Diarrhea is one of the most common medical symptoms of cats and dogs. Owners should first note when it starts, how often it is happens, and how much the pet is straining to defecate, and what the character of the diarrhea is: bloody, black, mucous-like, etc. In addition, owners should try to recall unusual items that the pet may have eaten.
Diarrhea occurs when an accumulation of dissolved substances in the intestine causes excess water to move into the intestine. This creates a temporaty imbalance within the digestive tract of the pet. Additionally, if your pet eats something it cannot absorb it may cause temporary diarrhea. Adult cats and dogs can't absorb milk sugar lactose.
Diarrhea Due to Lower Functioning Intestine
Older pets may have less functioning intestine, which creates a decreased amount of area to absorb food. This decreased surface area can be caused by surgical removal of a part of the bowel, diseased state of the bowel, or decreased interaction time between the intestine and food. Diseases that affect the intestine can cause more rapid movement of food through the intestine.
Veterinarians may suggest drugs that can increase or decrease movement of food through the intestines to help control the diarrhea for 24 to 48 hours until diagnoses can be made. These drugs should not be used long term.
Frequent Bowel Movements
Frequent bowel movements are is not synonymous with diarrhea. Your pet can have more than one bowel movement a day; as long as the amount of fecal water is normal, that's OK.
Young Unvaccinated Pets
If your puppy or kitten who has not had its vaccination series gets diarrhea, you should call your veterinarian right away. Viral diarrheas, such as parvo virus, could kill your young pet. Puppies and kittens dehydrate very quickly. Veterinarians can initiate rehydration and fluid support.
Adult Pet Diarrhea
For diarrhea in adult pets, you can withhold food for 12 to 24 hours. Then start your pet on small frequent meals of boiled hamburger and rice and see if the diarrhea stops.
However, if blood, foreign objects, or greasy feces are being passed, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Chronic diarrhea with sustained weight loss needs to be assessed by your veterinarian who should find out whether weight loss is associated with diarrhea or something else.
Pet Diarrhea Prevention