Everyone, including our pets, has an occasional bout of diarrhea. If your puppy experiences diarrhea during a day’s consecutive bowel movements, he should be seen by a veterinarian to determine the cause. Puppies with diarrhea can dehydrate and go downhill quickly, so it is important to have your puppy seen as soon as possible before detrimental health consequences occur.
How to Recognize Puppy Diarrhea
Since your puppy is likely crated and you accompany him outdoors for housebreaking, it will be easy to notice if he is having diarrhea. Diarrhea occurs with no straining from the puppy when he is having a bowel movement. Diarrhea is stool that is not formed. The consistency can range from that of soft serve ice cream to pure liquid. The color may be tan, brown or yellow-tinged. Blood or mucous may accompany the fecal material.
Causes of Puppy Diarrhea
Diarrhea in puppies can be caused by viral and bacterial infections and intestinal parasites. Stressful situations, such as changes in surroundings or routines, can also cause diarrhea in puppies. Diarrhea can also occur as the result of an abrupt change in diet or from a dietary indiscretion, such as if the puppy gets into the trash can and consumes something that doesn’t agree with him. While most allergies present other symptoms, such as skin infections, food allergies can cause diarrhea.
Diagnosis of Puppy Diarrhea
When you bring your puppy with diarrhea to the veterinarian, be sure to bring along a stool sample. By observing the color and consistency of the fecal material, the veterinarian may be able to pinpoint where the problem is within your puppy’s digestive system. The stool sample will then be analyzed for the presence of intestinal parasites. Your puppy’s temperature will be taken, he will be checked for his hydration status and a complete history will be taken regarding the puppy’s activities during the days prior to the first episode of diarrhea. If your puppy with diarrhea is experiencing any additional symptoms, such as vomiting, decreased appetite or lethargy, your veterinarian may wish to run a blood cell count, a blood chemistry profile and additional screenings to rule out infections, such as parvovirus.
Constipation can occasionally present with very soft or watery stool at the end of a bowel movement, which can be misinterpreted as diarrhea by owners. Another point of confusion occurs when an owner comes home to find a pile of thick liquid that they perceive as diarrhea. The mess in question may actually be vomitus. Whether the puppy is vomiting or having diarrhea, it is important to gather a sample of the material to be assessed by your veterinarian.
Diarrhea in puppies can be a symptom of intestinal parasites. Some parasites are commonly found in puppies, and the treatment for intestinal parasites is easily carried out.
Viral infections can also cause diarrhea in puppies that have not completed their vaccination series needed to achieve full immunity.
If you abruptly changed your puppy’s food, the diarrhea could be the end result. Food changes should always be carried out gradually over a period of several days.
Inspect the home and question family members. If the kitchen trash can is not secured, or if young children have been lavishing some of their own goodies on their beloved new furry friend, the puppy can have diarrhea as a result of eating things that his developing intestinal tract is not able to digest easily.
Treatment of Puppy Diarrhea
The course of treatment for your puppy with diarrhea will depend on the veterinarian’s findings during examination and testing. If your puppy is otherwise behaving normally and not running a fever, a change in diet and oral medications may be prescribed for treatment at home. If intestinal parasites are found, deworming medications will be dispensed as well. If your puppy is exhibiting additional symptoms or is dehydrated, admitting him into the hospital for intravenous fluid therapy, supportive care and symptomatic treatment may be necessary.