Have I ever told you about my friend Aurelien? If not, it probably means you did not attend to one of my talks because I often refer to him!!! But that’s ok, I can use the blog to tell you about what he did. Because he indeed did something interesting… and probably quite unusual.

Quick flash back: both of us were PhD students at the same time, and while I was working on the use of GnRH agonists in canines, Aurelien was focusing on digestive health in puppies. To make it short – and fun! - : he was working on puppies’ stools! We laughed a lot during these three years, because part of his activities was to collect puppies’ stool samples so he could evaluate them. Believe me, he collected LOTS! But this was an extremely rewarding task, and now we owe him much. From his work indeed came extremely interesting data concerning weaning diarrhea in puppies, data that when he is not around I present in one of our new 2014 talk called : “Weaning diarrhea in puppies: what breeders need to know- what can be done.”

 

  • A new scale to evaluate puppies’ feces at weaning

I can’t break a 3h presentation down to a one page blog, so I chose here to focus on something that is really relevant to the situations we encounter in the field. You may know that scales exist to evaluate stools quality in dogs, this is usually a scale from 1 to 5 where 1 means “liquid” (and is synonymous to diarrhea) and 5 is “hard” (=constipation) – see slideshare below-. While doing his PhD he realised that this scale, that was mainly used in adult dogs, did not properly fit with what he was seeing in the field in puppies. So he came up with a new scale… from 1 to 15 – again, see slideshare below.

Canine fecal score from Emmanuel Fontaine
  • Puppies’ age and size influence their stools’ quality

Why is it valuable information for breeders? Because it is really not uncommon to see softer stools in puppies at weaning. And in fact, if we were using the “usual” fecal scores, very often these puppies’ stools might be considered as sub-optimal. He studied 316 different puppies (believe me that represents a lot of stools) and his results showed that stool quality varied depending on age and size of puppies. Large breed puppies (>25kg adult weight) had softer stools than small breed ones (<25kg adult weight). What can be considered as “normal” in large breed puppies is therefore not necessarily “normal” in smaller breeds.

 

NB: Green= normal stool consistency / Red = abnormal stool consistency

 

  • Any doubt? Check Aurelien’s scale

For sure, if the stools are totally liquid, there is no doubt something might be wrong. But during my last talk on the topic, I showed a picture of one puppy’s stool on the screen, and asked the breeders what they thought about it. Interestingly, while some said they considered this totally abnormal, others were saying they would be happy to see this in their puppies. I found it interesting.

I have no doubt that the more experienced you become in breeding dogs, the more accurate you will be in detecting these unusual and abnormal situations. But I find it always helpful to have scientific data to back us up. If you are in doubt and concerned about the stool consistency of your puppies at weaning, wondering if they are normal or not, no worries! Take a look at Aurelien’s scale, it will be right here!

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