Causes of Puppy Diarrhea

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Some of the many factors that can trigger diarrhea in puppies include intestinal parasites, stress, diet changes and even disease. While some cases of puppy diarrhea are mild, others are much more serious. Puppy immune systems aren't as sophisticated as those of adult dogs. As a result, puppies often have less tolerance to viruses and stomach bugs. Diarrhea in puppies can sometimes be a sign of an ailment that requires prompt veterinary attention.

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites are a common cause of diarrhea in puppies. Some examples of intestinal parasites that frequently affect puppies are hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, giardia, E. coli and salmonella. The majority of intestinal parasites bring on diarrhea in affected animals, particularly when their infestations are significant. While bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can be annoyances to mature dogs, they can be deadly to young puppies, who still have immature digestive and immune systems.

Never ignore cases of potential intestinal parasites in your pet. If your pet has diarrhea or you observe worms in his bowel movements, notify your veterinarian. Tapeworms and roundworms can sometimes be seen in feces, so if you spot any of them, collect a stool sample and bring it to the veterinarian immediately.

What Puppies Eat

Food changes are often the culprit behind diarrhea in canine youngsters. If you transition your pup to a new food, make sure to always do so slowly over the course of a couple weeks or so. Sudden changes in food can often lead to upset stomachs — and diarrhea — in puppies. Quick changes can cause hypermotility, which is characterized by irritation of the bowel lining.

Allergies to food can also sometimes be responsible for diarrhea in puppies. Young canines often come out of the womb with genetic susceptibilities to food allergies. If a puppy has food allergies, your vet may suggest he begin eating a diet of hypoallergenic dog foods. These foods lack a lot of the components that commonly cause allergies in dogs.

Viral Diseases

A variety of viral diseases can cause diarrhea in puppies, notably parvovirus. If your puppy has severe diarrhea -- possibly accompanied by blood -- this infectious disease could be the reason. Although any canine is potentially susceptible to parvo, it’s particularly common in puppies who are less than 4 months in age. Apart from diarrhea, common symptoms of canine parvovirus include reduced appetite, loss of energy, vomiting and fever. If you suspect that your puppy might have parvovirus, get veterinary care for him without delay. The disease is sometimes deadly. Other diseases that can cause diarrhea in puppies are distemper and infectious hepatitis.

Other Potential Causes

Other potential causes of diarrhea in puppies include but aren’t limited to:

  • Consumption of a foreign object such as plants, trash or human food, since puppies are curious
  • Stress due to significant life changes and adjustments
  • Excitement due to their excitable natures
  • Excessive food intake
  • Teething

Veterinary Counsel

Although diarrhea is common in pups, it’s wise to always play it safe and notify your vet if your pet has it. This is especially important if the diarrhea has an extremely unpleasant odor, appears black, contains blood, persists for over a couple days or is combined with throwing up or weakness. Fortunately, the majority of cases of puppy diarrhea aren’t serious. If your vet gives you approval to look after your ailing puppy at home, make sure he drinks plenty of water. Puppies with diarrhea are prone to dehydration, a potentially dangerous condition.

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