Welcoming home a new puppy is a momentous and joyful occasion. These energetic little bundles of fur turn our worlds — and our homes — upside down. As fun as puppies are, however, they are a lot of work. Providing everyday care for our puppies entails cleaning up many ‘little accidents’ and dealing with various health issues. When we’re dealing with puppy diarrhea, it can mean juggling puppy messes and health issues simultaneously.

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Three Common Causes of Puppy Diarrhea

One of the main reasons our puppy’s diarrhea can be so stressful is cleaning up the mess and trying to figure out what has caused their upset stomach. Puppy diarrhea can result from something as simple as stress or as harmful as a deadly infection.

Rare instances of diarrhea don’t necessarily need to cause alarm. Still, it is essential always to note the issue and, along with an assessment of their overall health, decide whether or not they require a visit to a licensed veterinarian. Here are the three most common causes of puppy diarrhea.

Stress

Daily puppy life can be stressful, with plenty of new and often scary experiences happening all the time. Like in humans, all that stress can lead to soft or runny stool. Thankfully, once the stressful experience becomes less scary, dogs tend to grow out of their puppy diarrhea.

Diet

Puppies, and many adult dogs as well, have sensitive stomachs. Sometimes even subtle changes to their diets can result in dietary upset or diarrhea. If you haven’t changed anything about your puppy’s diet, they still may have eaten something they shouldn’t; pups are notorious for exploring the world with their mouth and chewing on almost anything they can get ahold of. Your puppy’s diarrhea may be the simple result of the ingestion of trash, feces, or other non-food items. 

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Infections

Our puppies’ digestive systems take time to become less sensitive as they age. Their digestive systems aren’t the only bodily system that takes time to develop their resilience; puppies’ immune systems take time to grow stronger as they age too. Unfortunately, that means that our puppies are more susceptible to viral, bacterial, and even parasitic infections. One of the best ways to combat these early threats is to keep your pup on an appropriate vaccination schedule with your veterinarian. That way, you can preemptively address conditions like distemper or canine parvovirus, which can make puppies sick and even kill them.

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3 Ways To Help Your Puppy Diarrhea

If you can’t immediately tell what is causing your puppy’s diarrhea, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rush off to your vet. Take the following precautions to ensure your puppy isn’t experiencing a health emergency.

Assess Their Symptoms

To determine if your puppy’s diarrhea is cause for concern, pay close attention to their symptoms. Take note of things like the consistency of your dog’s stool: is it watery or just soft? What color is it? Has it changed or stayed the same? Take note of other symptoms, too, like is your dog acting normal other than the gastric issues? Are they acting lethargic? Are they eating and drinking normally? If diarrhea is the only symptom indicating your puppy has a problem, there’s a good chance the cause is relatively harmless.

Feed a Bland Diet

For older dogs with diarrhea, veterinarians often recommend having them skip a meal until their symptoms improve. But a growing puppy needs their calories and should avoid fasting. Instead, feed them a bland, stomach-soothing diet like rice, boiled chicken, and pureed pumpkin. These easily-digested foods can help you manage your puppy diarrhea while providing them with the nutrients their growing bodies need. 

Get a Sample

If you’re still in doubt about your puppy diarrhea problem, you can always collect a stool sample for your veterinarian to use in a diagnosis of your pup’s symptoms. Testing your puppy’s stool sample can help your vet identify the underlying cause of their intestinal issues. If not, they can at least rule out a few common causes and help you develop a treatment and diet plan to alleviate their symptoms. Remember to always thoroughly wash your hands after handling your puppy’s poop.

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3 Ways To Prevent Puppy Diarrhea

When it comes to many issues with our puppies, often it’s easier to prevent the issue than it is to treat it. New puppy parents can avoid many digestive problems simply by taking a few extra precautions. Here are a few ways to try to prevent puppy diarrhea.

Puppy Proof Your House

Puppies will stick their noses anywhere, getting them into plenty of trouble. Puppy-proof your house as best you can by picking up anything small enough for your puppy to ingest and keeping trash can lids secured. Make sure your cabinets are always closed, especially those containing things like medicine or cleaning supplies.

Check Food Recalls

Check puppy food recalls regularly compiled by the Food and Drug Administration. By checking the alerts, pup parents can make sure the food they are feeding their furbaby isn’t under advisory or recalls.

Check With Your Veterinarian

It is best to reduce the likelihood of puppy diarrhea, especially if it happens more often than the rare bout, by working closely with your veterinarian. Ask their advice before making any significant changes to what you feed your dog. Ask your vet any questions you have about anything your dog may or may not accidentally eat. 

More often than not, mild cases of puppy diarrhea will sort themselves out without too much interference on our part. However, severe cases will need attention from a vet. Take your pup to the vet if you see:

  • Symptoms persisting over multiple days
  • Bloody or tar-like stool
  • Pale gums
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Mood changes

Any of these symptoms are worth at least a call to your veterinarian. Sometimes, an early call to the vet can make a difference when your puppy isn’t feeling well, even if it’s just the difference in your peace of mind.

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