Diarrhoea in Pets

What is Diarrhoea?  

Diarrhoea is defined as an alteration in the normal pattern of defecation resulting in the passing of soft, unformed faeces, with an increased water content, or an increased frequency of defecation. There may or may not be blood or mucous present.

What causes Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is not a disease; rather, it is a sign of many different diseases.  Diarrhoea may be due to primary gastrointestinal disorders (parasites, bacterial or viral infections, dietary indiscretions, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease etc.) or may be secondary to other disease conditions such as liver disease, diabetes or pancreatic disorders. 

How serious is Diarrhoea in dogs and cats?

Many mild cases of diarrhoea can be resolved quickly with simple treatments.  Others may be the result of potentially serious illnesses. Even diarrhoea caused by mild illnesses may become serious if treatment has not been started early enough to prevent severe fluid and nutrient losses.   

What types of tests are performed to find the cause? 

Different tests are required to determine the cause of diarrhoea depending on whether it is an acute or chronic issue. If diarrhoea is chronic or is associated with systemic illness (other symptoms may include fever, weight loss, vomiting, change in water intake and loss of appetite). We perform a series of tests to try and make a specific diagnosis. This may include blood work, examining the faeces or even imaging. Once a diagnosis is determined, treatment may include medications and/or diets, or surgery. 

If your pet does not appear systemically ill from diarrhoea, or the diarrhoea is acute, the cause may be less serious.  Some of the minor causes of diarrhoea include stomach or intestinal bacteria or viruses, intestinal parasites and dietary indiscretions (such as eating garbage or other offensive or irritating materials).  These cases may be treated with drugs to control the motility of the intestinal tract, drug to treat infections or parasites, drugs that relieve inflammation in the intestinal tract, and/or a special diet for a few days. This approach allows the body’s healing mechanisms to correct the problem.  We expect improvement within 2-4 days; if this does not occur, a change in medication or further tests are done to better understand the problem. Please keep us informed of any lack of expected improvement so that we may manage the situation properly. 

What to look for in your pet? 

If your pet has loose or watery faeces, is lethargic, won’t drink, has vomiting as well, or blood in the diarrhoea, you should bring them here to Burnie Veterinary Centre.