Taking care of a sick puppy can be worrying, confusing, heartbreaking... and often expensive. Find out how to recognize the symptoms of illness, and how to help him get better here.
If your puppy doesn't seem to be feeling well, it's easy to panic... but if you're a new puppy owner it can be difficult to figure out if there really is something wrong, and to decide exactly what you should do about it.
Your little guy is relying on you to take care of him, and to get him the right kind of help, right when he needs it.....
So it's important to that you know how to recognize the most common signs of illness and to make sure that puppy health care is a high priority in your home.
If this is your first puppy (or it's been a while since you had a little one) you might think that little Fido's very round tummy is just 'puppy fat' - but do you know that it could be signs of a bad case of puppy worms?
And the runny nose that the breeder put down to 'allergies'? It could be an early sign of an upper respiratory tract infection, or other more serious illnesses.
Read on to find out which symptoms may mean that you really do have a sick puppy on your hands.
There are a few serious, potentially fatal, infectious dog illnesses that your puppy could catch if his little body doesn't have the necessary antibodies. That's why it's so important to begin scheduling his puppy vaccinations right away.
The signs and symptoms of these dangerous diseases are varied, and to make matters more confusing they can often also be the sign of an entirely different, or much less serious, problem!
Just as you know your own children so well that you instinctively recognize when one of them is acting 'out of sorts', it won't take long for you to see your puppy's' special pattern of behavior.
You'll soon know what's normal for him, for example:
... how long he can play for without getting tired
... how much he eats in a day (or at each meal)
... how often he needs to 'potty' and what's normal for his bowel movements
... whether he's normally very happy and excitable or more mellow etc. etc.
When it comes to protecting your puppy's wellbeing, this is all important stuff, because one of the earliest signs that all is not well with Fido will most likely be behavior that is unusual for him.
If you see any of the following, you may indeed have a sick puppy, and you need to get veterinary help right away -
In addition to the signs above that indicate you have a sick puppy on your hands, there are some other symptoms that can crop up and suggest that a puppy illness or puppy health concern of some sort is present.
These often aren't cause for concern at the level of the above list, but they still need evaluation by a professional veterinarian. They include:
If he's licking his genital area, and is urinating more than normal it could mean a urinary tract infection. These are more common in female puppies than males, but any pup can get a UTI. If you have a sick puppy and suspect this might be the problem, then get him to a vet right away, antibiotics usually clear things up pretty quickly, but left untreated these types of infection can cause some serious issues.
This handy tool can also help you figure out what those symptoms mean and can link you to over 2000 articles on pet health.....
There are too many symptoms which could suggest that your puppy is sick, for me to cover on this page! However, the ones listed above are the most common, and are seen over and over again in the questions that I get asked on a daily basis.
If you don't see the symptoms that your puppy has that doesn't mean that he's just fine, it could be something that I haven't mentioned or a more unusual problem.
But if you have this book on hand - The Veterinarians' Guide to Your Dog's Symptoms
- you'll always be able to find a list of the potential cause of just about any symptom you're likely to see.
Written by veterinarians, it's perfect for everyday reference and points you in the right direction, whether that is a trip to the vet's office or a home remedy.
The bottom line is this... if your puppy is acting in a way that isn't normal for him, or you are at all worried, then you need to get a professional veterinary evaluation to make sure that he's not sick. It's always better to be safe than sorry in these cases!
Having a comprehensive source of pet health information that you can turn to is always a good idea, and here are some more books fit the bill perfectly. I'd definitely recommend having at least one of them on your bookshelf.
If, after reading this page you're still in doubt about whether or not you have a sick puppy on your hands, or you need help, there are a couple of options you can try.My Puppy Questions Page -
this is a collection of questions received from visitors to this website, and the answers I gave. Some questions come up over and over again, others are more unusual, chances are good you'll find something relating to YOUR question here.
Ask An Online Veterinarian - get a quick, professional answer to your puppy question (or a question about any type of pet for that matter) from a qualified veterinarian without the cost of a real-life visit. Of course this is NOT the route to take if your pup is really ill, or you have an emergency situation!
Although even the healthiest little guy can end up being a sick puppy, you can help prevent a certain amount of problems by making sure that you pick a healthy puppy, from healthy parents, to begin with.
It's best to choose a puppy from a litter that is right under your nose because it makes the whole process a little bit easier. Also, make sure that the parent dogs have had all their vaccinations and any breed-specific health tests.
Healthy puppies are usually active and playful and should have compact, sturdy bodies, shiny coats and be bright eyed and alert,whereas a sick puppy will most likely be quiet, and his eyes and coat may look dull.
Irritation or discharge from the eyes, ears or nose are not good. Neither are signs of diarrhea or excessively loose stools.
These are just the basics, and you need to take the time to understand the breed you are buying, and how to pick out a happy, healthy pup.
You'll find lots more tips, advice and information about this on my Choosing A Healthy Puppy page.
Any pet owner soon finds out that veterinary care doesn't come cheap! Fortunately for our pets, veterinary science is moving forward in leaps and bounds and many conditions that used to be a death sentence are now very treatable.
Unfortunately the treatments are also often extremely expensive, and if your pup gets injured or becomes seriously ill you could be looking at thousands of dollars worth of vet bills in the blink of an eye.
Our dogs are part of our families and most of us will pay whatever it takes if it means we can save our pets and get them back to good health. BUT sometimes the cost is so high that gut-wrenching decisions have to be made. No one wants to be in that position.
Luckily, there's an option that can help prevent you and your pup from this scenario.. it's called Pet Health Insurance. It works in a similar way to the health insurance you and your family have for yourselves, and after all your pup is a family member now so it makes sense he should be covered as well.
For a small monthly premium you can protect your pet's future health (and your bank account and credit cards!). It's VERY worthwhile and if the worst happens it could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Check out my Pet Dog Health Insurance page to find out more about pet insurance - including the questions to ask the insurance company, how to compare policies, and even get free, no-obligation, quotes for your pet/s.