My puppy has diarrhea – should I be worried?
When it comes to dogs, one of the most common health problems you’ll come across is puppy diarrhea. If you think about it, this is only to expected. After all, puppies are really just babies with sensitive digestive systems, so the odd tummy upset shouldn’t be a surprise.
Usually, these tummy upsets are nothing to worry about at all. Indeed, in many cases the problem will fix itself, with little or no treatment. That said though, in some cases puppy diarrhea may be serious, even life threatening so it’s import that you initially treat any case of puppy diarrhea as serious, until you’ve proven otherwise.
Causes of puppy diarrhea
Puppies can develop puppy diarrhea for a variety of reasons, including an upset intestinal tract, worms, anxiety, or disease.
Indeed, the stress of being taken from their mother and litter-mates is often enough to trigger a bout of diarrhea. In these cases, the symptoms will soon disappear when your puppy gets used to their new surroundings.
However, if the diarrhea carries on for more than a couple of days, you will need to take your puppy to a vet to get them checked out. Puppies dehydrate very easily, and this can quickly become a serious problem.
You should be particularly alert if your puppy isn’t eating or drinking, and/or seems depressed or lethargic. These are all danger signs that something serious is wrong, and so you should take immediate action.
Another common cause of diarrhea in puppies is a change in their diet. If your puppy came from a breeder it’s always a good idea to find out what food they’ve been eating up until now, and to keep feeding them that brand, at least at first. If you do want to switch your puppy to a different brand you should do so gradually, spread over a few weeks.
Your puppy may also have diarrhea because they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have. You’ve probably noticed that puppies are little eating machines and will sink their teeth into anything they come across, no matter how disgusting or inedible it may look to you.
Things your puppy might have eaten to give them diarrhea include items such as toxins like household cleaners, toxic plants, or chocolate, which you probably know is dangerous to dogs. Be sure to keep these kinds of things out of reach of your puppy and, if you know for a fact that they’ve eaten something toxic like this, you should take them to your vet straight away.
Last, but certainly not least, is the serious matter of illnesses and diseases that can cause puppy diarrhea. These include bacterial diseases like Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella, and more serious viral diseases like Parvovirus, Corona virus, Rotavirus and Distemper. Most viral diseases are potentially deadly to young puppies, but luckily most of them can be prevented with the appropriate vaccinations.
Cancer and diseases of the pancreas or thyroid can also cause diarrhea in puppies. As with the diseases mentioned above, it’s vital that your puppy receives immediate veterinary care. Many of these diseases can escalate very quickly, with tragic consequences.
Puppy diarrhea treatment
There are a number of important things you need to do if your puppy has diarrhea.
Firstly ensure that your puppy always has fresh water available to drink. If your puppy can’t, or won’t, drink you should consult with your vet about putting them on a drip. Dogs, especially puppies, can dehydrate very quickly, and dehydration is a killer.
You should also make sure that you stick strictly to the feeding routine that’s recommended by your vet. This will typically involve a bland, low fat diet.
Also, be sure to give your puppy any medication as prescribed, and make sure they complete the full course, even if your puppy seems to have recovered.
Additionally, you should carefully observe and monitor your puppy for any signs of a relapse, and if they fail to improve, be sure to contact your vet again.
There are also a number of “home remedies” you can try to treat your puppy’s diarrhea, but only if the diarrhea is moderate. For example, giving your puppy a little canned pumpkin, or plain low fat yoghurt which contains probiotics, may well help to settle their tummy down. NutriCal, which is a concentrated, high-calorie, low-volume nutritional supplement, may also help.
Warning signs of puppy diarrhea
If your puppy’s diarrhea lasts for more than 2 or 3 days, or if your puppy starts to show any of the signs below, then it’s time to take them to the vet:
- Your puppy appears very sick and weak.
- There are repeated episodes of vomiting or there is blood in the vomit.
- Your puppy’s rectal temperature is above 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Your puppy appears very lethargic and doesn’t shows any interest in food, water or playing games.
- Your puppy’s gums are very pale, and when a finger is pressed to the gum the pinkness takes some time to return.
- Your puppy appears dazed, unsteady on their feet and/or lacking in co-ordination.
- Your puppy is showing signs of bloating and/or abdominal pain.
- There is blood in your puppy’s stool.
If you notice any of these signs, you should take your puppy to the vet immediately. If possible, take a sample of your puppy’s stool with you for the vet to analyze.
If nothing bad is found the vet will probably just prescribe your puppy an anti-diarrhea medicine and, if there’s a virus, a course of antibiotics may also be prescribed.
These treatments will clear up most cases of puppy diarrhea, and your puppy will soon be back to their mischievous, playful self.