Article Text

Companion Animal Practice
Differential diagnosis and treatment of acute diarrhoea in the dog and cat
  1. Ian Battersby

    Ian Battersby graduated from Bristol in 1998. After a period in practice and a four-year residency in small animal internal medicine at Bristol, he joined Davies Veterinary Specialists in Bedfordshire, where he works in the medicine referral clinic. He holds the RCVS and European diplomas in internal medicine.

  2. Andrea Harvey

    Andrea Harvey graduated from Bristol in 2000. After 18 months in small animal practice, she undertook a threeyear residency in feline medicine at Bristol, where she is now the Feline Advisory Bureau clinical associate in feline medicine. She holds the RCVS diploma in small animal medicine (feline) and the European diploma in veterinary internal medicine.


ACUTE and chronic diarrhoea are both very common complaints in first-opinion small animal practice. Diarrhoea is defined as an increase in the frequency, fluidity or volume of faeces. It is a primary sign of intestinal disease, although it may also be a manifestation of other systemic diseases. Diarrhoea can occur as a consequence of small or large intestinal disease, but it is not uncommon for both to be present. Information gained from the clinical history can aid differentiation between diarrhoea of large and small intestinal origin. This article focuses on the acute presentation, although the differential diagnoses do overlap with chronic diarrhoea. It reviews the causes and sets out an approach to the investigation and management of patients. As well as discussing what treatments may or may not be appropriate, it gives some guidance on what to do if an infectious aetiology, such as parvovirus, is suspected.

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