Posts Tagged ‘diarrhea’

What is That in the Litterbox? Dealing With Diarrhea in Cats

Cat staring at camera

Is your cat trying to tell you something? (Photo by Immortal Shots, via Pexels)

By Morris Animal Foundation

Cats’ fastidious behavior when it comes to poop makes it easy to clean up, but also can mask changes in stool that would signal a potential health problem. Although diarrhea is less of a problem in cats than dogs, there are some similarities between the two species when it comes to underlying causes – as well as a few differences.

As a rule, veterinarians divide diarrhea into two broad categories based on where in the intestinal tract the diarrhea originates – small bowel (originating in the small intestine) and large bowel (originating in the large intestine). Although unpleasant, paying attention to stool quality of your pet can give your family veterinarian valuable clues to point them toward a diagnosis and best treatment.

Characteristics of small-bowel diarrhea include:
*Large volume
*Usually watery
*Frequency might or might not be increased

Diseases that cause small-bowel diarrhea in cats include intestinal viruses, intestinal parasites, cancer, hyperthyroidism and chronic enteropathy (inflammatory bowel disease)

Characteristics of large-bowel diarrhea include:
*Small volume
*Usually semi-formed or cow-patty consistency
*Increased frequency of defecation with straining
*Often contains mucus

Diseases that cause large-bowel diarrhea include stress colitis, intestinal parasites and megacolon (more on this condition later).

Sometimes, we can see characteristics of both small- and large-bowel diarrhea in a cat. This can occur when a disease process involves both the small and large bowel. We also can see this pattern when a patient starts with small-bowel diarrhea that causes secondary irritation of the large bowel.

Blood in the stool can be noted in both small- and large-bowel diarrhea.

Blood in the stool can take several forms:
*Digested blood from the stomach or small intestine results in black, tarry stools. This can be a challenge to diagnose in cats since their stools tend to normally be dark in color.

*Fresh streaks of blood mixed in the stool or coating the stool usually indicate a large-bowel problem

Concurrent vomiting is more common with small intestinal diseases although some studies suggest that vomiting occurs in 30% of cats suffering from large-bowel problems.

Hyperthyroidism in cats frequently causes diarrhea and can be easily overlooked in a diagnostic work-up for diarrhea. Many routine bloodwork panels for cats have a screening test for this disease.

Another disease seen almost exclusively in cats is megacolon. This disease begins when cats become constipated. The large intestine stretches but loses tone which leads to more constipation. Cats will often leak a little loose stool around the hard feces which can be interpreted by a cat owner as diarrhea. Megacolon is easily diagnosed on a physical examination and via X-ray.

If your cat has diarrhea, call your family veterinarian for guidance. In some cases, the loose stools will resolve without treatment. Your family veterinarian is the best person to help decide if and when further diagnostics or treatment is needed.

Morris Animal Foundation has funded more than 50 studies and invested $1.2 million dollars in studies focused on gastrointestinal tract problems. We’re on the cutting edge of gastrointestinal research, from the use of probiotics to studies looking at the gut microbiome. Check out all our studies and learn how you can help cats everywhere have longer, healthier lives.

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Hot on the heels of the recent spate of Hookworm cases, comes Coccidiosis, an intestinal infestation by the parasite coccidia.

Eye-shaped coccidia "egg" called an oocyst.

Eye-shaped coccidia “egg” called an oocyst.

Coccidiae are a protozoan parasite, so they cannot be killed through the worming medications that most pets receive as pups and kittens. Coccidiosis cannot be prevented through heartworm medications, either. For this reason, we always recommend fecal analysis, even for pets that have been wormed previously.

We commonly find coccidiae in pets that have come from a shelter, kennel or “puppy mill,” or pet store. In those situations, multiple animals may be housed together, making the spread of feces-borne parasites more likely. A high level of sanitation is required to prevent transmission of this microscopic parasite, and not all facilities are up to the task. 

Multiple coccidia oocysts clearly visible on the slide. Click to enlarge.

Multiple coccidia oocysts clearly visible on the slide. Click to enlarge.

Coccidiae are also found in the environment, so pets that spend time outdoors may come across objects contaminated with infected feces or consume small animals (such as rodents) infected with coccidiae.

Left untreated, the disease can cause intermittent diarrhea, weight loss, dehydration, and intestinal bleeding. In severe cases, pets may progress to vomiting, depression, refusal to eat, and even death.

When caught early, before severe symptoms appear, Coccidiosis is treated with a multi-week course of medication. Hospitalization may be necessary in more advanced cases, however. Pets can have recurrent cases of Coccidiosis, so vigilance is key.

This article is not intended to diagnose or direct treatment of any illness or disease. When in doubt, take your pet to the vet!

 All photos by Jennifer Miele at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

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We’ve seen a spate of Hookworm cases lately, which afforded me the opportunity to capture the following photos of actual worms, rather than just eggs.
A pup was brought in to see us after vomiting the worms, which is pretty unusual. But what I caught on (digital) film proves the nature of these nasties. Check it out.
(Note: all photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Hookworm eggs in vomitus.

Hookworm eggs in vomitus.

Hookworms A and B on a microscope slide.

Hookworms A and B on a microscope slide.

Hookworm "A" under magnification.

Hookworm A under magnification.

Section of Hookworm A under magnification.

Section of Hookworm A under magnification.

Hookworm A, with a bubble in its mouth, shows off its hooks. They latch onto your pet's intestinal walls.

Hookworm A, with a bubble in its mouth, shows off its hooks. They latch onto your pet’s intestinal walls.

Detail of the guts of Hookworm B.

Detail of the guts of Hookworm B.

Check out the fangs on this guy! Hookworm B looks ready for lunch.

Check out the fangs on this guy! Hookworm B looks ready for lunch.

Tech note: The appearance of the hooks identifies these worms as Ancylostoma caninum.

To learn about Hookworm infection in people, click here.

To learn more about Hookworm in pets, click here.

All photos by Jennifer Miele, at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

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Choose a high-quality probiotic designed for pets' intestinal health.

Choose a high-quality probiotic designed for pets’ intestinal health.

Have you heard of the nutritional benefits of probiotics? Did you know pets can take probiotics, too?

What are probiotics?
Probiotics are microorganisms (bacteria) that live in the intestines and aid in the proper digestion of food. The “healthy” bacteria also help to limit harmful bacteria colonies and boost the immune system.

When the beneficial microorganisms are depleted — due to illness, use of antibiotics, or another reason — digestive upset such as diarrhea, gas, and constipation can result.

Eventually, the healthy bacteria (also called “flora”) will recolonize — but that can take time. A faster, safe method of encouraging the growth of new digestive flora is through giving your pet probiotic supplements, such as Vetri-Mega Probiotic.


We have used Vetri-Mega Probiotic with success in stopping diarrhea and promoting normal, healthy digestion in pets.

What is in the bottle?
Each bottle holds 120 capsules containing  several strains each of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium (both are beneficial bacteria), along with an important prebiotic – fructooligosaccharides (FOS).

Wait — what is a prebiotic? 
Think of a prebiotic as food for the probiotic. The FOS in Vetri-Mega Probiotic helps the good bacteria to flourish in your pet’s intestines. In particular, the FOS stimulates the growth of Bifidobacteria.

If your pet has been experiencing diarrhea or constipation, your vet may recommend a probiotic supplement to assist in recovery.

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