Having a puppy can be a real treat, but it certainly isn’t without its fair share of challenges. Just like babies of any species, puppies can get sick, and when they do, it can be a handful, especially since puppies aren’t the best at communicating what is wrong.
Knowing the signs that something might be wrong can help you get the jump on a budding sickness, giving you a leg up in the fight against puppy infirmity. Here are seven common signs your furry little buddy might be under the weather:
Puppies need lots of rest -- it's just a part of the developmental stage they are in. However, when they are not napping the day away, they should be playful, inquisitive, and energetic (some more than others). If you notice that your puppy is lazing around, or exhibiting a general lack of enthusiasm, consider taking them to the vet, as this could be a sign of a wide variety of illnesses, from bacterial infections to a virus such as parvo.
2. Loss of Appetite
Your puppy may stop eating for a number of reasons. Perhaps they are nervous about moving to a new place, or anxious about the loss of a family member. It could be that you have been spoiling them with table scraps (how can you say no to that face?) and now they refuse to eat anything else. At the same time, it could be something far more dire.
First, you should try coaxing them into eating. If they still refuse, there is a good chance that their reluctance to eat is caused by something serious, in which case you should plan to take them to the vet.
It is something that plagues us all, and when it strikes, it’s no fun for anybody. While diarrhea could just be caused by anxiety (i.e., moving to a new home), it could also be caused by a virus or parasite. It could be a good idea to take a stool sample over to the vet for them to analyze. If, however, you notice that the diarrhea has blood in it, you should take your puppy to the vet immediately, as this could be a sign of gastrointestinal disease.
Just like with diarrhea, vomiting could also just be a nervous reaction to a change in the routine. However, it could also be the result of something more serious. Perhaps your puppy has been eating their food too quickly, in which case you should consider giving them smaller meals at more frequent intervals to prevent them from scarfing it all down. If the vomiting persists, or is unusual (i.e., has blood in it) they should be taken to the vet immediately, as it could be symptomatic of something much larger.
Just because your puppy can’t speak to you, doesn’t mean they won’t try. If you notice your pup making unusual noises, or whimpering incessantly, it could be they are trying to tell you something about their health. It could very well be that they are just vying for attention, but if the whimpering persists, or if it seems like they are not whimpering to be noticed, it might mean that they are injured in some way, or possibly suffering from internal pain, which could indicate an illness. Use your best judgment, but don’t hesitate to visit a vet if you think they are hurting.
6. Licking or Itching
Puppies are still dogs, and dogs lick and scratch themselves. It's just part of being a dog. However, if you notice that they are really going after one spot in particular, it could be caused by a rash or an allergy, in which case you might want to consider getting them an antihistamine or soothing ointment -- but only after getting the go ahead from your vet.
7. Dizziness (ataxia)
Puppies are certainly no stranger to unusual behaviors, often chasing their own tail or things no one else can see. It is all part of how they are hardwired. But if it seems like they are walking around listlessly, or in a drunken manner, it could be symptomatic of low blood sugar or dehydration. For low blood sugar, you can try rubbing some karo syrup on their gums and see how they respond. Beyond that, if symptoms persist, you should take them to the vet as soon as you can, as this could become serious.
It may seem like the overall response to any symptom is to rush over to the vet, and this article is not intended to make an alarmist out of you, but the reality is that it can be very hard to tell when your puppy is just being a puppy or if there is something more serious going on below the surface. Use your best judgement when trying to help your puppy get back to normal, and never hesitate to let a vet take a look. Better safe than sorry.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.
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