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Diarrhea causes, treatment and remedies for your dog and cat provided by certified Master Herbalist Philip Reich. Philip specializes in medical herbalism for animals and diseases like diarrhea. Our Holistic Natural Diarrhea Protocol consists of recognizing the cause of your dog or cat's diarrhea and providing your pet's body with the nutrition it needs for healing and repair. We have had tremendous success when using a high-quality whole food diet, whole food vitamin supplements and organic herbal remedies when treating numerous different health challenges like diarrhea and believe our success is much greater than is often attained using pharmaceutical drugs and synthetic vitamin supplements recommended elsewhere.

Dog and Cat Diarrhea Holistic Remedies

We deal with problems like diarrhea frequently with numerous clients from all over the country. Our experience with issues like this has helped us become one of the few places people can go for answers to help solve tough issues with their dogs and cats. We have helped hundreds of animals just like yours - it is what we do! See what others have to say about us by reading some of The Pet Health and Nutrition Center Testimonials. Feel free to contact us by email if you have any questions or just use our toll free number 888-683-3339 during normal business hours. We provide free telephone consultations and are here to help!

This is a long page. If you do not wish to read the entire page please use this Table of Contents to scroll down to the desired location.
I. What is Diarrhea?
II. Causes of Diarrhea
III. Standard Veterinary Medicine Approach
IV. Holistic Natural Protocol Goal
V. Holistic Natural Diarrhea Protocol
VI. Natural Remedies


I. What is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is generally defined as more frequent bowel movements that are loose or watery in nature. This imbalance usually lasts for a couple of days but can last longer and become chronic if not treated properly.

II. Causes of Diarrhea

There are a number of possible causes of your dog or cat's diarrhea. The more common causes are listed below.

Poor Quality Food

The majority of processed pet foods contain highly refined and low-fiber ingredients. These often poor quality ingredients facilitate the condition of diarrhea in our dogs and cats. Very often ingredients such as tomato pomace or beet pulp are added to pet foods as a source of fiber, however, being by-products (or waste products) of the human food industry, they generally make poor additions to pet foods. In the wild our canines and felines would consume fur, providing ample fiber, and bone, providing bulk, to create normal stools and prevent diarrhea. Ingredients such as ground bone are found in commercially available raw foods and help to create healthy stools and naturally express anal glands.

Additionally, processed pet foods contain so many often low-quality ingredients along with flavors, colors and other synthetic ingredients that it can be quite hard to tell which ingredient(s) may be contributing to your dog or cat’s diarrhea. For example, chelated proteinate minerals found in most pet foods are marketed as being more easily absorbed. Unfortunately, Nature’s Logic, a natural pet food manufacturer, being able to review ingredient data from companies that produce proteinate minerals for the pet product industry discovered some interesting information. First off, all the trace mineral salts used to make metal proteinates (like copper proteinate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, calcium proteinate, etc) are synthetic substances. In addition, without exception, all the proteinates they reviewed used hydrolyzed soy as the protein molecule. The hydrolyzation process also converts protein to MSG. So, in virtually every commercially available canned and kibble pet food you have synthetic substances, soy and MSG. Considering soy products and MSG are often at the top of the list of substances that can cause inflammation and allergic reactions, do you think it is possible that these commercial pet foods could be contributing to your pet’s diarrhea and other health issues? Of course they could!

Incomplete Digestion

Poorly digested food is a common problem in our dogs and cats and often contributes to diarrhea. This occurs because larger food particles are not broken down properly into their smaller constituents that allow for normal absorption through the digestive tract and healthy elimination. Instead, these larger food particles can contribute to damage and disease in the digestive tract resulting in inflammation. The body’s reaction to these undigested, inflammatory particles is to eliminate them from the body as quickly as possible resulting in diarrhea.


There are various species of bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoa that can enter your animal’s digestive tract and cause diarrhea. Diarrhea occurs as the body tries to eliminate these invasive organisms along with undigested, fermenting food often related to infection by speeding removal through the digestive tract and out of the body. For example, one particular organism, called Giardia, causes diarrhea by infecting the cells of the small intestine interfering with nutrient and water absorption resulting in diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms.

Food Allergies

Chronic diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of a dog or cat’s allergic response to the food they are eating. This reaction is due to the release of inflammatory chemicals, such as histamine, by white blood cells that line the intestinal tract. This is an immune system reaction to what the body views as an invading substance and can produce a powerful laxative effect.

Drugs / Supplements

Certain drugs can cause diarrhea for a number of different reasons. One reason is the body’s desire to remove offending substances from your animal’s body as quickly as possible. This results in digestive waste being moving through the digestive tract more quickly with less time spent in the colon where healthy stool is formed. Another reason is the altering of the balance of digestive flora. This certainly is the case with antibiotics that destroy colonies of beneficial organisms allowing the overgrowth of invasive, opportunistic organisms like Candida albicans. These unwelcome organisms often secrete toxins and interfere with proper digestion. If your dog or cat’s elimination behavior changes soon after the addition of a new medication there is a very good possibility that the drug is contributing to the diarrhea. If you aren’t sure you can do an online search to check for the side effects of the medication you are using.

Another type of diarrhea, called osmotic diarrhea, occurs when certain substances cause excess water to be retained or drawn into the bowels based on the principles of osmosis. Excessive sugar (as with lactose intolerance - a milk sugar) or salt intake can cause osmotic diarrhea as can the use of too much water-soluble molecules, like magnesium or vitamin C, that result in increased fluid retention in the bowel.

III. Standard Veterinary Medicine Approach

Your veterinarian will examine your dog for underlying illnesses and assess for dehydration. He or she may take a stool sample to check for the presence of internal parasites, as well as conduct blood tests to identify a possible cause of the diarrhea. Other diagnostic tests might include radiographs, ultrasound, cultures, endoscopy and biopsy. The diagnostic tests performed and treatment recommended will depend on how long the diarrhea has been going on and the severity of your pet's condition.

In our experience it is most common for a veterinarian to prescribe an antibiotic, like Flagyl (metronidazole), even when the cause of the diarrhea is unknown. Overusing antibiotics in this way is dangerous and leads to imbalances in your dog or cat that can lead to lifelong disabilities as well as the possibility of stronger, antibiotic resistant bacteria strains in the future. Your vet may also prescribe a steroid medication in an effort to reduce inflammation within the digestive tract. This may be necessary for some very short term needs but if the diarrhea is not life threatening then other more natural approaches will be more suitable with less undesirable side effects.

When to Bring Your Pet to The Vet

Bring your dog or cat to the vet if severe diarrhea continues for more than a day, or if you observe lethargy, vomiting, fever, dark-colored or bloody stools, straining to defecate, decreased appetite or unexplained weight loss. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice your puppy has diarrhea, as it can be an important indicator of serious diseases in young dogs.

IV. Holistic Natural Protocol Goal

The majority of diarrhea cases are related to the ingestion of food or other material that upsets your dog or cat's stomach causing the body to try and quickly eliminate the culprit. The majority of diarrhea resolves itself in 24 - 48 hrs on its own or with the assistance of some probiotics and organic herbs as found in our Diarrhea Relief formula.The goal of our Natural Diarrhea Protocol is to help reduce the inflammation in your pet's digestive tract that is causing, or is a result of, the diarrhea and to improve digestion and rebalance the beneficial flora in the digestive tract. At the same time in a holistic fashion, we want to remove any contributing factors whether these are in your pet's diet, environment or occur during veterinary visits. Since we do not necessarily know the root cause(s) of the imbalance in your particular animal, we do know from our research and experience what are the primary culprits. We don’t recommend medications or pharmaceuticals that can have damaging short and long-term side effects but instead nutrients from real food, healthy natural supplements and other supportive care that can provide your animal with what their body needs to heal.

Whether the food be herbs or supplements such as antioxidants, enzymes or probiotics, these natural substances provide the body with powerful nutrition and thus the increased ability to rebalance and heal itself. You will notice from our product selection that we focus on natural, organic, whole foods, not isolated synthetic vitamins and minerals found on most other websites. At The Pet Health and Nutrition Center we focus on true healing, not gimmicks, and we have hundreds of loyal clients that build our business primarily on word of mouth to prove it!

V. Our Holistic Natural Diarrhea Protocol

From our experience there is no single miracle cure for a particular disease state. That is why we use a variety of supplements that all have different effects on the body to produce resolution of the imbalance and true healing - not just short term relief or suppression of symptoms. We want your dog or cat to get better - really better! The important thing here is that the supplements and remedies that you use contain TRULY all-natural, whole food nutrients that require little energy by the body to utilize, provide a big nutritional punch and have no scary side-effects! This is especially true when dealing with sometimes hard to alleviate conditions like diarrhea.

Core Recommendations Suggested products are included in the Core Diarrhea Package found below.

Our "Core Recommendations" form the backbone of our Natural Diarrhea Protocol. They consist of supplement recommendations that we feel are the most important to provide to your animal companion for this condition. They are displayed as a package and individually at the bottom of this page along with other helpful products from which you may make additional selections. Pet foods can be purchased at your finer, local pet stores. As always, we are here to help and you may contact us by phone or email if you need more individualized attention.

Core Recommendation #1 - Diarrhea Relief Formula

Since diarrhea is the result of some sort of irritation to the digestive tract that the body is trying to flush out, our first course of action is to address this issue. This involves the following:

  • Reduce inflammation in the GI tract
  • Slow the transit time through the digestive tract so we get less liquid stool
  • Create bulk for a firmer stool
  • Replace beneficial bacteria that are being flushed out by the diarrhea

Core Recommendation #2 - Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics

Since diarrhea can have many causes, we can not be certain what caused this episode in your dog or cat. But one thing we can be certain of is that promoting better digestion and maintaining thriving colonies of beneficial flora lining the digestive tract will result in a healthier dog or cat. Enzymes will help your animal digest their food quicker and more thoroughly and probiotics have numerous benefits for not only better digestion but a healthier immune system and protection against invading organisms that can help prevent future bouts of diarrhea.

Other Helpful Recommendations

Whole Food Nutrition

With a condition like diarrhea your dog or cat needs the highest value nutrition possible to provide the body with what it needs for maintenance and repair. Because of this we highly recommend a raw food diet. Raw food is how carnivores, like canines and felines, have evolved to eat and they do best on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. This is, unfortunately, the opposite of how most pets are fed since the majority of commercial diets are low protein with 50% or more carbohydrates. If you do not want to feed a raw food diet please consider a home prepared diet (please educate yourself properly before you attempt this!) or Orijen Adult Dog or Cat Food as this is our favorite kibble pet food that does not use highly processed ingredients like grains or white potato and is low in carbohydrates.

Kibble diets are harder for an animal to digest and this is the last thing your pet needs at this point. Poor digestion is related to inflammatory conditions like diarrhea, arthritis and allergies. In addition, because commercial pet foods contain so many different ingredients that are typically poor quality, waste products of the human food industry, it can be difficult to determine which  ingredient may be contributing to your pet's condition. For more information and some product recommendations read our article How to Feed Your Dog or How to Feed Your Cat that can be found in our Education section.

Daily Multi Complete

This special product was formulated with natural and organic whole foods to form the foundation of an animals' nutritional needs. Combined with a high-quality diet it provides the enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, glandular support, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients needed to support the body's daily maintenance and repair needs for healthy aging. Because this product contains our digestive enzyme and probiotic formula it can be used as an alternative to the Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics in our Core Recommendation #2 above.

Did you know…

Much, if not all, of the ascorbic acid we see today is a synthetic form, 80% of which is manufactured in China. In addition, ascorbic acid makes up only a small percentage of the entire natural vitamin C complex! Studies have shown 500mg of synthetic vitamin C has actually promoted free radical damage to DNA, whereas natural vitamin C present in foods acts as a protective antioxidant!

Probiotic Digestive Tonic or Herbal Digestive Tonic

Many animals we see are having problems with hypochloridia, or low stomach acid output. Feeding a kibble diet raises the alkalinity of your pet's stomach resulting in incomplete digestion, but dogs and cats can have problems properly digesting other foods as well. This contributes to many inflammatory issues in the body such as diarrhea, irritable bowel issues, arthritis and allergies. Our Probiotic Digestive Tonic is rich in lactic acid and thriving colonies of live and active bacteria cultures and our Herbal Digestive Tonic contains organic herbal bitters tinctured in organic apple cider vinegar that helps to acidify the gut and stimulate gastric, intestinal and gall bladder (bile) secretions to supercharge digestion.

BioPreparation Microalgae Supplement

When your dog or cat is suffering with an imbalance there will be an increase in free radical production that can further damage tissue and cause premature aging and possibly other disease. We want to provide your animal with high quality antioxidants to neutralize these free radicals along with other nutrients to aid the body's healing and rebuilding processes. This special blend of microalge is able to travel through the digestive tract and provide nutrients on a cellular level without the need for digestion. In addition, nutrients from the microalgae are able to cross the blood brain barrier and the retinal barrier for amazing effects on the brain and eyes as well as the entire body.

Antimicrobial Formula

If you feel that your dog or cat has come into contact with a microorganism that is causing the diarrhea, either because you recently went for a hike or to the dog park, then a treatment with an antimicrobial would be of benefit. Our formula contains organic herbs that help to stimulate the immune system while providing antimicrobial activity effective against bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi. This formula makes a great alternative to broad spectrum antibiotics that destroy beneficial organisms throughout the entire body causing imbalances that can last the lifetime of your dog or cat leading to chronic conditions like diarrhea.


Are the chelated proteinate minerals added to my pet food I use better than a non-chelated form of a mineral? Retrieved from http://www.natureslogic.com/bl_faq/are-the-chelated-proteinate-minerals/

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VI. Natural Remedies

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