by Dr Luciana Peruca,
Royal Canin Brazil
Diarrhea is one of the most important and frequent clinical signs in puppies. The causes are varied, among which the most commonly observed in puppies are parasitic, infectious, food and resulting stress. The problem can occur simultaneously in various animals in the same geographical area (epizootic), and in these cases, the infection caused by protozoa (coccidiosis and giardiasis, p. ex.), helminths (toxocariasis and ancylostomoses, p. ex.) and/or virus (coronavirose and parvovirus, p. ex.), and inadequate management (overfeeding, lack of dietary transition and inappropriate food, p. ex.) are the most frequent.Another factor related to the occurrence of diarrhea is genetic predisposition. German shepherd dogs are predisposed to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and in these cases, diarrhea is a sign almost always present.
Puppies must receive a good quality diet that provides adequate digestion and absorption of nutrients required in this phase of life. Thus, the well-fed puppies have consistency and appropriate volume of stool and, further, the ideal score ( see here ). Moreover, around the 4th week of life or neonatal period, the dog will begin weaning in which occur the transition of milk intake to wet, semi-solid and, subsequently, solid food. Weaning is necessary as the production of bitch milk begins to decline, the digestibility of lactose by puppy gradually decreases while the starch digestibility increases, while the energy dog needs for rapid growth rise exponentially.
This paradox makes it compulsory weaning: the puppy needs to intake energy and nutrients in a diet "extra-maternal". But it is a sensitive phase for the puppy, as it still does not have the immune and gastrointestinal system developed enough to support any complications arising from improper food management. Therefore, the specific diet at this stage of extreme sensitivity is essential to ensure the health of the puppy and its full development.
Associated with the diet is adequate environmental management, with proper cleaning and puppy care, in addition to frequent visits to the Medical Veterinarian for appropriate worming and vaccination.
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