Chances are your puppy will, at one time or another, develop a case of diarrhea. Introduction of a new food, excitement or stress, or infection by one of a number of parasites could be the culprit and is not cause for concern unless the diarrhea persists and your puppy can no longer control his elimination. If this becomes the case, consult your veterinarian immediately as a puppy can dehydrate quickly and neglecting the condition will not only cause dehydration, but will also damage his immune system. Just as there are multiple causes, there are several different treatments for diarrhea in puppies. Get a stool sample from the dog to your veterinarian for testing right away. Your vet most likely will check for coccidia or other organisms such as giardia. More benign causes of diarrhea include stress, excitement, a flu bug or new food.
Treatment for Coccidia
Mother dogs often carry coccidia (a one-celled organism that lives in a dog or cat's intestines) in their feces, which her puppies come in contact with after birth. A coccidia infestation is treatable with medications such as sulfadimethoxine and trimethoprim-sulfadiazine, both of which inhibit the organism's reproductive cycle. Elimination of these organisms from your puppy's intestinal tract will take time as these drugs need to halt their multiplication and allow the puppy's immune system to recover and expel them from his system. Treatment lasting from one to three weeks is usually necessary.
Treatment for Giardia
Giardia, like coccidia, is a one-celled organism that resides in the intestines. Metronidazole together with fenbendazole are prescribed for treatment, and bathing and sanitation to remove giardia from your puppy's coat and environment are essential as reinfection commonly occurs. Metronidazole, however, is not always completely effective in treating for giardia and can be toxic to the liver. The veterinarian's dilemma is when to treat, as giardia can be found in a stool sample even if the puppy is not showing any symptoms. If no other obvious cause for diarrhea is found, treatment for giardia is often prescribed as giardia can be transmitted to humans.
Treatment for Roundworms
Roundworms are the most commonly occurring parasites in the intestines of dogs and cats and can be found all throughout North America. As with giardia, roundworms may be transmitted to humans and proper treatment is essential. Oral medications such as Heartguard Plus, Interceptor, Sentinel and Advantage Multi have proven to be effective against roundworms once infestation has been confirmed, but preventative deworming of puppies is ideal. For puppies, deworming should be initiated at two weeks and repeated at four, six and eight weeks of age. Afterward, give him a monthly heartworm/intestinal parasite preventative.
Treatment for Viral Infections
Puppies who have not received their full course of vaccinations are susceptible to parvovirus and distemper. Cases of diarrhea resulting from viral infections should be treated with intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and antibiotics to prevent the occurrence of secondary bacterial infections.
Treatment for Food Intolerance
Some puppies are born with a sensitivity to or an inability to digest certain foods. The puppy parent should conduct a simple food trial to determine the identity of the offending food by individually removing and reintroducing various ingredients. Once the culprit has been discovered, it should be permanently eliminated from the puppy's diet.