12 Common Puppy Health Problems You Should Know About

This post was most recently updated on December 22nd, 2018

Sick puppy? Nope, not the pining person, but that little pooch that’s recovering from an illness. Since their bodies are little, they are very prone to various diseases. Some of the common puppy health problems can be hereditary or acquired at an early. And to prevent these conditions from taking a drastic turn, detection is a big must.

As the hooman, it’s your responsibility to look after the health of your pup. Like babies, dogs don’t have the means to nurse themselves. You have to be hands-on and observant for possible unhealthy puppy signs.

Why puppies are prone to sickness

Pups are more prone to develop diseases during their weaning months. Since they are feeding on their mothers, there’s a possibility that they can contract viruses and bacteria from the milk. Also, their small bodies don’t have enough strength to handle drastic changes in their environment. They are fragile little doggos that need TLC.

However, this shouldn’t send you to a state of frenzy. Getting sick is normal, so to speak as long as it’s not very recurring. Whatever common puppy health problems your pooch has, it’s always best to seek the opinion of a veterinarian to prevent the problem from escalating.

Unhealthy puppy signs

Although not exhaustive, I have listed some of the usual signs that your pup isn’t feeling very well. You must know that most puppies are yappy and energetic. If they suddenly turn lethargic and grumpy, something must be going on. You should head straight to the vet. Aside from lethargy, here are some symptoms to watch out for:

Loss of appetite

The fact that your puppy has stopped eating means you have to seek treatment. This can be a sign of various conditions like simply teething or a serious digestive problem.

Blood in stool

I won’t blame you if you freak out upon seeing blood on your pup’s stool. The same with humans, this isn’t a normal thing. As one of the common puppy health problems, you should consult a dog doctor right away.

Digestive disturbances

I actually listed diarrhea and vomiting as two separate conditions. This can be simple indigestion or a bigger problem in their intestines.


Whimpering is normal for most pups that are scared, hungry, or hurt. But if it’s lingering for no obvious reasons, you should seek the opinion of a dog doctor. Something might be aching inside their tiny bodies.

Itching and licking

Constant licking and itching can be potential signs of allergies, skin diseases, and so on.

These are just some of the common and guaranteed signs that your puppy has health issues. For more details, it’s best to talk with a vet after reading the following points.

1. Cough

Yes, they are indeed like babies! Puppies are usually susceptible to coughs and colds due to viruses they can pick up anywhere. Since they love playing and chewing on stuff, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Puppies don’t cough loud, but if you notice that they bark differently and a bit out of temper, they are probably suffering from a dry cough. It’s one of the common puppy health problems you should keep an eye on.

The good news is that a puppy cough is very easy to treat.

Herbal medicine or a prescription from the vet should cure the condition after a few days. If the symptoms linger, go back to the vet for a more detailed diagnosis. It could be another symptom of an underlying disease. Usually, this is nothing concerning but you can’t take chances, right?

common puppy health problems

2. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is common among puppies that are transitioning from wet to solid foods. Since their tummies are still getting used to the new diet, they just need to get past through the discomfort. The chances of diarrhea should be reduced through variable and careful transitioning.

Diarrhea can also take place due to food poisoning, allergy, contamination, and ingestion of inedible items.

Again, you have to keep an eye on what your puppy chews and plays with. Always seek a check-up right away the moment diarrhea happens. The vet may recommend a prescription diet or a medicine to fix the tummy problem.

If you see blood on the loose stool, spare no time and go to the dog doctor. This is a serious condition and not just some common puppy health problems.

3. Vomiting

I’ve seen my pup vomit dozens of times due to a variety of reasons. One time, he ate grass and vomited all of it. My vet told me that it’s their innate way of appeasing their irritated tummy. Also, my doggo get too immersed on the trash that he chewed bits of unknown matter.

Vomiting can happen to puppies if they get too excited or active right after eating. To prevent this from happening, feed your puppy the right amount and don’t engage him to play at least an hour after the meal. Limit the causes of stress, too, like putting him in the crate for long.

If it’s one of the common puppy health problems, the vomiting should stop within 24 hours.

If it doesn’t, bring your dog to the vet before the pooch becomes intensely dehydrated.

4. Scabies

Scabies, also known as sarcoptic mange, is common among pups. This causes the pooch to scratch incessantly which will lead to lacerations and further infection if not treated. Scabies is a very irritating and limiting condition which can put your pup’s life in danger. It’s important that you get your puppy treated right away to arrest the potential complications.

Scabies is caused by mites that burrow under the skin. These parasites feed and reproduce on your pooch’s skin.

Canine scabies can also cause itchiness to humans although they will soon die due to the inability to reproduce.

Your pup can get scabies outdoors when mingling to infected dogs or by lying on the ground. It’s important that you keep up with grooming to spot these uninvited visitors.

5. Hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar levels usually happen to toy breeds. When they stay unfed for long, their bodies burn too much energy causing the blood sugar to drop. The pup becomes abnormally sleepy and weak which will soon lead to poor command response. When the puppy turns severely weak, he may not eat even if offered food.

If the condition is left untreated, your pup will soon experience seizures, loss of consciousness, and apparent death.

Pups are at high risk during the first 6 to 12 weeks of their lives. This threat lingers until they turn 7 months old.

To prevent hypoglycemia, don’t make your pup too tired if you can’t feed him right away. Also, get a commercial puppy food with balanced nutrition.

6. Parvo

Parvo is a highly contagious disease characterized by anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. When this is left untreated, Parvo may branch into a severe intestinal problem and cardiac arrest. Puppies who suffer from Parvo lose their appetite, have trouble sleeping, experience intense weakness, and grumpiness.

Parvo is usually seen on puppies around 6 weeks to 6 months of age. As one of the common puppy health problems, this could be prevented with early detection or proper vaccination.

This disease is usually spread via infected stool. If a pup sniffs the virus-carrying stool, he can contract Parvo right away. That’s how viral this condition is. Even if the stool is cleaned up, the Parvovirus can still live on the soil for about a year. If your pooch rolls, sniff, and chew on the grass, an infection is possible.

7. Distemper

Distemper is a dreaded and incurable disease among canines. This virus attacks the tonsils of the dog first so it can reproduce there. Once the virus is fully blown, it will soon branch into the respiratory, nervous, gastrointestinal, and urogenital systems. This is a highly lethal condition that can only be managed, not totally eradicated.

Distemper can be contracted via direct and indirect means like licking a bowl that an infected dog used or stepping on an infected excretion.

If your pup has a very weak immune system, the sad truth is that death will take place after five weeks or so upon infection.

The cure to distemper is still a puzzle that veterinarians are trying to solve. Right now, immunized dogs have a lower risk but this doesn’t offer a 100% guarantee of dodging the lethal disease.

common puppy health problems

8. Parasites

Puppies are adventurous pooches. You let them outside and God knows what they’ve chewed, sniff, swallowed, or dig into. They can contract roundworms, tapeworm, hookworms, and other types of parasites. What happens next is your pup vomits and poop loose. Other symptoms also include a swollen belly, pale gums, and dry coat.

Early detection will allow the vet to eradicate the parasites with the least effort.

And although worm infestations are normal and short-lived, it can still pose serious health risks as one of the common puppy health problems.

Your vet will run fecal testing to pick up what type of parasite is on your puppy. After that, a specific medication will be administered. Usually, the purging can be really messy and gross. You should be prepared for the code brown situation.

9. Rabies

Rabies is properly one of the most popular diseases among dogs. Aside from the fact that it poses a health threat to the infected puppy, it also exposes humans to a potentially lethal risk.

This is a very horrible disease that targets the spinal cord and the brain of an infected pup or adult dog.

Your pup will start to become aggressive even if he’s the sweetest pooch you’ve ever seen. Energetic pups may become passive yet hostile when touched. You’ll know that the condition has turned worse if your pup’s mouth is starting to foam. At this point, avoid being in contact with the pooch and call a dog rescue service. Getting bitten by a rabid pup is lethal that untreated humans become severely aggressive and contagious too. It’s like these common puppy health problems.

10. Cleft palate

Puppies can also be born with cleft palates. If you observe milk bubbles coming from the nose of your pooch, it’s a sign of a malformed snoot. They will find it hard to feed on their own, thus the need for assisted rearing. Your vet can advise about this together with a potential surgical operation.

Obviously, this is an inborn condition that can only be cured surgically. Doctors suggest that cleft palate among puppies is the result of too much Vitamins A and C among pregnant dogs.

It’s important to get a cleft pup palate fixed to prevent teething and biting issues when the pooch grows old.

This condition might also cause breathing problems and gagging. Worse, pneumonia and infection may also take place due to food aspiration.

11. Hernia

Hernia is common among puppies. When abdominal organs or tissues protrude in one spot, it can cause intense pain. The severe it gets the more unbearable it becomes for the pup. Different types of hernias are seen among puppies including diaphragmatic, umbilical, and inguinal among others.

If your pup is having trouble breathing, urinating, vomiting, and whimpering, you should take him to the vet. It might be a sign of common puppy health problems. You can also do a quick check by running your fingers gently on your pup’s abdomen.

If you feel a lump, tenderness, or your pup whimpered in pain, there’s a chance that he has a hernia.

Surgery is the only way to fix a hernia and seal the hole that shouldn’t be there. If your pup has an umbilical hernia where fat is the only protruding matter, it can be removed during spaying.

12. Retained baby teeth

Puppies are supposed to lose all their milk teeth by the time adult daggers start to grow. If these tiny teeth don’t shed, it will cause dental problems. A poorly formed jaw and problematic chewing are just some of the potential repercussions.

It’s important that you spot retained baby teeth as soon as possible.

This is so the vet can pull the milk teeth even before it affects the formation of the jaw. A gingival flap will also take place where the vet folds the excess gum line back to its proper place.

Although these are common puppy health problems, it doesn’t mean that it will go on its own. Puppies are prone to lethal conditions that if not treated will seal their way to the rainbow bridge. As the owner, always, always be proactive.

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