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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday's Training TIP: My Puppy Has DIARRHEA!

FLD Gus is back to normal after a recent bout of intestinal-something-or-other.

You really don't want to know the dirty details.  Suffice to say that he's had good "poop reports" for the last few days and after tonight's dinner he'll be back on his regular food.

Puppies get diarrhea for many reasons.  They might eat something that upsets their digestive system.  They might have parasites, or a "doggy-virus."  They can even develop diarrhea when they are stressed out or in a new environment.

A mild case of diarrhea that lasts just a few days can sometimes be managed at home, but if it is peristent and you're not sure what to do, never hesitate to call your vet for advice.  Dehydration is always a concern.

So, just what do you do when your puppy wakes you up in the middle of the night to sprint outside like he's just prepped for a colonoscopy?

First of all, don't panic.  In fact, if your puppy does what FLD Gus did (alerting me that he had to GO), praise your puppy for his self-control!

Then, follow these guidelines.

  • If your puppy's stool is bloody or black, take him to your vet as soon as you can.
  • Palpate your puppy's stomach to see if it is painful; if so it might indicate that he swallowed something.  Take him to the vet immediately.
  • If your puppy's diarrhea is severe (explosive with watery squirts) or persistent, call your vet for advice.
  • If your puppy is not throwing up, you can give him some Pepto Bismol.  For puppies under 20 pounds, 1-2 teaspoons, over 20 pounds, 3-4 teaspoons.  Administer with a syringe every 4-6 hours.
  • If the diarrhea is mild, keep food away for 12 to 24 hours.  Allow water so as to avoid dehydration.
  • If your puppy has no other symptoms (like lethargy or vomiting), put him on a bland diet for 3-5 days to rest his stomach.  Gradually reintroduce his regular food when he's had normal stools for 24 hours.
BLAND DIET--Three parts cooked rice to one part boiled hamburger or chicken, or cottage cheese.  Start with small portions and work up to the amount of what he normally eats.

When FLD Gus had me racing him outside for a few days earlier this month, he had no other symptoms.  I put him on a bland diet of rice and hamburger, but his stools weren't normal for more than one week.  When they finally were I started to remix his regular food.  His diarrhea returned.  I scheduled an appointment with the vet at Leader Dogs for the Blind as I wasn't sure what was wrong.

At first I suspected that his food might be bad.  It was a new bag, and I usually use morsels of his food as treats, both for Gus and for Gypsy.  This time I was downstate and gave a few to Rosie as well.  Both Gypsy and Rosie had loose stools for a day, but otherwise recovered quickly.

The vet at Leader dogs wasn't sure what was wrong either, and Gus's stool sample came out negative.  The vet thought that Gus was pretty lean (60.3 lbs) for as much food as he eats daily--over 5 cups, so he gave Gus a dose of worming medicine.

I was advised to keep FLD Gus on the bland diet for 5 more days (with the addition of a pro-biotic to aid in digestion) and then gradually introduce a different version of the dry food he had been on.  Because I ran out of hamburger, I used chicken and cottage cheese with the rice this time.

And it worked!

Coincidently, we received a letter from Sam's Club yesterday, warning that a batch of hamburger sold in their store (and that I bought) might have been contaminated with E. Coli.  They asked that we return the meat for a refund, and assured us that if the meat had been cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees that it would pose no health hazard.

Yikes!  That was the batch that I fed to Gus!  I don't know if this hamburger aggravated Gus's condition or not.  After all, it was cooked.  I'll be sending a letter to Sam's Club about it anyway.

Thanks FLD Gus, for throwing yourself on the hamburgrade so we didn't have to find out ourselves that it was bad!

And thanks to the vet at Leader Dogs, Gus is now back to his regularly scheduled poop regime.  YIPPEE!


  1. This is a great reminder post! My last guide dog puppy used to get nervous stomach every time we went to the mall. For the longest time I kept wondering what the heck I was doing wrong and didn't realize dogs can get sick from being nervous.

  2. Thanks for reading! Glad it was a good reminder.