Diarrhea

Information on the causes of diarrhea in cats and dogs and how to promote canine and feline health.

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  1. What is Diarrhea?
  2. What Causes Diarrhea?
  3. Diagnosing Diarrhea
  4. Help for Diarrhea
  5. More Information on Diarrhea

What is Diarrhea?

Pets, like humans, can occasionally encounter a bout of diarrhea. Diarrhea usually occurs when something that your pet has eaten does not agree with his stomach or irritates it. It is characterized by loose, watery stools that are passed frequently. Sometimes there may even be blood present in the stools. It affects dogs and cats of all ages and breeds.

Warning signs that you should be aware of include loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, fever, a sense of urgency to defecate several times during the day as well as continue to strain after defecating. Diarrhea may be mild or severe. This condition affects loss of fluids within the body, which can lead to dehydration, acid-base imbalance or electrolyte interference.

If diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, fever and your pet refuses to drink water, this is cause for concern and you need to consult your vet as soon as possible.

What Causes Diarrhea?

There are various causes of diarrhea that range from eating spoilt or rotten food, garbage or roadkill, overeating, ingesting chemicals and toxins, sudden changes in diet, food allergies or a reaction to certain medications. More severe episodes of diarrhea may develop because of parasitic infestation, bacterial, viral and fungal infection, colitis, ulcer, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney and liver disease, or stomach cancer.

Diagnosing Diarrhea

The diagnosis of diarrhea is based on the symptoms presented, a thorough physical examination and review of your pet’s medical history. Your vet will take a fresh stool sample to check for internal parasites, blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound of the abdomen or endoscopy to determine the cause of diarrhea.

Help for Diarrhea

Mild episodes of diarrhea can be managed at home. This can be done by withholding food for 24 to 48 hours, but always make sure that water is available to avoid dehydration. When diarrhea stops, feed your pet a bland diet of cooked rice with chicken in small amounts 3 to 6 times per day.

Afterwards, you can slowly return him to his normal diet. However, do not withhold food from puppies or kittens or administer any over-the-counter medications – consult your vet first! In cases of severe diarrhea, a specially formulated diet will be prescribed together with anti-inflammatory or antibiotic medications and intravenous fluids.

More Information on Diarrhea

Tips to Prevent Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats

In order to prevent episodes of diarrhea occurring in your pet, there are a number of things that you can do and these include:

  • Feed your pet high quality, commercial pet food or a well balanced all natural diet that contains all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients
  • Avoid feeding your pet table scraps, bones or snacks and exclude bran, sugar and lactose products from his diet
  • If your pet has loose stools, give his stomach a rest by withholding food for at least 24 hours and water for 12 hours – this will help to ease an irritated stomach
  • After your pet’s fast, feed him a bland diet of cooked rice with skinless chicken and follow with small amounts of plain yogurt which contains natural bacterial cultures and soothes the bowel
  • Try not to make any sudden changes to your pet’s diet – introduce new foods gradually by adding it to old food. It should take 3 – 5 days to introduce a new diet
  • Inspect your pet’s stool daily for abnormalities such as loose stools, blood or mucus in stools
  • Ensure that your pet is de-wormed regularly
  • Keep your pet away from spoiled food and garbage cans
  • Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are updated