Treating Diarrhea in Puppies

Our vet expert explains the causes and solutions for a common problem in young dogs and puppies.

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Q: I adopted a puppy from the shelter, we think he is about 3-4 months old, he has continual diarrhea, what’s wrong and how do I stop it.
 
A: Diarrhea is one of those conditions that most dog owners would like to correct quickly. Unfortunately, there often are no quick solutions, but based on what is the most likely cause, the following steps should be taken in a young dog:

1. Intestinal parasites are by far the most common cause of diarrhea in otherwise healthy puppies. Submit a fecal sample to your veterinarian, and have your puppy dewormed with a prescription deworming medicine. Most over-the-counter and pet store medications are not strong enough to effectively kill all intestinal worms. Your puppy should be dewormed every 3 weeks, and then started on year round heartworm medication at 5-6 months of age. Heartworm medication helps control intestinal parasites as well as heartworms. If your dog is acting sick, vomiting or not eating, immediately have him tested by your veterinarian for canine parvovirus, another cause of diarrhea, but a potentially deadly one.

2. If your vet determines your puppy is in good health, but diarrhea still continues, try a hypoallergenic dog food. Many young dogs are born with a genetic predisposition to food allergies. Hypoallergenic dog food does not contain many of the ingredients that dogs are allergic to.

3. Give your dog a probiotic every morning. Although these are available to sprinkle on dog food, you can also use 1-2 teaspoons of plain, active culture dog food. Probiotics help restore the normal bacterial balance in the intestines.

4. If diarrhea still continues, consult with your veterinarian about getting a prescription of Flagyl, also known as metronidazole. This will kill infections often not detected in a fecal exam, as well as reduce inflammation in the intestines. Antibiotic treatment may need to be repeated every 3-6 months in some dogs to treat recurring diarrhea.
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Eva Ray   Roswell, New Mexico

6/15/2013 7:31:50 PM

got up to vomit and dark black diarrhea...this is 2 days ago...puppy lethargic, not eating and drinking very little water...need ideas to help...have appointment on Mon. with vet..
06/13/13
ER Byrd

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

2/28/2013 3:17:44 AM

As a puppy my dog had Diarrhea so bad it was like tea. After many tests and treatments it was discovered my dog had food allergies, once the food she was allergic to we eliminated she has not had any problems. It took 6 months for our VET to get it all sorted out.

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Barbara   Montgomery, Alabama

2/3/2013 7:58:08 AM

I have just gotten a 3 month old Poodle that has constant diarrhea. I have taken him to my vet and he is treating him with the above mentioned mediacations, Flagyl and I have been giving him a small amount yogurt. He has gone through the fecal testing for parasites and none are
shown.

The dirrhea continues and looks like cow patties. We are trying him on a new dog food that is for intestinal problems. Seems to be worse. I am at my wits end as to how help this precious animal.


I have all the confidence in the world with my vet, but thought maybe another suggestion would be beneficial.

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Leslie - 233329   Lakeside, AZ

12/3/2012 1:21:28 PM

Good information. thanks

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