There is nothing as exciting as having a new puppy and watching it adjust to your home and become one of the family!
We love the joy, laughter, companionship, and fun that puppies bring.
But what happens when your puppy is sick, or you notice something is physically wrong?
One of the first steps is to take your sick puppy to your local vet.
As the puppy owner, however, it is good to know some of the basics of common puppy diseases and ailments. Not only does this make you a better-informed owner, but it also allows gives you knowledge in knowing how to help prevent sickness in the first place.
We all want a healthy puppy, and knowing the following five common puppy illnesses, and what you can do to help prevent them, will make you a better owner.
Continue reading to learn how you can help protect your puppy!
Puppies are naturally curious, especially when it comes to chewing and eating.
As a result, it is not uncommon for puppies to swallow or eat things that cause problems in their digestive tract, otherwise known as a bowel obstruction.
These foreign objects include rocks, pieces of bone, toys, household objects, and more.
A bowel obstruction occurs when the puppy’s stomach or intestines become entirely or partially blocked.
What problems does bowel obstruction cause?
- Solids, and sometimes liquids, cannot pass through the digestive tract
- Toxins from the swallowed object can enter the bloodstream
- Damage to the digestive tract
- Decreased blood flow
What are the common symptoms of bowel obstruction?
- Repetitive vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to eat or drink
- Hunching or whining
If you suspect your puppy has bowel obstruction, you should go to your local vet immediately. They will check to see where the blockage is and how to remove it, as well as give your puppy the necessary fluids to remain stable.
How can you help prevent bowel obstruction?
- Remove any bite-size objects in your home accessible to your puppy
- Don’t let your puppy chew on stones, bones, or small sticks
- Keep toxic materials out of your puppy’s reach
- Teach your puppy the “Leave It Alone” command
- Provide plenty of safe chewable toys and treats
No animal owner likes the idea of worms, but it is a common disease for animals.
Not only do worms and other parasites affect your puppy’s health, but it can leave long-term issues if not treated properly. Worms spread through stool or contaminated soil, so it is crucial to take care of worms immediately.
What are the common symptoms of worms?
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain and hunching over
- Weight loss
- Poor coat appearance
- Blood in stool
- Worms visible in the stool (such as tapeworm)
- Loss of overall energy
Your local vet will be able to quickly determine if your puppy has worms by looking at your puppy’s stool or a blood test. Deworming medications treat the majority of worm cases, and your puppy should be back to normal health in a couple of weeks.
Because some dogs do not show symptoms of worms right away, it is also good to have your puppy regularly checked for worms by your vet.
Younger puppies can even receive some types of worms through their mother’s milk. Many breeders deworm their puppies before they place them for sale, and you should request this paperwork from your breeder when you buy your puppy.
How can you help prevent worms?
- Have your puppy checked regularly for worms by your local vet
- Talk with your vet about giving your puppy a regular dewormer
- Don’t let your puppy eat other animal feces or flesh
- Clean your puppy’s paws after walks
- Don’t allow your puppy to eat dirt
Like worms, fleas are one of the most dreaded diseases your pet can have.
We know fleas are a common problem, and yet many pet owners don’t know they could help prevent their pets from getting fleas in the first place!
Fleas are a robust parasite that bites animals to get their blood. The resulting bites can cause allergic reactions, sickness, bleeding, itchiness, and overall misery for the infected animals.
Fleas rarely infect humans, but they pass quickly among animals. Fleas and their eggs can survive most temperatures and humidity, and they sometimes lay dormant for months.
Because eggs are the primary way fleas spread, it is critical to understand your pet may have fleas even if you don’t see anything on your dog’s coat!
Common symptoms of fleas:
- Adult fleas are visible on the skin if looking very closely. Eggs, however, are hard to see.
- Small brown and black specs are sometimes visible on the skin; this is adult flea feces.
- Unusual or constant itching or scratching
- Biting parts of the body as if trying to remove something
- Patches of red or irritated skin
- Abnormal hair loss, often in patches
Because fleas come in a variety of stages and infection, your local vet needs to examine your puppy before recommending the next course of action.
What if you have several pets in your home, but only one is showing symptoms of fleas?
Because the eggs can be dormant for long periods, all your pets should be checked by your vet, even if they don’t yet show the symptoms.
How can you help prevent fleas?
- Keeping your yard and landscaping clean and trimmed reduces fleas
- Watch for and remove wild animals around your home; they often carry fleas
- Brush your pet with a flea comb or brush after being outside
- Keep carpeting and rugs clean
- Ask your vet how to wash and clean your dog properly
Mouth & Gum Disease
Did you know at three years old, over 80% of dogs show signs of having mouth & gum disease because of improper dental care?
We know you don’t want your puppy to be part of that statistic!
The principle of dog’s oral care is similar to human’s oral care - if you take care of the teeth and mouth, you shouldn’t see major problems with the mouth, teeth, or gums.
If you leave a dog’s mouth untreated, however, the following are possible:
- Tooth decay and loss
- Chipped or fractured teeth
- Mouth infections
- Negative effects on the rest of the body
Symptoms of mouth & gum disease:
- Excessive drooling
- Hesitant to chew on food or toys
- Missing or misaligned teeth
- Gums that are swollen, red, or bleeding
If your vet confirms that your puppy has mouth & gum disease, they will determine the next course of action. It may require medication, dental cleaning, surgery, or another dental solution.
How can you prevent mouth & gum disease?
- Have your dog’s teeth checked by your local vet annually
- Brush your puppy’s teeth as advised by your vet
- Give chew toys which clean and strengthen the teeth
- Only feed your puppy food and treats designed for dogs
Like humans, dogs can suffer from diabetes where the body produces either too much or not enough insulin.
In either case, diabetes can occur and affect your puppy’s overall health. This includes excessive thirst and hunger along with a noticeable loss of energy.
What are the common symptoms of diabetes?
- Excessive thirst and urination
- There is increased appetite, but your dog loses weight
- Loss of energy and continual tiredness
Similar to diabetes in humans, there is no quick or fast cure for diabetes, but steps can be taken to reduce its effects.
A common method prescribed by vets to combat dog diabetes is regulating the sugar levels with insulin injections. Thankfully, many dogs live very healthy and happy lives when sugar levels are properly regulated.
Your local vet will walk you through the steps and medication needed to maintain proper sugar levels. Often this includes a series of initial tests on your puppy to determine proper care.
How can you prevent diabetes?
Unlike other diseases, diabetes is more difficult to prevent because it is more often genetic. You should ask for health records from your breeder to see if diabetes is an issue in the parents.
One of the best ways to help prevent diabetes in your puppy is to keep your puppy at a healthy weight and prevent overeating. Although dog diabetes is not directly related to the dog being overweight, it does increase the risk of diabetes.
No animal owner wants to see their pet be sick or affected by disease. As an owner, there are steps you can take to help prevent many of the most common puppy diseases.
And remember - always check with your local vet if you are unsure about your puppy’s health!