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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28543
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Kitten diarrhea

Customer Question

kitten diarrhea
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 months ago.

Although diarrhea in kittens is a common and frustrating condition there is very little published research on the specific causes and treatments in this age group. For chronic diarrhea a specific diagnosis should be made and treatment should be targeted. The inappropriate use of antibiotics to treat diarrhea which is all too common should be discouraged. They alter the commensal intestinal microflora, are likely to worsen the diarrhea, and induce antibiotic resistance.

The most common causes of diarrhea in kittens are infectious agents, primarily parasites and viruses. The bacteria Enterococcus spp. is now also known to cause diarrhea and a failure to thrive in kittens. A comprehensive fecal examination is an important first step in diagnosis. The next level of diagnostics would include PCR (DNA-based) testings and immunoassays for Giardia spp., Tritrichomonas, and Cryptosporidium. It's important to note that bacterial enteropathogens and toxins are commonly found in asymptomatic kittens as well as those with diarrhea making interpretation difficult and so fecal cultures and toxin analysis are probably best reserved for specific situations such as kittens with bloody diarrhea and evidence of sepsis. In general, for kittens with chronic diarrhea where no diagnosis has yet been made and response to therapy is poor, repeating previously negative diagnostic tests is more rewarding than the next step - intestinal biopsy.

It's acceptable to administer a broad-spectrum anthelminthic to kittens with diarrhea even in the face of negative fecal examinations. My preference is fenbendazole (Panacur) as you've previously administered - administered for 7 consecutive days. Fenbendazole addresses all of the nematodes as well as the protozoan Giardia. If you've already dosed Lindsay more than once with fenbendazole for that length of time, please consider PCR testing for the less common parasites as I mentioned above.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.