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Dietary Therapy for Chronic Diarrhea in Cats

Dietary management of gastrointestinal (GI) disease is advocated as another specific or symptomatic means to control clinical signs, such as diarrhea. Fat-restricted diets have long been recommended in dogs with diarrhea. Recent recommendations suggest feeding moderate to high fat diets (e.g., 15-25% fat on a dry basis) in cats with diarrhea, though no published studies support either a low-fat or high-fat diet recommendation. This study compared the clinical response of 60 pet cats with chronic diarrhea to dietary management using a digestible high-fat or low-fat diet. Fifty-five cats completed the double-blinded, controlled clinical trial where cats were fed 1 of the 2 diets for 6 weeks. Owners recorded fecal scores daily using an illustrated fecal score chart. Fecal scores improved significantly with over one-third of the cats developing normal stools. However, there were no differences in the response between the two diets, indicating that the amount of dietary fat does not appear to be an important factor in dietary management of cats with diarrhea. Clinical improvement was noted within the first week and a maximum effect within 3 weeks. This response would suggest if cats do not respond within 3 weeks, further evaluation is indicated. Also, it was noted that cats with low serum cobalamin (vitamin B12) concentrations at the beginning of the study had a slightly increased risk of not responding or not responding as well to dietary change. [VT]
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