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Matthew Sisk: Dog's empathy for his little brother leads to diarrhea
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He looks disheveled.  Not Lemmy, he looks fine.

Tail wagging, tongue lolling, bright eyes darting from me to the cabinet where treats live to little brother, then back again.

No, Lemmy’s dad looks disheveled.  It is the way only the parent of a sick baby can look. Lemmy’s little brother has an ear infection and started on medication yesterday.

He’s feeling better, but he was in rough shape a few days earlier. He had a fever and was unable to sleep.  And when your baby can’t sleep, neither can you.

Now that brings me to Lemmy.

The same day his little brother developed a fever and started crying, Lemmy developed diarrhea — watery, foul-smelling, propulsive diarrhea.

Other than that, he had no problems. His appetite was normal and his activity level was as high as ever. If not for the mess, he’d never let you know anything was wrong.

Still, we know Lemmy has a proclivity for eating things he shouldn’t. And with a baby in the house, toys and other child-related dangers are present.

If little brother hadn’t needed to see the pediatrician first, he would have been in yesterday.  This is a priority any parent understands.

The physical examination yields no significant abnormalities, other than some remnant nasty liquid under the tail and some gas.

Lemmy passes a particularly noxious cloud, then turns to smile at me.  He’s lucky he’s cute.

Since he’s feeling fine, I doubt anything serious is going on. Diarrhea can be associated with end stage kidney disease, diabetes, cancer or other significant illnesses. But it can also be due to stress. 

His blood work shows no abnormalities, and abdominal radiographs do not indicate a foreign body.

It appears Lemmy may have diarrhea because of empathy for his little brother’s pain.  It happens.  The timing of both conditions fits, and Lemmy seems his normal self otherwise.

I treat him symptomatically and all signs resolve.  I recommend routine probiotics and wish Lemmy’s family well.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at