by Claire Breitschopf

Getting ahead of puppy digestive problems

Getting ahead of puppy digestive problems

Published: March 2021 | Updated: March 2024

You’ve just brought your new puppy home and serotonin levels are high with all the new furry love. But have you ever worried about your puppy having diarrhea or other digestive issues? Have you heard about parvovirus affecting puppies? 

Let’s dive into some of the ways in which puppies are at risk and how to best support their developing digestive system. 

Why Are Puppies At Risk?

While puppies are in-utero, they receive very little transfer of antibodies through the placenta. Therefore, when they are born, they have a naive gut and rely on mama’s colostrum to receive maternal antibodies to help them fight infections early in life.

The major risk factors for digestive disorders in puppies include:

  1. Puppies that receive poor quality or inadequate amounts of colostrum
  2. Puppies that are around a lot of other dogs and puppies at birth
  3. Puppies exposed to parvovirus
  4. Environmental pathogens and parasites

What is Parvovirus?

One of the major risk factors above, Parvovirus, is the #1 digestive disease that veterinarians and dog owners deal with. The virus is usually contracted by puppies between six weeks to six months old. 

While it is less common in puppies younger than six months of age because they have higher protection due to their mom’s antibodies, stress and failure of passive transfer at birth increase the risk for contracting parvo in puppies younger than six months. This virus is dangerous because it attacks the rapidly growing crypts in the small intestine, which are necessary for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. 

Common signs of parvovirus in puppies include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, fever, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, weakness, and depression. There is no cure, which is why puppies are typically vaccinated for parvovirus at 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. 

The good news is that there are preventative measures you can take to help protect your puppy and the developing canine digestive system. 

How Common Are Digestive Problems in Puppies?

Digestive issues are relatively common in puppies, especially during their early months of life. Some puppies may experience occasional digestive upset, while others may have more chronic or severe problems. The frequency and severity of digestive issues can vary depending on factors such as the puppy's age, breed, diet, environment, and overall health.

Here are a few reasons why digestive issues might be more prevalent in puppies:

  • Immature Digestive System: Puppies have developing digestive systems that may not be fully matured until they are several months old. This can make them more prone to digestive issues such as diarrhea or vomiting, especially when they're transitioning to solid food or experiencing dietary changes.
  • Exploratory Behavior: Puppies are naturally curious and tend to explore their environment with their mouths. This can sometimes lead to ingesting objects or substances that can cause digestive problems, such as foreign bodies or toxic substances.
  • Dietary Adjustments: Puppies often go through dietary changes as they grow, such as transitioning from mother's milk to solid food or switching to different types of puppy food. Abrupt changes in diet or feeding inappropriate or low-quality food can trigger digestive upset.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Changes in their environment, routine, or social interactions can cause stress and anxiety in puppies, which may manifest as digestive issues. Events such as moving to a new home, being separated from their littermates, or encountering new people or animals can all be stressful for a puppy.
  • Parasites and Infections: Puppies are more susceptible to intestinal parasites such as worms and protozoa, as well as bacterial or viral infections, which can cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting.

While digestive issues are relatively common in puppies, most cases are mild and resolve on their own or with simple dietary adjustments, such as using probiotic paste for puppies

However, if the symptoms are severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning signs, it's important to seek veterinary care promptly to rule out any underlying health problems and ensure appropriate treatment.

Probiotics for Puppies? 

Probiotics are good bacteria and yeasts that create short chain fatty acids in the dog’s digestive tract that keep harmful bacteria from overgrowing. There are several “good” strains of bacteria and yeast that are used as probiotics for puppies. Probiotics have several benefits including:

  • Aiding digestion
  • Protecting against intestinal inflammation and allergic reactions
  • Treating diarrhea in puppies
  • Preventing infection of the urinary bladder
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Helping to decrease anxiety and improve mood

The Best Probiotic for Puppies

FullBucket is the first company to create an all-natural, veterinarian-approved probiotic for puppies under high-risk for digestive disease, diarrhea, parvovirus, and general stomach upset. 

This probiotic paste for puppies was specially designed to support the balance of beneficial bacteria in the puppy digestive tract and aid in immune defense, as it includes parvovirus antibodies and the yeast-based powerhouse, Saccharomyces boulardii. Administer this probiotic paste in 2-4 cc increments twice daily for 4-8 days, or as recommended by your veterinarian.

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