Vomiting and Diarrhea in Puppies
Hector, my six-month-old puppy, is suffering with vomiting and loose stools. What can I do?
Dogs can vomit and have diarrhea for a variety of reasons-- parasites, bacterial or viral infections (such as parvovirus) or dietary "indiscretions”, which means anything from a sudden change of the type of food to eating bugs or dead birds in the yard. With a puppy as young as Hector, I recommend a trip to your veterinarian as soon as possible since puppies can dehydrate quickly and become extremely ill. Your veterinarian will likely do a thorough examination, check Hector’s temperature and hydration and do a fecal check. Based on her findings, she will either send home medications, hospitalize the puppy and administer IV fluids or suggest basic home care and monitoring.
One of the most common causes of vomiting and diarrhea is switching the type of puppy food or adding table scraps to the diet. Dogs, especially puppies, do not handle sudden diet changes well. You should always wean them to a new food slowly, over about a week. Also, remember that table scraps are never a good idea for dogs, especially if they are rich, salty or greasy like bacon, ham or gravy. This can make the puppy sick now, and can start bad habits like begging at the table and refusing to eat his own food in hopes that people food will be coming soon.
If the veterinarian finds nothing seriously wrong with Hector, she probably will give you some general guidelines to follow to get him back to normal. First, the puppy should have all food and water taken away for 12-24 hours (your veterinarian may suggest you allow Hector to lick ice cubes during this time). This is very important to allow time for the dog’s stomach and intestines to settle down. If you do continue to offer food or water during this time, the pup will continue to vomit. If Hector does not get sick, move on to bland food. Your veterinarian may send home a bland canned food or you can try a couple spoonfuls of cottage cheese and plain, cooked rice. If he keeps this down, you can offer a bit more one hour later. This slow return to normal food will continue for the next two or three days. Usually the diarrhea will clear up at the same time as the vomiting. If not, add a bit of Kaopectate - one teaspoon per 10 pounds of dog is a safe dose.
If you ever see blood in the diarrhea, or if Hector continues to vomit, contact your veterinarian again. Parasites and some infections can initially look like diet problems but can be deadly. So it is very important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions on when to come in for dewormings and vaccinations.