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Pet parents with puppies and dogs are well acquainted with picking up after their pets. It’s not the most exciting thing to do, but cleaning up dog poop is part of the job. Not only is it courteous to others, but it also gives pet parents a chance to check the health of their dogs.
Dog and puppy poop can tell pet parents a lot. While soft stool might be normal in healthy puppies, a sudden consistency change or puppy diarrhea accompanied by other symptoms may indicate a problem. Here’s what pet parents should know.
Puppies can experience soft stools as a result of many different things. In some cases, pet parents may notice a change in consistency after an exciting or stressful event. The change doesn’t typically last very long, though. Other causes of soft poop or dog diarrhea include:
If pet parents recently changed the type or brand of food they feed their puppies, they may notice changes in their bowel movements. The change may be temporary as the digestive system adapts to the new food. In some cases, a sudden change in stool consistency could indicate that a puppy ate something they shouldn’t have. Pet parents may want to speak with their primary vets if the soft poop lasts or their dog develops diarrhea.
Bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter can cause diarrhea in puppies and dogs. Fortunately, fast treatment can help to prevent devastating effects. If pet parents notice their puppies develop sudden diarrhea, they should contact their primary vets right away.
Puppies are sometimes born with intestinal worms or pick up parasites as they nurse. Hookworms cause dark, tarry diarrhea, while roundworms cause a potbelly appearance along with diarrhea.
Giardia is another parasite that lives in the intestines. The parasite makes it difficult to absorb nutrients, electrolytes, and water. These effects can lead to diarrhea and dehydration.
Canine parvovirus is a dangerous, highly contagious virus. It affects the stomach and intestines, destroying cells and disrupting the gut barrier. In puppies, the virus can also affect the bone marrow and the parts of the body responsible for making lymphocyte white blood cells. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, appetite loss, and severe diarrhea. Without treatment, puppies can die from dehydration.
There are a few things pet parents can do to treat soft stool. A probiotic supplement can help to improve a puppy’s overall gut health. A visit with the dog’s primary vet can also help to determine the cause of the issue and allow pet parents to get the most appropriate treatment.
In many cases, the vet will need a stool sample from the puppy. Depending on the cause of the issue, they may recommend an antibiotic, IV fluids, or other supportive measures. Puppies with worms should undergo deworming, which is generally a part of their overall wellness exams starting at two to three weeks.
Pet parents can also take steps to keep their puppies' stool and overall health in good order. First, they should feed their puppies a high-quality, balanced diet. People also can keep their puppies from getting into things they shouldn’t by keeping anything dangerous out of reach and putting tight-fitting lids on trash cans. Finally, pet parents should make sure that their puppies stay up-to-date on their parvovirus (and other) vaccinations.
If a pet parent notices changes in their puppy’s bowel movements, they should contact their primary vet. Even if they don’t need to bring the dog in, they can get some advice on what to do. Pet parents can also get answers to all of their dog health and puppy health questions by consulting with an online vet.
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