Two of the most common risk factors of diarrhoea in puppies include stress and diet. Stress can alter a pup’s eating habits. Some puppies refuse to eat, however others eat more than usual or much faster than usual.
Eating too much food, eating too quickly or starting a new food can all increase the risk of diarrhoea in animals with sensitive digestive tracts, such as young puppies, especially when they are already experiencing stress.
Is your puppy experiencing stress?
Here are some of the common causes of stress…
a) A change in environment, such as moving from breeder to a pet shop or to your home, or from pet shop to your home.
b) Your pup’s first visits and car travel to the Vet.
c) Adjusting to a new routine, new people, new water, new food etc.
d) Leaving their mother and litter mates.
New food can cause a sore tummy
A new food can also trigger diarrhoea – even if the food is better than what you, the Breeder or pet store was feeding before!
If your pup gets diarrhoea soon after changing their diet, it can be the change not the food itself that’s the cause.
If the new food is highly palatable (such as having more meat than the previous food your puppy was eating) it can cause some pets to overeat because it tastes better.
This is especially common if the previous food fed was of low quality and/or low palatability.
Take it slowly when changing diet
If the transition from the old food to the new is too sudden, the bacterial population in the digestive tract is not given enough time to adjust to the new food.
A sudden change in diet – or eating too much of a new food too quickly – are very common causes of diarrhoea, particularly in young puppies less able to handle the sudden change.
To help reduce the chances of diarrhoea caused by changing your puppy’s diet, take it slowly…
How to change your puppy on to a new food safely:
MIX FOR A WEEK: Mix the new food in with the old food for about 7 days. Transition slowly, mixing a little more of the new food into each meal while reducing the old food.
SMALL MEALS: If none of the previous diet is available to mix, feed small meals for the first 2 to 3 days. Feeding at least half the usual meal amount is ideal (so you might feed 6 small meals a day for the first 3 days instead of 3 larger meals).
SOAK THE KIBBLE: Soaking dry kibble can help your pup’s system adjust, especially if you or the breeder was feeding wet food before.
TIP: Nutrience Puppy formulas can be soaked without any problems as the high-meat formulation will not swell excessively. Just soak the food in hot water til it is soft (about 15 minutes) then mix it up until a baby-food consistency is reached and feed.
WAIT: Wait at least half a day when you first bring your puppy home before the first meal and ask your breeder or pet store to not feed your pup any closer than 2 hours before you pick them up. This can also help reduce the risk of being car sick.
If your pup does get diarrhoea, don’t feed a sore tummy. This usually makes it worse, not better. Give their system a break by skipping the next meal.
When you do start feeding again, just give them a small meal (about quarter the usual amount) to check if their system can handle it.
All going well you can continue with more frequent but smaller meals for the next day or so, slowly increasing each meal size until you’re back to the usual amount and frequency you feed and their tummy has settled.
Be sure to always call your Vet if your puppy gets diarrhoea to check if you need to take your puppy in for a check-up.
Although puppies are very prone to diarrhoea, and most recover with no serious effects, diarrhoea can lead to serious health problems, especially if you leave it too long before you seek advice. Diarrhoea can also be a sign of problems that don’t relate to diet or stress, such as Parvo.
Your Vet will know if it’s ‘normal’ or something to worry about about and can give you the signs to look for if it’s serious.
Do you have any tips to share with other readers on what helped your pup recover from an upset stomach? Add your comments below.