Treating Diarrhea in Your Dog or Cat

Treating Diarrhea in Your Dog or Cat
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Your pet's diarrhea treatment should be directly based off of the cause. Learn more about your pet's best options here.

Any diarrhea treatment plan should be aligned to the cause of the bowel movement irregularity. For simple, short-term bouts of diarrhea, at home treatment methods can be implemented. More regular occurrences of diarrhea, or problematic symptoms like dehydration, fever, or bloody stools will require treatment help from a vet.

Home Treatment

Just a few hours of discomfort from your pet? Try treating at home first. To get your pet’s bowel movements back to normalcy, take away food. Do make sure to keep ample fresh, clean water on hand so that pets do not become dehydrated. If you’re very concerned about dehydration, try making a mixture of pedialyte and water to hydrate your pet. After 24 hours, reintroduce food. You may want to try giving pets particularly bland food to help ease them back to solid foods.


To check if your pet is dehydrated, lift up the skin at your pet’s neck to check its elasticity. If the skin returns quickly to its original position, your pet is hydrated. Or, feel your pet’s gums; dry gums are a sign of dehydration.

When to Visit the Vet

In general, once pets have experienced diarrhea for more than a couple of days -- especially if you’ve taken preliminary steps to handle the problem like removing food or only giving your pet bland food -- a visit to the vet is recommended. If you see these warning signs, you should take your cat or dog into the vet for further investigation immediately:

  • Fever and lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Black or red stools

What Happens at the Vet

If you go to the vet, he may check your pet’s stools for parasites. The vet will take a complete physical exam, including getting a sample of blood, and will ask about when the diarrhea commenced and any other symptoms. Your vet’s precise treatment will depend on the diagnostic discoveries: if the diarrhea is the result of parasites, your pet will be dewormed. If the diarrhea is the symptom of a cancer or disease, the underlying cause will have to be treated and the diarrhea symptom managed.

Prevent Pets from Getting Diarrhea

If diarrhea is occurring due to a serious disease, there may not be much you can do to prevent the bowel movement problem. However, some basic, easy steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood that your cat or dog experiences diarrhea:

  • Parasite Preventatives: Provide monthly deworming pills to prevent pets from feeling the effect of any intestinal parasites that they may have picked up.
  • Steady Diet: If you’re going to swap  your pet’s food for a different brand, do so gradually. You can mix together the two brands in a fifty-fifty ratio for a transitional time to make the switch particularly easy.
  • Monitor What Pets Eat: Don’t let pets eat things that are known to cause them stomach upsets. If you know your cat is dairy intolerant, don’t give into begging for milk or cheese. Watch your dog carefully during your daily walk or rambles in the park or backyard; don’t allow your dog to eat garbage, investigate dead animals, or eat plants or other greenery.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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