Puppy Diarrhea: When Is It Time to Go to the Vet?

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For first-time puppy parents, knowing when your four-legged friend is experiencing a simple stomach virus or something more serious can be daunting. Because there are a variety of different symptoms and correlating canine ailments, it’s essential to know the difference between them, and when a trip to the vet is required.

This article will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments for diarrhea in your dog, as well as what you can expect when planning a trip to your trusted veterinarian’s office.

Diagnosing Puppy Diarrhea: Symptoms and Causes

There are certain tell-tale signs that will indicate if your dog is experiencing diarrhea. Somewhat similar to human symptoms, diarrhea in dogs is also distinguished by frequent liquid or loose bowel movements. It may be caused by a number of different reasons, ranging in something as simple as a dietary change or indicative of a more serious underlying health condition.

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It can either start and end abruptly, last for weeks to months, or occur on and off. While a single case of puppy diarrhea isn’t usually regarded as cause for concern, symptoms persisting beyond a day can lead to risky side-effects, including dehydration. Since it may represent an underlying health problem, it’s essential to get your pooch to a vet right away and receive a professional diagnosis.   

General Causes of Puppy Diarrhea

  • Dietary changes
  • Accidental ingestion of foreign body (e.g., a plastic toy, sock, coin, rubber band, plastic bag etc.)
  • Allergic reaction to food
  • Antibiotics or other medications
  • Bacterial infections
  • Colitis
  • Food intolerance
  • Heart failure
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Poisonous substances or plants
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Pancreatic disease
  • Cancer or tumors within the digestive tract
  • Parasites, such as Coccidia, Hookworms, Whipworms, Giardia or Roundworm
  • Scavenger behavior (i.e., ingestion of garbage or spoiled food matter)
  • Stress, anxiety or other emotional episodes
  • Viral or bacterial infection (such as Parvovirus, Distemper and Coronavirus)

Symptoms of Diarrhea in Puppies: What To Look For

There are certain symptoms to be on the lookout for if you believe your puppy or adult dog is suffering from diarrhea, including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Mucus or blood in stool
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Excessive flatulence or bloating
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loose/liquid frequent stools
  • Marked changes in volume of stool
  • Pale or tacky gums
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Signs of weakness
  • Straining to make a bowel movement
  • Urgency to defecate
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

If you notice your dog’s stool is black, it may indicate internal bleeding of the small intestine or stomach and requires the immediate attention of your vet.

Treating Your Puppy’s Diarrhea: Helpful Tips

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Immediate Care

In certain instances, immediate veterinary care may be required to treat your dog’s diarrhea, particularly if he is very young, very old, or has a preexisting health condition (such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or cancer), as dogs that fall under these categories can become severely sick even when they’re suffering from a mild case of diarrhea.

In addition, be certain to call your vet if your pooch’s stool is frequent and/or very loose, exemplifies more than just a streak of blood, is dark or tarry in appearance, or is accompanied by vomiting. Other symptoms that require your vet’s attention include indications of depression, lethargy, and pain, as they can be indicative of serious health complications.

Furthermore, if your dog experiences diarrhea that does not stop despite home treatments that have worked in the past, it’s time to make an appointment.

Home Remedies for Puppy Diarrhea

However, if your dog is displaying common signs of diarrhea (characterized by loose, watery and frequent bowel movements and not accompanied by other secondary symptoms), it’s usually safe to provide the following home treatments:

  • Experts recommend giving your dog plenty of access to fresh water – encourage him to drink as much as possible to prevent dehydration.
  • You may also add Pedialyte to his water to ease symptoms of dehydration, and offer diluted chicken or beef broth as nourishment.
  • For meals, offer your dog boiled white-meat chicken (remove bones, skin and fat) and serve with plain white rice. This mild meal can help return your dog’s digestion to normal if he is merely fighting a bout of diarrhea, as the rice acts as a binding agent; this diet can be administered for 24 hours until you notice his stool consistency has returned to normal.

For dogs with diarrhea who have only vomited once or twice within a 24 hour period, you may administer these home remedies:

  • Eliminate all food for 12 hours.
  • To prevent dehydration, offer your dog small amounts of water frequently throughout the day; you may also offer diluted beef or chicken broth. Pedialyte is also recommended to avoid further dehydration.
  • Once the dog has stopped vomiting for at least six consecutive hours, offer your dog a small portion of boiled white-meat chicken (skinned and de-boned) accompanied with white rice.
  • Wait an additional two hours; if the vomiting has ceased, offer the same meal as above.
  • Continue this treatment throughout the course of the day, gradually increasing the size of each meal incrementally and lengthening the time in between meals until your dog’s stool consistency has returned to normal.


In the event where your dog’s diarrhea continues for more than a 24-hour period and/or his condition worsens at any time, contact your vet immediately for a professional diagnosis and course of treatment.

When Should I Take My Puppy To The Vet’s Office?

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Whether it’s your puppy or adult dog, chronic diarrhea symptoms must not be ignored. If your pooch is showing signs of diarrhea for more than 24 hours, or he is displaying secondary symptoms (such as vomiting, fever, dark-colored or bloody stools, decreased appetite, sudden weight loss, and/or straining to defecate), contact your veterinary office immediately to rule out any serious underlying health conditions.

In addition, observing your dog’s bowel movements can allow you to check his level of health. While it’s important to consul