Causes of Puppy Diarrhea

There are many reasons for which puppy diarrhea can occur. It is very important to resolve the puppy diarrhea quickly as dehydration and other problems can occur. Fortunately, most puppy diarrhea clears up rather easily.

Puppy Diarrhea

Diarrhea occurs when there is too much water content in the stool and is the rapid movement of digested matter in the intestines. Diarrhea can cause an increase in the amount of stool, a higher frequency of bowel movements and loose stool. If your puppy has diarrhea, it is important to take her to the veterinarian office immediately. With puppies, time is of the essence as they can become very sick very quickly, especially if a virus is causing the puppy diarrhea. If possible, take a sample of the stool with you, as the doctor can run diagnostic tests on the diarrhea.

Puppy Diarrhea Caused by Parasites

The most common cause of puppy diarrhea is probably parasites, especially roundworms. Practically all puppies are born with worms, as they contract them from their mothers when nursing. Many breeders, shelters and pet stores will administer preliminary doses of worm medication to puppies, although most wormers need to be given a few times in order to totally eliminate the parasites. In addition, veterinarians tend to prescribe stronger types of wormer that work better than those given elsewhere. Therefore, even though your puppy has been treated for worms, she may still get diarrhea because the issue wasn’t completely resolved.

Puppies can also have hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, coccidia and giardia. All of these types of parasites can cause diarrhea, among other symptoms. Hookworms can be especially dangerous to puppies as they can cause anemia. From a stool sample, your veterinarian will be able to detect which parasites your puppy has and can then prescribe the appropriate medications. Most parasite-induced puppy diarrhea will resolve when the parasites are eliminated. However, your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-diarrhea medications, such as Flagyl. The doctor may also recommend your puppy receive fluids if she is in danger of becoming dehydrated.  

Puppy Diarrhea Caused by Viruses

There are many different viruses that can effect puppies and cause diarrhea. Puppies are especially prone to contracting these viruses because of their undeveloped immune systems and if they have not received the vaccines designed to prevent each respective virus. Parvovirus is very common and can be very dangerous in puppies. Puppies contract this illness by coming in contact with contaminated feces. If infected, your puppy will likely have extreme diarrhea—possibly containing blood—and will vomit. Treatment of parvovirus involves fluids and antibiotics.

Coronavirus and distemper can also cause diarrhea and can be extremely dangerous to the puppy, especially distemper. Both of these illnesses will cause diarrhea, in addition to a myriad of other symptoms, such as lethargy and anorexia. The distemper vaccine, which includes prevention against distemper, coronavirus, parvovirus, hepatitis and sometimes leptosporosis, is very effective in keeping your puppy from contracting the illnesses. Puppies can begin to get the vaccine at eight weeks and will continue to receive the shot every three to four weeks until they’ve reached 16 weeks of age.