Worried about puppy diarrhea? Learn about the different types of diarrhea in puppies, the most common causes of loose stools and what they could mean.
Diarrhea in puppies is way more common than many new owners realize, in fact it's SO common that your new pup is likely going to have at least one episode of loose stools within the first few weeks.
That's because several things which can cause diarrhea are likely to be happening all at once....
* his diet has changed
* he's stressed
* he most likely has some worms
* he's chewing on (maybe even eating) stuff he shouldn't
BUT although loose stools can be caused by minor issues, it is also often the first sign of several serious canine illnesses and conditions.
Diarrhea in puppies should never be ignored - or even taken lightly, especially if there's vomiting as well. If in doubt, get veterinary help/advice.
If you want to jump straight to treatment options click here!
There are quite a few of these! The most common ones include:
Of course it's natural to worry when your puppy's poop doesn't seem normal, but although an occasional episode of mild puppy diarrhea isn't unusual, it can be cause for concern.
It could be a simple tummy upset causing the problem, or one of the serious contagious dog illnesses puppies are so vulnerable to.
When you're a new puppy owner (especially if this is your first puppy) it can be tricky to tell the difference and that is what is worrying!
To make it easier for you to figure out what's going on, the information below explains more about the different types of puppy diarrhea that you're most likely to see, what each type could mean and when to worry!
Diarrhea in puppies can range from a soft 'pile' to a jet of water... and just about everything in between!
But if your puppy has had just one or two stools of the soft, chocolate-pudding variety there's generally no need for instant panic.
There are several possible reasons for his tummy upset and these include:
Change In Diet
When you pick up your new puppy home, it's a good idea to ask what type of puppy food he's been eating up to this point.
Then make sure you stick with that for the first week or so because suddenly switching your puppy from one brand of food (or from dried to canned, commercial to home-made etc) is one of the most common causes of puppy diarrhea.
If you decide you want to change the brand of food your new pup is eating that's fine, but make the transition slowly.
A puppy's digestive system can be fairly delicate and is easily affected by stressful situations. Things such as leaving their mom and siblings, a visit to the veterinarian, getting used to a new home environment, excess excitement or exercise and so on, can trigger a bout of loose stools.
Stress can also allow a parasitic infection called Coccidiosis to take hold. These parasites exist in most pups/dogs, but are kept in check by the immune system.
When a young puppy is stressed, his immune
function is repressed and coccidia can flourish. If your puppy's
diarrhea gets worse quickly, is watery or is tinged with blood/mucus
then coccidia or a viral/bacterial disease might be the problem.
Eating Something He Shouldn't
Little puppies are endlessly curious, and often seem to believe that EVERYTHING is edible, until proven otherwise!
If your pup has
snacking on left-overs from the garbage can, the flowers or dirt in your
yard, the cat's food, newspaper, crayons, or some other 'inedible'
stuff, then he's most likely going to have at the very least some loose
stools, possibly some diarrhea and/or even vomiting.
A surprising number of every-day foods and other items are toxic, or dangerous for your puppy to ingest. You can find a list of the ones most likely to cause trouble on my Poisonous Foods page.
Dog food allergies and sensitivities are more common than many owners realize, and these can cause diarrhea in puppies, and dogs. True allergies are more likely to cause skin irritation or inflammation and itching, whereas a 'sensitivity' to an ingredient may cause loose stools or even vomiting.
High-protein puppy foods are also more likely to cause loose, unformed stools in some puppies.
If your puppy has repeated, watery diarrhea that contains blood and/or mucus it's likely to be an emergency situation and you need to get him to a vet right away!
If the puppy diarrhea is liquid (anything from soupy to watery) there's reason for concern. This is usually caused by one of two things.....
Your puppy could have developed an infection caused by parasites, such as Coccidiosis or Giardia, both of which can cause pretty severe, foul smelling diarrhea (sometimes accompanied by vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite).
A bad case of puppy worms (particularly roundworms, whipworms or hookworms) can also result in your pup suffering from diarrhea and/or vomiting.
You might also notice that his stools contain a lot of mucus because the worms cause a lot of internal irritation. This is most often seen in very young puppies who haven't been dewormed yet, or older pups who have never been treated for worms, or not treated often enough.
Serious Canine Disease Or Illness
Many of the most contagious, serious (and often potentially deadly) dog illnesses have diarrhea as one of the earliest symptoms.
This kind of diarrhea is usually very watery, and can contain mucous and/or blood (shows as red or brown). It's usually frequent, and may spray or 'jet' out with some force.
Dog diseases such as Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, Hepatitis and Corona Virus are just some of the possible reasons for this type of puppy diarrhea and all of them need emergency treament.
I mentioned above (and can't stress enough!), watery diarrhea that's
has streaks of blood or contains mucus is a red flag. Don't
'wait-and-see', get veterinary help IMMEDIATELY. Your puppy's life could
literally depend on it.
Click here to find how to treat diarrhea in puppies. Don't wait-and-see, act now!