Becoming a dog owner entails accepting responsibility for your dog at all stages of its life from puppyhood to its old age. However, experts from different websites such as https://www.europuppy.com/ say that how you care for your puppy during its first year is vitally important. It is because a well-balanced diet, regular physical activities, mental activities, positive behavior and attitude towards your puppy, and regular visits to the veterinarian all help to support your dog’s immune system and overall health, which aids in the fight against infections.
However, there are several illnesses or health conditions that you should be aware of during this first year. You’ll find information below about several common puppy health issues to keep an eye out for, such as parvovirus, distemper, kennel cough, adenovirus, vomiting (and diarrhea), skeletal abnormalities, retained deciduous teeth, and others.
So, keep reading to ensure that your four-legged friend is well cared for.
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7 Common Puppy Health Issues You Must Know About
This is a highly contagious virus that affects younger dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite. If your puppy has not been vaccinated against this virus and gets infected, it can prove fatal within only a few days.
It usually spreads through contact with an affected dog or a contaminated object. Your puppy can easily get parvovirus while licking, sniffing, or consuming infected feces. Take special care of your puppy during the first year of its life especially, when you take it for a walk or if there is a chance of direct contact with other dogs.
Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks the brain and spinal cord of all mammals including dogs. Unfortunately, its symptoms only appear when the virus is fatal, hence, it may not be treated.
This virus spreads when an infected animal bites and breaks the skin of another animal (and even a human), as well as, through direct contact with the infected animal’s saliva. The earliest symptoms of Rabies are restlessness and aggressiveness. The most recommended way to prevent rabies is scheduled vaccination.
Also known as canine distemper, it is another viral illness that can prove fatal for vulnerable puppies. It causes coughing, eye irritation, nasal discharge, diarrhea, and fever and can affect the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous systems. This disease also spread through direct contact with an infected dog.
Like other viral diseases, distemper can also be prevented by vaccinating your puppies between the age of 2 and 4 months.
Kennel cough or canine cough is a common infection that often appears during the first 10 weeks after birth. Also known as infectious bronchitis or croup, kennel cough can be spread by other dogs in dog parks or other areas where dogs are exposed to one another. The cough can also affect older dogs if they have not been vaccinated. Symptoms include a harsh or barking cough, loss of appetite, fever, and difficulty breathing.
Vomiting (and Diarrhea)
Vomiting and diarrhea are two of the most common illnesses in dogs and puppies. Often accompanied by a loss of appetite and lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea are typically caused by eating something a puppy shouldn’t have eaten in the first place (i.e., plastic or toxic materials), or by an illness. Other symptoms include dehydration, fever, and lethargy. To make sure how serious the condition is, make sure to consult your vet.
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Puppies can have skeletal abnormalities for several reasons. Most often, this is due to poor nutrition during pregnancy and nursing. However, some puppies are born with genetic skeletal abnormalities. It is also possible for certain breeds to have predispositions to certain bone abnormalities.
Other risk factors include being overweight or having joint problems later in life. Talk with your veterinarian if you have concerns about your puppy’s skeletal development.
Retained Deciduous Teeth
As the name suggests, retained deciduous teeth are baby teeth that remain after the permanent teeth come in. Typically this condition affects the third set of baby teeth. Retained deciduous teeth can lead to dental issues later in life and should be removed by a veterinarian as soon as they are discovered. You may notice a clicking sound when your puppy eats or chews on toys.
Other Common Puppy Health Issues to Watch For
Some other common puppy health issues to watch for include:
- Patellar Luxation – A dislocated kneecap. In most cases, this condition is caused by malformation of the patella (kneecap). Small dog breeds are more likely to get this disease.
- Hip Dysplasia – An abnormal formation of the hip joint that causes pain and inflammation.
- Wobbler Syndrome – An abnormality of the cervical vertebrae that causes the head to tilt to the side. This can also cause neurological disorders.
- Elbow Dysplasia – An abnormal formation of the elbow joint.
If you suppose that your puppy may have any of these issues, talk with your veterinarian as soon as possible about treatment options.
Vaccines for Canine Diseases
The first vaccine your puppy receives is typically given between 6-8 weeks of age. Additional vaccines are then given at 12, 16, and 20 weeks of age. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that puppies receive vaccines against canine distemper virus (CDV), canine adenovirus (CAV-2), canine parvovirus (CPV), and canine influenza virus (CPI), among others.
Talk with your veterinarian about which vaccines are appropriate for your puppy based on its age and where you live. Your veterinarian will also likely recommend a rabies vaccine after your puppy turns three months old.
The most important thing that you can do to help your puppy stay healthy is to take it to the veterinarian regularly. This is particularly important during the first year of your dog’s life. Make sure to discuss any health concerns that you have with your veterinarian. Also, pay attention to your puppy’s eating and behavior patterns. You may notice a change in appetite or other symptoms that indicate an illness.
Finally, keep your puppy away from other dogs that you don’t know. Puppies can catch illnesses from other dogs just as easily as children can catch illnesses from other children. Taking care of your puppy is a huge job, but if you follow the tips above and visit your vet regularly, you can help protect your dog from many common illnesses.
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