Diarrhea in pets: More than a passing problem?
Vail CO Colorado
Spring is here, the snow is melting and there is a lot of junk, full of bacteria, on the ground. Our dogs are running around eating and drinking whatever they can find. We don’t always know what they have consumed. But we sure know that they did swallow something when a few hours later, they have smelly, messy diarrhea. Then it’s time to determine if this is serious or if it is a passing problem. If the animal is acting normal, then you might just need to watch your pet closely. If the dog is very lethargic and seems to be in pain, does not want to move or is panting and breathing hard, then it may be an emergency.
If your pet is acting normal then it is best to avoid feeding them regular food and give your pet a blander food for a couple of days. This would be a simple carbohydrate and protein source, that is easily digestible. Most of you have probably already experienced this and cooked up some white rice mixed with cottage cheese, chicken breast or cooked ground beef (with the fat drained out).
If the diarrhea does not clear up, then seek medical attention for your pet. A fecal analysis helps to eliminate such things as parasites, bacteria, worms, or other reasons for the diarrhea.
If the diarrhea is very watery and your dog is not acting sick, then you can give your dog Imodium A-D, the over-the-counter diarrhea medicine for humans. You’ll have to adjust the dose according to your dog’s size and I don’t suggest giving it for more than two days. After two days, if the diarrhea is still present, then further diagnostic tests are necessary. And sometimes Imodium can cause constipation if given long term. It is very important to not mask some other more critical problem in the gastro-intestinal (GI) system.
If your dog has bloody diarrhea or even some drops of blood in the diarrhea, this can indicate a serious problem. Though it is actually a common problem in colitis to see blood and mucus in the diarrhea. Colitis is inflammation of the colon (the last section of the intestinal tract). The colon has a sensitive lining and many agents can cause a disturbance in the normal intestinal bacteria. A common cause of colitis is stress, which could include a recent move, change in environment, boarding your pet for a while, a new addition to the family (pet or human), etc. This is usually easy to treat but may require prescription drugs. A fecal sample given to your local veterinarian helps to rule out other causes.
Though it may seem trivial to you, it is very important to take notice of the diarrhea properties. Knowing the frequency of diarrhea, the consistency (watery or mushy), if there is blood or mucus, the volume of diarrhea (increased or decreased), and whether there is urgency in defecating or not helps veternarians diagnose the problem. With the right information, we can figure out if the problem is in the large or small intestines. There are many other causes of diarrhea including: pancreatitis, ulcers, parasites, virus, bacteria, a foreign body, toxins, food intolerance, etc.
This is the time of year when we see a lot of diarrhea. Sometimes it clears up alone and sometimes it needs medical attention.
Veterinarian Dr. Nadine Lober can be reached at 970-949-7972.
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.