Why Does My Puppy Have Diarrhea?

If your puppy is feeling great but has soft stool or diarrhea, start with some care and careful observation.


A puppy may have diarrhea for many reasons and usually is not reason to immediately overreact unless you’re seeing additional symptoms. Start with simple reasons for your new puppy’s diarrhea first:

  1. He has had major life changes. He is leaving the only home he has known, leaving his canine family, and moving to a new place with new people and maybe new animal friends. Diarrhea is a common stress reaction. Hold off on friends visiting your new puppy. Give him some time to settle in with quiet time and rest.
  2. Diet change. Most breeders send you home with a bag of the same food your pup has been eating. Stick with that food to start and go slow on treats (treat with the puppy’s kibble!). If you wish to change to a different food or diet plan, do it gradually.
  3. Parasites and illnesses. Anytime a dog has diarrhea, but especially with a puppy, parasites and illnesses need to be considered. Even if your breeder or rescue has dewormed him, take a fecal sample into your veterinarian. Better safe than sorry. Parasites like Giardia and coccidia can be missed with just one check or treatment.

When to Worry With Puppy Diarrhea

If the diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, any blood in the stool, and signs of sickness such as a fever, lethargy, and not eating, your pup needs to be seen by your veterinarian. Puppies can dehydrate quickly, especially toy breed puppies who are susceptible to hypoglycemia – low blood sugar – as well.

If your puppy has diarrhea but is still playful and otherwise going gangbusters with some soft stool, you may be able to manage this at home with some care and careful observation:

  1. Keep him clean. The hardest problem with a playful, active pup with diarrhea is keeping him clean. Change bedding frequently and rinse off his rear and feet in the sink or the bathtub with warm water.
  2. Be sure he is hydrated. Make sure your pup is drinking. Dehydration is always a concern with a puppy with diarrhea. You can add a little electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte to his water, if needed.
  3. What to feed a puppy with diarrhea. Stick to bland food and skip the treats for now. A chicken and rice food or home-cooked plain (no seasonings) chicken breast and plain white rice are easy to digest. Canned mackerel is easy on the system. Add a small amount of plain canned pumpkin (not the pie version, which contains spices!) to help firm up stools. If stools don’t start to firm up in 24 to 36 hours, a veterinary visit is in order.