Nausea, heartburn, indigestion… What to do when your pet has diarrhea

By Joe Musielak, DVM

Transporting your pet to your regular veterinarian or the closest emergency hospital is your first step. Drive SAFELY! It does your pet no good if you get into an accident on the way to the hospital.  Be prepared financially.

Upon arrival the receptionist, assistant or technician will perform a triage and assess if your pet is stable or if it needs to immediately be rushed to the treatment area. You can best assist us by filling out paper work and remaining in the reception area. As soon as we are able to give you an update we will.

Pets can have diarrhea from many different disease conditions. Infectious diseases, parasites, bacterial or viral infections, dietary changes, stress, ingestion of foreign materials, and toxins.

To assess the damage to your pet the following protocols are often essential:

1: A physical exam.

2:  Blood analysis (complete blood count and chemistry analysis). This helps us to determine the extent of illness to internal organs.

3: X-rays the abdomen. 

4: IV fluids  to help replace the fluids lost by diarrhea.

5: Hospitalization and observation overnight.

6: Fecal analysis ( in younger dogs we strongly recommend a parvo test) There are several different types of analyses that can be performed to check for giardia, worms, other parasites and disturbances in the normal bacteria found in feces.

7: Additional testing may be recommended up to an exploratory surgery although this is rare in the case of acute diarrhea.

The more of these tests you allow us to do the greater our chances of determining why your pet has diarrhea and then formulating an appropriate treatment plan.