Malabsorption Syndrome in Pets

Malabsorption syndrome can cause varying degrees of digestive upset

Malabsorption syndrome is a general term which applies to a chronic condition of the digestive tract where the absorption of critical nutrients and proteins is impaired. This results in varying degrees of digestive upset, which can range from diarrhea of often mucousy or fatty character, as well as sometimes vomiting if the upper digestive tract is involved as well. Changes in appetite, as well as weight loss may occur in chronic cases.

There are many chronic diseases that may cause malabsorption syndrome in pets including diseases such as food allergy/hypersensitivity, lymphangectasia, inflammatory bowel disease, and even cancer.  When presented with a pet with chronic diarrhea, it is important during a workup to differentiate malabsorption syndromes from maldigestion syndromes caused by diseases of the pancreas.

While a basic CBC/chemistry blood workup and stool check for parasites are often important baseline workups in these pets, in more chronic cases special dietary trials with hypoallergenic diets are often tried, as well as even intestinal biopsies for definitive disease diagnosis. This is important so that the best long-term treatment plan can be implemented.  In many immune mediated diseases of the digestive tract, trials with antibiotics like Metronidazole, tylan powder, as well as immune suppressive medications such as Prednisone may be needed for long-term management and control of clinical signs. Prognosis will be determined by the primary disease process involved, as well as early and aggressive diagnostic and therapeutic treatments.

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