Puppy Diarrhea, Home Remedies & When to Call The Vet

sick puppy - french bulldog with hot water bottle on head isolated on white background

Puppy diarrhea ranks near the top as a common puppy problem, and being familiar with dog diarrhea treatment is important. Mild cases may be treated at home and get better but diarrhea can be deadly especially for puppies.

When you have a dog, poop happens. Knowing what to do is key, and it’s vital to recognize the difference between an aggravation and an emergency, and what to do with both.

Diarrhea isn’t disease. It’s a sign of illness, and may be caused by many different conditions.

Shih Tzu puppy, 3 months old, sitting in front of white background

Causes Of Puppy Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be associated with viruses such as parvovirus and distemper. It also can be caused by intestinal parasites like whipworms, hookworms; protozoan such as giardia, bacterium like salmonella and E. coli. Some types of intestinal parasites can be very difficult for veterinary tests to detect and it can take many tests over weeks to obtain a diagnosis.

Puppies also may develop diarrhea from a sudden change of diet. The stress of coming to a new home could prompt loose stools. Overfeeding or eating out of the garbage also causes tummy upsets. Without knowing the cause, the right treatment can’t be suggested.

See The Vet Immediately!

Diarrhea can point to conditions that could kill your puppy. Don’t wait—the resulting dehydration can make puppies even sicker.

A couple of years ago, Magic suffered from a bout of explosive diarrhea. I’d been called for jury duty, so I was gone–and discovered his illness when I returned home after the first day of service. Yikes! Magic had been drinking from the water-filled tank (aka man-made pond) on our property, and we suspected the run-off infected him with some type of parasite. It required a couple of weeks of medication for him to feel better. Had he been a baby, the situation could have been life-threatening. See the veterinarian immediately if your puppy’s diarrhea:

  • Looks black with a tar-like consistency
  • Smells extremely foul
  • Contains large amounts of red blood
  • Diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, severe pain, fever, appetite loss or lethargy.

Depositphotos_18034765_originalHow to Treat Dog Diarrhea At Home

It’s always best to get a vet check first. But your vet may recommend milder forms of diarrhea be treated at home. For instance, if it’s been less than three days, the dog or puppy still feels and acts well, and the diarrhea has a pudding-like appearance, home care may help.

Until you see the vet, withhold food for 12 to 24 hours. That rests the gut and gives the irritation a chance to heal. Also, if there’s nothing going into your pet, there won’t be anything to come out. However, don’t withhold food any longer than that without advice from your veterinarian. In particular, tiny puppies and even adult toy-breed dogs may “crash” if they don’t eat often enough.

Make sure that water remains always available. It’s very easy for puppies to quickly become dehydrated. A sudden watery diarrhea can spill large amounts of fluid and important minerals out of the body. To check if your pet is dehydrated, firmly grasp the “scruff” (loose skin over the shoulders) and gently pull up and release. If it doesn’t snap back immediately but takes time to settle, your pet likely suffers from dehydration. If your dog acts reluctant to drink, offer him ice cubes to lick. Pedialyte or Gatorade mixed 50/50 with water can counter the dehydration if he’ll drink it.

Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate may help your dog if he likes the taste (some don’t!). Use a needle-less syringe or a turkey baster to squirt the medicine into his mouth. Your vet will let you know the proper dosage, if it’s appropriate for your pup’s situation.

It often takes a couple of days for your puppy’s tummy to calm down, and a bland diet can help. Offer plain white rice or macaroni cooked until very soft in plain no-salt chicken broth. Stir in a tablespoon of low fat cottage cheese or plain yogurt for more flavor. Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria, which helps re-balance the disruption caused by the diarrhea. The high fiber of pumpkin can help with either constipation or diarrhea to help normalize the stool.

You’ll find all the must-know puppy-licious info in the book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE (much of it applies to adult dogs, too!).

Are you also dealing with vomiting? Learn more about dog vomiting and what you can do in this post about puppy and doggy vomiting. Or click below to get the quick tips list for treating vomiting at home (or making your dog vomit, in case of poisoning!).


Has your dog ever suffered from diarrhea? Seems like it always happens on a holiday or weekend, too! What did you do? Although dealing with diarrhea stinks, knowing NEW-PUPPY-COVER-lorezwhat to do can ensure that everything comes out all right. Literally.

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Puppy Diarrhea, Home Remedies & When to Call The Vet — 7 Comments

  1. Pingback: What Is Holistic Pet Care: New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats

    • Hi Gwendolyn, there is no way for me to tell you if your dogs have a virus. Diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and many other things. I would strongly advise you to see the veterinarian for a diagnosis.

    • Hi Cathy, sorry your puppy is having problems. With puppies, I highly recommend a vet visit. That said, the typical dose for kaopectate for diarrhea for dogs is 1/2-1 teaspoon for every 5 pounds the dog weighs. So if the pup weighs 10 pounds, that would be one to two teaspoons, for example. It can be given once every 8 hours. Please call the vet first to confirm! Hope the baby feels better soon.

  2. My Lab is 9 weeks old and we just changed his diet today to kibble. He had very watery (and explosive) diarrhea in multiple spots in the house, but he seems to be fine and still wants to play. Should i be worried?

    • Changing the food suddenly can cause diarrhea. Usually, it’s best to introduce new foods gradually–mix 50/50 with the old diet at first, and gradually increase the amount of the new food, over a period of several days. If the diarrhea goes on for more than a day, get him to the vet! It’s good that he’s still wanting to play–puppies, though, can become dehydrated very quickly so don’t delay. Best to call your vet and ask, too. *s*

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