One of the most unpleasant words in the English language, diarrhea is from a Greek word that means “to flow through.” We might snicker and sing funny songs about it, but diarrhea is no laughing matter, as it may be symptom of a serious disorder. When it occurs in our pets, watery, runny stool usually indicates gastrointestinal distress. As execrable as it may be, it is important to deal with the matter as quickly as possible. With that in mind, we will discuss the signs, causes, and treatment options for loose stool.
But before we continue, it is important to note that this is only an introduction to a common problem that strikes most pets at one time or another. For a proper, medical diagnosis, you should always consult a licensed veterinarian. And never, ever attempt to treat your pet for any medical problem without speaking to his/her doctor first.
Symptoms of Diarrhea in Pets
The classic sign that your dog or cat has loose stool is they need to go to the bathroom every few hours. They might stand by the door waiting to be let out with an urgent, worried look on their faces. Older and younger animals are also more likely to have indoor accidents when they have a particularly nasty bout of diarrhea.
Another common symptom of diarrhea is straining, which happens because the pet feels like it has to go to the bathroom even after it has gone several times. It is for this reason that many pet owners mistake diarrhea for constipation. As far as what comes out, the stool may be runny or watery, leading to explosive bouts of elimination.
Other symptoms that may indicate diarrhea in pets include:
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
Causes of Diarrhea in Dog and Cats
There are numerous reasons why your dog or cat may come down with a case of runny stool. Some of them are minor, others are quite serious.
More often than not, your pet gets diarrhea from a dietary indiscretion, which is a medical term that means he ate something that didn’t agree with him. This food, or substance, upsets his stomach or GI tract, impeding the normal formation of stool. In most cases, the problem is the result of a sudden change in diet. Perhaps you switched from one dog food to another without examining the listed ingredients first. If they are dissimilar, any new ingredient could result in diarrhea.
Another common cause of runny stool are food allergies. Yes, pets and their owners can suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the main side effect of which is diarrhea. Your dog or cat may also itch and scratch incessantly if they have food allergies.
The most serious causes of diarrhea are pancreatitis and infection. Pancreatitis is when the pancreas becomes inflamed, which precipitates a whole host of negative symptoms. An infection, on the other hand, can be either viral or bacterial and may range from mild to life threatening.
Treatment for Diarrhea in Pets
If your pet seems healthy after an episode of diarrhea and exhibits none of the other signs we have discussed, it is safe to monitor him on your own for a few days. During this time period, you will want to alter his diet, since food is the most likely culprit. What to feed him?
Remember that loose stool is often caused by irritation in the GI tract that is caused by either food allergies or something that didn’t agree with your pet. It is for this reason that we recommend feeding your dog or cat a bland diet low in fat. You may also wish to space the meals a little farther apart to ensure that the new diet is not exacerbating his condition.
Many veterinarians recommend a mild diet of ground beef and rice for pets with loose stool. Just make sure that the beef is very lean, preferably 93 percent lean, since fat can irritate a sensitive GI tract. Another suggestion some experts endorse is to mix ground turkey, which is very lean, with mashed pumpkin, which is very mild.
Fortiflora for Cats and Flortiflora for Dogs
If the problem clears up on its own, it is safe to assume that your animal has intestinal issues that make him sensitive to certain foods. One effective way to treat this problem is to give him a safe and natural probiotic formula that helps promote a strong immune system and healthy intestinal function.
Fortiflora is a popular nutritional supplement for dogs and cats that does just that. Sold in powdered form, it contains a special strain of probiotics, which are live active cultures that help balance out an imbalanced GI tract, leading to fewer episodes of irritation and diarrhea. Thankfully, it is fairly easy to administer and inexpensive. Like any supplement, always consult your pet’s veterinarian before using it and always follow the dosing directions to the letter.
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