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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 17885
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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HI, asking for a pensioner, he has a border collie that has

Customer Question

HI, asking for a pensioner, he has a border collie that has lost some weight and is also very loose and is eating his own muck what can this be
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name is Dr. Kara and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear about your friend's dog's chronic loose stools and weight loss.

Loose stools and weight loss indicate some sort of disease process that interferes with digestion and/or absorption of the food that he is eating. That can include primary intestinal disease, pancreatic disease, diabetes, liver or kidney disease or adrenal gland disease. Heavy parasites can cause diarrhea, but rarely lead to weight loss in dogs fed a quality diet.

It will be important to describe what sort of loose stools he has to try and localize the problem. Loose, more frequent stools with mucous or bright red blood point more towards large bowel diarrhea or colitis, whereas just watery, larger quantity stools with no mucous point more toward small bowel disease.

Chronic diarrhea does cause changes in motility of the gut and can lead to reflux and vomiting. It can also lead to bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Probiotics such as Fortiflora or Benebac can help replace appropriate bacteria and are relatively inexpensive, so worth trying.

I assume that he has had stool samples checked to make sure that parasites aren't part of his problem. Have any diagnostic tests been checked?
Has he had a fecal culture to check for abnormal bacteria such as clostridia?

It is quite possible that he has a food allergy/sensitivity or inflammatory bowel disease and that he needs a low residue, easy to digest food or a hypoallergenic food to be able to properly digest and absorb his food and not have loose stools. If he has increased quantity loose stools without blood or mucous and has been thoroughly checked for parasites and wormed then I highly recommend a trial of either Hills i/d or Purina Veterinary Diets EN. No treats, table food or edible chewies while he is on his food trial. If he does well he can eat these foods for life as they are balanced. Having had 2 dogs with inflammatory bowel disease I have a personal preference for Purina Veterinary Diets EN. Dogs with food allergies can benefit from Hills z/d or Purina Veterinary Diets HA.
Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease will worsen with stressful situations. There may be times when he will need medications too, such as metronidazole or even steroids if that is his problem, but I have found that a consistent, easy to digest diet is very helpful for long term control.

There are other possibilities too.
Addison's disease, which is a poorly functioning adrenal gland, can lead to chronic diarrhea and vomiting. These dogs cannot handle stress at all because their adrenal gland doesn't produce cortisone when stressed and their electrolytes can be off too if their adrenal gland isn't controlling that normally either. We see vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes physical collapse in severely affected dogs. Testing is an ACTH response test to check adrenal gland function and checking electrolyte levels. Treatment is steroid replacement therapy and electrolyte replacement.

Pancreatic insufficiency is another possibility. These dogs have a pancreas that produces a decreased amount of digestive enzymes, and the amount produced can wax and wane in some cases, especially early in the disease process. Testing is by running a blood test called a TLI which checks for digestive enzymes. Treatment is replacement of digestive enzymes at each meal. An easier to digest food would be expected to create less problems with digestion and as such less diarrhea.

Kidney and liver disease can cause diarrhea too, but I would expect him to be sicker in general and diarrhea shouldn't improve with a change in diet.

In short if this has been a chronic problem for your friend's fellow then at least some diagnostics need to be done. They can be as simple as fecal checks and cultures, as well as a complete blood count and biochemistry profile to assess general health. Blood tests to look at pancreatic function would be next. Or they can be more invasive such as biopsies of his gastrointestinal tract to look for inflammatory bowel disease or infiltrative cancers such as lymphoma.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.