Diarrhea

It Could Be a Sign of Serious Illness

Cleaning up after a sick animal is one of the less pleasant aspects of having a pet. Both dogs and cats can develop diarrhea, although it is far more common in dogs.

Diarrhea can be caused by an abrupt change in diet, an illness or an infection. Sometimes it’s a one and done experience, but with illness, dogs can have diarrhea lasting for weeks or months, daily or every few days.

Generally speaking, one bout of pet diarrhea is not cause for alarm. When it lasts longer than that, your pet is at risk for dehydration, or may have an illness. That’s the time to bring them to the vet.

Some dog breeds are more prone to developing diarrhea, and young dogs tend to have more infectious and parasitic-related diarrhea than adult dogs. Cats, on the other hand, rarely have diarrhea, although some cats who suffer a great deal from hairballs have been known to develop it. If your cat has more than one watery bowel movement, it’s a good idea to take them for a checkup. 

Symptoms in both dogs and cats will include loose and liquidy, frequent stools. Excessive flatulence, bloody stools or mucus in the stools are also signs your pet needs a checkup. Diarrhea can bring on dehydration and lethargy. Decreased appetite and weight loss, or fever and vomiting are clear signs that your cat or dog is ill and needs to be seen by his vet. Black diarrhea could indicate internal bleeding - - a serious issue, demanding immediate medical attention. Diarrhea in puppies warrants an immediate vet visit.

Withhold food for 12-24 hours when diarrhea occurs, but be sure to provide as much clean water as the pet can drink.

Even perfectly healthy dogs will sometimes get diarrhea. To help keep his digestive system healthy, be sure to keep him parasite free with the medications your vet can provide, and keep him up to date on his vaccinations.

Don’t let your dog get into garbage or spoiled food, and when walking him, do not let him eat plants, drink from puddles, or eat anything he finds on the street –including feces from other animals. Know your plants and do not keep indoor plants that can sicken your cats! Cats allowed outdoors may chew on plants that can cause diarrhea and vomiting, and need medical attention for possible poisoning.

You can help your cat avoid diarrhea by not giving her dairy foods, despite her pleasure in eating or drinking them. Some adult cats are lactose intolerant, and dairy will cause gas or diarrhea. And avoid giving your dog people food (no matter how much he begs.)

Last but not least, if you plan to change your dog’s or cat’s food, be sure to transition slowly, adding it gradually to the current food. This makes it easier for the GI tract to adjust to the new nutrients.

When in doubt, bring your pet to the vet for a checkup. It could save his life!

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