One of the most troublesome and common problems we see our patients for is diarrhea. Owners want a quick resolution to the mess. Don’t be surprised if we ask a lot of questions to get the scoop on the poop.  Your answers help give us more clues as to the cause.

Don’t forget to bring us a sample even though it can be difficult to collect.  We will often do several tests with that sample.  A fecal study checks for intestinal parasites and protozoa that can cause diarrhea.  A fecal smear can help detect bacterial overgrowth and look for certain bacteria and protozoa.  Other tests can indicate active infection with other difficult bugs.  Based on the findings, your veterinarian may prescribe probiotics in addition to other indicated medications.

Probiotics are live organisms that help reestablish healthy intestinal microflora.  They bind to sites temporarily to colonize and prevent other pathogens from taking the opportunity to cause inflammation and continued diarrhea.  They activate and support the immune system.  The more strains of probiotics and more numbers of colony forming units provide better efficiency at the job.  Some products include prebiotics which are added to give nutritional support to the probiotics.

Probiotics help in many different circumstances like dietary indiscretion (eating things they shouldn’t); stress from travel, kenneling, or moving; diet changes or food sensitivities; metabolic disturbances; and chronic bowel diseases.  Some newer targeted probiotics are being developed for protecting the intestinal flora from changes while on antibiotics and for use in certain chronic bowel diseases.

Advances and knowledge in the area of probiotics are showing many benefits and expanding the options for veterinarians to help patients with diarrhea from acute and chronic intestinal issues.

Courtesy – Dr. Carla Edwards