Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats

Diarrhea is a common condition in dogs and cats but one with a variety of causes, including worms, bacteria, viruses, food allergies, toxic food, bone fragments or indigestible materials.  

The pet's body responds to these irritants by flushing them out of the system through increased bowel contractions  The quick movement of the intestine’s contents prevents the colon from absorbing much water and so the bowel movement contains a greater amount of water. 

In most cases, the diarrhea can be traced to indiscreet eating habits – eating from a tipped garbage can or ingesting spoiled foods or nonfood items – and treatment is relatively easy. 

When chronic diarrhea develops, it may indicate a more serious condition and an examination of the animal’s stool by a veterinarian is recommended.

Natural Treatments for Dog or Cat Diarrhea

A 24-hour fast or liquid-only diet is necessary to give the digestive tract time to flush itself out and begin healing from the occurance of cat or dog diarrhea.  Encourage your pet to drink plenty of water during this time, to prevent dehydration.  Broth made from vegetables, rice, and some meat or a bone may be introduced within a day to replace the water, sodium and potassium sometimes lost during bouts of diarrhea. 

In addition to a fast and bland diet, nutritional supplements containing nutrients such as probiotics, amino acids and herbs can help replenish beneficial bacteria and soothe the lining of your pet's intestinal tract.

Nutrients for Dogs and Cats with Diarrhea

  • L-Glutamine - L-Glutamine  is an amino acid which serves as a source of fuel for cells lining the intestinal tract. It is often recommended for pets with diarrhea and chronic inflammatory bowel disorders.
  • Slippery Elm - An herb that contains mucilage which provides soothing protection for the mucus membranes of the gastrointestinal tract. Slippery elm neutralizes stomach acids and soothes inflammation.
  • Saccharomyces boulardi - a beneficial yeast that is classified as a probiotic. In numerous clinical studies, this probiotic was found to significantly reduce the symptoms and frequency of diarrhea related to colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome as well as antiobiotic-associated diarrhea.
  • N-acetyl-glucosamine - Helps heal the inflamed bowel lining by supporting glycoprotein synthesis. N-Acetyl Glucosamine supports the integrity of the mucosal lining and has been used to treat IBD, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease. N-Acetyl glucosamine is derived from the outer shells of shellfish. Pets (and people) with shellfish allergies are allergic to the meat of shellfish, not the shell and so N-Acetyl Glucosamine does not usually cause an allergic reaction.
  • Lactobacillus sporogenes - A probiotic that has been shown to help treat diarhea caused by bacterial overgrowth.
  • DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) - supports the healing process in the intestinal lining by increasing blood flow and reducing muscle spasms.
  • Digestive Enzymes - Enzymes are often lacking in commercial pet foods yet they are essential for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. They also have anti-inflammatory properties.

See Natural Treatment for Pet Diarrhea