By Cheryl Lock
While diarrhea is a prevalent ailment in pets, it’s not a problem that should be taken lightly. In fact, diarrhea can often be a clinical sign of many different underlying conditions for animals. We’ll take you through some of the common causes of pet diarrhea, the best ways to treat the illness when it hits your own pet, as well as some ways to prevent it in the future.
Common Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs and Cats
Diarrhea is so common in pets that it’s actually been the No. 1 most claimed condition at Petplan for the last three years, says Dr. Jules Benson, VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan pet insurance. “It could be brought on by anything from a virus or parasites to poisoning, allergic reaction, autoimmune disease, or even certain types of cancer,” says Dr. Benson. The most common cause, however, usually occurs when an animal has eaten something that doesn’t agree with his system. “Diarrhea can also be a common side effect of some pet medications, including antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and heart medications,” says Dr. Benson. “Further complicating matters, some pets also experience diarrhea as a result of excitement or stress.”
The Best Treatment of Diarrhea in Pets
Of course treatment for diarrhea will vary based on what’s causing it. “If the diarrhea is being caused by an underlying condition, the vet will work to control that, while advocating treatment that will alleviate your pet’s symptoms,” says Dr. Benson. If you believe the cause of your pet’s diarrhea to simply be a general upset stomach, the most common recommendation is to switch to a bland, digestible diet (either a prescription diet from your veterinarian or a home-made recipe like plain white rice and boiled chicken) until the diarrhea abates, says Dr. Benson. As the symptoms subside, you can then gradually switch back to regular food. Your vet may also prescribe medications to help alleviate nausea, excess gastric acid production or gastrointestinal inflammation.
How to Avoid a Stinky Situation
There are a number of ways that you can help your pet avoid getting diarrhea in the first place, but again, a lot of what you do will depend on where you believe the issue is coming from. “If your pet got into the waste bin and developed a case of the runs, you probably just need to think twice about keeping trash out of paw’s reach,” says Dr. Benson. “But if your pet is easily upset by changes to his routine, or you’ve recently switched his food, then you could consider making slower transitions, or reconsider them altogether.”
If the problem appears to be medicine related, talk to your vet about possible alternatives that might be easier on your furry friend’s stomach, suggests Dr. Benson. “If you find yourself dealing with this problem
Image: Africa Studio / via Shutterstock
When to go to the Vet
Diarrhea that has lasted for more than 24 hours could indicate something more serious than a simple stomach bug, and if left unchecked it can quickly lead to dehydration. “However, if your pet’s stool is bloody, dark or tarry, if he seems lethargic or has lost his appetite, or is also vomiting, don’t wait 24 hours,” says Dr. Benson. “In those cases, you should get to the vet as soon as possible.”
NOTE FROM LOVINMYPUP.COM ADMINISTRATOR: DIARRHEA is a huge problem for all pets. It may be as simple as a stomach bug or as complicated as ingestion of a poisonous substance. Following the suggestions in this article will help but it is imperative that you bring your pet to vet if you are uncomfortable at all. Those of you who followed our journey to South Carolina in August will remember the problem we had with Bella during the trip.
For those who just joined this site Bella slept during the entire car trip down. When we arrived at Myrtle Beach, we checked into the motel and Bella seemed a little skittish. About 9:00 PM IT started. We got no sleep at all that night since I was taking Bella out every hour. The diarrhea was very severe, she would not eat or drink. I knew we would have to get her to a vet. The next day we visited a family member and called around to find a vet that we could visit on the way to Hilton Head Island. We stopped at the vet, and Bella was diagnosed with stress related diarrhea. She was given the medications she needed to overcome the situation and get well. By the time we got to Hilton Head the diarrhea had stopped and she was herself again. We avoided the dehydration and complications of that significant case of diarrhea thanks to the South Carolina vet and our swift action. Interestingly enough, I stopped the anti-anxiety medication at Hilton Head. She seemed very comfortable there, We were in a 2 bedroom condo, with plenty of room to relax. Interestingly enough when we started our journey back to Pennsylvania, we stopped at a motel half way home. I noticed she seemed skittish again so I did give her the anti-anxiety meds again and we got home with no further problem. I guess we have the only service dog that dislikes one room motels/hotels and is only comfortable in condo settings. ( LOL) . YES! SHE IS SPOILED!