Thank you, Jan.
First, as I am sure you can appreciate, all her signs (the loose stools, appetite decline, gas build up) suggest an imbalance or upset in the GI. If we are seeing mucus, then it does suggest that we may have a lower bowel based issue. As well, when we have loose stools, there will be fluid loss and this can precipitate an elevation in thirst.
Now as I am sure you can appreciate, just like people, dogs can have abnormal stool that is caused by a range of agents. These include bacterial viral, parasitic (worms but also protozoa like Giardia, Coccidia, Tritrichomonas), toxic, cancerous (ie GI lymphoma), inflammatory disease (ie IBD), and general dietary indiscretions causes. (Though in your Bridget's case, toxins and dietary indiscretions are potentially less likely). It can be daunting to get to the bottom of which differential is to blame, but it does sound like you have made the right start.
In regards ***** ***** her mucusy feces, the first step would be to put her on a light/easily digestible diet. Examples of bland diet options would be cooked white rice with boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled eggs (made with water and not milk) or meat baby food (as long as its garlic/onion powder free). There are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used in cases of gastroenteritis (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity). The easily digestible diet will be better tolerated and absorbed by the compromised gut and should get some nutrients in and result in more normal feces. You can also feed this as small frequent meals as you have been to further decrease the volume she is producing. I usually advise that the diet be continued until the vomiting is settled, and that they are then slowly weaned back to their normal diet over a week.
Since loose stools can quickly dehydrate an older dog, even as she is drinking, so we need to keep an eye on her hydration. The reason is because no matter how much they drink, we often find that dogs just cannot keep up with diarrhea fluid losses for long (and dehydration is what makes them feel poorly). To check her hydration status to make sure they are not becoming dehydrated there are a few things we can test. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether she has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a wee video on this HERE. If you are seeing any signs of dehydration already, since she is older, then you do want to have her seen by the vet before this becomes an additional issue for her.
If you are concerned that she is becoming dehydrated, you can try and encourage her to drink but offering fresh water or even low-sodium chicken broth. Furthermore, you can offer rehydration solutions like Pedialyte. Pedialyte is nice (though aim for a flavorless one) because it will get some of those lost electrolytes back into her as well. A typical maintenance rate for hydration in an animal is 48mls per kilogram of weight a day. Of course, her requirement will be higher since we'd have to also consider how much fluid is being lost in her diarrhea and add that to our daily requirement. So, if she is drinking well then you don't need to syringe her fluids. Still, this baseline will give you an idea to whether she is meeting this target plus matching her own losses or whether she needs your help here too.
Further to this, since she isn't having bloody stools, you can consider trying her today on a dog safe anti-diarrheal treatment. As I am sure you appreciate, these would not be a cure if her diarrhea is being caused by an infectious agent (ie bacteria will require antibiotics, parasites or protozoa will require anti-parasitic treatment, etc). Still it can slow the diarrhea to aid the body to absorb more water/nutrients then it would have if the diarrhea were unchecked. It can also coat the GI lining and reduce gas build up. In regards ***** ***** options for your wee one, the one we most commonly use in dogs is Kaolin/Kaopectate (More Info/Dose) or PeptoBismol (More Info/Dose) available from your local pharmacy. Furthermore, Protexin Pro-Kolin(which is available OTC at vet practices; example) would be another option. All will slow diarrhea and the Pro-Kolin has the bonus of providing support to the delicate good bacteria of the GI. So, you can consider trying these as a short term means of trying to soothe her upset GI.
Furthermore, just to make note of GI microflora supports, these are a good idea for Bridget's case. We often find bacterial imbalance causing gas as well as loose stool. Further to the the Pro-kolin (which would be my consideration if she were my patient visiting my practice), we could also use products like Fortiflora (More Info) or Pro-Kolin Enterogenic (More Info). Both can be mixed into her diet and correct any wee imbalances in the good gut bacteria to facilitate restoration of normal GI production. And again just like the Pro-Kolin paste, all of these should be available OTC at your vets and some pet stores.
Overall, her signs with their recent onset do suggest an imbalance in the GI causing loose stools and gas accumulation. In this case, as long as you are sure she hasn't eaten anything non-edible that could be stuck, we'd want to initiate the above supportive care while monitoring her hydration status. If you do so over the next 24-48 hours and she isn't settling (or you are seeing dehydration already), then we'd want to consider following up with her vet to pinpoint which agent is causing her signs. In that case, do consider taking a fecal sample in with you, as this can be sent for infectious disease testing. Depending on her vet's exam and fecal findings, they will be able to rule out any sinister lumps or bumps, confirm that the distension is just GI based, determine the cause, and cover her with antibiotics to aid clearing this for her and getting back to normal.
I hope this information is helpful.
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All the best,
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