Diarrhea in dogs is diagnostically worked up by first differentiating between small bowel diarrhea and large bowel diarrhea. Dr. Sam discusses how we do this and why this is important in figuring out the cause of the dog diarrhea and how we treat the dog diarrhea.
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Diarrhea in Dogs
Dog Diarrhea first needs to be differentiated between diarrhea caused by the small intestine and diarrhea caused by the large intestine. This can be done largely from the symptoms that you are seeing. Small bowel diarrheas in dogs tend to be large volume, sometimes with vomiting and weight loss, and rarely with accidents in the house. Large bowel diarrheas in dogs are associated with a sense of straining both before and after the bowel movement, and sometimes blood or mucous are seen.
Causes of small bowel diarrhea in dogs include inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal parasitism, enteritis, liver and kidney disease, hormone disorders, protein-losing enteropathies, and some cancers among other conditions. Diagnostic tests that need to be performed include a fecal flotation, cbc/chemistry panel, abdominal x-rays, and intestinal absorption tests to start.
Causes of large bowel diarrhea in dogs include colitis and rarely cancer. Colitis simply means inflammation of the colons or large bowel. Diagnostic tests include a fecal flotation and sometimes bloodwork and abdominal x-rays.
Please note that sometimes diarrhea may have both a small and large bowel component to it. Treatment depends on what disease is found to be the cause.
- Sam Meisler DVM
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