Puppy Diarrhea, Home Remedies & When to Call The Vet

Sweet puppy breath, Frito-smelling toes, lap snuggles and then–OH NO, puppy diarrhea! What’s a pet parent to do about dog loose motion?

If your dog is also VOMITING, click here to get the free tips sheets.
puppy diarrhea

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, or even swallowed foreign objects. 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.

Kinds of Puppy Diarrhea to 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 & Puppy 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.

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.

It often takes a couple of days for your puppy’s tummy to calm down, and a bland diet can help. 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!).

CLICK to get TIPS: TREAT VOMITING AT HOME!

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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    • 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*

  3. I have a 12 wk old GSD who has been on a grain free gluten free etc puppy food since i got her at 8 wks old She has soft stools all the time unless I add pumpkin to her food How long can I expect her to have soft stools?? How long can I continue to add pumpkin without causing any other issues? I have not had this ptoblem before in other puppies Not runny or foul smelling I know the signs of parvo She UTD on shots and worming

    • Hi Jeannette, Is this the same ration the breeder fed the puppy? Did the pup have soft stools at the breeder’s, too? After four weeks I’d strongly recommend a vet check to see if something else might be going on, or if it’s with the food.

      • no I changed foods during the first week I got her I gradually switched brands of food as I wanted her to be on a grain, gluten free diet like my other dogs I don’t know if her stool was soft at the breeders But I will def check with my vet if this continues How long can I continue to give her pumpkin in her food to help with her soft stools? I have been doing this for about a week They firm up but if I stop the pumpkin we are right back to soft again, which leads me to believe it is the food

        • It may indeed be the food. Not every dog does well on the same food so you may need to consider something with more fiber (that the pumpkin appears to provide) rather than the one that’s causing soft stools. Again, I strongly urge a veterinarian to provide her/his expert advice on this. Good luck! (Love those GSD pups! but some do have sensitive tummies).

  4. My 12 week old lab-coon hound mix was fine and then all of a sudden he started drooling excessively and has diarrhea. My husband thinks it is too many treats. We are trying to housebreak him with a bell and treats. Could this be the reason? Or would it be something else?

  5. Please help! It’s the third day since my 3 month old spaniel had diarrhea and vomiting. Took her to the vet on the first day where she recieved some fluids and a few meds for fever, vomiting and the diarrhea. She got better and started eating but soon threw it all up. Her diarrhea never stop though. Took her to the vet again where she was given some fluids and different meds as well as one to boost her appetite. It didn’t work. She hasn’t eaten all day and she keeps vomiting out some foamy white liquid. Her diarrhea stopped though but she’s really weak and restless. Is there anyway or anything I can feed her just to give her enough strength for the night?

    • Oh dear, so very sorry your puppy is having these issues. The foamy vomit probably simply is from stomach acids, making her feel yucky. I wouldn’t feed her anything–could make vomiting worse–but use some Karo syrup or honey and rub on the inside of her gums. That will absorb through the tissue to combat low blood sugar. Offer just small amounts of water (or ice to lap), or even diluted Pedialyte. You really need the vet to see your pup again, this isn’t something that should wait. I know, it always happens on weekends, too!

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  9. Please help!!!!
    My 8 weeks old American staffy is doing loose poops since this morning.this is our first pet and I am bit worried,
    Today is 6th day with us and no changes in diet!!!!

    • Hi Sunny, Congrats on the new pup! As the post says, when the dog still feels good otherwise, you may be able to simply give the tummy a rest. I always recommend calling the vet just in case, though–to get specific recommendations. Check the puppy’s gums (lift the lips) and if they look cold or pale, the pup needs the vet. If the pup still wants to play and bounce around, I’d wait a bit and then follow the “remedy” steps if it continues. Sometimes just an exciting day can upset the digestion for these little guys.

  10. My 5 month old Boxer started with vomiting, diarrhea and slight (103/104) fever 6 days ago. Took him to his vet 2x (Tues & Wed). 4 shots, oral meds & special food from vet. After shots, appetite and energy returned but still has diarrhea.

    His stool was checked on Thursday and was clear.

    Can I try giving him some child Pepto Bismol? What dose? He’s 34-36 pounds.

    • Hi Betty Jo, I’m glad the vet took a look at the baby. It can take a while for the stool to firm back up. The dose for both Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate for dogs is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon for every 5 pounds of body weight (a maximum of 2 tablespoons) up to 3 times a day (per the veterinarians cited in my pets “first aid” book).

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  13. Hi I have 5 month old lab that is having diarrhea. Today is Tuesday. She had it on Sunday, didn’t eat much that day but seemed normal otherwise. didn’t eat breakfast yesterday, but had dinner then a normal poop last night. This morning she had an accident in her crate and it was diarrhea again. went outside and she tried to get more out of her. She also did not want to eat her breakfast this morning. Again, she seems normal otherwise. I had her at my office on Friday and a coworker fed her way to many pupperoni and treats like that. I’m not sure if that could be affecting her but we have not been giving her any treats like that since. Any advise or insight is really appreciated!

      • Thank you for such a quick reply! So excess treats given 4 days ago could still be affecting her? It would certainly be a relief if that’s the case. I will monitor the situation and the call the vet if it happens again. I really hope she’s ok soon! Thank you Amy!

  14. Thanks for the added information that coming to a new home can cause loose stools. he got his second Parvo shot the afternoon we adopted him (He’s 3 1/2 months old). Jamie is being fed food the rescue center sent home, he’s drinking lots of water, playing and just generally seems fine. His stools were pretty firm when we stopped on our way home and then the first 2 times at the house. Since then they have been much softer with a few very runny. It’s been about about 48 hours so I’m not panicked. Thought I’d give it another 24 hours. Then go to the vet.

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  16. My 6 month old goldendoodle has had diarrhea for 3 days now. We haven’t changed any foods and I can’t figure out what might be causing it. I’ve read that it can help to fast for 12 – 24 hrs then introduce easy foods like rice or pumpkin before going back to the normal diet. Is 6 months too young to fast?

    • Hi Lainey, Thanks for visiting the blog. Yes, temporary fasting can help rest the gut when it’s a transient upset tummy. But if this has gone on 3 days, I would STRONGLY urge you to check with your veterinarian and follow her/his advice.

  17. hi, I have a 9 week old male Cavachon and since we acquire him 3 days ago he has had loose poo. he seems fine in all other ways, no vomiting or lethargy. runs around quite playful and sleeps well at night. We feed him on pedigree dried food as we did not know what is previous food was due to the circumstances surrounding how we got him. he has had his 2 vaccinations and been wormed and chipped. should we be worried about anything more serious scubas Parvo. Thanks

    • Hi Donna, Congrats on your new puppy! A change in diet can cause loose stools. It’s very positive that he’s feeling good with high energy. Those little guys can develop dehydration very quickly, though, so even if he’s not ill, I’d worry about that. Please call your vet for some advice today, before the holiday weekend has everyone shut down. It’s always better safe than sorry! The vet may recommend something to help control the diarrhea.

  18. Baki..I bought a Pomeranian puppy 45 days old 4 days ago…since then he got loose stool…he seems Fyn but still got loose stool..it looks watery…no vomiting …he doesn’t eat anything else only drinks milk…I’m worried about his health…should I take him to a vet…he is supposed to have his deworming injection on 10th…if this loose stool continues…what should I do…his stool is watery too..

    • Hi Thomas, Yes, I’d take him to the vet immediately. Those tiny guys get dehydrated very quickly. Depending on the type of milk, that could contribute to the diarrhea (many dogs can’t digest cow’s milk).

        • Usually the recommendation is for a commercial puppy food, either canned or dry (you can moisten with water to soften dry kibble). There also are some “puppy formula” milk products from pet supply stores that can be used to transition the baby to the solid food.