Bringing a puppy into your home is one of the most exciting and rewarding decisions you could make. Puppies are furry balls of energy and affection, and many people see their lives enriched by bringing a pet into their world. Having a pet is a large responsibility, however, and dog owners need to be prepared for problems such as illness. Puppy owners, specifically, need to be aware of common puppy illnesses and what they can do to treat and prevent them.
There are two kinds of bloat in dogs: gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) and simple bloat. Some forms of simple bloat, known as dilatation, resolve on their own and progress far more slowly than GDV. Gastric dilatation-volvulus, however, is a life-threatening condition that can be fatal to dogs in less than a few hours. Larger breeds are most susceptible to bloat. Although bloating is most common in middle-aged and older dogs, puppies of larger breeds can still develop this condition.
Bloat occurs when a large amount of air is ingested into your pup’s stomach. When this air cannot be expelled through vomiting or burping, the ends of the dog‘s stomach begin to twist. The contents of the stomach then begin to ferment and part or all of the stomach may die. The symptoms of bloat include discomfort, inability to vomit and drooling.
Bloat needs to be addressed quickly in dogs. Early diagnosis and surgery will give your puppy a 90% survival rate or higher. However, if the stomach has already twisted and begun to die, that number is closer to 50%. The best way to help treat bloat in puppies is to identify it and have the problem treated immediately. You can prevent bloat by slowing down your puppy’s eating and making sure it has plenty of time to rest before and after a meal.
Coccidiosis is caused by an infestation of intestinal parasites in your puppy. It is among the most common puppy health problems, especially if your puppy has been exposed to an unsanitary and unclean environment. Coccidiosis is mainly caused by unclean drinking water that has been contaminated by feces.
Some dogs with coccidiosis show no symptoms, while others will be lethargic and have irregular stool. One of the principal signs of coccidiosis is blood in your puppy’s feces. If untreated, coccidiosis can be deadly, so be sure to seek professional help as soon as possible.
Coccidiosis is treated through antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian. The drug treatment can last from one to four weeks depending on your dog’s reaction and the severity of the infection. The parasite that causes coccidiosis lives in animal feces, so keeping your puppy’s space sparkling clean is vital to preventing infection.
Distemper is a highly contagious disease that’s spread either through airborne particles or through the placenta of an infected mother. Distemper is a common puppy illness, especially in pups younger than four months.
The symptoms of distemper appear in two stages. The first stage includes symptoms like fever, nasal and eye discharge, loss of appetite and coughing. If the disease continues to progress, dogs will experience the second stage of progression, which includes neurological problems. You may see your dog’s head tilt, and your pup might experience seizures or convulsions.
The good news is that distemper can be prevented through vaccination. Be sure to get your furry friend fully vaccinated as soon as possible, and check with your breeder to get a clear idea of which shots your newest family member has received.
Heartworms pose a serious problem to dogs of all ages. Puppies can easily be infected with heartworms through a mosquito bite. The larvae of heartworms are spread through mosquitoes and take about six months to mature and enter the heart and surrounding vessels.
The symptoms of heartworm don’t manifest themselves until months or even years after a dog has been infected. Once the symptoms become apparent, they usually include a cough, anemia, lethargy and difficulty breathing.
The prevention of heartworm is far less expensive than the treatment. You can give your puppy a pill every month after they’re over a certain age, usually seven months. You can also have shots given to your pet every six months and use topical solutions. Using these products will prevent heartworm disease, one of the most common puppy illnesses.
Parvovirus is a serious illness in young dogs that can lead to your beloved puppy’s untimely death. Similar to coccidiosis, parvovirus or parvo is highly contagious and spread through contact with infected feces. Puppies aged six weeks to six months are the most likely to contract parvo and spread it to other susceptible dogs.
The symptoms for parvovirus include bloody diarrhea, vomiting and weakness. Dehydration and weight loss are also common in puppies with parvo.
Common puppy illnesses and symptoms occasionally overlap. The symptoms for parvovirus and those for other common puppy health problems can be similar, so a test conducted by a veterinarian is the only way to know for sure what illness your puppy has.
There is no cure for parvovirus, but that doesn’t mean your puppy will die from this illness. Puppies with a veterinarian’s support have a good survival rate, around 70% or higher. Your vet will tell you the steps that need to be taken to support your pup during this illness, and puppies that survive the first few days will likely have a full recovery. Of course, prevention is the best treatment, so your puppy should begin its first round of parvovirus vaccine shots as soon as possible.
While owning a pet can seem like a daunting responsibility, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Always be sure you’re ready to take on the responsibility that comes with maintaining a puppy’s health, and be aware of the potential health problems your dog’s breed is disposed to. With proper care and precautions, you’ll be able to see your puppy grow up and enjoy its sweet personality for years to come.