Common Illnesses in Puppies

By March 23 | See Comments

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The best thing you can do to protect your young pup is to make sure that you feed him/her a balanced and healthy diet. If you do that, you are giving his/her immune system the best possible chance to fight off infections. However, it is not possible to protect your pup from everything. Here is a list of the most common illnesses that puppies can catch in the first year of their lives:

  1. Parvovirus – This is a highly contagious virus that predominantly attacks pups who are between the ages of 12 weeks and 3 years. Transmitted through unvaccinated dogs and bodily secretions, the parvovirus is passed on easily. However, most of the dogs are vaccinated against the virus starting at eight weeks, and then again once every three weeks till the vet recommends. A parvo infection starts off with a fever. This is followed by bloody diarrhea and vomiting, which makes them weak and dehydrated. If you notice these symptoms, hospitalize your pup. He/she will be given antibiotics to prevent sepsis and IV fluids to restore the electrolytes in the body. With medication, your pup will recover within a week.
  2. Distemper – Canine distemper vaccine is quite effective. The first vaccination is given when your pup is six weeks old, and again after nine weeks. Once your pup has had one or two vaccines, he/she is immune. Consult your vet on the best course of action concerning the distemper vaccine. Initial symptoms resemble that of an upper respiratory infection with eye discharge and sneezing. It can lead to pneumonia or neurological problems like encephalopathy. Distemper is often mistaken for a cold by dog owners. You have to seek medical attention immediately if your dog has this condition. It can take a lot of weeks for your dog to recover and pets are usually discharged with respiratory medication. The bad news is that even if your pup survives it, the virus can lie dormant and break out when he/she gets older. In such cases, it can lead to severe neurological problems like seizures.
  3. Kennel cough – The parainfluenza virus or a bacterial infection can lead to kennel cough in puppies. It is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. The name is essentially a misnomer as animals that are not in kennels can contract it as well. Puppies can usually be vaccinated against it starting at eight weeks, and once every six months after that. Although the vaccine does not protect your dog from the disease, it can cause him to have milder symptoms. Lethargy, fever and decreased appetite are the first signs of kennel cough. This is often followed by a deep cough. If you leave it untreated, it can lead to pneumonia. The disease usually runs its course in two weeks.
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