5 Common Illnesses To Look Out For In Puppies
13 June, 2018
common illness in puppies

When you bring a puppy home, there are so many things to consider from where your dog will sleep to the food to give him.  And, of course, you want your puppy to stay healthy and thrive.  Even though puppies seem to be at their healthiest, and most are, there are some conditions to be aware of to keep your puppy healthy and safe.

1. Infectious Diseases

Puppies are more susceptible to diseases than older dogs because their immune systems are not fully developed.   Therefore, there are some infectious diseases to be aware of as they can be dangerous and need treatment right away.


Puppies’ from six weeks to six months are the most susceptible to parvo. Puppies younger than six-weeks-old still retain some of their mother’s antibodies, assuming that the dam received her full series of parvo vaccinations. Puppies are vaccinated against parvo at approximately 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. Puppies are extremely vulnerable to the disease until they have received all three shots in their vaccination series, which means owners need to take extra precaution during this time to prevent their puppies from contracting the virus.

If at any time your puppy is feeling under the weather, take note.  The symptoms of parvo in puppies are usually:  bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, lethargy, weight loss, weakness, dehydration, depression.

All of these symptoms are serious by themselves and could be a sign of parvo or another serious illness. You should contact your vet immediately if you suspect your puppy has parvo, and be sure to notify the vet’s staff ahead of time of your suspicions and your puppy’s symptoms.

The treatment against parvo is to vaccinate your puppy. If you haven’t, hospitalization is the best route, where your puppy will be given IV fluids and sometimes antibiotics depending on the severity. The recovery time for parvo is a week and puppies that are hospitalized can usually go home after a few days with medication.

Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper is another dangerous infectious disease that can kill a puppy. Bordetella, also known as kennel cough, is highly contagious and causes coughing and other respiratory problems in pups.

The best way to protect your puppy from these illnesses is through a regular vaccination program that generally begins at 6 weeks of age and continues until the pup is 16 weeks old. These vaccines can do a lot to protect your young dog from contracting one of these serious illnesses. You can also protect your puppy by keeping him away from unvaccinated dogs before the age of 17 weeks. Even though your pup has received his inoculations, keep him from being exposed to these diseases before his immune system has had a chance to mature.

The vaccination against canine distemper virus is very effective. The first vaccination takes place at six to eight weeks, and again after 9 weeks.  Always talk to your veterinarian for the best course of action for your dog concerning the distemper vaccine.

The symptoms are usually more apparent and result in an upper respiratory disease with sneezing and eye discharge. Then it can develop into pneumonia or can lead to neurological problems such as a fatal encephalopathy (brain damage).

Distemper in dogs is frequently misdiagnosed because owners think their puppy has a cold, so as always, if your dog has any of these signs, make sure to take your dog to the vet.  It can take weeks to recover from canine distemper and pets usually go home from the hospital with respiratory medications.

The bad news about canine distemper is that the disease can lie dormant and break out again when she’s older.  Therefore, the best prevention is to make sure you take your puppy to the vet if you see any of the symptoms.

2. Parasites

An assortment of parasites loves to infest puppies. Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, are present in just about every puppy and need to be removed with deworming medication. External parasites that attack your puppy’s immune system are fleas, ticks and the scabies that cause mange. Protecting your puppy from fleas and ticks can be done with a puppy-safe flea-and-tick preventive. At the first sign of mange — hair loss, scratching and scabby skin — take your puppy to the vet for medication.

Heartworm disease

If a mosquito bites a dog with heartworm, it can even pass the worm on to your puppy if the bug then bites your dog. It takes up to six or seven months before your puppy shows signs of illness. Heartworm disease can cause heart failure and lung disease and are potentially deadly. You want to watch for fatigue, decrease in appetite and weight loss.

The good news is that heartworm is easy preventable with an inexpensive, chewable pill available with a vet’s prescription. The pills can be given to dogs under 6 months of age without a blood test, but older animals need to be screened for the disease prior to starting medication. You can opt to give your dog a pill only during mosquito season spring through winter but the most recent recommendations are to keep giving them to your dogs all year round. There are also topical products available that you can apply to the skin.


This parasite, which is usually found in standing water, can infest your puppy’s gastrointestinal tract and the cells. Your puppy may get this if he wasn’t living in a sanitary environment after birth. Symptoms include diarrhea, blood in the stool or dehydration. Your vet can usually give your puppy a drug to kill off the parasite.  The best way to avoid coccidia altogether is to keep your puppy’s water and environment sanitary very clean.  Refresh your puppies’ water twice a day and make sure it’s clean.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is an infection that causes arthritis and lameness and is transmitted to dogs through the bite of infected ticks. If it is untreated, Lyme disease in dogs can cause heart, kidney, and neurological problems. Lyme disease is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread from animals to humans. Lyme disease can be transmitted if an infected tick from a dog bites a human.

Lyme disease is more common in certain areas of the United States, including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest.

Some of the symptoms may not appear for several months after a dog is infected with Lyme disease. And some infected dogs don’t always show the symptoms.  The signs of infection can typically include the following: Your dog is very tired and stops exercising, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, symptoms seem to get better and then re-appear later.

3. Congenital abnormalities and injuries

Some puppies are born with genetic health problems that need to be addressed right away. One of the more common abnormalities in male puppies is one or both undescended testicles. The testicles that don’t drop down need to be surgically removed. Other abnormalities can include hip dysplasia, heart issues and umbilical hernias. Your veterinarian is the one to diagnose and treat these and other genetic problems.


Puppies have a lot of energy and love to play, and that makes them especially prone to accidents. Fractured bones, scrapes and scratches and even broken teeth can be the result when puppies get into trouble. Keep a close eye on your pup to help prevent accidents. If something should happen, make sure to get your puppy to the vet right away. Immediate treatment is crucial to keep the injury from becoming more serious.

4. Eating foreign objects or something they shouldn’t

Puppies are inquisitive and love to chew almost anything and everything from your shoes to your couch.  And sometimes that voracious chewing can result in a puppy swallowing something he shouldn’t. It is not uncommon for your puppy to eat and swallow a toy, socks, rocks or anything that they can get their mouths on and around. If you think your puppy has swallowed something bad, or if you notice that he’s vomiting or is lethargic or unable to go the bathroom, get him to a veterinarian right away.  A foreign object left in your little puppy’s body for too long can cause sickness and sometimes damage to his intestines.

5. Vomiting and diarrhea

If your puppy’s suffering from either vomiting or diarrhea, the first thing to rule out is intestinal parasites as mentioned above.  If these are not the cause vomiting/diarrhea, your pooch has probably just eaten or licked something he shouldn’t have.   Most of the time whatever they ate is coming out the other end.  If you have ruled out any sort of parasite, the best thing you can do is to keep your puppy hydrated.

Try to feed your puppy very little in the first 12 hours, but make sure give your puppy food if your puppy seems ready to eat.  After about 12 hours, if your dog is eating and drinking and keep it down, your pup should be fine.  If your dog isn’t better, make sure to talk to your veterinarian who will probably ask you to keep your puppy on a bland diet to help your puppy feel better.


Small dogs can end up with low blood sugar if they don’t eat enough. Monitor your puppy’s eating habits, especially while she’s young enough to prevent it. If your dog has hypoglycemia, she may show signs of lethargy and possibly have seizures.

Your puppy will get into havoc, no doubt.  But, if you feed your dog a healthy diet and watch for anything abnormal, your puppy should thrive.  As  always, if you see anything unusual in your puppy, make sure to take your puppy to the vet. And because puppies are so prone to accident and illnesses, it’s actually the best time to consider pet insurance for your puppy.

One thought on “5 Common Illnesses To Look Out For In Puppies”

  1. Thanks for pointing out that we should try to feed the puppy within 12 hours, and we should take him to the vets if he still hasn’t eaten well after those hours. I will follow your advice since our pup just vomited this evening. It might be something about changing homes since he was just given to us yesterday, and the travel time from my friend’s house to ours is about 5 hours which made him stressed out.

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