Puppy Health Problems A to Z – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Puppy Health Problems

Dogs as pets are faithful companions. They look adorable, playing around. Therefore, it is our responsibility to keep them in the best conditions. Usually, most people buy puppies and then bring them up. Thus, you should also know the most common health problems in puppies. However, the puppies are energetic, lively little animals that need constant attention and proper nutrition to grow into healthy dogs. Unfortunately, in the early months, most puppies get sick. Therefore, if we neglect the issue, one of the simple puppy health problems can turn into something serious. Hence, you should keep an eye for the warning signs and symptoms to make sure your little fellow stays healthy.  

Common Health Problems in Puppies


Breeds at Risk


Rottweilers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, and German Shepherds.


Alaskan Sled Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherd Dogs, and Labrador Retrievers.


Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, American Staffordshire Terrier, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherd Dogs, and Labrador Retrievers.

Vomiting (and Diarrhea)

All breeds

Kennel Cough

All breeds


All breeds


Afghan Hound, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Collie, Chihuahua, Dalmatian, and Doberman Pinscher.

Intestinal Problems

German shepherd


All breeds


All breeds

Cleft Palate

Boston terriers, Pekingese, bulldogs, Miniature Schnauzers, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, and Dachshunds.

Undescended Testicles

Poodles, Pomeranians, and Yorkshire Terriers.

Retained deciduous (baby) teeth

Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Boxers.

Skeletal abnormalities

Labrador Retriever, German shepherd, and Irish Setter.


Toy breeds

Portosystemic shunts

Miniature schnauzers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Irish Wolfhounds.


German shepherd, Newfoundland, Great Dane, Irish setter, Shar-pei, Greyhound, Labrador retriever, and Siamese cats.

Certain congenital heart defects

Boxers, German Shepherds, Dogue de Bordeaux, and New Foundlands.

Puppies Health problems: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment


As the name suggests, canine parvovirus causes Parvo in puppies. As this is a highly contagious virus, it spreads either directly or indirectly. Therefore, an infected dog or contaminated object can both infect your puppy. Whenever your puppy consumes infected feces or even licks or sniffs, it is exposed to parvovirus. A person having an infected puppy is also an indirect medium. Contaminated objects such as water bowls, toys, food or towels, etc. are also the source of transmitting the virus. 

As in the early stage of life, the immune system is not strong enough. Thus, this is one of the typical puppy health issues that are two to six months old. Another reason is the lack of antibodies. 

Hence, to find out your puppy is infected or not, here are symptoms of Parvo: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Fever 
  • Bloody Diarrhea 
  • Lethargy 
  • Depression 
  • Anorexia 
  • Weight loss 
  • Dehydration 

Parvo is a fatal disease, but recognizing the signs mentioned above in-time can help you save your puppy. Therefore, you can prevent Parvo in puppies by giving them a full course of vaccination in 6, 8, and 12 weeks. Also, make sure you contact your vet regularly. 


Adenovirus causes respiratory infections and affects different organs. It also causes infectious canine hepatitis. Moreover, Canine hepatitis is fatal as it severely affects the liver. Some of the symptoms of adenovirus include: 

  • Fever  
  • Cough 
  • Discharge from the nose or eyes 
  • Tonsillitis 
  • Upper respiratory infection 
  • Bleeding mouth and gums 
  • Increased thirst 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Small red dots on the skin

Adenovirus is contagious. It spreads through saliva and feces of infected dogs. And unfortunately, symptoms are worse in puppies, and their death rate is also high. Thus it is crucial to protect your puppies from infected ones and also vaccinate them at the proper time. 

There is no cure for adenovirus. Therefore, treatment mostly focuses on reducing the severity of symptoms. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics, intravenous fluids to restore electrolyte levels, and re-hydrate dogs. However, vaccination is quite successful in reducing risk. 


Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. Different wild animals such as deer, rats, raccoons can spread Leptospirosis to dogs. The bacteria that cause this disease can survive in moist soil or warm and stagnant water for long. As a result, dogs that come in contact with contaminated water and land become infected. Dogs also become infected when they are exposed to the urine of an infected animal. In other words, you can say that almost anything plants, objects, water, or soil, if contaminated, can be the source of infection. 

The bacteria spread throughout the body, thus affecting different organs such as the liver, kidneys, reproductive system. A few days after infection, puppies develop antibodies that clear out most bacteria from their body. However, the extent of damage depends on the immune system of your dog, as well as its ability to eradicate bacteria from the dog’s body thoroughly. 

Some of the symptoms of Leptospirosis are, for example:

  • Sudden fever and illness 
  • Runny nose 
  • Shivering 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Increased thirst and urination/inability to urinate 
  • Stiff gait 
  • Rapid dehydration 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Depression

Some vaccines are available that can prevent your dog from infection.

Moreover, treatment includes antibiotics. As this is a zoonotic disease, it can also spread from animals to people. Also, precautions include regular hand-washing, using face masks, and gloves.

Vomiting (and diarrhea)

Vomiting (and diarrhea) is the most common puppy health problems. And this can be deadly too. Thus it is essential to contact your vet immediately. 

Some of the causes of vomiting are: 

  • Eating inedible objects 
  • Spoiled or rich food 
  • Overeating, too fast 
  • Infectious causes such as distemper or parvovirus 
  • Organ disfunction 
  • anatomic abnormalities 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease 
  • Gastrointestinal infections 

The causes of diarrhea are also more or less similar, such as,

  • Parasites 
  • Viral or bacterial infection 
  • Diet change or food intolerance 
  • Ingestion of inedible objects such as garbage, toxins, or foreign bodies 

Since there are many different causes of vomiting and diarrhea in puppies, treatment depends on the cause. Therefore, it is always best to contact your vet to rule out the cause and start an appropriate treatment plan.  

Kennel cough

Kennel cough is an infectious respiratory disease. It can have one or a combination of contagious agents such as canine parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is one of the typical puppy health problems and unvaccinated dogs. As kennel cough is contagious and quickly spreads through the kennel and infects every dog; hence, it is named as kennel cough. It spreads through nasal secretions and saliva or when a puppy licks or sniffs a contaminated object or an infected animal. Symptoms of kennel cough include: 

  • Nasal or eye discharge 
  • A chronic high-pitched honking cough 
  • Slight fever 
  • Loss of appetite 

Your puppy will otherwise act and eat regularly, but excitement, drinking, or exercise may make symptoms worse. Symptoms usually develop three to ten days after a puppy is exposed to an infected animal. As soon as you observe the symptoms mentioned above, get your pet checked by a vet because it is essential to rule out the exact cause. Some treatment options include humidifiers, oral antibiotics, cough suppressants, and also vaccines are available. 


A puppy is in most vulnerable stages of its life. And this sensitivity can be seen in dealing with pests because it is one of the standard puppy health problems. Therefore it is crucial to know how parasites can affect. Some of the parasites are discussed below: 


The most common roundworms are Ascaris. Puppies get these parasites by birth if their mother is infected. It is because larvae can pass through placenta and milk in puppies from mother. Therefore, it is essential to deworm the mother during the gestation period. Also, make sure to deworm the puppy until the 15th day after birth. 


Another type of roundworm is Hookworms. It is transferred in puppies through mother’s milk. These worms firmly attach themselves to the walls of the intestine, hence, causing health problems in puppies. 


It is a group of parasites known as flatworms or tapeworms. Fleas are the leading cause of dipylidium. Besides, these parasites can often be seen around the tail, resembling “rice grains. 


These unicellular parasites are microscopic. Thus they are invisible. Contaminated water or food is the leading cause of this infection. 

Therefore, the only way to get rid of these parasites and their related puppy health problems is deworming them timely. 


It is a condition that is caused by mites, which are microscopic parasites. As these mites live on or in the skin., hence, the symptoms include hair and skin allergy and the appearance of lesions and scales. These symptoms can be localized as well as generalized. Usually, the immune system keeps the number of these mites in check. Moreover, puppies get bugs through their infected mother. 

However, there are some topical and oral medications, along with shampoos and dips. 

Intestinal problems

Due to a sensitive digestive system, puppies are more prone to developing intestinal problems. One of these infections is E. coli infection. E. coli is present in mammals and helps in digestion naturally. However, these bacteria can cause puppy health problems

Symptoms of this infection are lethargy, vomiting, lack of appetite, cold skin, and diarrhea. The cause is that either the infected mother transfers it to newborn pups or puppy is not getting enough colostrum that coats the digestive system and protects it from bacterial infections. 

Intestinal problem is also caused by other bacteria called Campylobacter. The bacteria mostly infects puppies that are less than six months old. As a result, the symptoms appear in the form of enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever. Contaminated water, food, and also feces are sources of transmission. 

Because the puppy’s immune system is fragile, it is essential to contact your vet immediately. Possible treatments include antibiotics and restoration of body fluids other than those prescribed by your vet. 


It is a highly contagious disease and is one of the fatal puppy health problems. Canine distemper virus causes distemper. It damages different systems of the body, such as the central nervous system, digestive system, and respiratory system. Puppies get infected when they are exposed to an infected animal. Therefore, sneezing and coughing can quickly spread the disease. Some of the symptoms of distemper are vomiting, diarrhea, cough, yellow discharge from eyes, and nose and seizures. Treatment options include intensive nursing care, anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, intravenous fluid therapy, etc. 


Rabies is one of the threatening puppy health problems; especially, if puppies are exposed to wild animals or bitten by other animals, resultantly, they are affected by rabies. Therefore, the puppies infected with the disease show such signs: 

  • Behavior changes 
  • Irritable 
  • Becoming docile 
  • Paralysis of the limbs 
  • Foaming at the mouth 
  • Seizures 

This virus affects the brain and spinal cord. Thus, it is a fatal virus. However, the possibility of interrupting the virus is an anti-rabies serum. But a more effective way is to visit the vet immediately. 

Cleft palates

Cleft palates are a congenital disability that causes health problems in puppies. A puppy with a cleft palate often seems to be healthy. However, the puppy will not gain weight. The puppy may appear that he can drink milk, but actually, he is taking air only. According to research, cleft palates occur when the tissues between oral and nasal cavities do not fuse properly. 

Symptoms of Cleft Palates in puppies are: 

  • Poor weight gain 
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Coughing 
  • Nasal discharge 

Although Cleft palate is a genetic malformation, other reasons may include the direct contact of the mother with drugs or viruses and a nutritional deficiency during pregnancy. 

Undescended testicles

Undescended testicles or Cryptorchidism occurs when one or both of the testicles are not descended in the scrotum. Testicles are in the abdomen when a pup is born. It later migrates to the scrotum by 16 weeks of age. And if not done by that time, it possibly never will. Although it may not seem to be a problem, it may cause cancer. Therefore, they should be removed surgically to prevent further complications. 

Retained deciduous (baby) teeth

A retained deciduous tooth is the one that remains even after the eruption of a permanent tooth. Consequently, this causes a permanent tooth to grow from an abnormal position. The condition results in overcrowding of teeth, unusual jaw position, incorrect bite position, and accidental bites into the palate. Therefore, if your puppy has a retained deciduous teeth, contact your vet. Your vet may opt for removing the tooth surgically. 

Skeletal abnormalities

Skeletal abnormalities are one of the common health problems in puppies. These abnormalities include osteochondritis dissecans, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, patellar luxation, or hip dysplasia. These problems may become apparent in the form of reluctance to walk, limping, pain in joints. However, in mild cases, there may be no visible symptoms. It is better to contact your vet to provide your puppy with optimal treatment. Treatment may include pain medication, change in diet, rest, or, eventually, surgery.  


We all know that esophagus plays a vital role in digestion. However, in megaesophagus, the throat remains abnormally enlarged. The condition is a congenital disease, and it results in an impaired ability to swallow food. Instead of passing on to the stomach, the food remains in the esophagus. The problem results in regurgitation, and because food doesn’t reach the stomach, it causes weight loss, eventually. 


Toy puppies of 6 to 12 weeks of age are more prone to Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia refers to low blood sugar levels, and it results from long gaps between meals. It results in being weak, uncoordinated, abnormally sleepy, and not being able to eat when provided with food. Moreover, the problem may become severe to the point of loss of consciousness, seizures, and even death. You need to feed them frequently to avoid Hypoglycemia. Formulated food for small-breed dogs is also available.

Portosystemic shunts

Portosystemic shunt is an abnormal blood vessel that diverts blood away from the liver. Due to this, the liver can’t clean the nutrients and toxins carried by the blood. As a result, the puppy will not get the required amount of nutrients for growth. Hence, your puppy will show symptoms such as shunted growth, poor muscular development, seizures, unresponsiveness, circling, head pressing, or staring into space. 

This problem affects the dog physically; therefore, a vet can formulate a diet plan as a cure or sometimes go for surgery. 

Certain congenital heart defects 

These puppy health issues are often not noticed at first because certain congenital heart defects are asymptomatic. However, your vet can detect the problem using a stethoscope, whether the defect is severe or not. Whereas, in severe cases, the puppy may face slow growth and low energy. However, in some conditions, surgery is recommended. 


Just like a human child, a pup is vulnerable. Therefore, he needs special care and attention. Although many conditions can affect the health of a puppy, in most of the diseases, your puppy can live a long and healthy life if treated appropriately in time. We have enlisted some of the health issues in puppies along with their symptoms, causes, and treatment options to ease out the journey of maintaining good health of your puppies. Therefore, you need to take care of your companions to keep them safe, happy, and healthy all their life.