Chronic Diarrhea & Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Dogs and cats with loose stools are all to common a complaint of pet owners. If you have a pet with either persistent or periodically abnormally soft stools it is important to discover the cause of this problem. Diarrhea is a symptom and not a disease and may have many causes. Having your dog or cats stool regularly tested for intestinal parasites is probably the first and simplest test to have your veterinarian perform when trying to discover the cause of diarrhea. Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms coccidia, and giardia are all common intestinal parasites that can cause persistent loose stools and can be detected by a routine microscopic “fecal flotation test”.

If you feed your dog or cat from the table or regularly change his or her dog food you may be periodically introducing foods to which your pet is either sensitive or allergic. Putting your dog on a non-allergic diet like HA, venison and rice or duck and potato, and feeding nothing but this diet for 1 month will help you distinquish whether the animal’s problem is allergic or due to some other cause. A blood “Elisa” test is also available to help detect food allergies and to recommend less allergenic diets.

Another very common cause of diarrhea is a condition called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). If IBD is suspected then a good way to confirm this suspicion is to check the appearance of the intestinal tract lining with a fiber optic endoscope to see if there are any inflamed abnormal looking areas. If an abnormal area is detected, a small biopsy specimen can be obtained and sent to the histopathologist for a laboratory diagnosis. If “endoscopy” and “histopathology” are out of the question due to financial considerations then a “therapeutic trial” may be performed to see if using anti inflammatory drugs like metronidazole or prednisone will eliminate the diarrhea. If either endoscopy or the above described therapeutic prednisone test, points to inflammatory bowel disease then long term drug therapy would be the conventional medical solution. However, for those pet owners who would prefer not to use cortisone or metronidazole therapy, holistic medical care using nutritional therapy, herbal medicine, and acupuncture are very capable of dealing with this bowel problem.

Some animals are chronic chewers or scavenger and they are constantly getting into things. Whether the pet eats the food out of the garbage, the baby’s sock, a branch of the tree, or crab apples that have fallen to the ground, these foreign substances when ingested can play havoc with the intestinal tract and produce a mucousy and even bloody diarrhea. Keeping everything put away and out of reach from your pet may be difficult but is the only way to eliminate this cause of diarrhea.

There are many other less common causes of diarrhea such as those caused by enzyme deficiencies and emotional stress. Digestive enzyme and/or anti anxiety supplements will effectively treat such problems.

So you see there may be many causes for diarrhea. Trying to distinguish the true exact cause of your pet’s loose stool requires patience and in some cases may not be a cheap proposition.

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