Treating Puppies With Diarrhea

Boxer Puppy in Rear Seat of Car
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Puppies with diarrhea ranks near the top as a common puppy problem, and being familiar with dog diarrhea treatment is important. Mild cases may be treated at home and get better, but diarrhea can be deadly for puppies. Diarrhea isn’t a disease -- it’s a sign of illness and may be caused by many different conditions.

Causes Of Puppy Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be associated with viruses such as parvovirus and distemper.

It also can be caused by intestinal parasites like whipworms, hookworms; protozoa such as giardia, and bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. Some types of intestinal parasites can be very difficult for veterinary tests to detect and it can take many tests over weeks to obtain a diagnosis.

Puppies also may develop diarrhea from a sudden change of diet. The stress of coming to a new home could prompt loose stools. Overfeeding or eating out of the garbage also causes tummy upsets. Without knowing the cause, the right treatment can’t be suggested.

When to See the Vet Immediately

Diarrhea can point to conditions that could kill your puppy. Don’t wait -- the resulting dehydration can make puppies even sicker. See the veterinarian immediately if your puppy’s diarrhea:

  • Looks black with a tar-like consistency.
  • Smells extremely foul.
  • Contains large amounts of red blood.
  • Diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, severe pain, fever, appetite loss or lethargy.

    How to Treat at Home

    It’s always best to get a vet check first, but your vet may recommend milder forms of diarrhea be treated at home. For instance, if it’s been less than three days, the puppy still feels and acts well, and the diarrhea has a pudding-like appearance, home care may help.

    Until you see the vet, withhold food for 12 to 24 hours.

    That rests the gut and gives the irritation a chance to heal. Also, if there’s nothing going into your pet, there won’t be anything to come out. However, don’t withhold food any longer than that without advice from your veterinarian.

    Make sure that water remains always available. It’s very easy for puppies to quickly become dehydrated. A sudden watery diarrhea can spill large amounts of fluid and important minerals out of the body. If your pet acts reluctant to drink, offer him ice cubes to lick. Pedialyte or Gatorade mixed 50/50 with water can counter the dehydration if he’ll drink it.

    Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate may help your pup if he likes the taste. Use a needleless syringe or a turkey baster to squirt the medicine into his mouth. Your vet will let you know the proper dosage if it’s appropriate for your pup’s situation.

    It often takes a couple of days for your puppy’s tummy to calm down, and a bland diet can help. Offer plain white rice or macaroni cooked until very soft in plain no-salt chicken broth. Stir in a tablespoon of low-fat cottage cheese or plain yogurt for more flavor. Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria, which helps rebalance the disruption caused by diarrhea. The high fiber of pumpkin can help with either constipation or diarrhea to help normalize the stool.

    Although dealing with diarrhea stinks, knowing what to do can ensure that everything comes out all right.