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Diarrhea

Pug Dog Diarrhea

Overview

There are very few health issues that cause such immediate concern than when a Pug dog suddenly gets diarrhea. Owners, understandably, want to treat this as soon as possible and rush to find out what to do.  And due to the serious issues that can accompany this condition such as rapid dehydration and intestinal discomfort, treating this as soon as it begins is prudent.

This section will cover all of the important details about Pugs with diarrhea including:
  • The definition of diarrhea and the difference between this and healthy stools
  • Top reasons why Pug puppies and dogs get diarrhea
  • Home remedies and treatment to cure diarrhea with Pug dogs
  • Signs and symptoms that a vet visit is needed
What is Canine Diarrhea?

Diarrhea with dogs is the same as with humans. This term is given when bowel movements:
  • Hold more liquid than normal. A healthy bowel movement should be similar to a thick paste; some compare it to Play-Doh. It actually is comprised of about 75% water yet it is considered to be a solid. If you were to pick it up, it would hold its shape and a piece may slowly break off. When a Pug has diarrhea, the stools will be much more watery. It would be impossible to pick it up. In severe cases, it will appear as pure brown liquid. Therefore, even very moist stools that cannot hold form would be considered to be diarrhea and in instances of it being pure liquid, this is a more serious case.
  • Discharge is frequent. Another element with cases of diarrhea and one of the reasons why a Pug should be treated for this right away is that diarrhea will come out often. Normally, a Pug will have 1 to 3 bowel movements per day. However, when sick with diarrhea, he may squirt out runny or liquid stools 5, 10 or even 20 times in a day.  
There may also be:
  • Lack of control. As Pug puppies mature, their bowel muscles strengthen and by the age of about 1 year old most Pugs have control over their bathroom needs (to a reasonable degree). A dog can hold in his need to poop until he is brought to his designated bathroom area. However, in some instances when a Pug is suffering from a bout of diarrhea, he will have little to no control over the expulsion of it.  
Pug 12 weeks old
Maple, 12 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Michelle Calderon
What Causes a Pug to Get Diarrhea?

Aside from wanting to treat it right away, the other element that plagues owners is wondering why in the world it started in the first place. Sometimes a Pug will appear to be perfectly fine but then wake up one morning with a serious case of the runs. Other times, a Pug puppy or dog may appear to be more tired than usual, he may eat less and then the diarrhea will begin. 

In many instances, a Pug will have runny bowels during a routine bathroom visit to his designated area and once that happens, it triggers consecutive expulsions of diarrhea that are more frequent and without much control, which unfortunately means that this often happens inside the house. 

The most common reasons that a Pug will develop diarrhea are:

1) A sudden change in diet - Pugs can have sensitive stomachs, so if their main meal is changed to a completely new brand this can cause upset stomach including diarrhea. Owners are encouraged to make changes very gradually, over the course of 3 to 4 weeks. This can be done the following way:
  • Week 1 - 3/4 old to 1/4 new
  • Week 2 - 1/2 and 1/2 mixture
  • Week 3- 1/4 old to 3/4 new
If the change was made quickly and a Pug is suffering from diarrhea, an owner may need to follow the steps to treat it (more ahead) and fall back to the dog's former food for a while, with plans for the above mentioned slow transition once the Pug is feeling better. 

2) Food intolerance - Milk based products is at the top of this list. Some dairy foods such as cottage cheese and whole white yogurt are tolerated well (and can actually be helpful for some stomach and digestive issues) however many other types of milk products such as ice cream, milk (whole, 2%, 1% and skim) and cheese (such as deli cheese, etc.) can cause diarrhea. It should be noted that large quantities of cheese can have the opposite effect and cause constipation. 

If an owner gives a Pug table scraps of certain foods, such as very fatty meats or foods with high oil/fat content, this can cause diarrhea as well. 

The best way to resolve this sort of issue is to have all family members agree to only feed the Pug his planned meals and snacks consisting of foods that the Pug tolerates well.  

3) Food allergy - When people talk about a dog having a food allergy, many times this actually pertains to a dog suffering an allergic reaction to a chemical found in manufactured food: artificial coloring, flavors or preservatives. However, some Pugs can have trouble with certain 'real' foods. And it should be noted that dogs can grow into allergies. Only about 10% of dogs have true food allergies and will be allergic to one or more of these edibles: beef, chicken, lamb, pork, rabbit meat, fish, egg, soy, wheat and/or dairy products. 

Aside for diarrhea, other signs may include skin issues (itching, red hot spots, thinning fur), moderate to severe itching around the anus and/or chronic ear infections. 

With diarrhea caused from food allergies, once steps have been taken to treat a Pug for diarrhea, he will recover but almost immediately have troubles again once his normal food is introduced back into his diet. Trial and error is the most common method to resolve this. The Pug is taken off all regular foods, put on a bland diet and then one food is introduced every 2 weeks to identify which one is causing intestinal distress. 

If a Pug is having a reaction to the chemicals in manufactured food, a change to a higher quality brand or even a switch to home cooking may be in order. 
4) Ingestion of spoiled food - If a Pug is able to knock down or reach into a garbage can, there is a chance that he will munch away on old food scraps that have been thrown away. Food that has spoiled, fruits and breads that have become moldy or even bits of raw meat can cause diarrhea.  

You'll want to treat this (more ahead) and then take steps to prevent this from happening again in the future. Obtaining taller bins can often work to keep a Pug out and/or using one that has a locking lid. 
5) Ingestion of poisonous foods or toxins - The ingestion of foods known to be toxic to canines will cause diarrhea, among other symptoms. This includes:
  • Any food sweetened with Xylitol (most often found in sugarless candy & chewing gum)
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee (both the grounds and the beans)
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • The core of most fruits
  • Any beverage with caffeine
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions, 
  • Garlic (only in large quantities), 
  • Certain moldy walnuts
  • Raw potatoes
Toxic elements that dogs are sometimes known to get into include:
  • Cleaner solution
  • Antifreeze
  • Insecticides
  • Fertilizer
  • Medications for humans (Advil is among the top 10 reported toxins leading to pet poisoning)
Pug with brindle coat
Gabby, 7 years old
Photo courtesy of Mike & Bernadette Dillow 
If a Pug were to eat foods known to be poisonous or ingests a poison, this is considered an immediate emergency that requires veterinary intervention ASAP. In addition to possible diarrhea, other signs of this include discoloration of the gums (if normally pink, they may be white, blue, black or red), abnormal heart rate, dizziness, disorientation, heavy panting and/or seizures.  
6) Infection - There are 3 different types of infection that can cause a Pug puppy or dog to have diarrhea:

1. Parasitic. This includes roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, coccidia, and giardia. All puppies should be properly de-wormed by the vet and even so, most veterinarians suggest a fecal test once per year to check for intestinal parasites.  

Most of these parasitic infections are treated with multiple treatments of the appropriate de-wormer medication, along with owners sanitizing both the indoor and outdoor areas of living space. Both coccidia and giardia are treated with antibiotics and also a cleaning of both environment and the dog, since these can shed onto the coat. 

2. Bacterial. This includes Salmonella and E. coli. Less common, but possible is Clostridia and Campylobacter. Salmonella poisoning can happen due to eating tainted food or is transmitted from another dog or even a person. It can pass back and forth from animals to humans. Once infected, a dog (or person) can spread this through feces or saliva (another reason why it is important to never let your Pug eat the feces of another dog). 

With E. coli, you may be surprised to know that dogs naturally have some of this in their system; however it is kept in check and does not make them ill unless the immune system is compromised. For this reason, a young Pug puppy or an older, senior Pug may come down with E. coli and subsequent diarrhea. 

Other causes are if a Pug were to ingest a food that had E. coli on it, which includes some raw meats or drinks from a puddle of water that is infected with this. 

Diarrhea due to bacterial infection is often treated with fluid replacement and antibiotics. 
Pug at bath tub
Alfie, 10 months old
Photo courtesy of Springers
3. Viral. This includes Parvovirus and Distemper, which most often occurs with puppies that have not received their full vaccinations. Coronavirus is another possibility though this happens most frequently in large kennels.

7) Stress - Pugs are an extremely sensitive breed and for this reason, are more prone to have stress related diarrhea than some other breeds. It may be hard to imagine that stress can cause a Pug to have diarrhea, however this can indeed happen if the dog internalizes stressors. If this is the case, the Pug may or may not show outward signs of stress which includes excessive barking, destructive behavior and irritability. 

Reasons why a Pug may become stressed to the point of having diarrhea include severe cases of separation anxiety, long periods of boredom, a high energy or negative environment (too much loud noises, yelling, domestic upset, etc.) 

Other times, a certain situation may cause a Pug to have trouble coping and he will, in turn, have a bout of diarrhea. Some examples are moving to a new home, the introduction of a new pet or being transported or traveling when not accustomed to it (car or airplane). 

For separation anxiety related diarrhea, treatment for the runny stools is needed (more ahead) along with some changes to help the Pug better cope. Such things as trying a window view vs non-window, having pleasant music playing, keeping lights on, leaving an article of your clothes that has your scent (a shirt works well) and having the right toys including a companion toy can help. In some cases, hiring a dog walker to give the Pug a break halfway through the day can be very beneficial. 
If a Pug is having diarrhea in response to a chaotic environment, steps should be taken to make things as pleasant and calm as possible. Our dogs may not know what we are saying, however they certainly know if the house is a friendly and happy place or one to be feared due to screaming and fighting. 

To help prevent diarrhea due to traveling, slowly acclimating a Pug to the car can certainly help, along with an appropriately sized car booster seat.  

8) Inflammatory bowel disease - This is a catch-all term that is given if a dog has ongoing, chronic diarrhea due to one of several conditions including Colitis. Signs of this include persistent diarrhea, low grade fever, weight loss, lethargy and/or vomiting. This is more typically seen in dogs that are 5 years and older, though it can happen to younger Pugs as well. Blood panels, a urinalysis, fecal testing and other tests may be done to diagnosis this. Antibiotics and medications to protect lining of the intestine may be given. In many cases, a change to a different food will help. Your Pug's vet may recommend canned food, since these are cooked to 150 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows helpful digestive enzymes in the food to remain intact whereas dry kibble does not. 

9) Other less common reasons for diarrhea include:
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Lymphangiectasia 
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis 
Acute VS Chronic VS Intermittent Diarrhea
  • Acute diarrhea will be a short episode, typically lasting 2 to 5 days that responds to at-home treatment and does not reoccur again within the next 3 months. 
  • Chronic diarrhea is when a Pug suffers from this for more than 5 days. It may appear to get better once the dog is treated at home, but resurfaces soon afterward. For this, diagnosis and treatment at the vet's is needed.
  • Intermittent diarrhea is when a Pug has bouts of this often throughout the year. It comes and goes. It may be a week or a month between occurrences. For this, diagnosis and treatment at the vet's is needed.
Pug dog in cape
 "Woof, rufff, rrrr...grrr... UMPHF!"
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Well, you get the gist!  Show me some love & share this site before you read on!"
How to Treat Acute Diarrhea with Pug Dogs

There are several things that you can do to help a Pug is he is having diarrhea. 

1) Assess. The first thing that you should do if your Pug is having diarrhea is to assess the situation. While you don't want to overreact, it is also important to know if the dog's health condition warrants an immediate trip to the vet, a phone call or can be treated at home. 

Signs in addition to diarrhea that may point to a Pug needing to be seen by the vet right away include:
  • High fever - The normal body temperature of canines is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius). You'll want to monitor this at least twice per day.  
  • Vomiting - Diarrhea alone is very draining on a dog and can lead to dangerous dehydration. If you add vomiting to that, his health status can become compromised quickly. 
  • Trouble breathing - Being a Brachycephalic breed (flat, compressed face), the Pug already can have trouble with breathing. However, if there is heavy panting or other respiratory issues along with the diarrhea, this is a red flag. 
  • Extreme lethargy - It is normal for a Pug feel tired and weak when he is having diarrhea, however if you notice very marked drowsiness, if your Pug is not responding to his name, etc. this is also a sign that veterinary intervention is needed.
  • Dehydration - It is important to help a dog replace lost fluids (more ahead) however if a Pug has explosive diarrhea or a severe case of this with expulsion more than once per hour, the body can become so dehydrated that it is impossible to play 'catch-up'. Symptoms of this include
* Marked weakness
* Pale gums
Pug dog in pink laundry basket
Chelsea 
Photo courtesy of Elle D.
* Slow gum capillary refill time (If you press your finger against a spot on your Pug's gums that area should lighten, but once you remove your finger, if it does not return to normal color within a count of 3, this is a sign of dehydration)
* Sunken in eyes
* Distressed breathing
  • Bloody diarrhea - If a Pug dog has bloody diarrhea, this is a serious medical condition that requires immediate, emergency treatment. Please note that 'normal' diarrhea can turn into bloody diarrhea, so if a Pug starts to get sick, an owner must pay attention to the color of the stools. Sudden, bloody and watery diarrhea is a sign that there is a sloughing of the lining of the intestines and this can quickly lead to life-threatening shock.  
  • If you suspect poisoning - Have a look around all areas that the Pug has had access to, taking note of any open cabinets, bottles or other items that the dog may have gotten into, etc. If you suspect that your Pug is having diarrhea due to eating something toxic, do not hesitate to call the vet. In most cases, time is of the essence. 
  • No improvement/ worsening conditions - If your Pug has diarrhea that lasts for more than 5 days, is not eating after 24 hours , is not drinking or has any of the above listed symptoms, shows any other signs of distress and/or is not showing any signs of improvement each day, these are reasons to bring him to the vet ASAP. 
2) Withhold food. This is a bit tricky since a Pug with diarrhea will already be feeling very weak and you may wonder if it's really a good idea to limit food intake. However, most Pugs that are having diarrhea problems do not have much of an appetite at any rate. In addition, the stomach and intestines really need a rest right now, even if it is brief. For these reasons, it is recommended to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours.

If you try to feed your Pug (more ahead) at the 12 hour mark and he does not want to eat, that is fine and you can wait until the 24 hour mark. During this time you will, however, be making sure that your Pug is hydrated (more ahead). 
black Pug puppy
Spencer, 8 weeks old
Photo courtesy of M. Digravio
3) Put your Pug on a bland diet. An important step to stopping diarrhea and helping a Pug feel better is to limit the types of foods that he eats until he is feeling better and getting his strength back.

The best bland food to give to a Pug with diarrhea is a blend of:

Chicken - You will want to use white, boneless, skinless chicken meat and the reason for this is to offer a protein that is very low in fat. You can bake this, broil it or boil it. Another alternative is ground turkey meat and the best way to cook this is to fry it in a non-stick pan. 

A nutritious, cushioning carb - One of the most tolerated carbs for dogs with diarrhea is sweet potato as it is easily digestible, easy on the stomach and has a good about of fiber & nutrients. Another alternative is 100% pure pumpkin that comes packed in aluminum cans (real pumpkin and not the type made for pie fillings). This also has a good amount of fiber & nutrients and is well tolerated. 

Additions - To make this plain food a bit more appealing, you can add a couple of tablespoons of whole white yogurt (be sure to not use any that is flavored or is low fat) and/or cottage cheese. 
Both can help calm down an upset stomach and irritable bowels. 

*** Do not add any salt, butter or seasoning of any kind.  

4 Keep your Pug Hydrated - A dog like the Pug can quickly lose essential body fluid and electrolytes from just one expulsion of diarrhea and with a bout that lasts 1 to 4 days, if the dog is not re-hydrated, this can become a dangerous situation. You will want to encourage your dog to meet the recommended water requirements for Pugs. However, if your dog is resistant to this, there are some additional steps that you can take:

1. Make ice cubes. Sometimes a dog that is ill will be more apt to lap at a soothing cool ice cube than drink from his bowl. These can be plain or flavored (see next).

2. Offer a mixture of Pedialyte and water. When a dog has several episodes of diarrhea, not only is water lost, but also electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium). It is vital to replace any lost electrolytes as they are essential for many bodily functions including maintaining body temperature, heart rate, digestion, bladder control, neurological function and proper respiratory rate. 

The Pedialyte will work to help restore the body's levels back to normal. The proper dose for Pug dogs is 50% water to 50% Pedialyte and up to 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) each hour, if possible. You can offer this mixed into cold water or you can place the water/ Pedialyte mixture into an ice cube tray to additionally offer this as a frozen treat. 

Please see above for signs of dehydration and continue to monitor your Pug for symptoms that he is not replacing fluid as fast as he is losing it. 
5) Create a comfortable resting area - Sick Pugs need to rest but also want their owners to be close by. It is not recommended to leave a Pug home alone if he has diarrhea. Someone should be with him to make sure that he is eating, drinking and that conditions are not getting worse.

Since dogs often have very little control over the discharge of diarrhea and you will not always be able to bring your Pug outside on time, it is best to have him resting on a bed or soft material (a thick towel, a blanket, etc) over a tiled or linoleum floor for ease of cleaning. As close to the area that you yourself will be seated is best, so that the Pug does not feel isolated.

6) Prevent/ treat the anus area - With repeated bouts of diarrhea, a dog's anal opening can quickly become sore, red and irritated. Diarrhea can burn as it is expelled due to its often high level of acidity. This can lead to pain and/or itching.

Here is what you can do:

1. Keep it clean - It is best to gently wipe the anus after each episode of diarrhea with a doggie 'tushie' wipe, which is specially formulated to clean the sensitive skin of this area. If you do not have any on hold, a non-scented baby wipe or a canine body wipe can be used.
Pug dog in bath
Candy, 2 and 1/2 months old
Photo courtesy of Debbie Valecha from Bangalore, India 
2. Apply a barrier cream or gel - You will want to dab an ointment, cream or gel onto the Pug's anus area that will work to create a barrier so that the hot, stinging diarrhea does not touch the skin as it is expelled. Be careful regarding what you use; some human facial creams or creams for dry skin can actually cause more burning. Petroleum jelly is one of the best choices (owners should always have this on hand since it is needed to take a dog's temperature rectally). If you do not have this, Vitamin D ointment can be used as a substitution. 

3. Check for skin damage/infection - If the sensitive skin of a dog's anus is repeatedly subjected to hot, burning diarrhea, the skin may break open and then be vulnerable to infection. Keep an eye on this area to look for signs of skin cuts. If you notice any or if the skin does not heal once the diarrhea is gone, this is a reason to contact the vet as a topical antibiotic may be needed.
How to Be Prepared For Unexpected Diarrhea with Your Pug

No one knows when their puppy or dog is going to become ill, so the best thing that you can do for your Pug is to have the right items at your house for when diarrhea develops. This way, you can start treatment immediately and will not have to leave your Pug's side to rush out to the store for needed supplies.  

Here is what you will want:
  • The number of your vet and the phone number of the Animal Poison Control Center (US #: 888- 426-4435). Please keep in mind that there is a charge to call APC.
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide in case your Pug ate something toxic and you are instructed by the vet or APC to induce vomiting. Dosage is 1 teaspoon for each 10 lbs of body weight, given up to 3 times, 15 to 20 minutes apart.
  • Canine rectal thermometer
  • Pedialyte (classic formula)
  • Chicken meat - you can purchase this at your grocery store and it can be frozen for future use. The United States Department of Agriculture states that frozen chicken lasts indefinitely; though we would suggest using it and replacing it within a year
  • Canned pumpkin (real pumpkin, not the pie filling)
  • Cottage cheese and/or whole white yogurt - you'll want to obtain whichever one you happen to eat yourself. If you do not generally eat either, you may wish to obtain a small container which can be placed in the freezer. Both will be good for 3 months past the expiration date, if frozen. 
  • Canine wipes - Either tushie wipes for bathroom touch-ups (a great way to keep a Pug clean) or general canine body wipes.  If you'd like to see recommendations, look to 'Grooming' in the Pug Dog Specialty Shoppe.
  • Petroleum jelly
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