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Maris for cats

Natural Remedy for Cat Constipation

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Constipation, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Oh My!

Vet Talks 9 min read
NHV dog during constipation

Constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting are symptoms most pet parents are terrified of. Being worried is a common gut reaction, however, sometimes these symptoms are normal and will resolve themselves. This article will explain when these symptoms are normal when you should bring them to the vet, and what you can do to help.

Constipation In Pets 

Constipation is a term used to describe the absent or difficult passage of stools. Many factors can lead to constipation, and when it occurs, stools are retained longer than normal in the intestines. This is because the intestines can absorb water from the stools, and the more time they are stuck in this region, the dryer and harder they get. 

Constipated animals can present signs of discomfort when trying to defecate and this may be accompanied by excessive straining, vocalization, and shifts in the behavior.

Causes of Constipation

Here are a couple of factors that can cause constipation:

  • Diet. Just like humans, pets with a diet insufficient in fiber can present constipation.
  • Intestinal blockages. Some pets can also accidentally swallow indigestible materials, which may cause blockages and abnormal fecal transit.
  • Hairballs can also cause constipation in extreme cases.
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Low activity levels.
  • Tumors either inside the gastrointestinal tract or external to this system.
  • Elderly pets seem to be more prone to constipation. One of the reasons is because some of them have discomfort associated with other concurrent conditions. 
  • Anal gland issues and conditions in the prostate.
  • Medications such as opiates, diuretics, antihistamines, and antacids.
  • Diseases like hypothyroidism, chronic kidney failure, osteoarthritis, orthopedic conditions in general, central nervous system disorders, stress, and skin conditions.
constipation and diarrhea and vomiting

Cats can be even more sensitive to constipation because, besides all the elements mentioned above, it can be caused by problems with the litter box. Factors like the location of the litter box in a noisy or unpleasant place, when the amount of litter trays is not enough for the number of kitties in the house leading to fights if it’s dirty if the cat doesn’t like the type of litter if kitty finds a hard time to access it for any reason if the cat had a bad experience when using a litter box, etc. all can contribute for constipation in a cat as well. 

When Constipation Requires A Vet Visit

If your pet has been showing signs of constipation for more than two days, you should take your pet to be seen by a veterinarian.

Besides straining and uncomfortable or difficult defecation, if you realize your pet shows signs like hard, dry small stools, lethargy, loss of appetite, hunched posture, and/or vomiting for more than two days you should consider taking your little one to see a veterinarian. The vet may have to do a number of investigations and examine your cat and talk with you about what has been going on. The vet will be able to check the consistency of the stools through a physical examination and get an idea of how advanced the constipation is. Further exams like lab tests, endoscopy, and image exams like X-rays and ultrasounds might be required to better understand and rule out other conditions like tumors in the gastrointestinal tract. Musculoskeletal conditions, neurological conditions, and diseases in the urinary tract also need to be ruled out since they can be the primary causes of constipation. 

Constipation is a very serious symptom, and it is important to keep in mind that chronic constipation can lead to more complicated outcomes such as obstipation and megacolon. Obstipation happens when fecal matter becomes chronically compacted and the pet cannot defecate at all. Megacolon happens when the colon loses its normal motility and ability to contract and push feces towards the rectum. Obstipation and megacolon are very complicated cases to manage only with medications only and surgery may be required in some cases. 

The treatment for constipation will depend on the underlying cause of the problem, its severity and its duration. 

For cats, litter box management is essential. The location, number of trays, type of litter, and the frequency you clean it and replace the litter is also important since this may encourage or discourage your kitty to use it. 

Constipation is a very serious symptom and it is important to keep in mind that chronic constipation can lead to more complicated outcomes such as obstipation and megacolon.

Supporting Pets With Constipation

Depending on the case, a diet with a higher amount of fiber can be recommended. Besides other benefits, fibers can increase fatty acid production, which helps with bowel movements. However, your vet will be able to advise you on a good diet or dietary supplement.

To increase water consumption should be considered either through easy access to clean bowls of freshwater, a higher moisture content diet, and/ or subcutaneous fluids, depending on the case. Enemas and laxative drugs can also be recommended and for extreme cases like obstipation and megacolon, surgery may be required. The veterinarian will advise you on this matter. 

NHV has excellent support for constipation and discomfort. Maris is a balanced formula to help promote healthy bowel movements. Maris helps soothe your pet’s intestines, promotes softer stools, and helps relieve cramps and gas. It contains Cascara Sagrada which is a natural laxative that restores intestinal tone and muscle activity without cramping. Since our supplements are all-natural, they can take a couple of weeks until you start seeing the results, so for immediate emergency relief of constipation, we strongly encourage you to see your vet.

Vomiting In Pets

Vomiting in pets is another condition that can indicate that something is wrong with our little ones. Vomiting is an active process controlled by the brain, and it happens when there’s a forceful ejection of the content of the stomach and upper small intestine. Normally, its content can be partially digested, and a yellow fluid (bile) may be present.

Vomiting is also preceded by other signs, such as nausea, excessive drooling, retching, and contractions of the abdomen and diaphragm and the severe effort associated with vomiting may be distressing to the pet.

Causes of Vomiting

Vomiting can be caused by many different disorders and from varying levels of severity such as conditions in the digestive system, urinary tract conditions, liver failure, food allergies, pancreatitis, nervous system disorders, internal parasites, infections, inflammation, drugs, ingestion of irritating substances, poisons, foreign objects, and tumors. Occasional vomiting can be quite common in pets and can be caused by factors such as hairballs and minor intestinal upset, for instance.

constipation and diarrhea and vomiting

Regurgitation vs. Vomiting

It’s important to differentiate vomiting from regurgitation when you’re taking your little one to the veterinarian since their causes are different. Regurgitation is a passive motion, and it relatively does not require effort or contraction of the abdominal muscles. Normally the regurgitated content has a tubular shape (the shape of the esophagus), and since it occurs right after eating or drinking, the expelled content tends to be undigested.

When Vomiting Requires A Vet Visit

If the vomiting has not stopped within a day or two, you should consider taking your furbaby to the veterinarian.

Many cases of acute vomiting will improve on their own without any intervention within 24 hours. If it has not stopped within a day or two, you should consider taking your fur baby to the veterinarian. Vomiting can become a problem because it can quickly lead to severe dehydration and nutrient loss. Long-term vomiting can also be accompanied by blood, discomfort, lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, and other adverse signs which may require urgent care.

The vet will investigate the main cause of vomiting while allowing the digestive system time to recover with supportive treatments. The veterinarian will ask for a detailed history of what’s going on and will perform a physical examination. The vet may also ask for blood, fecal, and urine samples as well as x-rays, ultrasonography, and endoscopy. Sometimes a biopsy of the stomach and/ or small intestines can be helpful to determine what’s causing it.

Supporting A Vomiting Pet

Once the diagnosis is known, more specific treatment may include special medications, changes in the diet, or even surgery. Depending on what’s causing vomiting in your pet, different supplements can help.

Great support for cases of vomiting is NHV’s Digestion kit. This kit comes with Multi Essentials and Yucca.

Multi Essentials helps aid effective digestion, provides added support for pets exposed to environmental toxins, and helps to fill nutritional voids due to poor diet or illness.

Yucca contains two powerful compounds: sarsasapogenin and smilagenin. These compounds work on the mucous membranes of the small intestines helping with the penetration and absorption of minerals and vitamins. Sarsasapogenin and smilagenin are known as steroidal saponins (phytosterols) which act as precursors to corticosteroids produced naturally by the body. Steroidal saponins support the immune function of the body while stimulating and supporting the production of its own corticosteroids and corticosteroid–related hormones. Due to this action, studies conducted on Yucca have shown that it may be beneficial and effective for discomfort and inflammation in conditions such as imbalances in the gastrointestinal tract. Yucca may also be a natural appetite stimulant and may help reduce the production of urease, which contributes to the unpleasant odors of urine and feces in some pets.

Diarrhea In Pets

Normal stools in pets are commonly brownish in color and well-formed. If a pet is suffering from diarrhea, the fecal consistency changes to soft, liquid, and can even become watery. The color can also become lighter or darker than normal and signs such as fresh blood or mucus in the feces can also appear as well as the loss of appetite and lethargy.

Causes of Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be caused by primary conditions in the intestines or conditions of organs outside the gastrointestinal tract and some of the causes can be:

constipation and diarrhea and vomiting

In case you have a pet with access to the outdoors and you are not sure if they are presenting diarrhea, staining and soiling of the fur around the back end, especially in longhaired breeds, is often associated with this symptom.

In case the diarrhea is severe and/or if it persists for more than two days, you should consider taking your little one to the veterinarian.

In case the diarrhea is severe and/or if it persists for more than two days, you should consider taking your little one to the veterinarian. Dogs and cats with chronic diarrhea will lose weight because they cannot absorb nutrients properly and may also develop edema in the legs, belly, or chest due to the loss of albumin in diarrhea. This protein helps to keep water in the blood vessels and when its levels are low, water starts to leak out of blood vessels to accumulate in other locations. Chronic diarrhea can also cause the fur to look dull and brittle due to nutrient deficiencies.

The veterinarian will perform a thorough clinical exam and may ask for a sample of fresh stools. She may recommend additional diagnostic tests like blood work, stool, and rectal swab samples for parasite examination, DNA testing, and culture, radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound of the abdomen, and endoscope exam as well. Small biopsies of the lining of the intestines can be taken for microscopic evaluation if needed.

Support For Pets With Diarrhea

The treatment of diarrhea will depend on the specific diagnosis. Non-specific treatment often includes a high fiber diet, an anti-inflammatory drug, and fluid reposition. The veterinarian will also advise you on how to reintroduce food and water to your pet’s regimen depending on the severity of the case. 

Since diarrhea involves some degree of inflammation of one or more areas of the gastrointestinal tract, a supplement that repairs the lining of the intestines can provide great support for this condition.

Our main support for diarrhea is Plantaeris. Plantaeris is a gentle, natural, vet-formulated supplement to help with diarrhea. It is designed to help reduce symptoms of diarrhea and promote normal bowel function. It also helps soothe and relieve spasms, and discomfort.

On the other hand, TumFlora, is our main supplement for IBD and overall gastrointestinal health. TumFlora can also help to improve natural intestinal flora while helping to reduce discomfort.

Another great support for this symptom is Inulin-PK. Besides being a natural dewormer, NHV Inulin-PK is designed to help control parasites, encourage intestinal bleeding to stop, and promote repair of the internal damage in the gastrointestinal tract. One of the herbs in this formula is Oregon Grape, which helps relieve indigestion, malabsorption, and has antibiotic and immunostimulatory properties.

Last but definitely not least, our newest supplement, NHV Probiotic & Prebiotic, can help encourage a healthy gut flora, ease digestive discomfort, and alleviate gut issues, including diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting!

We are always here to help and guide you whenever you need us. You can reach out to our team of pet experts at any time in case you have any questions about how our supplements can help your little one with gastrointestinal disorders.

Dr. Aline Dias DVM

Dr. Aline Dias DVM

Dr. Aline Dias is a veterinary graduate from the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil. She worked for five years with research in Bacteriology and Virology fields, but she found her true passion in feline medicine. As soon as Dr. Aline immigrated to Canada, she adopted two kittens: Chilli and Keke. Dr. Aline is now a full-time crazy cat lady and when she’s not working at NHV she spends her time spoiling her furbabies or going for walks at the beach.

Published: January 6, 2021

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