No one wants to talk about it, but sometimes our pets get diarrhea. Diarrhea can range in consistency from soft to very watery, and in color from black to brown to bright red and bloody. Your pet may have large amounts of diarrhea, or small amounts with more frequent trips to the bathroom.
Two of the most common causes of diarrhea are parasites and dietary indiscretion, otherwise known as “eating something they’re not supposed to.” However, there are a lot of other causes, including bacterial overgrowths; viral diseases such as parvovirus; abrupt diet changes; food allergies; abnormal digestion and absorption diseases; stress; toxins; drugs; metabolic diseases such as diabetes and Addison’s disease; kidney, liver and pancreatic abnormalities; inflammatory diseases; and in our older patients, cancer. (This is by no means an all-inclusive list, however!)
If your pet has diarrhea, your veterinarian will likely want to start by running a “fecal,” which tests the stool for parasites. When you go to your veterinarian, you can bring a sample of the stool with you, if it is fresh, for them to test. Be sure to wear gloves when handling stool, and wash your hands directly after, as some parasites can be transmitted from pets to people! Depending on the age of your pet and the severity of the diarrhea, other tests that may be run include parvovirus tests and blood work. Chronic diarrhea may require further testing and colonoscopy with biopsy samples.
Treatment for diarrhea depends on its severity, cause and duration. Your veterinarian may put your pet on a bland diet. Parasite infections are often treated with deworming medication. Sometimes your pet will need antibiotics or fluids. For severe cases, your pet may need to be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids and injectable medications.
If your pet has developed diarrhea, bring him/her to your local veterinarian, or to Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital if it is after hours. They can decide on the appropriate treatment to help your pet feel better.
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