Diarrhea in Cats and Dogs


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     Causes and Treatment of Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats       

Causes of diarrhea in dogs and cats, learn what to feed a cat or dog with diarrhea and other diarrhea treatment.

A very common medical problem for our pets is diarrhea. Most of the time it is sudden and short lived. Still it can be distressing to the pet and the owners. Other times, the diarrhea lasts for a long time and may end up needing long term management.

What is diarrhea, other than loose to watery stool? It most of the time is the body's attempt to elimate something in the gut that is harmful to the gut or body itself. Other times it is a malfunction in the gut or digestive system.

Diarrhea can be large amounts and not very frequent which indicates something in the small bowel is awry. This is the part that digests and absorbs nutrients. Small amounts frequently especially if there is straining and/or fresh blood usually indicates the large bowel (colon and rectum) are involved. this part of the gut primarily reabsorbs water and stores the feces until it is expelled from the body. There can be a mix of all areas affected which gives mixed symptoms.

The obvious symptom is the loose or even watery or bloody stool. Other symptoms can include lack of appetite, dehydration and weakness, anemia (not enough red blood cells left) if severe blood loss, fever, weight loss (especially if long term), straining as stated above and other signs if the cause of the diarrhea is a systemic one.

Causes of diarrhea in dogs and cats

Causes are many. The most common is dietary indescretion-eating something bad or rotten. "Garbage gut" is what most of us veterinarians call it. The food doesn't have to be spoiled or rotten though. Sometimes just a change in diet can cause it as the normal gut bacteria aren't used to the food and have trouble dealing with it. Therefore, whenever changing diets, do so over a week or so, mixing the two foods and be careful giving too many "treats" the pet isn't used to getting. Certainly food allergies can cause diarrhea, though these tend to be chronic and may have other allergy signs such as itchy skin, ear and eye problems and even bronchitis or asthma type situations.

Drinking the wrong water, such as from puddles or ponds, can contain parasites or bacteria that cause diarrhea and should be avoided as well.

The gut bacteria can be disrupted by antibiotic use and is a common side effect of treating pets and people with antibiotics for any bacterial infection. Giving pro-biotics during and after antibiotic therapy can eliminate or at least decrease this possibilty. Certainly if you pet is on antibiotics and develops any such digestive signs, contact your doctor right away for advice on if to continue or not.

More serious causes are viral, bacterial, parasitic or fungal infections of the gut. Though any systemic infection if bad enough can brring about a secondary digestive problem. Parvo in dogs and distemper virus in cats are some of the worst causing severe bloody diarrhea, dehyration, vomiting, and systemic problems.

There are problems where the body doesn't make enough enzymes and then the food goes through undigested and causes diarrhea. The gut can develop issues where it cannot absorb the nutrients or water correctly and will cause the same.

Any major body illness can create diarrhea such as liver disease and others. This is often due to toxin build up from the organ not elimiating them, or infectious causes and such.

Dog and cat diarrhea treatment

Obviously, with such a large set of causes, it is best to see your veterinarian if your pet has diarrhea to determine the exact cause and get a precise treatment. Bringing a fresh sample of the diarrhea to your doctor helps them run tests on it to check for infectious and parasitic causes. Also, be sure to note and tell them any signs of decreased appetite, vomiting, dietary indescretion, toxin exposure, lethargy (tiredness and weakness) or any other change in your pet's habits and behavior.

What to feed a cat or dog with diarrhea

Usually treatment will involve some dietary handlings and making sure the pet stays hydrated. This may include not giving any food for a day or so (not recommended in very small or young pets unless vomiting is going on). Then a bland diet such as boiled rice and roasted chicken breast or the like will be given. There are prepared veterinary diets for these issues as well. Psyllium and other fibers can help normalize the digestive tract as well.

Parasites, bacteria and fungal infections are treated with the appropriate medication depending on the "bug" involved.

If food allergy is expected a diet that eliminates all priorly eaten foods will be given for at least 8 weeks and then gradually add back in one type of protein or grain at a time to see what the pet can tolerate or not.

If the pet has long term diarrhea from not digesting food well enough, digestive enzymes help. If the pet isn't absorbing nutrients well, there are medicines and special fats that absorb easily that may help.

Certainly any systemic and serious illness, such as Parvo, or liver disease it treated appropriately and may include keeping the pet in the hospital for fluids and medications.

So, prevention is always best. Find and keep your pet on a healthy diet and if you change it do so slowly. Don't overdo treats. Stay away from possibly contaminated water. Use probiotics if antibiotics are needed for some other reason. Get kittens and puppies vaccinated against Parvo and Distemper (I apologize to anyone who seriously objects to vaccines.) and keep pets away from any other pet who seems ill. Here's hoping the more systemic and serious diseases don't ever need to be addressed by you.

We do have supplements to aid in these situations: Check out our Nutrigest which has probiotics (6 types) and fructooligosaccharides (help the probiotics work), psyllium, amino acids which heal the gut and more. It can be found here: Nutrigest

For liver support, Hepato-support is great and is found here: Hepato Support or in liquid form here: Liquid Hepato

A high quality and potency enzyme can be found here: RX Zyme

I hope that helps.

RECOMMENEDED ENTERTAINMENT: Spend some extra time today with you beloved pet and play a little. Good for all.

Until next time,

Dr. Jan


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