Puppy Diarrhea - Causes, Remedies and Prevention

Puppy diarrhea is quite common and usually not a cause for concern with most cases resolving themselves in one or two episodes. As a rule of thumb, puppy diarrhea without other symptoms should not be a cause of worry...yet. Often, it is a reaction to dietary changes or stress.

On the other hand, diarrhea with other accompanying symptoms which may include fever, lethargy, vomiting or lack of appetite a sign of more serious and sometimes life-threatening underlying health issues. 

5 main puppy diarrhea causes

  • Change of diet / food intolerance
  • Bacterial / viral infection
  • Ingestion of foreign / toxin objects
  • Parasites (giardia, coccidia, hookworms, whipworms and roundworms are among the most common)
  • Stress or anxiety

More on puppy poop consistency

5 home puppy diarrhea treatments

  1. The immediate danger of puppy diarrhea is dehydration. This is especially true if diarrhea had persist for more than 24 hours. Make sure your puppy has access to plenty of clean water at all time! Alternatively, you can encourage fluid intake by preparing dilute, low-sodium chicken, turkey or fish broth.  

  2. Avoid rich foods with liver content or any red meat for now. Instead feed your puppy small portions of low-sodium meals such as skinless and boneless boiled fish or white-meat chicken with steamed white rice. Continue this diet for 2 more days even after she recovers. 

  3. An extension from the previous point. Increase fiber intake by feeding her pumpkins or potatoes. Fiber helps firm up and restore regular stool consistency. You could substitute white rice with these options.

  4. A small teaspoon a day of plain, low/non-fat yogurt mixed with her food will help soothe her digestive system. Avoid flavored yogurt as they are usually packed with sugar. Look out for the artificial sweetener ingredient known as xylitol that is toxic to dogs. On the same note, avoid any chocolate content yogurt too as chocolate is poisonous to dogs. 

  5. Withhold solid food for 12 to 24 hours. This works well especially if your puppy had vomited once or twice on top of having puppy diarrhea. This process of fasting will give your puppy's tummy the time to rest and 'restart'. Keep her hydrate at all time. You could also prepare a dilute, low-sodium broth of chicken, turkey or fish to encourage fluid intake. When there are no further episodes of vomiting after a designated amount of time, refer back to point 2 and 3 on feeding recommendations.

Do not fast a puppy under 6 months old! Offer a light broth of skinless and boneless fish or white chicken spread over the course of 4 to 5 times a day.

At what point should you consult your vet?

  • If diarrhea persist for more than 24 hours and lessen this 'tolerance time' if your puppy is less than 6 months old.
  • Diarrhea with fever. The 'normal' temperature vary from puppy to puppy and age. It is a good idea  to check her temperature daily to gauge what her normal is.
  • Diarrhea contains more than a streak of blood.
  • Indication of dehydration; dry and tacky gums.
  • Dark and tarry foul smelling stools.
  • Profuse vomiting.
  • Lethargic.
  • Already suffering from other known health aliment(s).
  • Signs of distress or pain.

On the way to recovery...

After your puppy recovers from her diarrhea, do not revert back to her original diet immediately. Stick to point 2 and 3 of feeding reference for the next couple of days then gently reintroduce a small portion of her original diet mixed with her diarrhea treatment one.

Gradually increase the portion of her original diet over the course of the week.

Preventing puppy diarrhea

Most cases of puppy diarrhea, at least the critical ones are preventable. Here are some best practices to keep her digestive system running smoothly:

  • Transit your puppy's new diet gradually over a period of at least 7 days.
  • Provide quality chew toys of the correct size. Remove any toys with parts she manages to chew off.
  • Discourage scavenging.
  • Work with your vet and keep up to date with her shots.
  • Puppy-proof your house to keep small, swallow-able objects out of reach. Basically treat her like you would to a human toddler.
  • Understanding what food is toxin to a dog.
  • Use disinfectants that are pet friendly.
  • Provide only fresh food and water. Left-overs should be remove 10 minutes after eating with a daily change of fresh water.
  • Wash and keep her feeding and drinking wares clean.
  • A healthy, balanced diet with regular exercise.
  • Regular dose of plain low/non-fat yogurt mix with her food. Make sure your puppy is not lactose intolerance.

Understanding food allergies and intolerance

Preventing stress induced puppy diarrhea  

Most puppy diarrhea causes have to do with what your puppy put inside her mouth but one of the top reason is actually non-mouth related; stress and anxiety. This cause is tough to determine because when there is a diarrhea episode, the first thing we examine (and rightfully so) are all other factors with stress/anxiety being the last to consider. This is also especially tough when it comes to a new puppy because every puppy has very different and often unexpected trigger(s).

Creating a stress-free environment as best as you can and understanding how your puppy tick is the only reliable way to prevent stress-induced diarrhea. Monitor her closely and watch out for stress related body language!

Common indicators a dog is in distress:

  • Half-moon eyes - when dogs move their eyes instead of their whole head to look around. This not common because a calm dog always move their whole head to see. Looking around only with their eyes expose a sliver of white that shape like half moon. This gives them a shady look but in reality they are just being nervous.
  • Tucked tail
  • Frequent yawning (Yes, yawning is not just a sign for being a sleepy head when it comes to dogs)
  • Decrease in appetite ( As a rule of thumb, lose of appetite in animals are always a cause for concern)
  • Frequent scratching
  • Perked up or pinned down ears (may vary from dog to dog but most dogs tend to have ears pinned down as stress signal) 
  • Shaking or shivering
  • Excessive whining or barking
  • Tense muscles or stiff posture
  • Excessive shedding
  • Destructive behavior
  • Frequent self-licking
  • And Diarrhea 

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