Diarrhea is one of the most common clinical signs seen in pets. It is described as a sudden onset of watery or watery feces with presence of mucous or blood.
Diarrhea can be caused by numerous factors such as food allergy, ingesting raw, uncooked, stale food, scavenging, infections such as bacterial, viral and fungal, reactions to known medications, imbalances, intestinal conditions, kidney and liver diseases, poisoning.
Diarrhea primarily results in loss of fluids (sometimes extreme losses can occur). It also causes dehydration, weakness, fever, weight loss, immunity imbalances and can also make the pet susceptible to other secondary diseases.
This condition can last from a few days up-to 3 weeks. If this condition extends beyond this duration, it is known as chronic diarrhea. If diarrhea occurs with vomiting it is known as Gastroenteritis.
If you observe diarrhea, please contact your veterinarian immediately. It can either be a sign of a mild disease or a very severe condition.
There are numerous factors which causes diarrhea. They are:
› Bacterial infections such as Leptospirosis, Campylobacteriosis, Salmonellosis
› Fungal infections such as Histoplasmosis, Coccidioidomycosis, Pythiosis, Candidiasis
› Parasitic infections such as Roundworms, Hookworms, Tapeworms
› Food allergy resulting from intestinal reactions such as lactose, proteins
› Reactions to known drugs and medications and overdoses
› Poisoning associated with known chemicals, disinfectants, pesticides, insecticides, human foods
› Environmental causes
› Ingesting contaminated water, food
› Eating unknown plants
› Hormonal diseases such as Addison’s disease, Cushing’s disease
› Kidney and Liver diseases
› Viral infections such as Distemper, Canine Corona Virus (CCV), Canine Parvovirus (CPV)
Acute diarrhea progresses into chronic diarrhea in some of the severe diseases.
Clinical Signs & Symptoms
Common symptoms seen are:
› Pyrexia (Fever)
› weight Loss
› Anorexia (Loss of Appetite)
› Abdominal Pain
› Abdominal Distension (swelling)
› Hematochezia (Blood in stool)
› Mucus in stool
› Watery feces
› Dyschezia (Painful defecation)
› Recurrent defecation (multiple times a day)
Acute diarrhea is not a disease but a symptoms seen in known conditions. Diagnosis can be tricky, however prompt and correct diagnosis needs to be established to identify the cause.
Veterinarians will require a complete history of your dog which includes medical history, vaccination records, existing health concerns, current and previous medications, onset of symptoms, diet and exercise routine and any information which can help in establishing a correct diagnosis. Diagnosis is done with a combination of tests. These include routine lab examinations and special tests. They are:
› Physical examination
› Complete Blood Count (CBC)
› Biochemical profile
› Fecal Examination
› Electrolyte Panel test
› Abdominal Radiograph (X-rays)
Once the underlying cause is identified further teats may be recommended.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Sometimes mild diarrhea can resolve without medications. However this should not be practiced. Common treatments include:
› IV Fluids
› Fluid therapy
› Medications to stop vomiting
› Prescription diets
› Dietary changes (warm, moist, non chew-able food should be given. Avoid meat, uncooked food, anything chew-able)
› De-worming drugs
There is no prevention for acute diarrhea. The causes are many. This is a clinical sign resulting from a disease or condition.
Home care should aim at improving the condition. Treatments can take a few days to weeks. Most pets show signs of recovery within 3 to 5 days. If you observe any behavioral changes, or if the condition does not improve, please contact your veterinarian.
› It is mandatory to provide a stress-free environment for your dog. Keep water and food bowls within reach. Avoid physical activity. Keep your dogs away from any noise and commotions.
› You have to administer and monitor all prescribed medicine as directed by your veterinarian.
› Do NOT travel with your dog.
› Do NOT allow your dog to roam freely.
› Use of environmental disinfectants is recommended. Prompt disposal of any and all materials after use is suggested.
› Monitor and administer all medications as directed by your veterinarian and complete the dosage.
› Humans, especially children, pregnant women and ones handling infected pets need to exercise caution. Wear gloves when dealing with a pet, cleaning the litter boxes, disposing any and all contaminated materials, garbage disposals etc. A thorough wash of hands is advised. Practice hygiene.
› Dietary changes to warm, moist food. Avoid feeding meat, uncooked foods, chew-able foods.
› De-worming medications will be given if resulting from parasitic infections.