The health of the puppy has a direct impact on its behavior. This is why, even before his education, you need to be cognisant of common puppy health problems. The good health of your baby dog is a fundamental element for his well-being (and yours as well). The following puppy health tips and advice will give you an excellent head start.
Some breeds have predispositions for kidney and liver disease so let’s discuss these conditions to start with.
Signs of Liver Disease
If your puppy loses his appetite, vomits often, has diarrhea, shows a belly protrusion and light gray stools, consult for a liver problem.
Signs of Puppy Kidney Disease
If your puppy is losing weight, vomiting often, drinking a lot more than usual, and losing strength, then you need to see a vet for a kidney problem.
You will understand that there are many signs in your puppy’s behavior or attitude that can help you identify orthopedic or congenital problems. It is important to detect them as soon as possible in order to increase the chances of success of the treatment or the operation and to save on veterinary expenses. You can ask your veterinarian to perform these tests during a punctual or scheduled visit. If necessary, your veterinarian will ask you to carry out additional examinations on your puppy. Blood tests can also help find birth problems.
What are the common puppy health problems?
Just like in humans, there are a multitude of diseases that your puppy can develop. Knowing the main ones can help you diagnose them and thus react in the right way when faced with them. Of course, the diagnosis must always be validated by your veterinarian.
Infectious diseases in puppies
Like you, your puppy can unfortunately be infected with bacteria or viruses. Most of these diseases are serious and require a consultation with the veterinarian as soon as possible to confirm the diagnosis and implement the appropriate treatment.
Particularly affecting young dogs living in communities (shelters & breeding grounds), kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis is a disease of the respiratory tract caused by the association of several bacteriological and viral agents.
The symptoms of kennel cough are a dry, strong cough, as if the dog is trying to spit something out. Fever, conjunctivitis, and secretions from the nose and eyes also appear. The disease can escalate into bronchopneumonia, which can be fatal in puppies.
Vaccination from 6 weeks will allow your companion to lower the chances of contracting this disease.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by Leptospira, a bacterium found in standing water and infected soils. Your dog can get it through the skin by bathing in a puddle or orally by drinking from a puddle. It is transmissible to humans by simple skin contact. It is therefore important to pay attention to hygiene if your puppy has leptospirosis.
This bacterial disease can present itself in several forms:
The jaundice-hemorrhagic form
The dog presents yellow mucous membranes (jaundice), acute renal failure and blood clotting disorders. Death can occur in 3 to 6 days.
The nephretic form
The dog has acute renal failure which occurs more or less quickly. The dog first drinks a lot and then urinates less and less. In its acute form, high fever (39.5-40 °C), severe depression, anorexia and vomiting occur in addition to severe dehydration. Death occurs within 15 days.
The form of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
The dog is vomiting with blood and his stools are black because they contain digested blood.
The form of acute renal failure (with urea crisis)
The dog urinates very little or at all. Death occurs within 48 hours after a phase of hypothermia (a very low body temperature) and coma.
Antibiotic treatment should be considered as soon as possible, along with treatment for kidney failure if necessary. As this disease is very serious with a high mortality rate, it is important to take preventive measures and not hesitate to take out health insurance for your puppy. The best part is the vaccination which allows your puppy to be protected against the two most common varieties of bacteria that infect dogs. This vaccination is carried out in 2 injections separated by 4 weeks intervals in puppies over 3 months old with an annual booster. For dogs with a higher risk factor (hunting dog or living in a wetland) the recall can be done twice a year.
Distemper in puppies
Infectious and contagious, distemper is widespread throughout the world and one of the common puppy health problems. Very contagious, it is caused by a Paramixovirus transmitted in the air through the secretions of the infected dog. The infection first affects the upper respiratory tract and tonsils. From there the virus reaches different organs through the bloodstream (viraemia).
The symptoms of distemper are multiple and varied depending on the form in which the disease manifests itself, respiratory form, intestinal form and nervous form. Symptoms common to all 3 forms are a lack of appetite, decreased alertness and high body temperature (over 40 °C).
This is the most common form of distemper. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, a dry, irritating cough soon appears followed by a fatty cough with sputum, a runny nose, and conjunctivitis with photophobia (intolerance to light). Secondary bacterial infections causing bronchial pneumonia may also develop.
Symptoms are acute diarrhea loaded with mucus and sometimes blood. The general condition of the animal may subsequently deteriorate due to an infestation of intestinal parasites or the occurrence of secondary bacterial enteritis.
The last form of the disease to be developed, the nervous form attacks the nervous system.
Vaccination of your puppy will prevent this viral disease.
Although it has become less common in the recent past, rabies is still scary because it is one of the diseases transmissible to humans. The virus is contained in saliva and is spread by bite from an infected animal. As the incubation period is long, a carrier animal may appear healthy. This is why every bite should be taken seriously. Of course, biting and nibbling is quite common in young dogs and does increase risks.
The incubation period lasts 15 to 60 days in dogs (sometimes much longer in humans). As the virus multiplies in the brain, the symptoms of rabies are mainly nervous: salivation, itching, paralysis of the limbs, modification of the voice, swallowing problems, change in behavior (fear, aggressiveness, etc.). To date, there is no effective treatment and your dog will die within 4 to 5 days of the first symptoms.
To prevent your puppy from catching rabies and limit the spread of the disease, you should have your puppy vaccinated at the age of 3 months. The vaccine is given as a single injection with an annual booster and is mandatory under certain conditions.
Parasitic diseases in puppies
Parasitic diseases are common puppy health problems and can take many forms. The following will help you recognize them and react effectively in timely fashion.
Ear mites are very common in dogs, especially in animals living in the community. It is caused by mites (Otodectes cynotis) that live and breed in your puppy’s ear canal. It is transmitted very easily between animals (dog, cat, ferret, etc.).
If your puppy is scratching his ear and shaking his head frantically, the presence of ear mites should be considered. Parasites in the ears cause inflammation which, although initially moderate, can become very severe quickly. A brown or black, dry and crumbly earwax is produced in fairly large quantities. A peculiar smell can also be felt.
The first thing to do is to clean the ear regularly with a product specially designed for dog ears. You will also need to apply an acaricide product (ointment or cream) which should be prescribed by your veterinarian. It is imperative that the treatment be carried out for the duration indicated in order to ensure the eggs that have not yet hatched are killed. We also advise to treat both ears and all other sensitive animals in the house (dogs and cats).
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi transmitted by ticks through their bites and is also transmissible to humans and other mammals.
The symptoms of Lyme disease are varied and can appear several months after the bite has infected your puppy. Most of the time, he will have a fever along with other signs such as depression, difficult breathing and anorexia. Your canine companion may also face muscle and joint pain impeding hid motricity. The crises can be fractional and moderate, sometimes barely noticeable by owners. Since the clinical symptoms of Lyme disease are not really standing out, the diagnosis will need to be validated through a blood test at the veterinarian.
The first step is to use preventive treatments against ticks, and even more so for puppies exposed to higher risk environments such as the country or wild areas. Different products exist, such as Frontline, Scalibor or Defendog. They are not guaranteed to be effective, which is why your puppy should always be free from ticks when coming home. Of course, a tick should be removed as soon as it is detected on your puppy.
Intestinal worms in puppies
Common puppy health problems include the infection with various kinds of intestinal worms. Below is a review of the main ones, their potential impacts on your puppy and the suggested treatment (dewormer) to counter these parasites.
The puppy can be infected with Tapeworm (Cipylidium caninum) more commonly known as “tapeworm”. Composed of rings, it can measure several tens of cm. These are passed in your puppy’s stool and are recognizable by their resemblance to white grains of rice.
This worm causes an itchy anus that your puppy will try to relieve by dragging his hindquarters on the ground, this is called the “sled sign”. Contamination can occur through the ingestion of fleas carrying the tapeworm, which is why treatment against it should be accompanied by flea treatment.
These are small white worms found in your puppy’s feces. They are mainly found in puppies and dogs living in communities such as boarding houses and shelters. They pump blood through the walls of the intestine and can cause anemia or even death in dogs when they are numerous.
Roundworms are spaghetti-like white worms and can measure be up to eight inches long! They are routinely found in puppies that are infected in their mother’s womb or through breastfeeding after birth.
Roundworms feed by drawing on the puppy’s reserves and can thus be responsible for vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, weight loss and stunted growth. Be careful, roundworms can be transmitted to humans. Particular care must therefore be taken with children who play with puppies that have not been dewormed.
It is essential to systematically deworm a puppy every month for the first 6 months. Adult dogs should be dewormed twice a year.
Whipworms are 2-4 cm worms that live in the puppy’s intestines. They are easily identified by their shape rolled up at their end (bishop’s butt). They are mostly found in puppies and dogs living in communities (kennels, boarding houses, shelters, breeding farms). They feed on the blood pumped through the wall of the puppy’s intestine and can cause anemia or very painful diarrhea. Whipworms are resistant to certain dewormers. If in doubt, do not hesitate to seek advice from your veterinarian.
It is important to deworm your puppy at at the earliest age possible to avoid contamination by the different types of worms. In case of infection, your puppy may face more or less serious health problems ranging from weight loss, nutritional deficiencies and anemia.
Deworming is an essential preventive treatment that will allow your puppy to kill worms and strengthen his immune system. It will help prevent contamination not only of your puppy but also of your family and other animals living under the same roof.
Here are the most important tips for treating your companion:
- Puppies should be dewormed every 15 days until they are 2 months old and then monthly until 6 months old.
- Adult dogs should be dewormed at least 4 times a year.
- Dogs living in a community or living with young children should be dewormed more often.
- Pregnant bitches should also undergo appropriate deworming.
What are the different types of dewormers?
Like all medications, they must be prescribed by your veterinarian and can have different forms: tablets, pastes, liquid, pipettes, injections.
The choice of the product should depend on several parameters: ages, weight, race and lifestyle. Do not hesitate to seek advice from your veterinarian to help in your choice of a natural deworming protocol.
Common puppy health problems: Vaccination is your best friend!
Having your puppy vaccinated will prevent him from developing several health problems. Indeed, most of the most common diseases in dogs have been researched and effective vaccines have been created accordingly. Although they can be expensive, vaccines will save you heavy veterinary fees. However, despite their effectiveness, vaccines cannot unfortunately protect your puppy from all health problems.