The Scoop on Poop

While this might seem like a silly topic for people that do not have experience with dogs, bowel movements and related changes can tell you a lot about the pup's health. It can give you insight into the pup's stress level, dietary indiscretion, and activity.

This article is intended to cover basic information for puppy raisers. However, if you have any further questions please ask your advisor or area coordinator.

Stool changes can be caused by many different things:

  • Diet changes
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Excitement (playtime, public outings, etc.)
  • Vaccines or vet visits

You might notice the pup have soft stool or a stool change after events that are stressful or exciting. This is a normal occurrence and might happen throughout their life. However, if they have diarrhea or the soft stool is observed with behavior that indicates discomfort like excessive panting, reluctance to walk with you, refusing to eat food reward, please contact your advisor or area coordinator.

Soft stool can be normal in healthy puppies, but if a puppy that normally has firmer stool starts having soft stool monitor the change for 24 hours. If the soft stool continues for more than 24 hours or becomes diarrhea contact your advisor or area coordinator and start fasting the pup. After fasting for 6-8 hours follow the protocol below.

Diarrhea protocol

  1. Notify your advisor or area coordinator. Monitor the pup's energy level, attitude, and water intake.
  2. Allow the pup to have free access to water so they do not become dehydrated.
  3. Fast the pup for 6-8 hours. This step helps "reset" the pup's system. If their stomach is upset and causing the diarrhea the pup will continue having diarrhea if fed. The fast should skip at least one meal, sometimes two.
    1. Example: The pup starts having diarrhea at 8pm. You will not feed them breakfast and feed them lunch.
    2. Example: The pup starts having diarrhea at 10am. You will not feed them lunch or dinner.
  4. After the 6-8 hour fast you can start feeding the pup chicken and rice, Science Diet I/D food, or another low residue food provided by your advisor or veterinary.
    1. You can use quick rice, white rice, or brown rice. It's best to keep a couple microwave bags of rice on hand.
    2. You can use boiled chicken or canned chicken. Avoid using fatty or dark meat chicken. Do not use any chicken with seasoning or additives.

Chicken and rice ratio:

2/3 cup of rice to 1/3 cup of chicken for 3 days

After 3 days dry food can be reintroduced slowly

¾ c CR with ¼ c dry food for 3 days

½ c CR with ½ c dry food for 3 days

¼ c CR with ¾ c dry food for 3 days

If the puppy continues having diarrhea, seems lethargic, or starts vomiting, please contact your advisor or area coordinator immediately.

Several drops of bright red blood from the rectum is often common with puppy diarrhea from straining or frequent bowel movements.

Diarrhea is not uncommon with puppies and NOT life threatening unless it is the following:

  • Black/very dark in color with a tacky texture
  • Has been occurring for more than 24 hours even with fasting protocol
  • Is combined with vomiting, lethargy, or a lack of interest in food


Dehydration can occur is the pup has continued or frequent diarrhea. Even if the pup is drinking water dehydration can occur because of vomiting or diarrhea. To check for dehydration, you can do the following:

Skin pinch: pull the skin between the shoulders of your pup up away from the body. Normally, the skin will immediately return to normal. In a dehydrated pup the skin will not return to normal position immediately.

Gums examination: normal gums will be moist and a healthy pink color. A dehydrated pup will have tacky and/or pale gums.

If you think the puppy is dehydrated please contact your advisor or area coordinator.