Diarrhoea in pets: When to worry | Advice from a vet

  • by DR Roxanne Jones
Diarrhoea in pets: When to worry | Advice from a vet

Your pet has just made a big runny mess in the garden or litter box. So, is it merely something a little bit yukky, or is it time to get to the vet?

Here’s what you need to know about diarrhoea in pets so you can keep your beloved furbaby healthy and safe.

What causes diarrhoea in cats and dogs?

Diarrhoea isn’t a diseases on its own, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. Just like in humans, it can be caused by any number of factors, including those listed below. Bear in mind that this is not a complete list, but just some of the most common causes of diarrhoea in pets.

  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Internal parasites
  • Eating rotten food
  • Stress
  • Severe internal disease, trauma or organ failure

When to worry about diarrhoea in your pet

Diarrhoea can range from a mild, self-limiting illness to a severe and life-threatening one. As a pet owner, it’s critical you take action at the right time.

It’s all about monitoring your pet. Has your animal had a single bout of diarrhoea or mild diarrhoea that has seemed to resolve itself within 24 hours? Is s/he otherwise normal, as far as you can tell? If so, then some TLC at home should be enough to do the trick – but keep watching him or her closely.

However, if you’ve noticed that your animal has had more than one bout of loose stools, and also displays the following symptoms, you must take him or her to the vet immediately:

  • Stops eating
  • Appears listless – i,e; simply lies around or appears markedly less energetic than usual
  • The diarrhoea is accompanied by vomiting
  • Blood in the stool – this requires urgent, critical treatment
  • Black or tar-like/looking diarrhoea
  • Signs of abdominal pain, bloating or distention
  • Diarrhoea that continues for more than 24 hours
  • When diarrhoea occurs in animals under one year of age, especially if their vaccinations aren’t up to date

What to expect when you take your pet to the vet

Your vet will ask you for as many details as you’re able to provide, and will then conduct a full clinical examination, including a rectal and faecal examination. This will help your vet to determine the severity of the condition, and as well as a possible cause. Sometimes, even despite running numerous tests, your vet still won’t be able to find the cause of the illness.

Depending on the severity of the illness, your vet will either advise hospitalisation (likely including drips and intensive treatment) or home care, which may include injections while your pet is at the vet, plus medication to give them at home.

If your pet is hospitalised, s/he will often have to remain at the veterinary practice for a couple of days, so be prepared for this.

How to take the best care of your sick pet at home

You can help your furbaby regain their strength and health as quickly as possible by:

  • Providing plenty of water and making sure s/he is drinking.
  • Adding electrolytes to their water
  • Giving your pet prebiotics and probiotics
  • Ensuring your pet eats only plain, bland food – chicken and rice is ideal for dogs

When it comes to diarrhoea, don’t take chances

Diarrhoea can quickly lead to dehydration, which can be fatal in animals, especially young ones. However, if your furkid receives quick treatment and loads of TLC at home, they should be back to their old selves in no time.

So, don’t wait until your pet is as sick as a dog. If in doubt, get to the vet ASAP for treatment. Your furbaby will thank you for it!

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