If your pet has diarrhea, a problem such as an intestinal infection from bacteria, viruses, coccidia or intestinal worms may be the cause. Dietary indiscretion (a change in diet or eating garbage or other offensive or irritating materials) is a common cause of sudden diarrhea. Stress, especially following travel, boarding or other changes in environment, can also cause sudden diarrhea.
However, diarrhea can also be a symptom of a more serious underlying disorder such as allergies, systemic bacterial or viral infections, inflammatory intestinal disease, organ dysfunction, or other systemic illness.
If your pet has severe bloody diarrhea and or is showing more generalized signs of illness such as weakness, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain or loss of appetite, or if dehydration accompanies the diarrhea, the cause may be more serious.
For healthy adult animals with simple acute diarrhea, at MVH we may recommend a conservative approach at first rather than an in-depth diagnostic work-up. Conservative treatment will often include withholding all food for 12-24 hours to allow the intestinal tract to rest and free access to water. After this period, an easily digested diet such as chicken and rice or Hills I/D will be prescribed for a few days. This allows the body’s own healing mechanisms to correct the problem. As the stools return to normal, you can gradually reintroduce your pet’s regular food by mixing it in with the special diet.
Anti-diarrheal, deworming medications, anti-inflammatories, or drugs to control motility may be prescribed in some cases. However, you should only give your pet one of these products if your veterinarian specifically prescribes it. Over the counter medications may be worsening the problem or even contain products in them that can be harmful to their liver and other organs.
If your pet is not improving within two to four days, further tests or more aggressive treatment may be necessary. Severe or prolonged diarrhea can result in significant dehydration and metabolic disturbances due to fluid loss and your pet may require hospitalization for intravenous fluid therapy and other more intensive treatments.
If your pet is having diarrhea please contact Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital at 201-646-2008 to set up an appointment.