened by bacterial infections and inflammatory bowel disease. Ask for your vet's advice as soon as possible when you observe that your cat's or dog's diarrhea is still not letting up despite administering home remedies. A fecal exam is often required in these cases.


Lack of fiber supplements

It is also possible that your pet is found to have a tough time absorbing and retaining fiber after a routine physical examination or an abdominal ultrasound. Besides keeping the digestive tract of your furry friend in tiptop shape, having ideal levels of fiber also help promote a stronger overall immune system.

Just to emphasize, your pet will already need veterinary attention if he is found to have very low fiber absorption or retention. You should consider regularly feeding your cat or dog small portions of fiber-rich food like apples, pumpkins (the real thing and not pumpkin pie filling), white rice, carrots and broccoli to alleviate this problem.


Is Diet a Possible Factor of Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats?

dogs looking up

The short answer is yes. Suddenly changing up your pet's diet plan or drastically integrating a new type of food in his regular meals can cause gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea. If you're looking to include a new food type in your cat's or dog's diet, the best way to do it is in a gradual manner.


Can a Stressful Event Cause Pet Diarrhea?

sad dog

Yes, pet diarrhea can take place if your cat or dog experiences anxiety and stress due to an extreme emotional state. This can be caused by particular events like separation from their family members, travelling from one place to another, sudden loud noises, being around strangers as well as dealing with a new environment.

The anxiety or stress that your pet goes through can be so severe that it already alters physiological functions such as digestion and gut motility. This will normally result in diarrhea in most cases.


Does Every Gastrointestinal Tract Issue Lead to Diarrhea?

sad cat

The short answer is no. Although diarrhea in pets can be a sign that something is wrong with their gastrointestinal tract, it doesn't necessarily mean that your dog or cat will experience this health problem each time his stomach and gut act up.

On the contrary, the absence of diarrhea doesn't mean that your pet's digestive tract is also in tiptop shape. Other symptoms that you should take note of include bloating, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, as well as nausea and vomiting.


Can Pet Diarrhea Be a Sign of a More Serious Illness?

two dogs and cat lying on the couch

Yes, your cat or dog could be afflicted with a more serious health issue if he is going through diarrhea, specially when it is already becoming chronic in nature. Below you will find the possible causes why your pet is suffering from recurring diarrhea in animals:

  • Allergies caused by certain foods or perhaps food indiscretion

  • Parasitic, bacterial or viral infections

  • Blockages in the digestive tract

  • Underlying conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and organ disorder

If you observe that your pet is constantly going through diarrhea, you may reach out to your vet for radiographs, x-rays, ultrasound, and similar procedures to really determine what the exact problem is.


Is Diet a Possible Factor in Pet Diarrhea?

grumpy dog

The short answer is yes. What your cat or dog eats can have a significant effect on his overall gastrointestinal function. This effect can also either be immediate or observed in the long-term and will usually have diarrhea in pets as one of its clinical signs.

The following are the most common diet-related reasons why your pet is experiencing bouts of diarrhea:

  • Allergic reaction to particular foodstuffs

  • Ingestion of garbage and similar items

  • Consumption of poisonous plants like the sago palm, azalea and rhododendron

  • Abrupt change in pet food or eating schedules

  • Contaminated or spoiled food (specially those with molds and other gut irritants)

  • Poor-quality pet food

I'd just like to point out that you don't have to go for expensive pet food brands and varieties to avoid diarrhea in dogs and cats. You simply have to exercise care and caution when choosing the stuff to feed your pet as well as the proper storage strategies so they won't go bad by surprise.

As a pet parent, it is also crucial to have an idea of the foods that your dog or cat can safely consume. Here's our ultimate guide to the foods that your dog can and cannot eat to help take your pet diet know-how up a notch.


Can Chronic Diarrhea Be Fatal?

Yes, chronic diarrhea in pets can be fatal if not properly taken care of as soon as possible. Besides being prone to significant electrolyte imbalance and dehydration, your furry friend could also be vulnerable to severe malnutrition since his system won't be able to absorb and retain essential nutrients to keep his body ideally functioning .

It is very important that you contact your veterinarian as soon as you can if you observe that your dog or cat is going through chronic diarrhea. Moreover, it's even possible that the adverse effects of this health problem are already in motion even if your pet is still acting normal.


Can Kidney Disease Cause Acute Diarrhea?

While kidney disease is not considered as a direct cause of diarrhea in animals, some of its adverse effects in the body can result in sudden metabolic imbalances. These imbalances can make the levels of some essential minerals like potassium dip, which can have a negative outcome on how the body digests food, as well as draw in nutrients from the same.

Alternatively, conventional medicines used for pet kidney problems can also trigger immune system issues sooner or later. A common consequence is digestive tract issues, which will almost always involve diarrhea.


Is It True That Pet Diarrhea Resolves Itself?

The short answer is yes. Your pet's body has the ability to deal with diarrhea itself. However, this only applies to slight or minor cases of diarrhea with no underlying condition accompanying it.

It is crucial to remember that the overall health of your dog or cat should also be included in the equation. Very young pups or kittens whose bodies are still developing will need help in getting their gastrointestinal function back to normal.

On the other hand, senior dogs and cats will also require assistance in getting their digestive function back on track. Introducing a bland diet or integrating skinless chicken and cooked rice in their regular meals are just some of the ways to pull this off.


Quick Tips to Treat Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats

ill cat lying down

Tip #1: Keep dehydration at bay.

To avoid dehydration during diarrhea in pets, make sure your furry friend has access to clean fresh water at all times. Your dog or cat will sneak in a few sips here and there should he become thirsty.


Tip #2: Assist your pet's digestive system to get back to normal (or "bland diet" approach).

Integrate boiled chicken or eggs, canned pumpkin (again not pumpkin pie filling) as well as rice water or cooked white rice in your dog's or cat's regular meals. This is also referred to as the "bland diet" approach. You can simply combine these with foods that your pet loves and you're good to go.


Tip #3: Make probiotics a part of your pet's diet.

Probiotics are basically "good" gut bacteria that help in the overall function of the gastrointestinal system. Besides optimizing the function of the stomach and intestines, these beneficial microorganisms can also help in the management of diarrhea in pets. Consistent use of probiotics can have a positive effect on your furry friend's immune response as well.


Is It Recommended to Withhold Food When Your Dog or Cat Has Diarrhea?

The answer is it depends. If your pet is only experiencing a mild case of diarrhea, a short fasting period of about 8 to 12 hours can help his gastrointestinal system to recuperate. Just make sure your furry friend always has access to fresh, clean water.

However, if your cat or dog is going through severe diarrhea, particularly in cases where an underlying health condition is involved, withholding food may inadvertently aggravate the situation.

A quick reminder, though. Don't forget to get in touch with your vet before you withhold food from your pet during diarrhea. This is to prevent other health issues from unexpectedly popping up.


Can You Use Human Medications to Treat Your Pet's Diarrhea?

Absolutely not! Human medications for diarrhea are specifically formulated for humans and may contain ingredients that can be potentially toxic to dogs and cats as well as other pets. Some of these ingredients may even be fatal to animals. Home remedies for pet diarrhea are a much safer alternative when the need arises.


Crucial Questions to Consider When Your Pet Has Diarrhea

If we're being honest, diarrhea is one of the health issues that your pet will eventually go through at some point of his life. And not knowing what to do during this situation will somehow affect your cat's or dog's overall quality of life.

When your furry friend goes through diarrhea, it's very important to answer the following questions:

  • What are the possible causes ?

  • What are the characteristics of the diarrhea?

Note: Keep in mind that diarrhea triggered by an unusually heavy meal, anxiety or a minor health problem like the common cold will tend to go away after a 24-hour period.

  • Is your pet suffering from fever?

  • Is there blood in his stools?

If so, you will need to consult your veterinarian as soon as you can since it is possible that your furry friend may be experiencing adverse complications of an even more serious health problem. Technical procedures such as x-rays may be required in some instances.

On the other hand, when your pet is losing a large amount of water—this almost always happens in cases of chronic or severe diarrhea—you will need to act quickly to prevent dehydration.



A Natural Pet Diarrhea Support Product You Should Consider Including In Your Checklist


Zumalka's Probiopet
Diarrhea in pets can lead to serious adverse consequences if not immediately dealt with the right way. To avoid this unpleasant situation, our PROBIOPET is a premium natural product you should consider before, during and after diarrhea.

PROBIOPET contains beneficial intestinal and lactic bacteria that play an important role in metabolism. A typical healthy pet gut approximately contains one hundred trillion bacteria of about 400 different species. Not having enough of these good bacteria can lead to gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea in pets.



Properties of Lactic or Intestinal Bacteria that are Good for Your Pet

Despite the very small size of lactic or intestinal bacteria, they have a lot of beneficial properties that your pet needs to keep his gastrointestinal system in good shape. Here are just some of their attributes that you should know:

  • Top speed intestinal proliferation

  • Helps make the stomach and intestines more resilient against health issues

  • Helps improve the gut's immune response

  • Helps maintain and restore good intestinal flora

  • Promotes a more ideal intestinal pH level

  • Helps prevent gastrointestinal infections

  • Stimulates the regeneration of intestinal flora after antibiotic treatment

  • Assists in dealing with diarrhea, enteritis and dysentery, among others

I'd just like to point out that our PROBIOPET is primarily designed to stimulate the increase of intestinal or lactic bacteria in the gut. And given that this product is made from premium natural ingredients, you are guaranteed that your pet won't be experiencing adverse side effects anytime soon.



While diarrhea is considered as one of the most common health issues that your cat or dog may go through at some point of his life, immediately dealing with it the right way is crucial for all pet parents.

In case you're looking to find out more about naturally supporting your pet during illness, make sure you contact us right now to get in touch with a professional pet homeopathy expert. We are looking forward to hearing from you really soon!


About the author

Denise Lessard
Denise Lessard


Denyse Lessard is deemed as the “mother” of Zumalka, which was established more than ten years ago to provide easily accessible natural products for pet wellness worldwide.

Besides being a trained alternative medicine therapist, Denyse also has expertise in homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology, reflexology, as well as Chinese medicine. She is a long-standing member of the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec, as well as the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec.

Denyse’s philosophy as regards pet wellness is not just about only dealing with disease and illness when they get in the picture, but keeping animals in ideal health each and every day.

Find out more about Denyse when you click HERE.

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