What causes diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea is a symptom of intestinal inflammation, which can be caused by lots of things, including:
- Dietary indiscretion. This is one of the most common causes of diarrhoea, and usually happens when your pet gorges on too much food, or eats something half rotten. So this may happen if your dog raids the bin, or your cat eats a dead mouse.
- Viral or bacterial infections. These are fairly common, and spread when your pet sniffs infected faeces, or comes into contact with an infected animal. Viral infections in puppies and kittens can be serious, and should be treated by a vet immediately.
- Parasites. Worms and protozoa can be a sign of diarrhoea in young animals. Adults with these parasites rarely show symptoms of diarrhoea – they develop immunity to them as they age.
- Food intolerance or allergy. This is very common in cats, and can occur even if you’ve been feeding your pet the same food for years.
- Inflammatory bowel disease. This causes severe inflammation of the intestine. It can be caused by an allergic reaction, or an immune reaction by the body.
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This is a genetic disorder that often affects German Shepherds. They lack the enzymes to digest food properly, and as a result, lose weight and suffer with persistent diarrhoea. Hyperthyroidism. Very occasionally, diarrhoea can occur as a result of an overactive thyroid gland in cats.
- Liver disease. This will cause diarrhoea along with vomiting and weight loss.
- Tumours of the gut. These will affect your pet’s ability to absorb food and water, resulting in chronic diarrhoea and weight loss.
Do I need to see the vet?
If your pet has only just developed diarrhoea, seems bright and happy and is keen to exercise and eat, you can probably manage the problem at home. Keep them off food for 24 hours, but make sure they have access to water. Once the diarrhoea stops, try feeding them small bland meals of chicken or white fish. You may also want to use something like pro-kaolin – a binding agent which helps to firm up the faeces.
If your pet is depressed, won’t eat, you can see large quantities of blood in the faeces, or the diarrhoea has been going on for more the 48 hours, you should speak to your vet.
Puppies and kittens with diarrhoea should be taken to the vet immediately - they are prone to harmful infections and can quickly become dehydrated.
What can I do if my pet suffers from chronic diarrhoea?
Your pet may benefit from taking regular supplements of probiotics, such as Protexin Enterogenic. This helps ensure normal gut bacteria and can be given alongside other medication or dietary changes recommended by your vet.
For more information on treating pets with diarrhoea, speak to one of our vets.