Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats

Our pets will occasionally get ‘the runs,’ also known as diarrhea.  Here, we will discuss how you should react- what to do and when to go to the vet.

There are 4 considerations when it comes to dealing with diarrhea:

1. Type of diarrhea: While closely inspecting animal poop is not on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, it is important to take a look at the feces.  Color, consistency and presence of blood are important things to note.
2. Is your pet passing this diarrhea easily or with difficulty and pain? How often and how much?
3. How long has your unfortunate little doggy or kitty had diarrhea?
4. Is your pet vomiting? Is it still eating and drinking? Is he or she still bright and happy or dull and depressed?

Diarrhea is a sign that the gut is not doing its job properly, either due to a disease of the gut or a disease elsewhere that is affecting the gut.  Common causes of diarrhea include:

  • Infections such as parvovirus in dogs
  • Gastroenteritis (or what we call a ‘tummy bug’): Usually due to food poisoning after eating something ‘naughty’ such as garbage or table scraps
  • Problems outside the gut such as liver or kidney disease
  • Serious diseases such as cancer

As a general rule, if your pet has had mild diarrhea for 1 or 2 days and is happy and eating well, you can initially try a bland diet such as cooked chicken, meat and boiled white rice.  Feed small amounts frequently for 3 to 4 days, and then gradually re-introduce his/her normal diet if the diarrhea stops.  In cases of large amounts of diarrhea, the presence of blood, or if your pet seems unwell, you should take your pet to the vet.

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