One common question I get as a veterinarian, is why newborn puppy poop is yellow. And is this normal? The color, consistency, and frequency of puppy poop can offer valuable insights into their overall health (View our puppy poop color chart). Let’s explore what to expect and when to seek medical care when a newborn puppy is pooping yellow.
Why is newborn puppy poop yellow?
What is normal
When puppies are first born, they excrete what is known as meconium – a thick, sticky, greenish-black substance. As they start nursing, their stool transitions to a seedy mustard-like color and consistency. Around the third or fourth week, as solid foods are introduced, stools should gradually turn brown, resembling adult dog poop. At this time, the consistency of the stool will also become more firm.
Newborn puppies often defecate after every feeding, which can be as frequently as every 2 hours. As they grow older, the frequency may decrease. During the first few weeks, puppies are also unable to poop or pee on their own. The mother stimulates them by licking their abdomen and genital areas, prompting bowel movements and urination.
Here is a picture of typical puppy poop – it is yellow in color and soft but not watery in consistency.
What is not normal
In terms of color, there can be many variations, and some may indicate an underlying health issue.
- Black, tarry stools: This condition, known as melena, can indicate the presence of digested blood, suggesting bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Read our article about puppies with black poop.
- Red streaks: Visible blood can mean bleeding in the lower intestines or anal area.
- Green stool: Might indicate a viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection.
- Pale or white stools: Can be a sign of malabsorption or other gastrointestinal disease.
- Consistently yellow stools: While yellow stools are normal for very young puppies, persistently yellow stools in older puppies might indicate a liver issue or infection.
The following signs are also considered abnormal:
- Consistency: Poop that is very dry or in the form of hard pellets can indicate dehydration or constipation. On the other hand, lose or watery stools may be due to infection, parasites, or other gastrointestinal issues.
- Presence of foreign objects: Bits of toys, plastic, or other non-food items indicate that the puppy is consuming things it shouldn’t. This can lead to gastrointestinal blockages or other complications if not addressed.
- Effort and pain: If a puppy seems to strain excessively, yelps, or shows other signs of pain while defecating, you should seek care from your vet.
- Lack of defecation: In some cases, a puppy may be born without an opening to the anus or a very narrow (stenotic) opening. This condition, known as atresia ani, requires surgical correction.
- General behavior: Always consider the stool in conjunction with a puppy’s overall behavior. If a puppy has abnormal feces and also seems lethargic, refuses to eat, vomits, is not gaining weight, or shows other signs of distress, urgent veterinary care is required. Puppies are sensitive and can succumb to illness quickly, so this can be emergent.
What if my puppy’s stool is runny?
Diarrhea in puppies requires urgent veterinary care. Bacterial and viral infections, such as the dreaded Parvovirus, should be considered. Moreover, intestinal parasites or protozoal infections like Giardia are extremely common, and can affect the appearance of the stool. Other possible causes of diarrhea include stress, overfeeding, diet, toxicity, and other gastrointestinal or systemic disease.
Ways to help support newborn puppies’ gastrointestinal health
Gastrointestinal health plays a pivotal role in the overall well-being of newborn puppies. A well-functioning digestive system is vital for nutrient absorption and protection against infectious diseases. Here’s a more in-depth look into how pet parents can promote GI health:
- Deworming: Your veterinarian can help you determine a deworming schedule for your puppies. Typically, they should receive their first deworming treatment at around 2 weeks of age, with subsequent dosages every two weeks. Common intestinal parasites sometimes found in puppies’ poop include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. It’s crucial to use an appropriate dewormer that targets these specific parasites. It’s also essential to deworm the mother, as she can pass worms to her puppies.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that aid in maintaining a balanced gut microbiota, which is crucial for digestion and immune function. If a puppy faces challenges like diarrhea or if they’re being hand-reared and not receiving the natural benefits of the mother’s milk, introducing a veterinary-recommended probiotic might be beneficial. Always consult with a vet before starting any supplements.
- Vaccinations: Most vaccination programs start when puppies are between 6 to 8 weeks old. Vaccines are then given every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old.
- Feeding: Introducing solid food should be a gradual process, starting at around 3-4 weeks of age. Offering a high-quality, easily digestible puppy food, soaked in water or mixed with canned puppy food, can make this transition easier.
- Weight gain: During the first few weeks of life, it’s crucial to weigh puppies daily. A consistent weight gain is a sign that they are feeding adequately and are in good health. For the first few weeks, even slight fluctuations in weight can be significant. A general guideline is that most puppies will double their birth weight within the first week. After that, puppies should have a steady weight gain of 5-10% of their current weight every day.
When to see your vet about newborn puppy health issues
It’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of newborn puppies. They are fragile and can deteriorate quickly if they encounter health challenges. During the first couple weeks of life, puppies should spend the majority of their time eating and sleeping. Here’s a list of signs and situations that warrant an immediate visit or consultation with your veterinarian:
- Feeding issues: A puppy that is not nursing or is repeatedly pushed away by the mother, crying continuously, or restless, could be hungry or uncomfortable and may need additional support from you and your vet.
- Breathing difficulties: Labored breathing, gasping, persistent coughing, or blue or pale gums indicate a medical emergency.
- Digestive issues: Persistent diarrhea, vomiting, or abnormal feces.
- Physical abnormalities or injuries: Visible deformities, swellings, signs of trauma or injury, such as bleeding or limping, or abnormalities in the umbilical area, like an infected umbilical cord or hernia, should be evaluated as soon as possible.
- Behavioral concerns: A puppy that is lethargic or unresponsive, cries or vocalizes excessively, or is isolated from the rest of the litter.
- Mother’s health: If the mother dog is sick, shows signs of mastitis (swollen, red, painful mammary glands), or isn’t attentive to her puppies, this can have direct implications for the puppies’ health.
Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.