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Oz: Diarrhea for pets not to be taken lightly
Due to the curiosity of dogs and cats, gluttony, along with a sensitive digestive system makes them very prone to suffer from diarrhea.
In my experience, diarrhea is the number one reason for contacting a vet.
All pet owners have been in this situation before. Their pet has diarrhea so do you take your animal to the vet right away or wait a day or two? Let me shed some light over this question.
Diarrhea is characterized by changes in the stool consistency. It can be caused by a disease of the small intestine, large intestine or other organs outside of the intestinal tract, such as the liver.
There are few differences between the diarrhea that is originated from the small and the large intestine. Small intestinal and large intestinal diarrhea have different causes, require different tests to diagnose and are treated differently.
Your vet will ask you instructive questions in order to understand, better locate the pet’s problem, and to plan for specific tests to determine the cause of the diarrhea.
A pet with diarrhea originated from the small intestine will topically defecate three to four times a day with a large amount of stool in each time.
With large bowel diarrhea, there is usually increase in the frequency of the defecation with small amount of stool in each time.
If there is blood in the stool, it will appear as black discolouration of the stool in case of small intestine diarrhea and red in large intestine diarrhea.
Among the hundreds of causes for diarrhea, some are viral, bacterial or fungal infections, food allergies, intestinal parasites, tumours, diseases of the pancreas, liver or kidneys.
The most common reason for diarrhea is probably dietary indiscretion, meaning the pet got into garbage or other rotten food. Some pets are have a very sensitive digestive system and just a change in the pet’s diet can elicit diarrhea.
When the pet has diarrhea, it is not absorbing the nutrients from its diet properly, which leads to weight loss and electrolytes imbalance that can lead to severe consequences if left untreated.
Diarrhea may also lead to dehydration and occasionally severe blood loss.
If your pet has normal health and has a normal body condition (not too thin or fat) but suddenly exhibits diarrhea symptoms, you can attempt to treat it first before rushing to the vet.
The tactic to follow is to stop feeding the animal for 24 hours to rest its digestive system. But it’s crucial to encourage your pet to drink and stay hydrated.
Many dogs may also like to fool around with ice cubes, as this is another way to get fluids into them.
Cats really like running water, so allowing them to drink straight from a tap might do the trick.
After 24 hours of this, providing the diarrhea has subsided, you can try to offer the animal a small amount of easy to digest food such as rice with chicken flesh (without the bones, skin, salt or any other spices) or commercial food carried by veterinarians that it designed for animals with digestive problems.
In the first day you should offer the food in small amounts every three to four hours.
Gradually over the next two to three days if the animal tolerates the food well and the stool is forming back to normal consistency, decrease the frequency of the feeding and increase the amount of food in each feeding.
When the pet is back to normal, don’t switch back to its normal diet abruptly. It’s better to mix over few days to prevent recurrence of the diarrhea.
Having said that, be cautious. Not every case should be treated at home without the professional help of a vet.
Be aware if there is no improvement in the pet’s condition after the fasting and the change of diet. Or in cases that the diarrhea is also accompanied by other sickness symptoms such as lethargy, fever, vomiting, weight loss or any other concerning condition.
If the stool or vomit contain blood, it would probably be better idea to go and see your veterinarian right away.
Cat owners also take note— overweight cats shouldn’t be fasted.
Depriving food from fat cats even for a short period of time can potentially cause them severe liver damage.
Diarrhea may be just a simple and transient condition that may be treated at home with a diet change, but often it is a symptom of a much more severe condition that requires medical treatment.
If left untreated prolonged diarrhea can lead to severe consequences.