Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Here's the poop on poop.

If your dog has diarrhea or strange stools (or is vomiting) for more than 24 hours, call your vet. Strange poop could be loose, mucus-y, unusual or different smelling or an off color like white, tan or green.

We've all heard this admonition many times. Even us dog experts in Happy Dog Land know this rule. Yet, Jill ignored Shadow's bathroom issues and she's hoping you all learn from her mistake.

Yesterday, Shadow had an appointment for his semi-annual examination. On the way, Jill & Shadow stopped in to visit Billy at his salon. Shadow promptly went to the bathroom on the floor. Jill scooped it up to bring to the vet and thoroughly sanitised the floor. "Strange that Shadow had an accident," she thought, "but convenient because now I have a stool sample for his appointment."

During the appointment, Jill and her vet discussed Shadow's lifestyle and habits. The doctor discovered that Shadow had lost 2 pounds since his last visit in February. Concerned, the doctor, asked about Shadow's stools. Jill mentioned that Shadow had had a bit of diarrhea over the past few weeks, but nothing memorable.

Today, the doctor called and notified Jill that Shadow has Giardiasis, a bad-news parasite. Shadow is now being treated. Hopefully, this explains Shadow's weight loss too.

Looking back on the last few weeks, Shadow's stools were occasionally, but not consistently, loose or strange. Shadow did have at least one messy accident in the house, but because his stools were often "normal" Jill figured that he had a minor stomach ache. She figured wrong and now she feels like the world's worst dog mom!

So please, for Fido's sake, internalize and follow these two simple rules:
  1. CONTACT YOUR VET IF YOUR DOG HAS DIARRHEA, A CHANGE IN HIS STOOL OR IS VOMITING FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS. (And, yes, we're yelling!) Fido's stool does not have to be continually different to be a red flag. If his stool is loose or weird even twice, it never hurts to call. If it's more than a minor stomach upset, you'll be glad you did!
  2. A fresh stool sample yields the most reliable test results. Ideally, bring Fido's sample to the vet as soon as possible, the fresher the better! If you can't get the sample to the vet immediately, keep it cool or refrigerated. Discard samples that are more than 12 hours old according to the American Animal Hospital Association. Shadow's sample was extremely fresh (only 30 minutes old), which helped the vet diagnose Giardiasis. This parasite is often eludes testing if the sample is stale.

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