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Dogs and Puppies with Diarrhea
Causes of diarrhea in dogs and puppies and how it is treated

Dog Diarrhea Problems



Diarrhea is not a disease itself but rather a symptom that something is not right with your dog's health or gastrointestinal system. Diarrhea is the passing of unformed, frequent, and increased volume of stool.

There are many causes of diarrhea, including a sudden change in diet, food allergies, worm infestation or viral or bacterial infection. There are many more serious or life threatening causes.

Chronic Diarrhea

If your dog has chronic diarrhea (Chronic means continuing for a long time, lingering or persistent) then medical advice should be sought. Always check with your veterinarian if diarrhea is severe or persistent.
Diarrhea can be life threatening.

If your dog has any of the following symptoms
in conjunction with diarrhea please seek immediate veterinary advice

Blood in the diarrhea
Lethargy or depression
Weight Loss
Loss of appetite
Foul smelling diarrhea
Any other sign of illness


Many dogs, like humans, may occasionally suffer from an acute bout of diarrhea. Acute means coming on suddenly and lasting no longer than a few days. If your dog is well and has no other symptoms other than a loose bowel motion there is probably no cause for immediate alarm.

What you can do at home for diarrhea

Withhold food (but not water) for 24 hours (12 hours for young puppies) to give your dog's digestive system a rest. Then feed him a bland diet of 50% boiled rice and 50% chicken for the next two to three days. If the diarrhea doesn't resolve seek advice from your veterinarian.

Watch out for dehydration

A lot of water is lost from the dog's system when passing frequent watery motions so watch your dog for symptoms of dehydration. Sticky or dry gums can often indicate dehydration.

Encourage him to drink plenty of water or Lectade may be given. Lectade, an oral re-hydration therapy for cats and dogs can be used to reverse the effects of dehydration and loss of electrolytes following diarrhea. In the first 24 hours this should be given at the rate of 8-30mls every half hour by mouth. For example a small toy dog would require 8mls and a large dog such as a german shepherd would require 30mls.

Diet can cause diarrhea in dogs

If the diarrhea has come on suddenly consider if you have made any changes to his diet. Often cheaper brand dog foods can cause diarrhea as can a sudden change in diet. Feed your dog a good high quality diet. Cheap dog food may ultimately cost you more with higher vet bills. My advice is to feed your dog the best possible food that you can afford. Cheaper dog foods are bulked out with vegetables and carbohydrates which pass straight through your dog.

Rule of thumb: If you put rubbish into your dog, rubbish will come out of your dog.

Diarrhea can also be caused by dairy intake in dogs due to lactose intolerance. Dogs and puppies do not need to be given milk to drink.

Don't feed dogs people food. Especially spicy food.



Worms can cause diarrhea in dogs

Worms, such as roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm can cause diarrhea in dogs so ensure they are given de-worming medication regularly.

More information on when and how to worm your puppy or dog

More information on Tapeworm in dog

Viral Infections that cause Diarrhea in dogs and puppies

Parvovirus enteritis is a highly contagious, viral disease which can be fatal. Symptoms include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration, dark or blood or blood in feces, lethargy and unwillingness to eat. Puppies are often the most severely affected.

Veterinary treatment must be sought. Treatment of parvo may consist of IV fluids, anti inflammatory drugs, antibiotics and anti-spasmodic drugs.

Canine Distemper is also a highly contagious viral disease which is often fatal. Diarrhea is one of the many symptoms. Read more about Canine Distemper


Bacterial Infections that cause Diarrhea in puppies and dogs

Bacterial infections such as E. coli, Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella varieties can cause severe abdominal pain often accompanied with blood in diarrhea.

Discuss your options with a veterinarian in order to determine your best course of action.

Parasites that cause diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies


Coccidiosis is very common problem, especially among puppies

Diarrhea is the main sign of coccidiosis. Blood and mucous in the diarrhea is a common symptom.

Your vet may prescribe Sulfa antibiotics. This will not kill the organism but will keep it in check until your  puppy develops a good level of immunity.


Giardia is a waterborne protozoa which is difficult to detect from stool samples. Symptoms in puppies and dogs include diarrhea with mucus and having a pale greasy appearance. The diarrhea may be greenish or yellowish. There may also be blood in the diarrhea. The diarrhea can be explosive. There is usually a very bad odor to the diarrhea. Other symptoms are weight loss, abdominal pain, vomiting, poor appetite, excessive grass eating, and excessive gas.

You must seek veterinary advice. Treatment usually involves a drug called Metronidazole ( Flagyl ) which is an anti protozoal. This drug can be used alone or in combination with another similar drug called Fenbendazole.


Cryptosporidia is a single cell parasite which can cause diarrhea, poor appetite and weight loss in dogs and puppies. Discuss your options with a veterinarian in order to determine your best course of action.

Pumpkin for Diarrhea and Constipation

It has been reported that fresh pumpkin cooked and mashed or canned pureed pumpkin (if using canned: do not use the pie filling variety but the 100% natural canned pumpkin) can work wonders for both the occasional bout of diarrhea or for the opposite, constipation in dogs. It has been reported that it firms up dog's loose stools or diarrhea within a few hours. How much pumpkin should you give? It depends on the size of the dog but as a rule of thumb a couple of teaspoons daily for a small dog or a couple of tablespoons for a large dog.  You may have to disguise it in you dog's favorite food.

Chronic Diarrhea

If your dog has chronic diarrhea (Chronic means continuing for a long time, lingering or persistent) then medical advice should be sought. Always check with your veterinarian if diarrhea is severe or persistent. Diarrhea can be life threatening.

Some Possible Causes of Diarrhea in Dogs and Puppies

  • Diet

  • Drinking Milk (Lactose Intolerance)

  • Eating Garbage

  • Infection (viral or bacterial)

  • Worms

  • Parasites such as giardia & coccidia

  • Bowel Disease

  • Poisoning

  • Cancer

  • Blockage (foreign object)

  • Pancreatitis

  • Kidney disease

  • Liver disease

  • Intussusception (telescoping of the bowel on itself)

  • Hormone Imbalance

  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

As you can see there are many causes of diarrhea in dogs and puppies. If diarrhea persists you should seek advice from your veterinarian.




See also Remove Dog Poop from Carpets. Both stains & odors using household products

This article has not been written by a veterinarian & should not be considered a replacement for a veterinarian visit. The articles are provided for informative purposes only. While great care has been made in the creation of these articles, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or omissions on these pages. If in any doubt whatsoever, seek professional medical advice from your veterinarian.

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