Friday, July 22, 2011

Constipation, IBD and MegaColon in Cats

Dear Dr. Gordon,
Can you please help? My 13 year old cat has recently developed a problem with having a bowel movement. It seems as if she gets into position to defecate and then passes only a small quantity of poop. I haven't changed her diet on done anything different. What could be wrong?
- P.B.

Dear P.B,
Although your kitty's inability to pass stool is not normal, there could be a lot of reasons why this is now occurring. Perhaps she is in pain and cannot maintain the position long enough to facilitate a bowel movement or maybe she is drinking less water than she should and has now become constipated. Another scenario could be that she is drinking adequate amounts of water, but her kidney function has deteriorated, not allowing her body to absorb necessary fluid. A normal hydration status is very important in maintaining proper digestive tract health. She may also have lost some strength with her advancing age and could be having problems "pushing" the stool out.

It is essential to use Amazing Omegas for your cat to help make her feel better. Amazing Omegas may help lubricate the bowel and reduce inflammation, thereby helping increase bowel movements.

There could also be a mechanical obstruction to the outflow of the stool. If something is blocking the passage of the stool (a growth or tumor), your kitty may strain and strain but will be unable to pass normal quantities of stool. The stool that is passed may be blood tinged and very hard.

Often veterinarians are presented with elderly cats that have become so constipated that the stool is, literally, rock hard in the colon. It takes a very perceptive owner to realize that their pet is having problems passing stool since most cats are fairly discreet and secretive about their bathroom habits. The first sign is usually a decrease in the normal quantity of stool that must be cleaned from the litter box. If undetected, some of these cats will have distended the walls of the colon to such a degree that nothing can possibly pass. If this rock hard stool is present for more than a day or two, they may also lose the ability to feel how much stool becomes stagnant there. The resulting condition is termed "megacolon" which is the presence of a large, distended colon devoid of any feeling.

Veterinarians are not really sure why certain elderly cats develop megacolon and others are able to have normal bowel movements their entire lives. This condition is currently under investigation at many university hospitals. Usually, once a cat has developed this condition, it can be managed with diet, laxatives, and medicines, but it is seldom reversible. It certain severely affected patients, surgery may be considered to eliminate the portion of the colon that has become devoid of sensation.

Usually your veterinarian will try to determine if there are any underlying causes for this condition. This may necessitate a battery of tests (bloodwork, urine analysis) if the doctor is not able to palpate "or feel" a mass in the distal colon that is causing the obstruction. The doctor may want to take xrays to determine how obstructed or constipated your cat is. To relieve the obstruction, many of these patients must be anesthetized to allow the doctor to relieve the obstruction.Warm water enemas with stool softeners are used to try to break down the rock hard stool. Digital manipulation is sometimes successful.

Management of these cats after relieving the obstruction involves using oral laxatives and stool softeners to "keep things moving" and motility modifiers to inhibit re-obstruction. Dietary changes and supplements such as fish oil and Probiotics may also help. The most successful motility modifier is called "Propulsid". This used to be readily available for human patients but has since been withdrawn by the FDA. Your veterinarian can still get this medication compounded by a special pharmacist. Unfortunately, once a kitty has presented for a severe case of megacolon, it is usually something that will need attention for the rest of the cat's life. With some guidance, good nutrition, and good veterinary care, any of these cats can go on to lead a fairly normal life.

Natural Holistic Treatments For Cats with Constipation and Megacolon:

1) Change your cat’s diet. Be sure your cat is eating a high fiber, high moisture diet. Avoid potential allergens such as grains and poultry. Dr. David Gordon and Susan Blake Davis are available by telephone to assist you in developing a comprehensive program for your kitty. Click here for more information about scheduling a telephone consultation.

2) Amazing Omegas may help lubricate the bowel and reduce inflammation, thereby helping increase bowel movements.

3) Power Probiotic can reintroduce “friendly bacteria” which are instrumental in improving the overall strength of the intestinal tract

4) Liver & Gallbladder Nutritional Supplement For Pets is a gentle liver support product increases bile flow which may be helpful for some cats

5) Adding a teaspoon of pumpkin per meal mixed into food can help