Top 5 Health Concerns for Puppies

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Puppies like to put things, including food, plants, and other items that aren’t meant for them, into their mouths. This can lead to toxicity and poisoning.

If your puppy looks uncomfortable, pants harder, drools more, is unusually quiet, or acts agitated, they may have a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Veterinary intervention can untwist the stomach and save their lives.

Pancreatic Insufficiency

Puppies with EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) aren’t producing enough enzymes to help them digest food. These include amylase to digest starches, lipases to break down fats, and proteases to break down proteins. Without a steady supply of these enzymes, the body can’t get the nutrients it needs for healthy growth and development.

So, where can I find a Pomsky puppy for sale? The healthy ones? If your puppy is losing weight and looks gaunt, has a weak or loose stool that resembles cow poop, or is vomiting frequently or scooting on their butt, contact your veterinarian right away. They will likely recommend a blood test to see if your puppy has EPI.

Giant breeds (like Great Danes) have a higher risk of developing a life-threatening condition called gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV). This occurs when the stomach fills with too much food and then twists and traps the food and gases inside. GDV is usually fatal if it’s not treated immediately.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, many puppies improve quickly as their inflamed or irritated pancreas heals. However, many of these dogs will require a lifetime of prescription antacids, digestive enzyme supplements, and dietary management.

Benign Tumors

Tumors are abnormal growths of cells that affect the skin or the tissue beneath it. Benign tumors are not invasive and do not spread to other body areas, like malignant (cancerous) tumors. However, distinguishing a benign from a cancerous tumor requires specialized knowledge and laboratory equipment. A veterinary surgeon can perform a fine needle aspiration or biopsy (which removes a small tumor sample) for evaluation.

Skin tumors, such as fibromas, appear as raised bumps that are rubbery or mushy to the touch. These occur most often in middle-aged dogs and may develop on the legs or head or in sites prone to trauma. They are usually removed surgically.

Hairless bumps on the genital area, such as fatty lipomas, are also common in puppies. These are generally harmless unless they get in the way of your puppy’s movement or comfort. A tumor or bump that enlarges changes color or oozes and should be evaluated by your veterinarian immediately.

Urinary Tract Infection

Puppies can get UTIs from bacteria in the urine. These bacteria can make their way up from the urethra into the bladder, kidneys, and prostate in male dogs. The infection occurs when the bladder fails to protect itself due to a break in the natural defense mechanisms. These include urine acidity, the bladder’s ability to slough away its lining, and the immune system’s innate response. Symptoms of UTIs include blood in the urine, pain, and diarrhea.

A vet may recommend a course of antibiotics to treat the infection. “At least seven to 14 days of antibiotic treatment is usually recommended,” Marx says. He advises owners to follow the prescription and not stop medication early, even if puppies appear to be feeling better. Otherwise, the antibiotics won’t eliminate all the bacteria, and a UTI will recur.

Puppies can also experience vomiting and a lack of appetite, which can lead to dehydration and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Vomiting is often caused by eating unsafe food for puppies, such as raisins or grapes. It can also be a symptom of giardiasis or intestinal parasites like hookworms and roundworms.

Congenital Heart Defects

Puppies with congenital heart disease are usually asymptomatic, except for a murmur your family vet can hear using a stethoscope. Puppies with heart conditions may grow slowly, lose weight, or have trouble breathing. Early detection and treatment of these problems improve the prognosis.

Murmurs can be innocent or pathologic, with the latter indicating a problem with blood flow through your puppy’s heart. Your vet will use a stethoscope to assess how loud the murmur is, where it’s located, and what type of flow it sounds like.

A patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a puppy’s most common inborn heart defect. This happens when a vessel that connects the pulmonary artery and aorta in the fetus to enable oxygen-rich blood to bypass the nonfunctional lungs fails to close at birth. This left-to-right shunting causes volume overload, which leads to heart failure and other complications. PDA typically affects small breeds, including Havaneses, toy poodles, Maltese, and Yorkshire terriers.


Puppies have an underdeveloped immune system, making them more prone to internal and external parasites—from tiny single-celled organisms to worms visible to the naked eye.

Puppies are especially vulnerable to parvovirus, which attacks the gastrointestinal tract, often with bloody diarrhea, and is deadly in many cases. There is no cure for parvo, but it can be prevented by giving puppies the correct combination of vaccines, a diet change, and careful monitoring.

Vaccines for distemper, coccidia, and kennel cough are also essential to protect the puppy from these common diseases. Monthly heartworm preventatives are available that will help protect the puppy from these deadly worms that are spread by mosquito bites.

Internal parasites, such as ringworms, hookworms, and tapeworms (which steal nutrients from the dog’s food as it is digested), are commonly found in puppies, especially those raised by their mother who has intestinal worms. Puppies can acquire these worms by drinking from contaminated water or licking their paws and fur. More than a third of poisoning incidents in puppies involve raisins and grapes, while chocolate, painkillers, and rat poison account for a smaller percentage.