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Dog and Cat Diarrhea

by | April 7, 2020 | Pet Care

Cute dogs and cats in line in pink roomDiarrhea is a common problem in both cats and dogs; it often results in a visit to the vet. Dealing with diarrhea isn’t fun for you or your pet, and you want to get your dog healthy as soon as possible. So, what can you do to help prevent and treat cat or dog diarrhea?

The best dog or cat diarrhea treatment depends on the cause of the
problem. If your pet has no underlying health conditions and has no blood in the stool, it will probably resolve itself within 24 to 36 hours. If your pet’s loose stools persist, you need to investigate the cause.

What Causes Diarrhea in Cats?

Kitty in green litter box

Occasionally, your cat may experience an upset stomach from a change in food or from eating some unknown item. This can cause a one-time soft stool that resolves quickly. Other causes of diarrhea in cats require a trip to the vet.

With testing, your vet may discover one of these causes of diarrhea in cats:

  • Roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, or other intestinal parasites
  • Bacterial infections, viral infections, and protozoal infections like Giardia
  • Dietary imbalances, allergies, or other nutritional sensitivities
  • A cat with chronic diarrhea may have Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lack of digestive enzymes

Any of these situations can cause feline diarrhea and deserves a trip to the veterinarian. Your vet will consider all possible causes and make diagnostic tests to verify the reason. See your vet quickly, you’ll get the cat diarrhea problem resolved, and your pet will heal better when the issue is fixed before it gets serious.

Could your pet’s diarrhea be caused by the stress of travel? Visit Car Sickness in Dogs and Cats to learn more.

Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs

Sick dog has diarrhea on floor

Diarrhea is not a disease, but a symptom of problems in the gastrointestinal tract that can have many reasons. Dogs use diarrhea to flush out infectious agents and toxins from the digestive tract. The most prevalent causes of diarrhea in dogs include:

  • Overeating or eating spoiled food
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Stress
  • Infections from E. coli, other bacteria, or viruses
  • Problems which upset the fluid balance in the body
  • Diseases of the bowel, kidneys, liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, or other organs

Visiting the Vet for Dog or Cat Diarrhea

Vet and vet tech examining a small brown dog

Talk to your vet when you make the appointment and let them know about your pet’s diarrhea. Ask whether they want a stool sample and how it should be collected. Also, ask whether your pet should fast before the appointment should your vet want blood samples. When you arrive, give the vet as many details as possible, including:

  • A detailed description of the stool, including color, consistency, and odor
  • Take a photo of the stool for your vet, if possible
  • Let your vet know if stools are more frequent or larger or smaller than usual
  • Note any observed fresh blood in the stool or the presence of mucus
  • Detail any urgency or straining when your pet defecates
  • Take a stool sample if requested
  • Let your vet know if your pet has experienced any vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, or other symptoms
  • Tell your vet if the diarrhea is recurring or has been going on for more than 24 hours
  • Let your vet know if your pet has lost weight

Treating Dog Diarrhea

If your dog seems otherwise healthy, is alert and eating and drinking, as usual, diarrhea may resolve itself within 24 to 36 hours. In this case, you can wait and possibly avoid a costly trip to the vet. Usually, diarrhea caused by stress or dietary problems will resolve itself quickly.

For the first 24 hours, observe your dog carefully and manage them with a 24 hour fast.

What to give dogs with diarrhea:

  • Give plenty of water to prevent dehydration
  • Withholding solid foods for 24 hours, giving the intestines time to empty
  • Boil rice in water, cool it and strain out the rice. Give the rice water to your dog to drink
  • Give a preparation containing kaolin and pectin to help firm the feces
  • Give probiotics to combat the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut
  • Reintroduce healthy foods slowly after the 24-hour fast

If your dog continues to have bouts of diarrhea after the 24-hour fast, call your veterinarian for advice and to have your pet evaluated.

When to See the Vet for Dog Diarrhea or Puppy Diarrhea

Vet tech holding up a brown puppy

Puppies younger than 16 weeks of age should immediately see a vet for diarrhea. Puppies are more likely to succumb quickly to dehydration or electrolyte imbalances and are more likely to have a severe disease such as parvovirus.

Adult dogs with diarrhea should see a veterinarian when diarrhea persists beyond 24 to 36 hours or immediately when any of these conditions exist:

  • Black feces or fresh blood in the stool
  • Dogs refusing food or water with depression and vomiting
  • Dogs with other health problems should see the vet immediately
  • Chronic diarrhea in dogs
  • Your dog has lost weight
  • Your pet shows signs of abdominal pain, lethargy, or other symptoms of illness

Preventing Dog and Cat Diarrhea

Preventing diarrhea in your pet requires paying attention to their diet and general well-being. Notice their usual eating habits, so you’ll quickly know if your pet isn’t feeling their best. You can prevent diarrhea in dogs or cats by keeping your pet on a healthy diet and following these tips:

  • Avoid overfeeding your pet
  • Remove uneaten food and wash the bowl
  • Watch for dietary sensitivities or allergies
  • Don’t allow your pet to consume plastic or other material from chewed up toys
  • Avoid stress as much as possible
  • Watch for signs your pet is not feeling well and investigate immediately

Preventing Unexpected Veterinarian Bills

Kitty looking up the camera

Vet bills can be expensive, and they usually arrive when your budget is already tight. Keeping your pet healthy is not always possible without assistance from the vet, however. One of the best ways to offset these costs is to purchase health insurance for your pet.

Prudent Pet insurance provides a way to protect your pet’s health with budget-friendly payments. It protects your pet and your budget from significant, unexpected expenses that you might be unable to afford otherwise.

Protect your pet and your budget with a free quote from Prudent Pet today. You enjoy the peace of mind knowing your pet’s health is secure.

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Diane

Diane loves all animals and has parented dogs, cats, pigs, goats, chickens, sheep, and four children over the years. She is currently owned by Lucy, a senior Chow who always wants to stay close to her people. Lucy is a retired guide dog who is happiest when a child is nearby.