Diarrhea in Pets

Does your pet suffer from loose or watery stools or frequent bowel movements? Diarrhea can range from mild to severe, but is a symptom of a larger problem.

Diarrhea can range from a slightly softer stool to very watery stools that happen frequently or infrequently and can be mild or even explosive. Fortunately, most cases aren’t serious. Sometimes, though, the problem can keep coming back. It’s important to be aware that diarrhea is simply a symptom of a larger issue, and effectively treating it will depend on the underlying cause.


There are many possible reasons why your pet develops diarrhea, and discovering that cause can sometimes pose quite a challenge. Causes range from the simple things, such as spoiled or unfamiliar food, parasites, or stress, to more serious issues like cancer, foreign bodies, liver or thyroid disease, and bowel disorders.

Initial Treatment

If signs are relatively mild, soft stool that isn’t excessively watery or explosive, and he has a normal appetite and energy level, you can often start by treating your pet at home to see if he improves. Initially fast your pet for 12-24 hours (less time if he is young or tiny). Don’t feed him but leave plenty of fresh water out.

If the diarrhea improves, you can feed your pet a bland diet of a 50/50 combination of boiled or baked chicken (with no spices or seasoning) with white rice. Many pets won’t eat the homemade diet so you can contact your veterinarian to see if they have a bland diet to offer you.

Time to see the vet

Even after trying home care, there are times when you need to see your vet. The situation may be serious (such as explosive diarrhea or diarrhea accompanied by vomiting and lethargy), is not improving even on a bland diet, or your pet needs some medicine so he feels better. The biggest concern with continued untreated diarrhea is that your pet might be getting dehydrated. Dehydration leads to all kinds of complications and your pet will be miserable. 

A pet that has very runny, watery stools, especially if they are explosive, should be examined. In addition, dark, tarry stools, blood, mucous, increased urgency or straining to defecate, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss or vomiting are all signs that need to be checked out

Additional Treatment Options

In cases where diarrhea has become chronic or results frequently from stress or another medical condition, there are some supplements that can help support your pet’s digestive tract and improve her symptoms. Some options include probiotics, slippery elm bark, and fish oil. Depending on the severity of your pet’s diarrhea, however, your veterinarian may also prescribe a number of medications, ranging from those that slow down the rate of motility, treat parasites, or antibiotics, and may even offer prescription diets.


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