Why does my puppy have diarrhea?
If you recently welcomed a puppy into your home, congratulations! Puppies are so cute, but they also require a lot of work (maybe you’re realizing this now!) and come with their challenges too. Puppy diarrhea isn’t that uncommon, but it’s important to find out what’s causing the diarrhea first, and quickly.
While a number of changes can be behind diarrhea, including parvovirus, food changes, parasites, and stress, it’s important to stop it. Puppies are small and dehydrate quickly and can easily “pass out.” In the worst case, severe diarrhea, when caused by a virus or infection, can result in death. From mild to moderate, bloody or severe diarrhea, find out what’s causing your pup’s disgusting poop. If in doubt, take your pup to the vet as soon as possible.
Causes of diarrhea in puppies
- Diet changes (changes in food or treats)
- Bacterial infections
- Ingestion of foreign objects (toxins and garbage)
What Causes Bloody Diarrhea in Dogs?
Bloody diarrhea is often caused by viruses, gastrointestinal damage (by parvovirus or secondary bacterial infection), parasite infestations (giardiasis), stress (stress colitis, although this is more rare), and ingestion of foreign objects from impactions.
1. Changes in diet or food
If you’re weaning your puppy off formula or adopted him from the shelter, changing his food right away can lead to diarrhea. Dog foods, while seemingly uniform, come with many additional ingredients and variations, from grain-free to hypoallergenic, so switching up your pup’s food or treats can give him a run.
How to fix your upset stomach
Grab some of the food your pup has been eating and make a gradual transition. First, mix just a little bit of new kibble or wet food into his standard food. For one week, change the ratios to 4:1, 2:2 (split half and half), and 1:4 (old to new). Eventually, you will get them to learn the new food with less trouble. Ween them gradually.
Keep treats to a minimum
Keep sweets to a minimum and opt for healthy, organic produce. Freeze-dried treats have minimal added ingredients and are quite hypoallergenic. Some vets may recommend giving your pup vet-approved probiotics (often powdered) or a diet of boiled, boneless, skinless chicken breast and unseasoned white rice to help firm up his stool. For constipation, you can offer unseasoned pumpkin as directed by your vet.
Canine parvovirus is a very common cause of diarrhea. Black and tan dog breeds are particularly prone to Parvovirus (Rottweilers and German Shepherds), but any breed or mix may be susceptible.
Vaccinate your dog!
It is important that your puppy receives its regular series of vaccinations before being exposed to other puppies or dogs or just walking in your backyard. Vaccines can start as early as 6 weeks and will be given in a series of three. Most shelters will start on DHPP vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks. It is considered a basic vaccine and covers distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Canine parvovirus or “parvo” is extremely common in the environment and extremely resistant. It can be spread through old feces, dog-to-dog contact, and can be contracted in various settings.
How can I tell if my dog has Parvo?
Puppies with parvovirus often become extremely lethargic and quiet, followed by fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Without complementary therapy and support, they can die within 48 to 72 hours. (Several other less common viruses can cause diarrhea.)
3. Parasites such as Giardia and Coccidia
Giardia and coccidia parasites are quite common in shelter dogs and puppy mill dogs (dogs raised in unsanitary conditions, often purebreds). Once diarrhea with giardiasis begins (giardia is a microscopic parasite found in soil, food, and water), the puppy will show signs of illness. It is possible to transmit giardia to humans and vice versa, so it is extremely important that you treat your pup and wash your hands, especially if you have children. Giardia can and will cause blood and watery, runny stools.
What does Giardia look like?
- watery stools
- runny stool
- bloody stool
- Color yellow-brown-gray
Is Giardia common in puppies?
Yes, it’s quite common in puppies, so don’t necessarily panic. The problem with giardia is that the parasite will destroy your pup’s urges even with treatment and can cause malnutrition, so it’s important to get a prescription from your vet and treat your pup right away. Your vet may ask you to take a stool sample and will often run a test in the clinic to diagnose this right away (fecal flotation under the microscope, rapid ELISA test, or fecal PCR).
How did they get it?
Your pup likely contracted giardia from a contaminated surface such as standing water or grass. Sometimes the infection clears up on its own, but it often becomes chronic and almost always requires veterinary attention. Metronidaol (Flagyl) is often prescribed and is a very common antibiotic to treat giardiasis.
How long does it take to disappear?
With treatment and care (antibiotics or antiparasitics), probiotic support, and hydration, giardiasis usually clears up in less than two weeks.
What is coccidia?
Coccidia is another common parasite of shelter dogs (or outdoor dogs) and often results in watery, foul-smelling stools, vomiting, and frothy, white diarrhea (it stinks!). Coccidia can often be treated as well, but it’s important to practice good hygiene when helping your pup recover.
4. Bacterial infections
Bacterial infections can also cause diarrhea in puppies, and you may also notice fever, vomiting, lethargy, anorexia, and blood in the stool. common parasites like Salmonella, ME. coliY Clostridium can cause bacterial diarrhea in dogs.
There may also be a culprit behind the bacterial infection, such as parasite (worm) and/or virus infestations that can lead to secondary bacterial infections and digestive problems. Just like in humans, bacterial infections can be treated with proper veterinary care.
5. Stress and anxiety
Yes, stress and anxiety can cause diarrhea in puppies! It is difficult for a small pup to adjust to a new environment or a big change, even being separated from its mother or litter. Being in a new house with new sights and smells can really stress a pup.
Just like in humans, stress wreaks havoc on the body and can cause a dog (or human) to have loose stools and indigestion. Dogs are also prone to intestinal upset with stress, anxiety, and change. It is important to give your dog a good start in life and offer him a safe and loving home. If the diarrhea continues, be sure to visit your vet. Some remedies like Adaptil (a calming aid) can really help a new puppy feel relaxed. Consider several options here.
6. Ingestion of foreign objects or toxins
Puppies will eat anything and everything they can find, but unfortunately, this means they can consume something without your knowledge, but the only sign it shows is diarrhea.
Contrary to popular belief, a blocked intestine (such as a chewed toy that blocks the intestines) or something uncomfortable in the stomach (such as wood, plastic, or garbage) can cause bloody diarrhea and vomiting or worse. This is called foreign body impaction and ingestion.
Often these types of problems require surgical removal (which is expensive!). Your pup can die if it does not receive proper veterinary care. The same can be said for the ingestion of toxins. Puppies will eat anything in the house, including fertilizer, cleaning products, coffee grounds, antifreeze, you name it, and diarrhea can often be a symptom of toxicity. Get fast treatment!
adaptive for anxiety
Don’t skip the vet!
If your pup has chronic diarrhea, take him to the vet. Puppies can faint quickly and even die of serious illness. dehydration and malnutrition without proper support.