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Puppy has soft stools.

Species: Dog
Breed: Border Collie/Englis
Age: 6-12 months
Junior is a rescue. My first dog ever. I got him about 1 month ago, about 2 weeks after he was taken from a high kill shelter. He was neuetered, given a basic vet check, Frontline, Heartguard. No other conditions were noted.

His stool varied from almost liquid to muddy paste from day 1 (almost 1 month ago). I took him to the vet, negative on the basic stool sample, 2 rounds of anti biotics.

I have him stable on boiled 4 cups chicken/rice (home made), 1 general purpose vitamen, 2 tablespoons pure pumpkin per day in 2 meals. He is fairly regular now with movements twice a day but usually 2-3hours after a meal.

He is sweet, friendly, exhuberant, playful. He is quite clingy...he can not be left alone for more than a minute if he knows someone is home. If I put him in the fenced yard he will whine and bark for an hour.

The remaining issue is that the stools are still soft, but at least they have shape and do not slump. When I pick them up, they sometimes fall apart. They are moist, but not runny. Never firm. They are light to medium brown, not dark. They sometimes have a bit of pumpkin color as if the pumpkin was undigested. However, the presence of pumpkin does not speed up the action.

Is there a difference between diahrea and soft stool? How soft is too soft? How long can I stick with this regimen (it doesn't bother me, but I don't want him to get sicker) before I go back to the Vet? Should I add any suplements? Could this be nerves?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Jeff and thanks for your question.

It's not normal for a dog to consistently have soft stools. The problem is though that it is often really hard to figure out what the problem is.

Most people, when their dogs have soft stool tend to blame the food. But, for a puppy, this is rarely the case. With that being said, it won't hurt to try a gradual change on to a different brand of food. I have found that some puppies do not do well if they are on a "premium" holistic type of food such as some of the grain free ones that are out there.

The pumpkin is probably not doing much and I would stop this. I can actually contribute to making the stools softer.

You did mention that he is on chicken and rice. If he is getting this every day, instead of dog food then this is not good as he really needs the proper nutrients from puppy food at this point. Chicken and rice can be given to dogs that are having a temporary bout of diarrhea but shouldn't be given for more than a few days.

When I have a case like this there are a few things that I like to do. The first, is something called a diarrhea panel. This is where I send a sample to the lab and they do a bunch of DNA testing on it to look for unusual parasites or bacteria that may not show up on a regular fecal exam. It's possible he has something called clostridium or cryptosporidium.

You mentioned that he has been on antibiotics. I'm assuming this was metronidazole? If he has not been on metronidazole you can talk to your vet about trying this. This is a good treatment for Giardia. This parasite does not always turn up on fecal exams.

Another thing that I try in cases like this, if I have tried everything else is an antibiotic called Tylosin. It is a powder that is added to his stools. It can often work quite well.

If the food change and stopping the pumpkin don't work for him then he definitely needs to see the vet again.

Hope things are better soon!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.