When an animal presents at the veterinary clinic with diarrhea, there are a series of questions and possibly tests that may need to be run to find the root cause.
In some cases it it merely a food change or something simple, but in others it is not. This is why when you take your dog to the vet for diarrhea make sure you are prepared to answer these questions.
1.How long have they had diarrhea and how often?
Your vet is trying to determine if the diarrhea is acute or chronic and if it is intermittent (meaning it comes and goes). This is important to know for many reasons, including determining if your pet needs electrolytes, if there could be dehydration or to rule out possible causes.
Make sure you keep track of when the diarrhea starts so that you are able to answer this question.
2. What food is your dog currently eating and has it changed?
Write down the type of food your dog is eating, even if your veterinarian doesn’t ask this you should know. Don’t just know the brand name but know what protein source is in it as well, typically chicken, beef or salmon.
Diarrhea can occur from changing food and from doing so too quickly, this is why it is important for your vet to know if the diet has recently changed.
3. Did your pet eat anything out of the ordinary
Similarly to the above statement it is important to note if your dog got into the garbage as this can cause a serious bout of diarrhea
4. Do they have all of their vaccinations?
Of course if you are a regular client your vet will have this information on file. But if not they will need to know the vaccination history, so have it handy.
Depending on the age and vaccination status of the pet, vets worry about different diseases. In young pups that present with diarrhea and no vaccinations the concern is usually focused on a viral disease such as parvo or distemper. In an older pet that may have been vaccinated a couple of times this would probably not be as much of a concern.
5. Did you notice anything in the stool?
Most people will remember if they saw something like a worm roaming around in their dogs feces but may brush off something small. But make sure that you tell your vet everything. This could include foreign bodies like small pieces of plastic or string to blood.
Many times if your dog ate something like a sock or chicken bone there will be evidence in the feces
6. Are they acting like themselves?
Notice if your dog is still eating and drinking and keeping these things down. Also note if they are more lethargic, drinking excessively or have persistent stomach pains.
If they are not acting like themselves, it many times points to a more serious issue.
7. Did you bring a sample?
This is music to a vets ears when a client brings a stool sample with them, that way they can immeditly test for things like worms. While they can easily get a sample if the feces is formed it is a little bit more difficult when there is diarrhea due to it being more liquid.
If you do bring a sample make sure it is from that day, the fresher the better. Little can be done with samples that are days old.
It is always disheartening when your pet presents with diarrhea, especially if they have a chronic illness. But making sure you know these things ahead of time will help a lot at the vet visit!