By Dr. Colleen Carney

Top 10 causes for soft stools in dogs and cats

  • Dietary indiscretion: consumption of garbage, foreign material
  • Diet change: fast transition from one food to another
  • Food sensitivity or allergy
  • Stress
  • Parasites: roundworms, hookworms, Giardia
  • Bacterial or viral infection: salmonella, clostridium, parvovirus
  • Medications, especially antibiotics
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, poor absorption of food
  • Pancreatitis
  • Ingestion of a toxin ie chocolate

When should you call the veterinarian?

  • Pet is also experiencing vomiting, lethargy, or has a poor appetite
  • The diarrhea has extended beyond 48 hours, sooner if extremely severe (or a young  as dehydration can occur
  • The symptoms are recurrent or intermittent, the pet is losing weight
  • There is change to the color of the stool—black/tarry feces may be consistent with a stomach ulcer, blood or mucous is noted
  • Pet is experiencing bloating or abdominal pain
  • If at any time while your pet experiences diarrhea, you feel concerned about their overall appearance or activity level

What can you do at home?

  • Avoid over-the-counter medications, this can mask symptoms or cause negative side effects if not properly administered
  • Give the gastrointestinal tract a rest with a 24 hour fast
  • Small more frequent meals with a bland diet—white rice (75%) and boiled chicken (25%) for a few days until stools are solid; then transition slowly back to normal diet by mixing in kibble
  • Monitor closely the consistency and frequency of stool, and visit your veterinarian if any of the above listed symptoms occur

What your veterinarian might suggest

  • Fluid therapy to correct dehydration and maintain electrolyte balance
  • GI support such as probiotics, increased fiber or a new prescription diet
  • Checking a fecal sample and/or treatment for parasites
  • Appropriate medication for inflammation or infection in the intestinal tract
  • For ongoing bouts of diarrhea, additional diagnostics (culture, x-rays, bloodwork or even biopsies of the GI tract) may be warranted
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