Owning a dog is a responsibility. Breeding your dog is a much bigger responsibility. Pregnancy means welcoming a litter of puppies into your lives. But it also means caring for your beloved pet and ensuring it stays healthy during and after pregnancy.
Diarrhea is one of the common health concerns canines face. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, growing puppies, stress, and anxiety could be the reason for your dog’s diarrhea.
On the other hand, there could be reasons unrelated to pregnancy that can cause diarrhea. For example, your dog eating garbage, rotten or allergic foods, exposure to toxins, infections, and sudden changes in diet can lead to diarrhea.
If the dog is closer to its due date, diarrhea could also be a sign of labor. During the first stage of labor, the dog will experience mild uterine contractions, which can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness, and panting.
The article will explore the topic of pregnant dogs with diarrhea, home remedies you can try, and when it is time to visit the vet. We will also look at tips for caring for your pregnant dog.
- What is a Normal Pregnancy Cycle in Dogs?
- Is Diarrhea a Sign of Pregnancy in Dogs?
- What Are the Other Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs?
- What Can be the Causes of Diarrhea in Pregnant Dogs?
- What Can You Give Pregnant Dogs for Diarrhea?
- Is Diarrhea a Symptom of Labor in Dogs?
- When Should You See the Vet?
- What Can Pregnant Dogs Eat?
- How Can You Best Care for Pregnant Dogs?
What is a Normal Pregnancy Cycle in Dogs?
The time of fetus development from conception until birth is known as the gestation period. According to AKC, this period can last anywhere from 62 to 64 days in dogs. The gestation period is divided into three trimesters, each lasting about 21 days.
In the initial stages of pregnancy, you may not see many visible changes; the dog may behave as normal. During the third and fourth weeks, the dog may show signs of morning sickness. Dogs may have vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
It is also around the 4-week mark that the vet will be able to detect fetal heartbeats.
During the fifth week, the puppies will start growing and will be around the size of walnuts. You should be careful not to handle the dog roughly, or it can harm the puppies and cause a miscarriage.
Around the sixth week, the dog’s belly will grow larger. Their breasts will also enlarge, and little milky fluid may drain.
In the last couple of weeks, you may be able to spot the movements of the puppies in the dog’s belly. Depending on the state of the dog and puppies, the vet may recommend a natural birth or C-section.
Is Diarrhea a Sign of Pregnancy in Dogs?
Yes, diarrhea can be one of the signs of early pregnancy in dogs. During the initial stages of pregnancy, the dog has to deal with hormones. Its body is going through a significant physical change. And there is the added stress of carrying the puppies.
All these factors may cause diarrhea in dogs. Some dogs may also have vomiting and eat less than their regular diet. As long as the dog has no other unusual symptoms, diarrhea is not a cause for worry.
There could be another underlying health issue causing diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms typically last around the third – fourth week. If the dog does not feel any better in a few days, it would be best to give the vet a call.
What Are the Other Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs?
If the pregnancy is intentional and you know when the dog mated, it is best to stick to diagnostic tests to confirm the pregnancy. You can visit the vet, who can perform tests like:
- Hormone test
X-ray is also a test available, but it is better done around the 55-day mark as the skeletons of the puppies will be developed enough to show up on the test.
If it is a surprise pregnancy or you do not want to visit the vet yet, the below symptoms could be a possible indication of pregnancy in dogs:
- Increase in appetite
- Growing belly
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Nesting behavior
If you notice these signs, please consult the vet. First, the vet can run tests to confirm the pregnancy. Then, depending on whether the pregnancy is planned, the vet can further suggest care options.
What Can be the Causes of Diarrhea in Pregnant Dogs?
Here are some pregnancy-related reasons that may cause diarrhea in dogs.
1. Hormonal Changes
One of the first things pregnant dogs have to deal with is hormonal changes. For example, pregnancy in dogs is often confirmed with a blood test that measures the presence of the hormone relaxin.
Once the embryo is implanted, the development of the placenta releases this hormone. It can be detected as early as 22 to 27 days after the dog has mated.
The dog’s body may take time to adjust to releasing such hormones. This is why dogs may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy during the initial stages of pregnancy.
2. Growing Puppies
There is a litter of puppies growing in your pet’s stomach. As the puppies grow, they will start moving around inside the stomach.
The dog’s body will naturally stretch and make room for the fetus. But this can put pressure on the dog’s intestine. It can cause discomfort and lead to issues like diarrhea or constipation.
There are some other causes as well that can leave a pregnant dog with diarrhea.
3. Sudden Change in Diet
It is vital that the dog should remain healthy during pregnancy. Nutrition and exercise are a part of ensuring the pet’s health.
The dog’s diet can remain the same in the initial month of pregnancy. However, the dog’s food intake should gradually increase after the sixth week.
Vets do recommend high-energy and low-fiber meals and other nutritional supplements. But you should make such changes after a vet consultation.
Your dog’s stomach is already sensitive. It may not react well to the sudden change in diet resulting in diarrhea.
4. Eating Garbage or Spoiled Food
If your well-trained dog is suddenly raiding the trash can, it could be hungry or have mood swings.
As the dog’s pregnancy advances, its diet will also increase. At the end of the pregnancy, the dog will be eating one and a half times its regular diet. So, ensure your pregnant pet is well-fed.
Just like humans, dogs can also have mood swings during pregnancy. They might get listless, bored, and irritable. And raiding the trash can be its destructive response.
Eating garbage or spoiled food is not suitable for dogs, pregnant or not. Your pet may end up vomiting or have watery poop come out.
5. Other Health Concerns
Diarrhea can result from allergies or viral or bacterial infections. Diarrhea could also be a symptom of underlying health issues like kidney or liver disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
If your dog is on medications, it could further stress out its gut resulting in a stomach upset.
It is essential that a vet examines both the male and female dogs before you decide to breed them. If the dogs are not healthy, it could mean trouble for the puppies and pregnant dogs.
What Can You Give Pregnant Dogs for Diarrhea?
If your dog is otherwise fine and the only symptom you notice is diarrhea, you could try a few home remedies before reaching out to the vet.
Here are some home remedies that may help your pregnant dog with diarrhea.
1. Withhold Food
According to vets, if the dog’s diarrhea is unrelated to its pregnancy, for example, if it has eaten something it should not have or a change in diet, fasting may help.
Staring the dog for 12 hours may help. Ensure it has access to fresh water, as diarrhea can cause dehydration. Fasting gives the dog’s intestinal tract a chance to rest and heal.
2. Feed Light Meals
Once you have fasted the dog for 12 hours, you can slowly bring its intestinal tract back to function with small and light meals.
You can give the dog some plain cooked rice. You could add cooked chicken or fish to improve the meal’s nutritional value.
When including any meat, ensure it is clean, skinned, and does not contain any bones. Cook it plain, do not add salt or spices. You can also include plain protein sources like eggs with rice.
Instead of feeding the dog two or three big meals, feed it smaller portions four to five times a day. This can help the dog’s digestive system to do its job without too much pressure.
3. Add Yogurt
Some gastrointestinal issues could result from bacterial imbalances in your dog’s gut. Giving the dog live yogurt can help control diarrhea.
Live yogurt contains beneficial bacteria. It helps restore the natural balance of bacteria, aids digestion, and boosts the overall working of the dog’s body.
A couple of tablespoons of live yogurt a day should be enough.
Please consult a vet if you do not see the dog’s condition improve in about 24 hours. You need to consider the well-being of your pet and the growing puppies in its belly.
If your dog shows other symptoms like vomiting, tiredness, or loss of appetite, skip the home remedies and reach out to the vet at the earliest.
Is Diarrhea a Symptom of Labor in Dogs?
Yes, diarrhea is one of the symptoms of labor in dogs. The dog’s cervix relaxes and dilates in the first phase of labor. Other than diarrhea, you may also see other symptoms like:
- Loss of appetite
- Nesting behavior
Uterine contractions are responsible for these symptoms. The first phase can last anywhere from 4 to 24 hours. After that, the second phase is where you will see the dog start with intense straining.
So, if your dog is toward the end of a typical gestation period, diarrhea could mean the dog may go into labor soon.
When Should You See the Vet?
If your dog is suffering from mild diarrhea and behaving, you can try the home remedies mentioned above. However, if diarrhea does not ease in 24 hours or the dog’s condition worsens, please see a vet.
If you suspect an underlying health concern is causing diarrhea, do not wait for home remedies to take effect. Instead, contact the vet immediately.
For example, apart from persistent diarrhea, you may see other symptoms like lethargy, bloating, and abdominal pain in the case of canine parvovirus. The virus is responsible for infections in canines.
You may disregard the symptoms thinking they might be related to pregnancy. And this is precisely why you should consult with a vet.
According to AKC, regardless of whether the dog is pregnant or not, if there are additional physical symptoms, the dog is dehydrated, diarrhea does not stop, or home remedies that worked before seem to have no effect, then a trip to the vet is necessary.
What Can Pregnant Dogs Eat?
Diet is one of the reasons in your control. As you have seen above, what your dog eats is one of the major reasons for diarrhea. You may not be able to prevent diarrhea altogether, but you can reduce its chances.
If your dog is already on a diet of high-quality dog food, there may not be any changes required during the first two-thirds of the pregnancy term. However, if the food you are currently feeding the dog is not up to standards, the vet may recommend another brand of dog food.
This change in food should happen gradually. Start adding 10% of the new food into its diet, slowly increasing the percentage in a week. This will give the dog’s body time to adjust to the new food, which may help you avoid issues like diarrhea.
Post the six-week mark, your dog’s food intake will increase. As the puppies will also start growing, there will be an increase in abdominal pressure. So, feeding the dog small and frequent meals would be best. This will aid in digestion and help avoid problems like diarrhea.
If the dog is getting the right nutrition from its food, there is no need for additional supplements. However, if you do add them, please consult with the vet before. Unnecessary or too many supplements can cause more harm to the dog’s health.
Towards the end of pregnancy, the dog’s food intake will increase by 35 to 50% more than usual. This is normal. Keep feeding the dog the same food but remember – small portions, frequent meals.
How Can You Best Care for Pregnant Dogs?
You know how to care for your dog’s nutritional needs during pregnancy. Now let us discuss other aspects like exercise and vet care.
Pregnant dogs may typically exercise as usual until their belly grows larger. Once the dog’s belly is enlarged, it would be best to avoid strenuous activities.
According to AKC, short and frequent walks would be beneficial for pregnant dogs with big bellies. This way, the dog gets exercise and is also able to conserve energy to carry the puppies.
Getting a complete checkup before you breed the dog would be a good idea. This can help tackle any health issues early on.
Keep up with regular vet visits during pregnancy. Many vets now believe that deworming pregnant dogs post the fifth-week mark and up to two weeks, post-birth can significantly reduce the chances of the puppies getting roundworms and hookworms.
You will need a whelping box for the dog to deliver the puppies in a safe environment and keep them safe post-birth. Ensure you get the dog comfortable with the whelping box beforehand so it will be ready to use the box at the time of birth.
Understandably, you get worried when your pregnant dog starts showing unexpected symptoms like diarrhea.
Reasons like hormonal changes, growing puppies, sudden changes in diet, eating something rotten or spoilt, and infections could leave a pregnant dog with diarrhea.
If the dog is its usual self, with diarrhea being the only symptom, you can try home remedies like fasting, feeding simple meals like plain cooked rice and chicken, or adding live yogurt to its diet.
If the dog’s diarrhea does not improve or you see additional symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite, please consult the vet.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.