Diarrhea is one of the most common medical symptoms of cats and dogs. If your pet has diarrhea, it is important to note the following: When did it start? How often is it happening? How much is your pet straining to defecate? What is the consistency of the diarrhea? Is it bloody, black, mucous-like, etc Has your pet eaten anything unusual? Diarrhea occurs when an accumulation of dissolved substances in the intestine causes excess water to move into the intestine. This accumulation may be a result of decreased absorption of food, increased secretion of electrolytes by the intestine, or both. If your pet eats something it cannot absorb–i.e., adult cats and dogs can’t absorb milk sugar lactose–the overload of solutes in the intestine may cause diarrhea. It is important to realize that a high frequency of bowel movements is not synonymous with diarrhea. Your pet can have more than one bowel movement a day; as long as the amount of fecal water is normal, that’s OK. When diarrhea begins in your pet, notify your veterinarian for help in deciding whether you should wait the diarrhea out or make an appointment to have the problem assessed. This is especially significant in young pets. Puppies and kittens dehydrate very quickly. Veterinarians can initiate rehydration and fluid support. Here are some suggestions to avoid diarrhea in pets: Don’t feed pets people food. People food may cause diarrhea as well as pancreatitis. Keep pets away from foreign objects they can swallow. Get puppies and kittens vaccinated and keep your pets away from unvaccinated animals. Keep pets on a steady balanced diet; ask your veterinarian what the best diet is for your pet Have your pet’s stool checked every year to control parasites. Feces consistency and content are clues veterinarians rely on to tell them what might be occurring with your pet. You can use these clues as well if you watch your pet’s feces for changes. If you are not sure, it is best to call your veterinarian for guidance.