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How to Spot Signs of Puppy Sickness: When to Seek Veterinary Care

Owner petting sick puppy

Written by The Halo Team

August 8, 2023

Dogs can get sick just like humans. Unfortunately, your canine friend can’t tell you when it’s not feeling well. That’s why it’s important to keep a close eye on your puppy’s health. Staying watchful will help you pick up on signs of illness so you can give your pet the care it needs.

A watchful eye is just one of the tools necessary for responsible pet ownership. Recognizing the signs of common puppy illnesses and knowing when to seek veterinary care is a crucial part of maintaining its well-being.

Understanding Normal Puppy Behavior

No two puppies are exactly alike. But some distinctive behaviors signify a healthy canine.

Puppies are little balls of boundless energy. During the first 6 months of life, young puppies are full of curiosity and love to explore their surroundings. This means plenty of time spent playing and running around.

The first year of a puppy’s life is spent learning how it fits into the pack. Pawing and play-biting are normal behaviors for a developing canine as it starts to test boundaries. Fighting with other dogs is also typical and is one of the primary ways it’ll discover how to socialize.

Puppies tend to eat more frequently than adult dogs, with a diet consisting of three meals per day. As they grow, they’ll gradually transition to standard twice-a-day feedings.

Getting familiar with healthy behavior is the first step in recognizing sickness — when the above habits disappear, it could signal an unhealthy puppy.

Signs of Puppy Sickness

Sick puppy wrapped in a blanket

Once you know what a healthy pup looks like, it’s easier to spot sickness when it arises. Most common puppy illnesses have overlapping symptoms — look out for these warning signs to determine if your furry friend isn’t feeling well.

With so much to explore, puppies typically find it hard to slow down. If your puppy suddenly becomes lethargic and unwilling to move, it could be a sign of illness. Take note of any changes in behavior or personality, including aggression and social withdrawal. This might mean your dog is in need of veterinary attention.

Loss of appetite is another red flag. While it’s normal for your dog’s appetite to differ slightly each day, a continued refusal to eat isn’t healthy. In some cases, sick puppies may experience unexplainable weight loss or gain. Drinking more water than usual can also indicate a range of conditions, including canine influenza and kidney disease.

Vomiting and diarrhea are some of the most obvious signs of puppy illnesses. This may not be cause for concern in some cases, such as when a curious pup gets into the trash can. However, multiple episodes could point to a serious cause. Conditions like intestinal parasites and infections are characterized by bloody diarrhea and frequent vomiting and require immediate veterinary attention.

Coughing and wheezing may indicate an issue with your dog’s respiratory system. Conditions like kennel cough are highly contagious and stem from contact with an infected dog or contaminated surface. A puppy that exhibits these symptoms after interacting with other dogs could benefit from an examination.

Changes in urination or defecation habits — such as a drastic increase or decrease — are also warning signs to look out for. Additionally, keep an eye out for visual signals such as rashes or bumps that may point to abdominal pain. Discharge from the eyes or nose is also a common symptom of conditions like canine distemper, another highly contagious disease.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

Even with consistent monitoring, your dog may still get sick sometimes. But when your canine friend isn’t feeling well, how do you know when it’s time to seek professional help?

In many cases, serious conditions can be prevented with regular veterinary checkups. Regular appointments will keep your puppy up-to-date on its vaccinations and allow your vet to identify warning signs you might not notice. Plus, your vet may give you specific guidance for keeping your pup healthy.

However, some common symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. Uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea could signal a serious condition, as could rapid breathing. Puppies with trouble moving or standing up should also be given supportive care as soon as possible. Additionally, if you suspect your puppy has come into contact with an infected animal, it’s a good idea to get it checked out.

In these emergency situations, you can rely on the Veterinary Emergency Group. They are open 24/7 and can handle a wide range of pet emergencies. From accident wounds to complex surgeries, they are the place to go for any pet emergency.

If you’re still unsure whether your dog needs veterinary attention, err on the side of caution. Early detection can often prevent minor health issues from developing into severe cases. Even a common puppy illness can be extremely dangerous if left untreated. Act promptly to avoid giving the condition a chance to escalate.

Remember, your puppy’s health is a priority. Regular check-ups, prompt attention to symptoms, and supporting organizations that care for pets are all part of responsible pet ownership.

How to Make a Sick Puppy Comfortable

If your puppy is sick, the main thing it’ll need is lots of rest. Make sure it has access to a quiet, comfortable space to recover, and consider limiting contact with children and other dogs. Provide plenty of water and encourage it to get lots of sleep. Keeping your puppy calm when it’s not feeling well can help make its recovery a smooth process.

Keeping Your Puppy Safe and Healthy

Recognizing signs of sickness in your puppy is one of the easiest ways to keep it healthy. Consistent veterinary care can also help you stop illnesses before they happen. Keeping your puppy vaccinated can help prevent conditions like kennel cough and dog flu, which can be serious. And for dog owners looking to be more vigilant, the Halo Collar is the perfect tool.

Halo Collar: Your Ally in Monitoring Your Puppy’s Well-Being

A busy life can make it difficult to monitor your dog 24/7. If you’re like most pet owners, you’ve turned to technology to help keep your pup happy and healthy. That’s where the Halo Collar comes in.

Developed with renowned canine behaviorist Cesar Millan, the Halo Collar offers a holistic approach to dog training. Unlike other systems, Halo uses natural guidance to set boundaries and reinforce good behavior.

The Halo Collar’s boundary-setting feature can also help prevent common puppy injuries by setting up wireless fences to keep your dog where it’ll be safe and protected.

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