Dear Dr. Kaplan:
Sarah is my three-year-old, female, spayed, collie-cross, dog who is in great shape.
Every month or two, I am forced to put her in a boarding kennel for a few days. She loves going to the kennel but always develops diarrhea when she returns home.
I then have to take her to the veterinarian who starts Sarah on an antibiotic. The diarrhea resolves within the day.
When I drop her off at the kennel, I leave some of her food so there is no diet change. The veterinarian has suggested that we just put her on antibiotics whenever she goes to the boarding kennel, as a diarrhea preventative.
I was wondering if you had another suggestion so antibiotics could be avoided altogether.
ANSWER: Sarah has a condition known as antibiotic responsive diarrhea. It certainly can be brought on by stress.
That is not to say that she does not like to go to the boarding kennel or that it is not a good kennel.
Rather, the excitement of being at the kennel may be enough stress to trigger Sarah's diarrhea.
Since antibiotic resolves the condition, the diarrhea could result from an increase in normal bacteria in her intestine. The antibiotic simply decreases the bacteria to more normal numbers.
In recent years, probiotics have gained in popularity as a tool in veterinary medicine to promote intestinal health in dogs and cats.
Probiotics are microorganisms which procure health benefits to the host. They are usually bacteria.
In a recent study, it was shown that probiotics administered to dogs entering shelters was just as effective in preventing stress diarrhea as antibiotics-in some cases even more effective.
Therefore, Sarah may benefit from probiotics similarly, if administered when she is in the boarding kennel.
I would recommend that if this is done, you first confer with her veterinarian. He or she can dispense a probiotic that was developed for dogs and may be more effective at preventing diarrhea compared to a probiotic used for humans.
Eliot Kaplan is an Okanagan resident and holds a diploma from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.
His column appears each week in The Okanagan Sunday. Questions can be directed to