Pets with Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be a pain. Literally. Not only does diarrhea create an uncomfortable situation for dogs and cats, it can indicate danger! From increased frequency and straining, to blood (either red or black) and mucus making their appearance, many of the signs you see with diarrhea can be meaningfully interpreted to help your pet with the right veterinary guidance.

The causes of diarrhea can vary widely. Some things may resolve on their own – such as an irritation to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract caused by a dietary indiscretion. Other causes may be more difficult to resolve, and require medical intervention – like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or a more prolonged colitis (irritation of the colon). The causes of these diseases have to be worked out in order to ensure that they do not repeat or become chronic. Finally, diarrhea can be a sign of much deeper disease, having little to do with the gastrointestinal tract – like Addison’s Disease, which can present with a waxing-waning bout of diarrhea, and means that the adrenal gland is not producing its life-sustaining endocrine hormones. Addison’s Disease can lead to a life-imperiling crisis, and can even result in death if not caught early enough.

There are as many ways to treat diarrhea as there are causes for it. Oftentimes, Diarrhea that comes on without warning will often leave just as quickly with some supportive care. Some patients need increased fluids or fluids given under the skin (subcutaneously) to support the gastrointestinal tract while their body heals. Fluids are frequently the best option to support the gut. A change of diet to a bland diet composed of minimal fiber and very basic proteins and flavors can be useful to decrease inflammation in the GI tract. This bland diet can be made at home or provided by your veterinarian. One reason to prefer the prescription diet is that probiotics may be included in the diet to support the gastrointestinal tract and help repopulate the intestines with beneficial bacteria.  These bacteria help digest the food your dog or cat consumes. We always have a supply at our Cheltenham Township hospital for our patients in need. Beyond all this supportive care, antibiotics, anti-spasmodic agents, and pain medication may be needed to get diarrhea initially under control.

Blood Work can be vital to correctly discerning the underlying cause of Diarrhea. Radiographs (or X-rays) can also be vital to ensure that dogs and cats are not looking at a more substantial problem. Neoplasia, gastrointestinal foreign bodies, perforations, trauma, metabolic disease, endocrine disease, malabsorption, and maldigestion can all cause diarrhea. With causes as varied as those listed, every pet should come to the veterinarian for treatment of diarrhea.

Pets with Diarrhea Vet Montgomery County

While the majority of diarrhea cases will resolve without complication, some percentage represent more critical diseases which can be treated and resolved when caught early! Based on the needs of the diarrhea patient, the desire to have it conclude rapidly, and the overall discomfort caused to all family members by a dog or cat having diarrhea, all pets should be brought in when they develop diarrhea. The veterinarians at World of Animals at Elkins Park look forward to helping your pet feel better, and helping his or her GI tract return to normal.

By Sandra J Platt VMD