Pets with malabsorption syndrome cannot properly absorb digested nutrients from the small intestine into the bloodstream. Although the exact cause of the disorder is unknown, it may be related to an allergy to the protein found in cereal grains. Some cases of malabsorption may result from chronic intestinal irritation or abnormal lymph drainage of the intestine.
Pets with malabsorption have loose bowel movements that may be frothy, with a foul odor. The appetite is usually poor, and weight loss, vomiting, and weakness are common.
Diagnosis of malabsorption is by clinical signs, physical examination, absorption tests, and occasionally intestinal biopsy. The lifetime outlook for patients with malabsorption is quite variable.