Puppies can develop diarrhea for many reasons, ranging from mild to severe ones.
In general, when dealing with responsible dog breeders you should get a healthy puppy who is more than excited to explore the world while enjoying puppyhood.
Still, diarrhea may happen for different reasons, even if you get the healthiest puppy ever.
Just like humans, some dogs are more sensitive than others and some may even get a cold.
Getting a dog in cold areas without an undercoat or hair may lead to the dog getting cold and catching some sort of flu, sort of saying.
In some other cases, if you have a backyard your puppy just may grab something while you are teaching Fido how to use a pee walk, or how to walk a leash.
This is why you should do your best to let puppies spend time only in areas that are well-secured and clean. Even if you provide the best care possible and keep your backyard always clean and safe, do not feel bad if your puppy catches something – all you have to do is to recognize the symptoms on time and react promptly.
If you already have experience with dogs, you may know that when dogs are in severe pain, or when they have strong diarrhea, they tend to move away, hide, or just be quiet all day long.
All in all, it is hard to see them being cheerful or super excited to go for a walk – when this occurs you know that you need to contact your veterinarian. However, in some rare occasional dogs may act normal, but still, have stomach issues.
What does this sort of behavior actually means, can puppies have diarrhea but still be playful? Simply said, yes.
There are many reasons for this behavior and we will list them below.
1. Internal Parasites
Parasites are most common for diarrhea in puppies. Parasites within the gastrointestinal tract (GI) can range from worms to protozoa and coccidia.
The biggest difference between these parasites is that worms can usually be seen in the stool, while protozoa and coccidia can only be seen with a microscope.
It is common for worms not to appear themselves, but their eggs are commonly present in the stool.
When a puppy has diarrhea but is still playful, your veterinarian will usually perform a fecal examination as one of the first tests to set the diagnosis and propose the right treatment.
It is not uncommon for dogs to develop natural resistance to intestinal parasites, which is why proper and regular parasite control should be a serious matter and something that you should keep track of.
As puppies age, they may (or may not) develop some natural resistance to intestinal parasites but while puppies it is hard for canines to fight persistent parasites, hence the importance of parasite control.
If your puppy has diarrhea but is still playful, make sure that you monitor your Fido closely for any (if not every) of the following symptoms:
- Slow growth
- Poor-quality coat
- Pot-bellied appearance
2. Food Reactions
It is no secret that dogs are huge food lovers. If it were up to them they would eat all day long, especially delicious human foods.
Regardless of whether you are an experienced dog owner or a new dog owner, you should which human foods are safe to share with your dog and which should be a big no-no.
Did you know that the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day in the veterinarian’s office? This is due to the chill atmosphere within the house and the delicious food that is served all day long, making it a great opportunity for dogs to get extra bites.
They are fast to grab whatever falls on floors, or just snatch food from a kitchen table.
If you are familiar with giant dog breeds, such as Great Dane you know that they are tall enough to grab food from a kitchen counter.
On the other side, even Great Dane puppies are small, so how can food be linked with stomach disturbances? Once you get a puppy you should stick to recommended puppy food.
You cannot go wrong with high-quality food that is carefully designed to meet puppies’ needs. That being said, be mindful of puppy nutrition, and know how much they should eat and when.
It can be helpful to know how to read pet food labels to understand different brands and food formulas.
If your puppy is on commercial dry or wet food and you stick to the feeding schedule, there should not be any health-related issues. However, if your puppy eats something that he should not, he may experience diarrhea.
When and if this happens, do not blame your puppy, but try to discover what he could have eaten in a day or two before diarrhea started. This way your puppy won’t be scared of your harsh and negative reaction, and you will help your puppy have a well-balanced gut again.
- Did you change the puppy’s diet?
- Did you introduce wet food?
- Are there any new treats?
- Is there a chance that your puppy might grab something from your kitchen?
- Can your puppy access easily your trash can?
- Do your house visitors love to feed your dog? If this is an option it may be helpful to implement house dog rules.
- Do you have friends with small children who come over and might give them some extra snacks, or offer them a piece of their sandwich?
- Did you give your dog some food that he might have eaten fast?
Know that certain human foods are not just dangerous to dogs, but are heavily toxic, like onions and human chocolate. Plus, some dogs may even be allergic to gluten.
Puppies can develop allergies or certain intolerances to certain ingredients in their diets and you should be mindful of this.
3. Bacterial Infections
Did you know that Salmonella is the most common bacteria in dogs? Just like humans, dogs are prone to certain bacteria that may leave mild or severe health-related disturbances.
It is common for bacterial infections to develop as a result of eating that can be labeled as food of poor quality.
In fact, bacterial infections may develop as a result of eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.
Compared to adult dogs, puppies have a more delicate immune system, which makes them more susceptible to different types of bacterial connections.
Here is a short list of the most common bacterial infections in dogs:
- E Coli
You should be well aware of bacterial infections in dogs, but this doesn’t mean that your dog will ever experience any of them.
Still, it can be helpful to know what types of bacterial infections exist and how to recognize them.
If you notice any of the following symptoms in your puppy who has diarrhea but is still playful, you should contact your veterinarian:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
Bacterial infections in dogs are serious conditions and should not be ignored.
4. Viral Infections
If your puppy has diarrhea but is still playful, he may be exposed to viral infections.
As mentioned above, puppies have a much more sensitive immune system than adult dogs do, and viral infections can be something that can not only create issues but lead to other health complications.
For example, parvovirus is considered to be the most common viral infection that dogs may be exposed to.
Parvovirus is the most common viral infection in dogs and infections that commonly lead to diarrhea in puppies.
How parvovirus is spread? This notorious infection is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact with contaminated feces, environments, or even people.
Simple play in a dog park or a backyard may expose dogs to parvovirus, which is often fatal without adequate treatment.
Next to parvovirus, the distemper virus is something that dog owners never want to see in their puppies.
Distemper virus is a potentially fatal disease that affects unvaccinated or partially vaccinated puppies.
To help your puppy stay strong and to keep his stomach healthy and strong, stick to recommended vaccination schedule and keep your puppy safe until your veterinarian gives you the green light.
Once your veterinarian tells you that it is OK and safe to meet other dogs, you can start interacting with other dogs and regular visits to the dog park.
Another viral infection that puppies may experience is the coronavirus. If you are in doubt about how your puppy might be exposed to viral infection, or what are the consequences of experiencing one, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian.
This may sound unusual, but dogs can experience stress. Just like humans, dogs can feel different emotions that will make them react somehow.
When happy, dogs will waggle their tail, while when they are scared they will hide or set their tail toward the ground.
When stressed they may urinate around the house, or just be really quiet until you come home and see your dog shaking.
Dogs of different ages may experience stress due to various reasons. For example, some dogs may experience strong stress levels due to fireworks, while some breeds are naturally prone to separation anxiety.
In some cases, hard or harsh handling can cause stress or any sort of unfamiliar situation.
Yelling at your dog or making sudden and harsh moves, could stress him and lead to unwilling reactions, and eventually destructive behavior.
No dog should ever experience any harsh handling. If you need help training your puppy think about hiring a professional dog trainer or enrolling your puppy in puppy classes.
Both options should speed up the training process and provide you with helpful guidance on urate training. That being said, even the slightest amount of stress can upset a puppy’s delicate digestive system and lead to diarrhea.
Just like older dogs, puppies thrive on routine, so make sure that you stick to a schedule with your dog and make sure that you make changes gradually.
The listed condition are just some of the causes of puppy diarrhea. Bear in mind that every dog is an individual and may come with certain needs that they to be met and lead to diarrhea, or any other health disturbances.
The good news is that if your puppy is just scared from the thunderstorm or he ate something unusual, diarrhea should disappear within 24 to 48 hours.
However, if it takes longer for diarrhea to resolve you should stick to your veterinarian’s recommended guidelines and provide the needed care.
Whenever you notice a loose stool in your puppy make sure that you talk with your veterinarian.
Down Sides Of Puppy Diarrhea
Puppies are not only small, but they are more sensitive than adult dogs.
They need proper nutrition, extra care, and a proper vaccination schedule to help them stay on track.
To help your Fido survive puppyhood it is up to you to know when you should react accordingly. That being said, it is up to you as a responsible dog owner to know how your Fido acts when is he 100% healthy, and when he is in some kind of health-related disturbance.
When you notice your puppy experiencing diarrhea, or has any kind of runny stool, make sure that you monitor him closely.
If next to runny stool you notice other symptoms, such as vomiting or a poor appetite, make sure that you communicate that to your veterinarian.
Know that not every diarrhea type is a sign of underlying issues (your pup just might eat something of poor quality), but you should still know what to do when your puppy displays diarrhea. In fact, knowing what to do in these moments is essential.
If your puppy displays certain symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian or an emergency on-call veterinarian.
Here are the symptoms that if you notice you should react immediately:
- Young puppy (under 4 months of age or so and experience diarrhea)
- Toy breed puppy
- Vomiting in addition to diarrhea
- Bloody diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
- Poor appetite
- Gums that are pale or tacky to the touch, which can indicate dehydration, anemia, or shock
- Watery poop that lasts for more than a day
What To Do When Puppy Diarrhea Happens
If your veterinarian tells you to bring the puppy to the vet’s office, you may also have to take a stool sample with you.
Scoop up some diarrhea and seal it tightly in a container or a plastic bag. If you notice any kind of incriminating evidence like a parasite, unusual object, a piece of plastic, or anything similar make sure that you bring that as well.
Do not bathe your puppy – you want to avoid Fido getting chilled, but you can wipe off the worst of the mess with a dry towel before you leave your home.
What to do if your veterinarian tells you that it is safe to try some home treatment for your puppy’s diarrhea?
If this happens, know that it is always best to follow your veterinarian’s specific instructions, but some steps can help dogs with diarrhea:
- Encourage your dog to drink water
- Stick to bland food like rice or white meat chicken
- Check with your veterinarian about giving any supplements or over-the-counter medicine
The Bottom Line
Diarrhea is something that even the healthiest dogs may experience.
Canines may experience diarrhea, due to different reasons, and experiencing diarrhea doesn’t mean that it is a symptom of any sort of illness.
When a puppy is experiencing a hard illness, he will have not only watery poop but will have some other symptoms as well.
If your puppy has diarrhea but acts playful, the chances are that your puppy is just having a mild stomach upset.
Mild diarrhea is something that occurs commonly in dogs and usually can be treated at home. However, if diarrhea in your puppy happens suddenly, without any specific reason, make sure that you do not underestimate it and contact your veterinarian on time.