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Excessive Bacteria in the Small Intestine in Cats


Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth


While it is common for small intestine to have bacteria, it can become a problem when the count is too high. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a disorder which causes an abnormal amount of bacteria to accumulate in the small intestine, which can then affect the normal intestinal functions, causing loose stools and weight loss. Often clearing up within a few days, but up to a few weeks; treatment options for this bacterial infection give an excellent prognosis.


Symptoms and Types


Common symptoms include loose stools, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, occasional vomiting and intestinal tract sounds (gurgling caused by gas).




Inadequate levels of thyroid, low pancreatic production of enzymes, low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and intestinal disease are some of the known causes for this bacterial overgrowth.




Veterinarians will often perform blood work and bacterial cultures to determine the causes of the intestinal condition. In some cases a more invasive procedure, such as an endoscopy, will be required to view the intestine internally.






Treatment is commonly given on an outpatient basis and improvement can occur quickly, typically within a few days and up to a few weeks. It is often recommended that the patient be placed on a highly-digestible diet to create less of an impact on the intestines during the healing. Antibiotics are also commonly prescribed to treat the bacterial growth.


Living and Management


It is important to monitor your cat's weight and protein levels (albumin) over time and ensure progress is being made toward a full recovery. Diarrhea must also be observed because if prolonged, it can lead to severe dehydration. In addition, repeat treatments may be required. The prognosis of this disease is positive when it is not associated with other serious medical conditions, such as intestinal cancer.




There are currently no known preventative methods for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.



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