5 Common Illnesses To Look Out For In Puppies

August 29, 2018

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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 rig