How to Cure Loose Stools in a Puppy

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Curing a puppy that has loose stool means determining the cause of the problem. Diarrhea is common in puppies, and in severe cases, it can lead to dehydration which can be life-threatening. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if your puppy has loose stools, especially if he is exhibiting any other signs of illness. A puppy diarrhea home remedy may be effective depending on the cause of the condition.

Dietary changes and stress

One common cause of diarrhea includes a change in your puppy's diet. This could be because you are switching to a new brand of dog food or because he got into the trash or table scraps. Stress may also upset your pup's sensitive digestive tract. Be sure to consult your vet before offering any home remedies.

Consider fasting, or withholding food from your dog, as one possible puppy diarrhea home remedy. Make sure he has access to water. After 12 to 24 hours without food, your puppy's digestive tract may settle.

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Another option is to cook some mild food that will be gentle on his system. Some options include white rice, canned pumpkin, plain eggs, or skinless chicken. Avoid seasonings that may irritate his stomach. Your vet may also recommend an over-the-counter medication, but be sure to discuss the proper dosage for your puppy's weight.

Worms and other parasites

Puppies often suffer from intestinal worms, which can cause diarrhea as well as other symptoms including weight loss, vomiting, abdominal pain, and a poor coat. Fortunately, most worms are easily treated with deworming, which is a routine part of most puppy wellness exams. Work with your vet to determine what type of worm your puppy is infected with so she can prescribe the proper medication.

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Puppies are born with roundworms, which they get from their mother. Puppies may get tapeworms from eating a flea that is carrying the worm. You may notice small, white tapeworm segments in your puppy's stool. Hookworms can be passed to the puppy through the mother's milk and can be fatal if not treated. Your puppy may get whipworms from contaminated soil, water, or feces. Worms can be identified with a stool sample.

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Dogs are also susceptible to a protozoan parasite called Giardia duodenalis. Your puppy may pick up giardia in contaminated water. Many dogs do not develop diarrhea, but puppies may develop watery diarrhea that is very severe. This can cause severe dehydration and can even be fatal if left untreated. Other symptoms include mucus in the feces, weight loss, and the fast onset of bad-smelling diarrhea. Your vet can diagnose giardia with a fecal test and treat it with medications such as fenbendazole and metronidazole.

Diarrhea caused by bacterial infection

Bacterial infections, such as salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter from contaminated food or stools, can be fatal to a puppy. Campylobacter causes diarrhea that contains blood and mucus but is curable with antibiotics. Salmonella causes both diarrhea and sepsis from the toxins the bacteria releases into the intestines. E. coli causes watery diarrhea and potentially life-threatening dehydration in puppies.

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Canine parvovirus infection

Parvovirus is a horrific and often fatal disease. It is highly contagious and causes severe and often bloody diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloating, appetite loss, lethargy, and fever or hypothermia. Puppies can develop extreme dehydration and septic shock and typically die within 72 hours without treatment.

Unfortunately, there is no direct treatment for the virus, so dogs are offered supportive care to fight through the virus. This includes administering fluids and electrolytes and controlling the vomiting and diarrhea. Many dogs die even with treatment.

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There is a vaccine to prevent parvovirus. He can receive his first vaccine at six to eight weeks of age with two additional booster shots four weeks apart. Until your pup is fully protected, avoid unvaccinated dogs.

Other potential causes

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Some other potential causes of diarrhea include colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and liver disease. It is also possible that your puppy got into something he shouldn't have such as human medication, toxic foods like chocolate, or poisonous plants. If you suspect your pup has been poisoned, you can call your veterinarian, the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, or the Pet Poison Helpline.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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