Why does my pet have diarrhoea?

By February 9, 2023April 12th, 2023Cats, Dogs

Healthy dogs and cats, under normal circumstances, should produce firm stools that are well-formed and brown in colour. If they are suffering from diarrhoea, the faeces produced will be soft, and sometimes even liquid in consistency. In serious cases, there may also be a change in colour whereby there are traces of mucous or blood in it.

Diarrhoea is the passing of large quantities of liquid or loose stool, due to inflammation in the digestive system. When your pet has diarrhoea, they are unable to absorb water and nutrients, which in severe cases, can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. You might at this point start asking yourself, so why does my pet have diarrhoea? Look no further as we explore the possible causes of diarrhoea.

The most common cause of diarrhoea in pets is due to a sudden change in diet or accidental consumption of inappropriate food. This usually resolves on its own after just a few days. Sometimes, a dietary intolerance could also result in diarrhoea which can only be resolved when that food is being eliminated from the diet. Diarrhoea can also occur when you switch to a new type of food too quickly.

Toxic plants/ Toxins
Plants such as tulips and lilies can cause diarrhoea. Try to keep your pets away from them as much as you can when you’re out on your walks. Toxins such as chocolate, xylitol, pesticides and antifreeze can also cause diarrhoea when ingested and should be kept out of reach from your pets.

Parasitic Infections
It is common for pets to have worms or other parasites. There are several different parasites that may infect your pet’s digestive tract including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, giardia, coccidian, and liver flukes. If parasitic infections is suspected to be cause of diarrhoea, your vet will perform regular examinations of your pet’s faeces to decide the best parasite treatment for them.

Bacterial Infections
Pets with diarrhoea may have bacteria such as salmonella or campylobacter in their faeces and these can be diagnosed by testing their faeces. However, it is not as simple as it sounds because healthy pets can also shed these bacteria in their faeces. Some of these bacteria can also infect humans, so do remember to practice good hygiene by washing your hands after in-contact with your pet!

Viral Infections
These are less common, but could potentially cause very serious cases of diarrhoea in pets, puppies and kittens in particular. Infections such as parvovirus or pan leukopenia can cause severe and potentially deadly infections. However, proper vaccination can prevent these diseases.

Diseases Of The Digestive Tract
These are more common in adult dogs and cats and include diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or neoplasia (a type of cancer) of the digestive system. These diseases can affect the absorption of nutrients from your pet’s digestive tract which can result in diarrhoea. If these diseases of the digestive tract is suspected to be cause of diarrhoea, your vet may suggest additional tests such as blood tests, x-rays or ultrasound.

The appearance of your pet’s stool could help you determine the cause of his diarrhoea. If you see foreign objects, that would most often be the answer to what’s causing their diarrhoea. If there are traces of blood, which may appear as red, black or tarry streaks in your pet’s stool, contact your vet immediately as bloody stool might indicate digestive tract bleeding.

Most episodes of diarrhoea is a symptom of a separate condition occurs out of a sudden, and tends to last for a few days. They are often resolved on their own or with a short course of treatment. However if the diarrhoea is severe, your pet can rapidly become dehydrated. They could also suffer from vomiting, loss of appetite, or pass out blood in their faeces. All these factors contribute to the loss of fluid from the body. It is important to recognise the symptoms of dehydration in your pet.

Signs of dehydration include
– Sunken Eyes
– Pale or sticky gums
– Sleepiness or lethargy
– Loss of appetite
– Loss of skin elasticity

Dehydration can lead to serious repercussions, so don’t hesitate to contact your vet for treatment if your pet is showing any of these signs.

The treatment of diarrhoea in dogs and cats may differ depending on the cause. For mild cases, supplements could help resolve the diarrhoea. For example, The Honest Kitchen Perfect Form *hyperlink to our THK Perfect Form listing* contains herbs like slippery elm, fennel and plantain to help soothe and protect the GI tract and reduce loose stools. Probiotics and prebiotics could also help to aid your pet’s recovery from diarrhoea. Probiotics are the ‘good bacteria’ that live in the digestive tract and prebiotics are a source of food for these live bacteria which helps them to multiply.

Whenever your pet is having diarrhoea, it is important to ensure that they have plenty of fresh water available so that they can replace the fluid lost from the diarrhoea. Provide space for them to have sufficient rest by ensuring that they have somewhere quiet that won’t be disturbed. Accidents may occur whereby they are unable to control their bowel and end up passing out the diarrhoea in the house, don’t be quick to punish them as these are unavoidable.

While we can do our best to prevent diarrhoea in our pets, nothing is 100% in this world. Some of the things we can do is to prevent them from consuming inappropriate food and restrain from feeding them too many treats, particularly human food. If you would like to change their diet, do it gradually by feeding increasing amounts of the new food and decreasing amounts of the old food. If your pet has a particularly digestive system and is prone to tummy upsets, keep his diet as consistent as possible.

It is common for pets to have diarrhoea, and an isolated episode may be nothing to worry about. However, if your pet has diarrhoea that isn’t resolving, make an appointment with your vet to have them checked. Collect a stool sample so that your vet can review it. Sometimes, there is no definite answer to why your pet has diarrhoea. What’s important is to treat it so that they do not become malnourished and dehydrated.

Any views or opinions communicated on this page belong to the author and do not represent the views or opinions of any other organizations. This article is meant for us to share our own views and opinions in general. Kindly consult a professional if you would like to seek professional advice.

Adopted from sources

– Diarrhea In Dogs And Cats – All You Need To Know About Causes, Treatment, And Prevention. By Middlehope Veterinary Hospital.

– Diarrhea in Dogs & Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

– Images of dogs, Pixabay, Pexels.