Bringing a puppy home can be an exciting time for everyone involved, including the puppy. However, that excitement can quickly turn to concern if the puppy begins to produce loose stools. Less watery than traditional diarrhoea, loose stools can be likened to the consistency of pudding.
Causes of loose stools are many and run the gamut from stress to a reaction to a new food to bacterial, viral or parasitic infections.
Puppies have immature immune systems for the first four months of life as they make the transition away from mother's milk. If loose stools worsen, dehydration may result quickly-even in a matter of hours-and immediate veterinary care is crucial.
Puppies are naturally curious and may ingest foreign objects, including garbage, which can upset their digestive tract and also cause loose stools. They may also ingest other items found in the home, including household cleansers, which may be toxic. Your veterinarian or organisations including The Animal Poison Hotline or the ASPCA's National Animal Poison Control Center can help determine if the puppy has ingested a poisonous substance.
Blood in the loose stools is always cause for concern and could indicate the presence of the often fatal, highly contagious and very common viral disease Parvovirus. According to the Working Dogs website, vaccinations against the disease are not always successful, but should begin at six weeks of age.
According to veterinarian Mike Richards, if fecal and blood tests have not determined the cause of the loose stools, a low-fat and high fibre diet may help control the symptoms. Canned pumpkin or boiled rice with chicken can be added to the puppy's daily meals. A veterinarian can advise owners on an appropriate amount to supplement.