DIARRHEA AND MY PET

By Dr. Megan Kelly

Diarrhea is a loose or watery stool often presented with increased frequency. It may or may not be associated with vomiting. Majority of cases of diarrhea are caused by scavenging old food and rubbish. We call this “garbage disease” and it usually resolves within 24-48 hours.

Garbage disease should be treated by withholding food for 12 hours and then feeding small, frequent amounts of a prescription intestinal diet or, if you are unable to get to your vet or vet shop, boiled chicken and rice. Probiotics and natural diarrhea treatments will speed up recovery and are necessary to restore your pet’s natural intestinal flora. Start these as soon as possible.  Feed a bland diet for a few days and then start introducing your pets regular food little at a time. Never give human diarrhea medications to pets.

When should I take my pet to the vet?

1. When the diarrhoea is associated with a fever, listlessness and lack of appetite.

2. If your pet is dehydrated (test by pinching the skin between the shoulders; it should settle straight away. If it tents your pet is dehydrated).

3. If there is blood in the diarrhea (fresh red blood or black tarry digested blood)

4. If diarroea lasts for longer than 48 hours.

5. If diarrhoea is associated with persistent vomiting.

6. If your pet is a puppy (less than 6 months old). Puppies dehydrate very quickly and diarroea can then be fatal.

If you need to take your pet to the vet always try and take a stool sample so they can check for worms and bacteria. Note the frequency and volume of the stools as this will help your vet distinguish whether the diarroea is coming from the small or large intestine.

What treatment will the vet give my pet?

Your vet may give your a pet an antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and in severe cases, antibiotics. If you have not given a probiotic they will prescribe one. Some severe cases may need further diagnostics such as x-rays to see if there is an obstruction or intravenous fluids for rehydration. In very complicated cases endoscopes, barium studies and an ultrasound may be indicated. These are usually done by specialist referral clinics.

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