Learn How Long Puppy Stool Stays Soft
Do you regularly check the consistency of your puppy’s bowel movements? Many new pet parents are alarmed when their new puppy has runny stool or diarrhea. However, runny stool is common in many young puppies that are being weaned from a nursing mother or changing diets due to a new owner. Other times diarrhea can be an indication your dog has worms or some type of illness. Monitoring your dog’s poop is a great way to get a quick snapshot of their overall health. If you recently adopted a new puppy you should check their stool every day to make sure their bowel movements are normal. In this article we will investigate why puppies have runny stool and how to tell if the issue requires the attention of a veterinarian.
How Long Does Puppy Stool Stay Soft?
All puppy stool is soft and runny for the first few weeks of life. Puppies typically nurse from their mother for 4-6 weeks. During this time young pups are consuming an almost exclusively liquid diet. Because of this their stool will be very soft until they transition to a more solid diet. If your puppy’s stool starts to get more solid and then becomes runny again that may be an indication they are having intestinal issues.
Over 50% of puppies are born with worms that are passed from the mother through pregnancy or through nursing. During the first few weeks of your puppies life it is important to constantly monitor their bowel movements to make sure there are no worms present.
A good indicator of stool quality is smell, color, and consistency. Ideally your pup’s poop should be a light brown color (similar to milk chocolate). Green stool is an indicator your pup may be eating grass which can give them an upset stomach and cause them to throw up or have diarrhea. Bloody stool is very serious. It could be an indicator that your pup has a viral or bacterial infection. In some cases bloody stool could be an indicator of stomach cancer. The smell of your dog’s stool should be mild. We fully appreciate that getting a whiff of puppy poo is a little gross. If the smell is particularly over powering or your puppy is having extra smelly gas it may be because your pup is only eating kibble. Giving your dog a wet diet occasionally is a great way to improve the consistency and smell of their stool. The consistency of your dog’s stool is a great way to monitor their hydration. As your pup’s diet stabilizes their stool should be a log shape with the consistency of play doh or wet clay. If you press into your dog’s stool it should not crumble apart.
Along with making sure your puppy eats a healthy diet, having a regular potty schedule is a great way to make sure they regularly go to the bathroom and have a set feeding schedule. A set schedule greatly reduces the chances of accidents in the house and promotes healthy digestion.
What Age Should Puppy Poop Become Solid?
As long as puppies are nursing they will have very soft or even runny stool. The more solid food you introduce the more solid your puppy’s poop will become. If your dog gave birth to a litter you should expect your puppies to nurse for a minimum of 4 weeks. At that point you want to make sure to begin transitioning your litter to a solid diet like kibble or chicken and rice. Make sure never to completely change your puppy’s diet overnight. This can cause lots of gastrointestinal issues like vomiting or diarrhea.
Reasons Your Puppy’s Poop is Soft
If your puppy has transitioned from nursing to a solid diet and is still having runny poop there may be some adjustments you need to make to improve their stool quality. If you are changing your dog’s diet you need to make sure to gradually transition them to their new food. Ideally you will start with 25% of their new diet and 75% of their current diet. Every week add 25% of the new diet to their bowl and subtract 25% of the old diet. A month-long transition is necessary to make sure your pet’s stomach cannot handle the transition. If you are unable to use your pet’s old diet you should expect a week of tummy trouble and diarrhea.
Overly soft poop may be caused by your pup eating grass, human food, or furniture. If your pup seems to be on an adequate diet but still has inconsistent stool keep a close eye on them when outside to make sure they are not eating anything other than their food.
Stress and anxiety can also cause adverse bowel symptoms in all dogs. If your pup recently moved to a new environment or home stress can cause them to go to the bathroom unexpectedly. This can also happen when you begin to introduce your dog to new pets, people, or crowds. Usually this should clear up within a day or two. If your puppy continues to have runny stool for longer than two days you may need to contact your veterinarian.
Routine shots and vaccinations can also cause a brief illness in puppies. Similar to humans getting a flu shot, puppies can feel ill for a day or two after receiving vaccine injections. When puppies get their routine vaccinations like DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus), rabies, or lyme disease they often have an upset stomach or fever which can lead to diarrhea for a day or two after the vaccination. If your pup was recently vaccinated and began having runny stool it should subside within 1-2 days. If your pup continues to have diarrhea three days after their vaccination you should contact your vet to discuss if there may be something more serious going on with your pup.
Worms and parasites can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, or bloody stool in puppies. Many new pet parents are surprised to learn that the majority of puppies are born with either worms or parasites. These are typically passed from the mother through nursing or in utero. Worms should be easy to see if you are checking your dog’s stool regularly whereas parasites attach onto your dog’s intestines. If you notice worms or blood in your dog’s stool you should contact your vet immediately in order to get your pup on a deworming medication.
Parvovirus can cause stool issues in all dogs and could potentially be fatal if left untreated. Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that is mainly passed through dog’s feces. Parvovirus can cause lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and blood in the stool. Parvo is extremely serious and you should consult a vet immediately if you believe your dog may have Parvovirus. If your pup has bloody stool and is refusing to eat that may be indicative that they have Parvovirus.
What makes puppy poop softer?
Instead of having overly soft poop some puppies struggle with poop that is too dry. This can be painful for your puppy to pass. If your puppy’s stool is dry and crumbles when you pick it up they may be dehydrated. If your puppy is consistently having difficulty passing dry stool try introducing wet pet food into their diet. Wet food will help keep your pet hydrated and is great for promoting gut health.
What is the difference between Soft Stool and Diarrhea?
Many pet parents have difficulty determining the distinction between soft stool and diarrhea. Soft stool is normal for puppies whereas diarrhea is almost completely liquid. A good way to determine if your puppy’s stool is too soft is if it holds its shape when picked up. If your puppy’s bowel movement is liquidy and falls apart when you pick it up their stool may be too soft. It is also common for puppies to have soft stool and then a little bit of diarrhea at the tail end of their potty break. This is common when you take your pup for a long walk or any sort of exercise. Puppy’s have very small intestines and when they go to the bathroom they tend to pass all the excrement in their intestines even if some of it was not ready to be passed.
Diarrhea is caused by food not staying in the intestines for a proper amount of time. If you notice your puppy having diarrhea expect it to happen 4-5 times per day. It typically takes 24-48 hours for your puppy to pass whatever causes an irritation in their bowel. If you notice blood or mucus in any type or stool, diarrhea, or excrement you should immediately take your dog to the vet.
What are the negative health consequences of soft stool?
Aside from the smell and mess there are multiple negative health consequences to having runny stool. Stool that is so soft it is unable to hold its shape is a good indicator that your pup may be dehydrated. Soft stool may also be indicative that your dog has worms or a parasite. If your pup consistently has soft stools that are unable to keep its shape try poking it around with a stick to make sure there are no parasites in the poop.
How to tell if your puppy is dehydrated
If you believe your puppy may be dehydrated based on their stool there are several easy tests you can use to determine their hydration levels without taking them to the vet. First, you can try gently pinching a bit of your dog’s skin between their shoulder blades and letting it go. If it stays raised and wrinkled for more than 5 seconds your pup is probably dehydrated. If your pup’s skin bounces immediately back into place they are most likely adequately hydrated. Second, you can try the gum test on your dog. Gently pull down their bottom lip and evaluate their gums. If their gums are bright pink and wet they are getting and retaining enough water. However, if you see grayness in your pup’s gums they are most likely dehydrated. If you are unable to improve either of these tests over the course of a few days discuss the benefits of using a wet diet with your vet
How Can I help my puppy’s poop firmer?
If you believe your puppy’s poop should be firmer there are several diet and nutritional strategies you can use to improve the quality of their stool. Below we have listed several strategies that thousands of pet parents have used to improve the overall health, digestion, and stool quality of their dogs.
- Closely monitor your dog’s diet. If you let your dog roam around the house or outside there is a decent chance they will chew on and potentially eat food outside of their recommended diet. Make sure someone is watching your dog to make sure they do not ingest grass or other plant material when playing outside.
- Introduce a bland diet for your pet. Some puppies have sensitive stomachs and will need special pet food with limited ingredients. You can try feeding your dog a diet of chicken and rice to see if it improves and stomach issues. If it does, you should talk to your vet about getting your dog on a limited ingredient or GI diet as a long term plan.
- Probiotics are not just for humans. Using a probiotic to increase the healthy bacteria in your dog’s get is a great way to keep their bowel movements regular and on schedule.
- If your dog is having stomach issues you should not feed them any food off of your table. However, try as we might, dogs will eventually get a few scraps off the table. Vegetable oil and cheese can be major causes of stomach issues in pets.
- Introduce a wet diet. The most common cause of soft stool in dogs is dehydration. Although you should be cognizant of more serious issues, soft stool could be causing a wet diet is a great way to promote the gut health of your dog.