Diarrhoea is the increased frequency, fluidity or volume of faeces (poo) associated with increased water content. Acute diarrhoea is of short duration and can be self-limiting whilst chronic diarrhoea has been present for longer than three weeks. There can be many causes for diarrhoea and some are more serious than others.
Some cases will be mild and have no impact on the rest of the body. Severe diarrhoea can cause dehydration and pets will require hospitalisation for investigation and treatment. Pets with severe diarrhoea, with or without vomiting or reduced eating and drinking, and those with blood in the diarrhoea should be seen for examination and treatment. Very young animals can become dehydrated rapidly and they should be examined and treated early to prevent the dehydration from becoming severe.
If you are unsure whether your pet needs to be seen today, telephone our staff for advice. Whatever the time of day, our emergency clinics are able to examine your pet and make recommendations for treatment. In some cases, investigation will also be recommended and this may be by means of blood and urine tests, x-rays and/or ultrasound examination of the abdomen. These can all be performed in our clinics and depending on the test results, we will either prescribe appropriate medical therapy, recommend examination and management by our internal medicine specialist or advise surgical treatment.
When diarrhoea is non-responsive to medical treatment or has been intermittent but chronic, the emergency veterinarian or your local general practice will recommend investigation into the underlying cause by the internal medicine specialist. Again this is likely to involve faecal tests, blood and urine tests, x-rays or ultrasound examination of the abdomen, endoscopy and biopsy of the stomach and intestines. In some cases, surgery will either be recommended to complete the diagnostic testing or to treat the cause of the diarrhoea (for example removal of a partial blockage from the intestines).
Treatment recommendations will be made on the basis of the test results. This may involve intravenous fluids if the patient is dehydrated, dietary changes and administration of medications (tablets or liquids to be given by mouth) or surgery.