Pet Health treatments for diarrhoea in your pets

Published on January 26th, 2018 | by Debbie Martin


Treatments for Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a condition that’s rarely taken seriously by pet owners – that is, until their pet develops the symptoms. Then, without a moment’s hesitation, it’s down to the vet. After all, when your beloved family pet loses control of its bowels, the situation quickly becomes urgent – and you’re unlikely to be willing to tough it out. That’s why so many vets report that diarrhoea is the most common ailment reported in practice.

What causes diarrhoea?

Identifying the causes of this particular ailment is tricky, since it’s associated with a raft of different diseases – ranging from the relatively mild to the positively life-threatening. When you first take your pet to the vet, you’ll want to provide them with as much information to work with as possible – most notably what your dog has eaten over the course of the past twenty-four hours or so.

Since diarrhoea is associated with a few highly serious conditions, your vet will likely want to first eliminate this possibility first. If the gastrointestinal tract has become obstructed, surgery might be necessary to ensure a positive outcome. The same is true of acute organ failure, such as renal disease, Addison’s disease and pancreatitis.

Such causes are unlikely – though their consequences are serious enough that they’re worth eliminating straight away. More common drivers behind diarrhoea include:

  • Your pet eating something they shouldn’t.
  • Sudden changes in diets
  • Allergic reactions
  • Stress
  • Infection

Diarrhoea is often, ironically, mistaken for constipation, as the two conditions can manifest in the same way – with your pet struggling to go to the toilet. If your pet is housebound, you’ll be able to simply inspect the aftermath. If your pet is outdoors, on the other hand, you might need to inspect the area you’ve seen it hunched over for loose, watery stools. You should also be on the lookout for a loss of appetite, fever and lethargy – as well as dehydration, which can result from extremely rapid loss of water.

In many cases, these symptoms are temporary, and will pass without the need for intervention. Sometimes, however, a trip to the vet is in order. In most situations, a vet won’t need to diagnose the condition before starting treatment – they’ll instead retrospectively make the diagnosis based on the animal’s response to treatment. But what should that treatment consist of?

How can we battle diarrhoea?

Diet and environment

When it comes to treating diarrhoea, the most powerful tool in the veterinary arsenal is diet. If your pet has recently made the switch to a new diet, then your vet might consider the contents of that diet and how they might be contributing to diarrhoea. Making the switch back will, in many cases, address the problem. The same can be said when your pet is responding to an allergen or foreign object; in most cases you’ll just need to wait for the offending object or substance to pass through the system.

If your pet is eating the same food, day in, day out, for year on end, then problems will almost inevitably develop the moment you make the switch to a different brand. For this reason, it’s useful to introduce a little variety into your pet’s diet. Combine dry food with wet, and allow your pet to occasionally sample something new. This will allow your pet’s gastrointestinal tract to make the necessary adjustments. Excessively rich foods, like the leftovers of a curry, however, should never be fed to a pet – they’re unlikely to get the same enjoyment from it as you are.

Dogs in particular have a habit of eating whatever they find lying around – whether it’s grass, sticks, rocks or small toys. Not only can such objects represent a choking hazard, but they can contribute to diarrhoea. This is especially so in the case of small puppies.

If your pet has recently undergone a stressful situation, then this might provoke toilet trouble. Such situations might include moving to a new house, introducing a new member to the family, or loud noises. Some pets will even react badly to moving the furniture around.

Antibiotic trials

If the symptoms persist even after changes have been made to the animal’s diet and environment, then other options will need to be considered. In most such cases, a vet will prescribe antibiotics to address the symptoms of diarrhoea – though this practice is likely to fall away in the future, as practices change to combat the spread of resistant bacteria. Many vets will instead turn to probiotics – or a combination of antibiotics and probiotics, depending on the circumstances.

Probiotics are live microbes whose presence in the body confers a benefit to the host. You might recognise the term from health-food marketing, such as that which promotes certain brands of yogurt. These microbes are often yeasts and other microorganisms.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are not microbes at all – but special sorts of sugars which will provide probiotics with the right environment to thrive. Together, the two function symbiotically – which is why, in combination, they’re called ‘symbiotics’.

Probiotics work by competing with the pathogens that cause diarrhoea, thereby limiting their chance at spreading, and the symptoms they cause. Some of these organisms will also produce acids in the gut, which have anti-microbial properties that will help them to battle against harmful bacteria. Some sorts of probiotics will also have a beneficial effect on the gut itself, helping to promote the maintenance and fortification of the intestinal walls. That said, these effects have yet to be observed properly in small animals – and the evidence is largely restricted to human beings and rodents.

In conclusion

Diarrhoea is rarely caused by serious conditions – but occasionally it can be, particularly when present alongside other conditions, like stupor and vomiting. If you think your pet is seriously ill, then don’t delay in taking it to a vet; if your pet is otherwise healthy, however, the symptoms may well pass in a matter of hours. If you need to bring your pet into the vet, then taking a sample of faeces along for the ride might be help to speed up matters.

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About the Author

Debbie has worked for Beeston Animal Health for a number of years and although generally involved with the marketing these days she has a great deal of knowledge on many things to do with small animals.

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