Just as with humans, our pets may occasionally experience loose bowel movements. The onset might be sudden and can either be short in duration or protracted, depending on the cause. A single bout is typically no cause for concern, but if the condition persists or is accompanied by other irregular symptoms, there may be a larger issue at play.
Diarrhea may result from a number of things, including but not limited to a sudden change in diet, spoiled food, an allergic reaction, infection, parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney or liver problems, or tumors in the digestive tract.
What to watch for:
In addition to the loose or frequent stools associated with diarrhea, be alert for other signs that may point to a bigger problem. Passage of blood or black stools can indicate internal bleeding. If fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargic behavior or any signs of pain accompany the diarrhea, your pet should be examined by a veterinarian promptly.
What can I do?
Avoid giving your pet food for 12 to 24 hours, especially if a new food was recently introduced. Since diarrhea can cause dehydration in humans and animals alike, be sure to provide plenty of fresh water and let your pet drink as often as possible.
How long should I wait before I take my pet to the vet?
If this condition continues for more than a day, or if any of the additional symptoms mentioned above are observed, make an appointment immediately. Your veterinarian can determine if there is an underlying illness, check stool for parasites and conduct other diagnostic tests that will help find and treat the cause of the problem.
What can I do to prevent this from happening in the first place?
While there is little that can be done to prevent the onset of certain systemic problems such as cancers or other diseases, there are things you can do to help prevent diarrhea.
- Avoid dairy foods – some dogs and most cats are lactose intolerant.
- If you decide to change your pet’s diet, do so gradually. Slowly mixing the new food in with the old is bound to create fewer problems than simply replacing it immediately.
- Be sure food is fresh, especially if you feed your pet moist food. An unfinished plate of food that sits around for many hours or days can become rancid and cause stomach problems for anyone.
- Exercise caution if your pet spends time outdoors. This increases the risk of contracting parasites or ingesting inappropriate matter.
- Regular wellness checks for your pet can also catch other problems early enough to administer proper treatment.
If you are in the Bloomington or Edina areas of Minnesota, contact Normandale Veterinary Hospital if your pet has diarrhea that does not go away after a day. The health and well-being of your beloved friends is our top priority!