Curing loose stools in a puppy means getting to the bottom of the problem. Diarrhea is common in puppies, and severe diarrhea can easily dehydrate a baby dog, with possible fatal results. Take your puppy to the veterinarian as soon as possible if his stools are loose. Your vet needs a stool sample from the puppy to diagnose the cause of loose feces and appropriately treat your pet.
Feeding Your Puppy
If your puppy is experiencing loose or soft stools rather than actual diarrhea, your vet might recommend adding rice to his diet or feeding him a bland diet of rice and hamburger until his feces firm up. Tell your vet exactly what your puppy has been eating -- including treats and table scraps. If your puppy's feces don't get back to normal within a few days, take him back to the vet for a complete examination.
Puppies and Worms
Puppies often suffer from intestinal worms -- either they're born with them or they pick up the parasites through nursing. Puppies with hookworm might become anemic and produce dark, tarry diarrhea. Roundworm infestation produces the classic potbelly appearance in puppies along with diarrhea. Your vet will deworm your puppy and repeat a few weeks later to kill any newly hatched parasites. Deworming is a routine part of puppy wellness examinations, starting at age 2 to 3 weeks.
Giardia in Puppies
If your puppy suddenly exhibits especially bad-smelling diarrhea, he could be infected with giardia. His feces might appear greenish or contain blood. The protozoa can dehydrate a puppy, so prompt treatment is essential. Your vet will likely administer intravenous fluid therapy, then prescribe the antibiotic metronidazole to get rid of giardia.
Diarrhea resulting from bacteria can prove devastating to puppies. The most common types of bacterial diarrhea in canines are salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter. The latter produces bloody diarrhea full of mucus -- the bacteria destroys the intestinal lining. Fortunately, antibiotic treatment can cure the problem. That's not necessarily the case with salmonella or E. coli. Salmonella secretes toxins in the intestine, which can cause fatal diarrhea in puppies. E. coli causes extremely watery diarrhea, with puppies in danger of dying from dehydration. For these bacterial viruses, supportive care, including intravenous fluids, is the primary treatment.
Parvovirus is a puppy owner's worst nightmare, but timely vaccinations can avoid this horrific and usually fatal disease. In addition to severe and often bloody diarrhea, symptoms of parvovirus include fever, appetite loss, weakness and vomiting. Without treatment, puppies with parvo usually die within a few days from dehydration. Treatment consists mainly of supportive care. Even with treatment, many puppies don't survive.
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. Coli -- Causes of Diarrhea in Puppies and Kittens
- Merck Manual for Pet Health: Gastrointestinal Parasites of Dogs
- VCA Animal Hospital: Giardia in Dogs
- American Veterinary Medical Association: Canine Parvovirus
- PetMD: The Best of Intentions, Gone Astray