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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 17660
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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2 month old toy poodle puppy. Lethargic, diarreah, no appe

Customer Question

2 month old toy poodle puppy. Lethargic, diarreah, no appetite
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

How long has she had these signs?

What does her diarrhea look like (color, consistency, any blood or mucus)?

You noted no appetite, but is she drinking? Can she keep water down?

Are her gums pink or pale/white? Moist or sticky?

If you press on her belly, does she have any discomfort, tenderness, or tensing?

Could she have eaten something she should not have (ie bones, toys, rocks, plants, chemicals, etc)?

Is she up to date on her vaccinations?

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hi again Joanne,

Now I have not heard back from you and you do now appear offline. Since I am quite concerned about little Bitsy, I do want to leave my thoughts about her and how to approach her signs for your return.

Now as I am sure you can appreciate, just like people, when pups have diarrhea like this it can be caused by a range of agents. These include bacterial, viral (ie parvo, rotavirus, etc), parasitic (worms but also protozoa like Giardia, Coccidia), toxins (sounding less likely here), nutritional, and general dietary indiscretions type causes.

Furthermore, if she isn’t keen to eat, then we do need to tread with care since she has very little in the way of body reserves at her young age. Therefore, to start, if she is weak, lethargic and refusing food; you can try giving her a sugar boost by rubbing glucose syrup on her gums. If you don’t have this, you can alternatively use honey, karo syrup, pancake syrup, or even non-grape jam). This will get some sugar into her and hopefully get her more alert and keen to eat for us.

Now otherwise, in regards ***** ***** at this stage, we'd want to start by taking some supportive care steps to slow and settle her diarrhea. To start, we often will put them on a light or easily digestible diet. Examples would be cooked white rice with boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled egg, or meat baby food (as long as its free from garlic or onion powder). There are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used in cases of gastroenteritis (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity). Whichever you choose, the easily digestible diet will be better tolerated and absorbed by the compromised gut and should get some nutrients in and result in less diarrhea. Also feed this as small frequent meals to further decrease the volume of diarrhea she is producing. As long as improvement is being seen, I usually advise that the diet be continued until the diarrhea is settled, and that they are then slowly weaned back to their normal diet over a week.

Since Bitsy is a little one and diarrhea can dehydrate a pup quite quickly (and is a risk here already if she is lethargic), we do need to keep an eye on her drinking and hydration. To check her hydration status to make sure they are not becoming dehydrated there are a few things we can test. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether she has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a wee video on this HERE. If you are seeing any signs of dehydration already, then you do want to have her seen by the vet before makes her feel poorly. (since it is often the dehydration that starts to tap their energy level and actually makes them feel ill)

If you were concerned that she was becoming dehydrated, you can try and encourage her to drink but offering fresh water or even low-sodium chicken broth. If she isn’t amenable to these, you can syringe feed pedialyte. Pedialyte is nice (though aim for a flavorless one) because it will get some of those lost electrolytes back into her as well. A typical maintenance rate for hydration in an animal is 4.8mls per 100 grams of her body weight a day. If you do give syringe pedialyte, this should obviously be divided up into multiple offerings through the day rather then all at once. This value will give you the total she needs for the day and is a good starting point to give you an idea of a dog's daily requirement. (we aren’t calculating losses, so you can add an equivalent volume to match how much diarrhea is being producing). If she vomits when you have given pedialyte, then therapy should be discontinued (since we don’t want vomiting because of our intervention).

Further to this, as long as you have not seen blood in her stools, you can consider trying her today on a dog safe anti-diarrheals. As I am sure you appreciate, these would not be a cure if her diarrhea is being caused by an infectious agent (ie bacteria will require antibiotics, parasites or protozoa will require anti-parasitic treatment, etc). Still it can slow the diarrhea to aid the body to absorb more water/nutrients then it would have if the diarrhea were unchecked. Furthermore, these treatments will coat the gut and could just settle general GI upset. In regards ***** ***** options for her, the ones we most commonly use in dogs are Kaolin/Kaopectate (More Info/Dose ) or PeptoBismol (More Info/Dose ) available from your local pharmacy. Furthermore, Pro- Pectalin (example) or Protexin Pro-Fiber (which is available OTC at vet practices) would be another option. All will slow diarrhea and the Pro-Fiber has the bonus of providing support to the delicate good bacteria of the GI. So, you can consider trying these as a short term means of trying to soothe her upset GI.

Overall, there can be many triggers for diarrhea of this nature. Since she is young (and doesn't have the reserves of an adult) we do need to be proactive in trying to settle this for her. Therefore, do try the above supportive measures for her. If she has just had a wee dietary indiscretion, these steps should settle this for her. But if you do so but her signs do not settle, then it would be worth following up with her vet. You can even consider having them submit a fresh fecal sample to the lab to be checked for common parasitic, protozoal and bacterial causes of diarrhea. And if this is a bacterial or protozoal complaint, knowing what the causative agent is will help you treat it effectively and clear this abnormal stool to get her back to passing normal feces.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need as this is how I am credited for assisting you today. Thank you! : )

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hi Joanne,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Bitsy. How is everything going?