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My pet has diarrhoea

ALWAYS GIVE US A CALL FOR MORE INFORMATION IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS.

Diarrhoea is one of the most common presentations we see in our clinics.

If your pet has had diarrhoea once, is bright and alert, eating, drinking, urinating and defecating ask yourself some of the following questions.

Q. Is their worm and flea medication up to date?
A. If No - give us a call to order flea and worm treatment. Some parasites can cause diarrhoea.

Q. Have I changed their diet from one brand of dog food to another suddenly?
A. Sudden diet changes can cause tummy upsets.

Q. Were they travelling in or have just been in a vehicle when the diarrhoea occurred?
A. Pets can get stressed tummies from travel, particularly if they’re not used to travel.

Q. Have they just returned from the vet after a procedure that required sedation or a general anaesthetic?
A. Some of the drugs used for these procedures can cause short term tummy upsets. Be aware – some drugs we prescribe for at home use can cause vomiting and diarrhoea – please contact us ASAP if you have concerns.

However, if your pet has diarrhoea and any of the following also applies, please call us to book an appointment to see the vet. This list is not exhaustive so call us for advice if your pet's circumstance does not apply.

  • Your pet is bright, alert, eating, drinking and toileting as normal but the diarrhoea is lasting longer than 24hrs.
  • Your pet also has vomiting.
  • Your pet cannot keep fluids or food down.
  • Your pet is inappetent or refusing to eat.
  • Your pet is dull, sleepy, and/or non-responsive.
  • Your pet appears to be in pain.
  • Your pet’s diarrhoea is bloody.
  • Your pet is prone to eating things that they should not e.g. rubbish, manure, scavenges, socks, string, showlaces, parts of clothing etc.
  • OR you have seen or removed something from your pet's mouth that was not their food.
  • Your pet chews bones, gravel, sticks etc
  • Your pet has had access to rich food e.g. dinner scraps.
  • Your pet has been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition e.g. diabetes, pancreatitis.
  • Your pet is a female and is NOT neutered.
  • Your pet is female and was recently in heat.
  • Your pet is unvaccinated or is overdue vaccination.

Diagnosis

Unfortunately, diagnosing why your pet has diarrhoea isn’t always straightforward. 'Why?', we hear you ask. Well, the causes for diarrhoea are wide ranging. From the mild simple tummy upset to serious life threatening conditions like Parvo Virus.

Best case scenario, your pet has a "tummy bug'. Worst case scenario your pet has a serious and potentially life threatening condition that will only WORSEN if left alone. Applying the 'wait and see approach' can lead to some devastating outcomes. Which, unfortunately, we have seen many times.

This is why in many instances further testing is likely to be necessary and recommended.

1. Blood Tests

Our in house lab has specialised analysers that help us run a sample of your pet's blood. These tests help the vet to assess organ function (kidney, liver, pancreas, thyroid etc). They also help assess for dehydration and if there are any indicators for an infection (white blood cells).
These blood tests can help the vet on the road to discovering what is potentially causing your pet’s diarrhoea. However, there are instances where your pet's blood results are all within normal ranges. Normal ranges does not necessarily mean there is nothing else going on. Many diseases can cause diarrhoea that don't affect blood results.

2. Diagnostic Imaging

(a) Xrays
X-rays are a quick and easy way to help the veterinary team to "see" obvious changes going on within your pet's body. Such as: large obstructions, masses etc. Unfortunately, xray imaging can only show up these things if the blockage is causing a lot of gas buildup or are radiopaque i.e. show up on xray - (bone, metal, stones)

(b) Ultrasound
Ultrasound is a non-invasive way to image what is happening to your pet internally. Ultrasound can help assess subtle changes to organs that an xray does not pick up. Additionally things such as free fluid, and foreign bodies that are not radiopaque are more likely to show up on ultrasound.
The vet may recommend one or both of these diagnostic imaging options. The reason for both is because each method has its strong and weak points. Using both helps to address the information gap.

SNAP Tests

We have some in -house SNAP tests with ELISA Technology. Depending on the test a blood, urine or feacal sample may be required. We use these tests to help assess if your pet is positive for particular diseases or conditions.

Faecal Sample Analysis

A faecal sample may be required to assess for parasites, microbes etc

Urinalysis

A urine sample from your pet may be required to gather more information to add to the diagnostic work up being performed.

Surgical Investigation

Exploratory laparotomy is a surgery which requires opening the abdomen to find the cause of problems (such as belly pain or bleeding) that testing could not diagnose.

Additional Referral Testing

More complex cases may require referral to specialist veterinary centres for endoscopy, CT, MRI, biopsies etc. Should this be required we can refer your pet to one of these centres.

Treatment

Treatment for diarrhoea will depend on the cause. Persistent diarrhoea is likely going to require hospitalisation and administration of intravenous fluids to address the likely dehydration. Your pet will receive medication during their stay and may go home with medication. All this will be discussed with you. Every pet we see is an individual and the treatment they receive will be tailored individually too.