Puppy Illnesses: What to Watch Out For

puppy illnesses

Your puppy’s first year is sure to be filled with high energy, cuddles and wet kisses, but because of your pup’s still-developing immune system, he is more vulnerable to sickness than an older dog. It’s important to keep a watchful eye out for symptoms such like coughing, diarrhea, and digestive distress that could point to illness. Here are a few common puppyhood illnesses to watch out for.

Parvovirus, also known as “parvo,” has gained notoriety in the dog world for being the most common infectious dog disease in the U.S. The illness often results in hospitalization and is contracted through contact with contaminated feces or unvaccinated dogs. Symptoms of parvo include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. While it can be a serious and extremely contagious virus, parvo is completely preventable with a vaccine and all PuppySpot puppies are vaccinated for Parvo before they arrive at their forever homes.

One fairly common illness that you may encounter is the coccidia parasite. Coccidia are single-celled organisms that can infect a puppy or adult dog’s intestinal tract. It may sound scary, but it is generally mild and easily treatable. Like many puppy illnesses, the main symptom is diarrhea. It is important to bring your puppy in to the vet any time he displays signs of digestive distress to ensure prompt treatment. This will also help prevent the problem from spreading to other pets that your pup may encounter.


Giardia is a single-cell parasite that frequently infects the intestines of puppies. While giardia is rarely serious, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms in dogs such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and overall poor condition. Though these symptoms are concerning for any dog owner, PuppySpot Veterinary Consultant Dr. Brandon Sinn says “this is not a scary illness as dogs and cats can get this and recover relatively easily and lead normal lives.” Since giardia is spread through contaminated water, owners should make sure their dog’s drinking water is clean and their environment free from feces.


Heartworm affects dogs in all 50 states as well as internationally, and can be difficult to treat. Dogs do not typically show any symptoms from heartworms until the parasites have moved to their lungs, which will cause the dog to start coughing. Heartworm can be very serious, so it is important to get your pup immediate treatment if he or she gets sick. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes and can be prevented by giving your pup regular tick, mosquito, and flea repellent treatments.


Distemper in dogs is often mistaken for a “cold,” but it is actually not normal for a dog to have nose mucus, sneezing and eye discharge. It’s important to consult a veterinarian if your dog shows these symptoms and to provide comfort until the illness passes. The good news is that the vaccine for distemper is highly effective, and is administered before your PuppySpot puppy arrives home.

No one wants to see their precious pup come down with an illness, but with early prevention and treatment, there is nothing to worry about. Awareness and proactive intervention are key to keeping your pup healthy and happy for years to come.

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