Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ontario Canada
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Diarrhea, though common, is not a very specific
condition. That is, many things can cause
diarrhea, and yet the clinical appearance (frequent,
soft, or fluid bowel movements) is
about the same. The gastrointestinal tract
has one major defense against irritants of
many sorts, which is moving its contents
along more quickly than usual. The cause of
the irritation may include worms, bacteria,
viruses, spoiled or toxic food, food sensitivities
(see "Allergies"), bone fragments, or
indigestible material like hair, cloth, or
The body's primary response to these irritants
is to increase bowel contraction (called
peristalsis) in order to flush them out of the
system. Because the intestinal contents move
along so quickly, the colon does not absorb
the amount of water it usually does. Thus,
the bowel movement is abnormally fluid.
Depending on what part of the tract is irritated,
you may see certain additional symptoms.
If there is inflammation and bleeding in
the upper part of the small intestine, near the
stomach, then the bowel movement will be
very dark or black from digested blood. You
also may notice a buildup of excess gas that
causes belching, a bloated stomach, or flatulence.
The animal in this pattern usually shows
no particular straining when passing a stool.
A different picture appears when the inflammation
is lower down in the colon. Generally,
there is no problem with gas buildup.
The diarrhea tends to "shoot" out of the
rectum with force and obvious straining. If
there has been bleeding in the colon, the
blood will appear as a fresh red color mixed
with the stool. The bowel movements tend to
be more frequent than when the disturbance
centers in the small intestine. Often you may
notice excessive mucus that looks like clear
Because diarrhea can be associated with
so many causes and other disorders, we must
be alert to the possibility of other conditions
causing this symptom. Most of the time, however,
diarrhea is caused by eating the wrong
kind of food or spoiled food, overeating in
general, parasites (in young animals especially)
, or viral infections.
The following guidelines are useful for
treating simple or mild conditions that fall •
the above categories. If they don't resolve it,
or if conditions are severe or otherwise seem
to warrant it, seek professional help—sooner
rather than later.
Most importantly, do not feed any solid
food for the first 24 to 48 hours. A liquid fast
will give the intestinal tract a chance to rest]
and do its job of flushing things out. Make
sure that plenty of pure water is available ai
all times and encourage drinking. A danger
of excessive diarrhea is dehydration from the
loss of water, sodium, and potassium.
Dave and Molly
Ian Dunbar was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from I.P.D.T.A. Here's a picture of me accepting the award on his behalf.
Member of IAABC ,International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants , Member of Pet Professional Guild