Puppies can be hard to get down. Most will still feel like playing even when they’re showing other signs of illness, such as diarrhea.
As a vet, it’s not uncommon to see a bouncing, playful puppy that is nearly squirting diarrhea. If this sounds like your puppy, read on to find out what could be causing it and what you can do to help.
Why does my puppy have diarrhea but is still acting normal?
Even though it may seem like a weird phenomenon, it’s actually pretty common to have a puppy with diarrhea that is determined to remain playful at all costs. This is because puppies are energetic and resilient. They try not to let things bother them because they just want to have fun and be loved.
It’s also not in a puppy’s nature to dwell on things. Instead, their mind and attention bounces from one thing to the next as much as their body does. They can often be distracted from their discomforts or abnormalities when the opportunity to play presents itself.
Another reason why a puppy may have diarrhea but still be playful is that the underlying cause is in the beginning stages. Diarrhea-causing illnesses, like parvo or gastroenteritis, may take time to develop; the first symptom might present as diarrhea before a puppy actually feels bad.
Sometimes, if the problem only affects your dog’s tummy and doesn’t spread to other parts of the body, they might still be in a playful mood. However, it’s also possible that the reason for your puppy’s diarrhea isn’t too worrisome.
A puppy’s digestive system and immune system are still developing, so it’s not uncommon for them to be thrown off by something minor, causing diarrhea but no other feelings of yuckiness.
Reasons why your puppy has diarrhea but is still being playful
- Stress: Puppies may be resilient, but they aren’t immune to stress. Changing homes, veterinary appointments and meeting new friends can all cause a puppy stress, which can in turn cause temporary diarrhea.
- Diet: A dog’s digestive system exists in a delicate balance of good bacteria. New diets and ingredients can throw off that balance, leading to diarrhea, potentially without even a stomach ache.
- Overexertion: Some puppies don’t know when to quit and can actually play until they drop. Overexertion can lead to an increase in the digestive transit time resulting in diarrhea.
- Parasites: Most vets just assume that puppies have internal parasites, because they are just that common. With a developing immune system that sometimes can’t quite control them, worms can lead to diarrhea because they irritate the lining of the intestine.
- Dietary indiscretion: Hoovering, eating something they shouldn’t have, whatever you choose to call it, puppies will eat anything. Sometimes that ‘anything’ can lead to irritation in the digestive tract and diarrhea.
- Infections: Back to that developing immune system again – puppies are especially susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. Mild cases or those in the early stages can show up with diarrhea without any other signs of illness; but always be on the lookout for more to come.
What is the difference between mild and severe diarrhea in puppies?
Puppy diarrhea can take many forms, pun intended.
Mild diarrhea may simply be soft with a slightly higher frequency than normal, like one or two more poops per day. Your puppy most likely won’t notice and act like their normal, playful self.
Severe diarrhea, on the other hand, may be extremely watery and need to come out frequently, sometimes so quickly that a puppy can’t hold it. It may contain blood and your pup can quickly become dehydrated and lethargic. If your puppy has bloody diarrhea then a vet visit is recommended as soon as possible. Severe diarrhea may also cause straining because the urge to go is still there even when the intestines are totally empty.
Is it normal for a puppy to get diarrhea?
Diarrhea is considered an abnormality in adult dogs, as well as puppies, but that doesn’t mean it’s uncommon. In fact, it’s quite common for adult dogs to get diarrhea but still act fine too.
Puppies often experience bouts of diarrhea due to a multitude of reasons. Their little bodies are constantly growing, developing, and always on the move, which can cause considerable stress and occasional breakdowns, like the not-so-fun puppy diarrhea.
Will puppy diarrhea go away on its own?
You’ve probably noticed from the above causes of diarrhea in a puppy that is still playful, there are a few that seem like no big deal. And that can definitely be the case.
Don’t worry if your puppy experiences temporary diarrhea due to stress or a diet change. It usually resolves on its own within a day or two. Just remember, this type of diarrhea is typically mild, and your furry friend should be acting perfectly normal otherwise.
As long as your pup is eating and drinking, playing and not dehydrated, you may decide to give them 24-48 hours to see if your puppy’s diarrhea goes away by itself. If it doesn’t or your puppy starts showing other signs, consult your vet.
Puppy has diarrhea but still playful: What you can do at home
If your puppy’s diarrhea is mild, you may try to help harden their stool at home with some of these potential remedies:
- Bland diet: Diarrhea usually means that something is amiss in the digestive tract, so you won’t want to make it work harder than it needs to. Offering bland, easily digestible food, such as boiled chicken and rice, for a few days can help give the GI some rest while it recuperates.
- Smaller portions: Along the same lines of resting the digestive tract, you can also try feeding small portions of food more frequently. For example, instead of feeding ¼ cup twice a day, feed 1/8 cup four times a day.
- Hydration: One of the biggest concerns with diarrhea (aside from the messiness) is the possibly of dehydration. You can help curb this issue by offering fresh, clean water or even adding a little low sodium chicken broth or a very small amount of canned food to their normal water.
- Probiotics: As you know, the gut is a delicate balance of bacteria. This balance can be thrown off with diarrhea, so help to restore it with a good probiotic like Probios.
- Fiber: Fiber helps to bulk up bowel movements. One great way to boost your pup’s fiber intake is by feeding canned pumpkin. It just takes a little bit and can even help curb a puppy’s bottomless appetite.
- Watch what they eat: It may seem impossible, but keeping your puppy from eating non-food items or foods that they shouldn’t can really help with diarrhea issues. Be sure that human and other animal food and trash is stored where your pup can’t get it, and only let your pup have toys when under supervision.
- Stick with the same: Although we like to switch up what we eat, puppies don’t really need to. Once you find a quality puppy food that works, stick with it to prevent diarrhea from a diet change. If you do need to change, do so gradually by mixing the new food with old in increasing amounts over the course of about a week.
- Parasites: Puppies should be dewormed repeatedly and often. If you haven’t already, be sure to get your pup to the vet for a wellness check, vaccinations, and deworming.
Puppy has diarrhea but still playful: When should you worry?
Puppies will try to play through everything, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily okay. Be ready to contact your vet if any of these other signs pop up:
- Duration: If you’ve watched and waited or even tried some at-home treatments but things aren’t better within 48 hours, call your vet.
- Bloody diarrhea: Blood in your puppy’s diarrhea usually means there’s a breakdown in the intestinal lining, which can put them at risk for infection, so get them to a vet.
- Not eating: A lack of appetite can indicate that they don’t feel as well as they’re putting on and puppies really can’t go without eating for too long.
- Fever: Any temperature above 103⁰F (39.4⁰C) is considered a fever, so if your pup is feeling overly warm along with diarrhea, call your vet.
- Pale gums: If your pup’s gums turn a very light pink or even white, it can be an indication of serious issues, including dehydration or internal bleeding, so see a vet as soon as possible.
- Lethargy: If you pup suddenly becomes a couch potato and doesn’t want to play, they’re probably feeling pretty crummy and need medical attention.
- Abdominal pain: Standing with a hump in their back, having a tight stomach, or crying out when touched can all indicate abdominal pain and should be seen by a vet.
When to call the vet for a puppy that has diarrhea but is still playful
If your puppy has diarrhea and shows any of the signs mentioned above, it’s a good idea to give your vet a call. Even if they still want to play, displaying any of those other symptoms could indicate that their condition is more serious than they’re letting on.
Puppies have small bodies and it doesn’t take a big disturbance to get them off balance, so seeking attention sooner rather than later is always best.
What to know before the vet visit
If you get a chance, grab a fresh sample of your pup’s diarrhea in a clean container. This will allow your vet to get a look (and smell!) of it as well as run any diagnostics. Also be ready to give a history of when the diarrhea started, how frequent it is, any other signs your pup is showing, if you’ve done anything to help, and if there’s been any diet changes, stress, or other changes in your puppy’s life.
How will the vet treat a puppy with diarrhea but is still playful?
Your vet will thoroughly examine your puppy, complete with checking their hydration, temperature and feeling their abdomen. They will want to run a fecal sample to check for parasites and other abnormalities, and may choose to run bloodwork or get some imaging depending on what they find.
At the vet, they’ll receive the appropriate care. Some might need fluids to boost hydration, while others may require medications like antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, or dewormers. In certain instances, a diet change might be necessary. For severe cases of acute diarrhea, such as parvo, hospitalization may be required.
How to prevent diarrhea in puppies
Puppies are actually under a lot of stress – they move to a new home, meet new people and animals, and often have to start eating a new food. All of this can throw their digestive system out of whack, creating diarrhea.
In order to help prevent this upset, try to reduce as much of this stress as possible. Consider feeding the same food they were eating before. Introduce them to your home but save other pet introductions for a few days. Try to feed and play with them at times they are used to, and gradually change all of these to suit your needs over time.
Remember to keep human and other animal food out of their reach. Also, be sure to lock up your trash and avoid leaving papers, toys, or anything small on the floor within their reach. And don’t forget to keep cleaners and litter boxes out of reach too!
Get your puppy vaccinated at 6-8 weeks of age and boostered every 3-4 weeks following for a total of at least three vaccinations. Keep them away from stranger dogs, dog parks, groomers, and obedience classes until they are fully vaccinated. Along with vaccinations, get them dewormed regularly per your vet’s schedule.
Finally, watch them closely. Get to know your puppy so that you can tell what is normal and quickly recognize what’s not.
Why does my puppy have diarrhea but acting normal?
There’s a number of potential reasons a puppy might have diarrhea but still be acting normal including intestinal parasites, stress, sudden diet changes and mild gastrointestinal infections.
Can puppies have diarrhea and not be sick?
It can be common for puppies to have diarrhea but no show any signs of illness. Puppies are resilient and easily distracted; a mild case of diarrhea will often not throw them off from their usual playful activities.
Why does my puppy have diarrhea and vomiting but is acting fine?
Puppies can have gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea but still act fine for a number of reasons including intestinal parasites, dietary indiscretion, mild gut infections and sudden diet changes.