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Expert Advice on Pet Health and Nutrition

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WebMD Expert Discussion: The Scoop on Poop: Cat & Dog Digestive Problems

Pet poop is a fact of life. When you own a dog or a cat, you become far more familiar with animal feces than you might want to be. But as WebMD guest veterinarian Will Draper, DVM, explains, your cat or dog’s poop may well be his best way to communicate with you when he may have a health issue.

What can your pet’s poop tell you about his digestive health? Well, diarrhea alone has a number of causes. In cats, says Draper, it might be caused by mild factors like a change in diet, eating a “non-food” item like plants or bugs (along with a possible allergic reaction to that item), or parasites.

In older cats especially, diarrhea may point to more serious problems, including dental disease, kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, liver disease, and cancer.

Dogs get diarrhea, too, and they get it for many of the same reasons as cats get diarrhea, including thyroid problems. If your dog or cat develops diarrhea, be aware that there is one major difference between dogs and cats and the type of thyroid problems they tend to develop.

When a cat has a thyroid problem, it is more often caused by an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid) gland. When a dog is experiencing thyroid trouble, it is more likely to be from an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) gland.

You can’t diagnose these conditions yourself. Take your pet to the veterinarian, who will run tests like stool samples, urine cultures, and blood tests to help determine a cause of your pet's digestive system troubles.

Diarrhea or other unusual stools can be your pet's way of telling you something's wrong.

Have you experienced this with a pet? What was the diagnosis?

Discussion led by William Draper, DVM Guest Expert
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Dr. Will opened Georgia’s first accredited small animal emergency room in 2000. He’s been named Best Vet by Atlanta Magazine since 2004... More

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Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
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