Is Your Puppy Appearing Unwell? (67 Conditions Explained)
You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you feel there is something wrong with your puppy.
Is your puppy sad or unwell?
How Can You Tell If Your Puppy Is Sick?
Sometimes the signs are clear (vomiting and diarrhea), but sometimes the signals are more muted and may appear as a down day.
There are many signs your puppy is not enjoying peak health, but the most obvious are:
- Bad smells – on the breath or excessive farting.
- Excessive drooling.
- Your puppy is always drinking and peeing.
- Problems with breathing – panting, coughing, wheezing, or sneezing.
- Excess sleepiness and lethargy.
- Limps and yelps as if in pain.
- Poop – runny, smelly, or bloody.
- Sticky eyes and itchiness.
You can get one or more signs your puppy is unwell, but how serious are they?
What do they mean?
Your Puppy Is Itchy
The itchiness may be all over the body or confined to one spot.
1. Your Puppy Has Itchy Ears
If your puppy is constantly scratching at its ears, then it may have:
- Ear mites.
- A foreign object inside the ear.
Other signs that your puppy has an issue rather than just a passing itch include:
- Wax or liquid leaking from the ear and discoloring the fur around the ear.
- Visible redness inside the ear flap.
- Unpleasant smell from the ear.
- The ear feels hot.
- Puppy yelps when you touch the ears.
Your vet will examine the ears and will be able to tell you the underlying cause.
Ear mites are common and quickly pass between dogs and puppies. You can clear up an infection with ear drops, and preventative care stops ear mites, worms, ticks, and other parasites with a regular monthly dose appropriate to your puppy.
Ear infections result from yeasts and bacteria and may indicate an underlying allergy.
Some breeds are prone to ear infections. You want early treatment for these because an ear infection can rapidly escalate into permanent damage.
If your puppy is itching its ears and holding its head to one side, it may have something in the ear – grass seeds are most likely. You need your vet to remove this item when it is deep inside the ear.
You can help prevent this issue by checking your puppy after every walk and removing any visible grass seeds or burs from your puppy’s fur around the ears.
If you remove these objects before they get into the ear, you avoid a trip to the vet.
Hot red itchy ears may be a reaction to an allergen – food sensitivities, pollen, dust mites, or household cleaners.
These hot, itchy ears may be the only evidence of your puppy’s allergies, and your vet may need to do some tests to work it out.
A daily check of your puppy’s ears will quickly identify any issues and help you notice changes in behavior. A routine of checking over your puppy means you identify potential problems before they escalate.
2. All Over Body Itching
All over body itching may result from:
- Parasites – fleas, ticks, and mites cause skin irritation and may cause an allergic reaction in sensitive puppies.
- Infection – bacteria or yeast infections cause itchiness and possible hair loss, and dry, flaky skin. One infection that can spread to you is ringworm, not a worm but a fungal infection.
- Allergies – food or environmental factors can trigger an allergic reaction causing your puppy to itch.
- Dry skin – some breeds are prone to dry skin conditions and need regular moisturizing.
Interestingly, if your puppy has all-over body itching, it may not scratch obsessively but lick its paws instead.
Paw licking is a soothing behavior that may indicate an itch your puppy can’t scratch.
Although it is tempting to wait and see if the itching stops, most puppy itches need medical attention to cure.
3. Itching After a Bath
If your puppy is itchy after a bath, the shampoo you use may be irritating sensitive skin. Even a specific puppy shampoo may be too much for a puppy with sensitive skin.
You can consult your vet for a moisture-rich shampoo that doesn’t contain irritants and won’t dry out your puppy’s soft skin.
Hairless breeds need a moisturizer to keep their skin in top condition after bathing. These breeds need a daily routine to keep their skin soft and itch-free.
Your Puppy Seems Down
Sometimes your puppy may seem to be behaving oddly.
4. Puppy Seems Sad or Depressed
Your puppy may seem listless and uninterested in life.
Possible causes are:
- Shyness – a shy puppy suffers from the equivalent of social anxiety and may come across as sad when it needs some puppy socialization.
- Grieving – your puppy (especially if young) may miss its mother, or if there has been a change in the family (a kid going to college), your puppy may feel a sense of loss. Schedule some extra fun times so your puppy engages with life.
- Mirroring your emotions – if you feel sad and depressed, your puppy may pick up and share your feelings. There is a Chinese proverb that you treat the mother if you want to cure the crying child. The same can be true of puppies and their humans. Be kind to yourself, and as you become more cheerful, so will your puppy.
- Fear – the stress of being afraid can upset your puppy and make it sad. Identify the source of anxiety and take action to desensitize and build confidence.
- Change – your puppy likes routine, and change can make it slightly fearful and sad. Be patient. This behavior will stop as your puppy becomes familiar with the new pattern.
Most bouts of puppy sadness are short (a day or two), but a more prolonged time scale, particularly if your puppy is uninterested in eating and drinking, may indicate an underlying medical rather than an emotional issue.
5. Puppy Looks Tired
Puppies and adult dogs spend a lot of time sleeping.
Your puppy needs plenty of nap time to recharge its batteries and get on with the important business of growing and developing.
However, if your puppy is exhausted and unwilling to engage in exercise or play, potential causes include parasites or an underlying disease.
A parasite drains your puppy of resources, and some diseases interfere with nutrition causing issues like anemia.
If your puppy wasn’t recovering from an action-packed fun day yesterday, sudden tiredness necessitates a trip to the vet.
6. Puppy Sleeps or Hides Under the Bed
Under the bed is a dark enclosed space protected from outside interference. If your puppy is afraid or your home has lots of people rushing around, under the bed is a safe zone for your puppy.
As your puppy becomes more confident and less fearful, it will emerge from under the bed.
If hiding under the bed causes problems, restrict access to that room and create another authorized safe space for your puppy.
A puppy crate with a blanket in a quiet area free from interference gives your puppy somewhere secure to sleep or hang out when life gets too stressful.
Alternatively, your puppy may retreat under the bed if it is not dealing well. It is natural to go and hide if feeling unwell.
If your puppy suddenly starts hiding under the bed and there is no obvious fear trigger, consider if your puppy shows other signs of being ill.
Sometimes, puppies enjoy the space under the bed and stash their favorite toys in this fun place. In this case, you need to decide if you need to designate another area for your puppy’s favorite place or don’t mind your pup claiming under the bed as their territory.
This behavior is less of an issue for smaller dogs, but if you have a giant breed of puppy, it may not be possible for it to squeeze under the bed when it is an adult.
7. Puppy Hides Under the Bed and Barks
If your puppy hides under the bed and barks, it may be an invitation to play.
Perhaps the last time, you rewarded it with plenty of attention, new toys, and treats. You were coaxing it to come out, but your puppy may see this as an enjoyable new game. The puppy goes under the bed, and you pay attention to it.
Look under the bed first; perhaps your puppy has found a mouse and is barking to alert you to an intruder in your room.
If your puppy is safe, unhurt, and not trapped, your best approach is to ignore your playful pup and reward it when it comes and finds you in a different room.
If there is no reward, the game will soon lose its appeal.
Vomiting and Throwing Up
Generally, vomiting is not a healthy action.
Occasionally, a puppy will throw up if you play too energetically after a meal, but vomiting usually shows something is wrong.
8. Puppy Keeps Throwing Up
Your puppy may throw up because of:
- Eating grass or other plants in the garden.
- Eating non-food items – like socks or slippers.
- Raiding the garbage can.
- Eating inappropriate foodstuffs.
- Eating too fast.
- Motion sickness.
- Disease or infection.
Vomiting is risky in young puppies because of the danger of dehydration.
If your puppy is throwing up all the time, your vet may recommend changing diet or feeding smaller, more frequent meals.
Puppies will eat almost anything, so you want to puppy-proof your home to avoid your puppy gaining access to the trash or other forbidden items – a scavenging breed seems highly motivated to consume the most inappropriate things.
Until your puppy has all its shots, it is at a higher risk of infection, and any sign of illness is a concern. Vomiting can be nothing to worry about or an urgent medical issue.
It is challenging to be definitive about when your puppy needs a trip to the vet, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Most vets will do an initial assessment over the phone, and smartphones mean you can send pictures of the vomit.
9. Puppy Vomiting Blood
If your puppy vomits blood, take photographs, and consult a vet.
The cause may be a mild gastric irritation or more severe. On the way to the vet, try to remember what your puppy has been doing in the past day.
Pink vomit may also indicate the presence of blood. Or recent consumption of food with red food dye.
10. Puppy Vomiting Green
If your puppy has green vomit, this may be because the last thing your puppy ate was green – plants or grass.
If you know your puppy hasn’t eaten anything green, then the color is likely to be bile.
If your puppy is vomiting bile, it is most likely to have an empty stomach or reflux vomiting, and green vomit indicates a high proportion of bile.
11. Puppy Vomiting Fluorescent Green: Call Your Vet Now
Take your puppy to the vet with a vomit sample because no natural substance has this color.
Paint, antifreeze, or other toxic substances are likely to cause this extreme coloration.
Your puppy needs attention, and fast treatment can save its life.
12. Puppy Vomiting Yellow
Yellow vomit also indicates bile – but less than green vomit.
You can often see yellow vomit with grass, and some people speculate that puppies eat the grass so they can cleanse their digestion with some vomit.
However, vomiting is always in response to an irritated digestive system.
13. Puppy Vomiting Black
In an older dog, ulcers and undigested blood in the stomach may result in black vomit.
It is more likely that your puppy ate mud, soil, or maybe black animal poop, and the vomit is a way to get rid of the unwanted stomach contents.
Disconcerting, you might want to stop your puppy’s weird dietary choices.
Black vomit can also mean poisoning causing internal bleeding. Unless you witness the puppy eating dirt, you want a rapid trip to the vet with a vomit sample.
14. Puppy Vomit is White and Foamy
White vomit is a sign of stomach upset.
The foam may result from an intestinal blockage or bloat, and this symptom needs urgent vet attention. Both conditions are life-threatening for a puppy.
15. Puppy Vomit is Clear Liquid
The most likely explanation is that your puppy gulped down a lot of water too fast and is throwing it back up.
There are other causes like stress, blockages, or infection.
If your puppy has not gulped a load of water before throwing up, you may consider other signs of illness like lethargy or drooling.
16. Puppy Vomit is Brown
Most puppy food is brown, which is the most likely color for vomit, and the brown coloration disguises anything else that may be present.
17. Puppy Vomit Contains Worms
Worms in the vomit indicate parasite overload, and your puppy needs treatment.
Puppies are more susceptible to worms than older dogs, but responsible dog ownership means preventative medicine to stop your puppy from reinfection.
A sample of the vomit and worms will help your vet prescribe specific treatment for this infection.
Still, your vet will probably recommend a complete deworming course to cover all potential parasites.
18. Not Eating and Throwing Up
If your puppy overeats and then throws up, it won’t feel like eating for a while. The risk with a puppy vomiting repeatedly is dehydration.
Although your puppy may recover in a few hours, you may want to call your vet for advice on treating it, especially if there are other symptoms.
Otherwise, keep your puppy calm and quiet and offer small amounts of water or moist food only after your puppy stops vomiting and has a rest.
19. Regurgitating Food
Regurgitating is different from vomiting – the food is undigested and is in a vague sausage shape. The food doesn’t make it down to the stomach before regurgitation.
An occasional regurgitation is probably a case of excess eating and eating too quickly, but repetitive regurgitation links to an underlying congenital condition in puppies.
Some breeds are more prone to this muscle weakness than others, but with appropriate care, this issue is manageable and not a barrier to a long and healthy life for your puppy.
Problems with Pooping
Your puppy’s poop and changes in normal pooping behavior are one of the first apparent signs of potential illness.
20. Puppy Pooping Blood
Blood in the poop is always a cause for concern.
The principal causes are:
- Something your puppy eats.
- Cancer (rare).
- Issues with blood clotting.
The color of the blood in the poop provides evidence for your vet:
- Bright red blood comes from the colon, rectum, and anus – it is fresh because it is undigested.
- Black, sticky blood comes from the upper part and passes through the stomach before reaching the poop.
- Bleeding from the bottom without pooping is alarming.
Beetroot and other red food substances may give the appearance of blood in the poop.
If your puppy is vomiting, has pale gums, and appears slightly drunk, getting them to a vet for early diagnosis and treatment is essential.
21. Puppy Pooping Liquid
All dog owners witness liquid poop at some stage.
A clear liquid is likely to be mucous, providing lubrication to make your puppy more comfortable passing a stool. You usually don’t notice it, but some breeds have sensitive stomachs and occasionally poop clear liquid.
Your vet will help you change to a more appropriate diet, and you may need to consider gut-healthy probiotics.
22. Having Diarrhea
Watery yellow stools are a form of diarrhea and typically a symptom of illness. Diarrhea can be completely liquid or sludgy.
The typical causes are:
- Eating something disagreeable.
- Viral infections.
Some puppy breeds are infamous for eating garbage. A food-obsessed Jack Russel terrier will find every discarded food item on your walk and wolf it down before you notice it.
The result is gastric upset and misery, and Vets call the resulting unhappiness – terrier tummy.
Under two years, call your vet when your puppy has diarrhea.
In adult dogs, you can fast for a day and reintroduce bland food, but puppies are vulnerable to infections and dehydration.
23. Constipation – Not Pooping or Finding Pooping Difficult
Puppies can suffer from constipation because of:
- Intestinal blockages – foreign objects or fibrous material stopping the passage of food through the colon.
- Dehydration – healthy stools have plenty of water to make them soft.
- Stress – puppy may stop eating or drinking, and enough material is not available for normal digestion.
- Poor grooming – like a cat, puppies can end up with hairballs.
Talk to your vet if your puppy has difficulties or hasn’t pooped in 48 hours.
Don’t use human laxatives as these are inappropriate for your puppy unless authorized by a vet in an emergency.
Remember, medication dosages depend on body mass in most cases.
A simple change in diet, including more moist food and liquid, may be necessary to keep your puppy’s digestive system in complete working order.
24. Yelping While Pooping
Yelp usually means pain.
If your puppy is constipated or the stools are dry and uncomfortable, it will feel pain while pooping.
If your puppy is yelping while pooping, treat it as if it is constipated, and chat with your vet about making life easier for your puppy.
25. Farting So Much
Excess farting may result from:
- Excess air intake while eating or drinking.
- Gas-producing foods in the diet.
- Some infections and diseases.
- Food sensitivities.
- Sudden changes in diet.
- Too much fat in the diet.
- Bad habit of eating poop.
- Poor quality diet with too many junk fillers.
Although your puppy will have some farts because of an average air intake, frequent smelly wind indicates there is something wrong – probably with its diet.
Have a chat with your vet to rule out any medical conditions and switch (gradually) to a higher quality diet until you come up with a regime that gives you a happy, healthy puppy and fewer bad smells in your home.
Problems with Pee
New puppy parents focus on training their fur baby in the art of peeing outside during a bathroom break rather than over the new carpet.
But what if there is something wrong with your puppy’s pee?
26. Why is Puppy Peeing So Much?
Frequent urination in puppies is normal – immature bladder and the need for frequent pee breaks.
But if your puppy starts peeing excessively when previously it was coping well with bathroom breaks, then your puppy may have:
- Urinary tract infection.
- A desire to mark territory.
- Emotional overload – excitement or fear.
A puppy that drinks a lot will need to pee a lot. But the excess drinking may be medical, and a simple urine test can settle that question.
If your puppy is healthy, you can work on training and timing bathroom breaks until your puppy pees on a more bearable schedule and not in the house.
27. Puppy Pees Blood
Blood in the urine is always an issue, and you need to consult your vet.
Your puppy can pee blood because of an infection with the kidneys or the urinary tract.
Blood in the urine is always a warning sign for canines and humans alike.
28. Puppy is Drinking Its Pee
Your puppy may drink its pee because:
- It is thirsty and doesn’t have access to fresh water.
- It wants to clear up after itself.
- It acquired the habit out of boredom.
On a positive note, your puppy won’t get sick from drinking its urine, but it is a bad habit, and you want to stop it from becoming fixated on drinking pee.
Ensure your puppy has access to fresh water, and after it pees, distract it with another activity.
If your puppy is excessively thirsty, it is a good idea to consult your vet in case there is an underlying medical condition.
29. Puppy Has Clear Urine
Your clear urine means you are adequately hydrated.
For your puppy to have clear urine, it may mean:
- Your puppy is drinking a lot of water. Excessive thirst may point to a medical condition, so noticing clear urine may alert you that your puppy is drinking a lot of water.
- Your puppy is peeing too frequently because of an infection, stress, or boredom.
If your puppy has clear urine, you need an urgent call to the vet. Clear urine is not a healthy sign in puppies.
30. Puppy Has Blood in Urine
Typically, blood in urine indicates an infection in some part of the digestive system or kidneys. The issue ranges from relatively fine with easy treatment with an antibiotic or a more severe underlying problem.
Either way, contact your vet to get your puppy assessed.
Blood in the urine is an emergency trip to the vet and never a wait-and-see approach.
Puppy Has Breathing Issues
You may notice your puppy panting, snorting, sneezing, or wheezing.
What are the warning signs your puppy may be ill?
31. Puppy Pants So Much It Seems Like Hyperventilation
Hyperventilation is different from heavy panting.
If your puppy is hyperventilating, it will take short rapid breaths and have difficulty breathing. Hyperventilation in puppies looks the same as in humans.
Your puppy can hyperventilate because:
- It is overexcited – provided this is soon over and infrequent, it is probably not a medical issue, but it is worth mentioning to your vet.
- Overheating – is a severe issue for your puppy as it can’t cool down efficiently in hot weather.
- Extended reverse sneezing can result in hyperventilation.
- Stress can result in the equivalent of panicky breathing.
- Medical issues – usually come with other warning signs.
- Allergic reaction to food, insect bites, pollutants, and medication.
- Low oxygen levels due to poisoning or disease.
If your puppy is hyperventilating, consider the circumstances.
On a hot day or stressful situation, cool and calm your puppy and see if the breathing returns to normal.
However, if there is no apparent cause and the breathing remains rapid and panicky for more than a few minutes, it is time to call your vet.
Some puppy breeds with flat faces (pugs, bulldogs) are prone to hyperventilation. It would be best to minimize potential episodes by keeping them cool in hot weather and calm whenever possible.
32. Heavy Panting
Heavy panting happens when your puppy is tired, hot, or, worse case, eaten something toxic. It may also mean your puppy is in pain from an injury like a wasp sting or a strained muscle.
Heatstroke kills puppies, so you don’t leave your puppy in a vehicle or unattended outside.
If you think your puppy is too hot:
- Bring it into a shady, cool area.
- Provide either ice cubes or frozen watermelon to lick.
- Offer cool but not cold water.
- Lay your puppy on a damp towel to help it cool down.
Call your vet for further advice.
Take your puppy to the vet if you see that your puppy has pale or bluish-colored gums or if your puppy is lethargic and limp.
33. Gasping for Air or the Reverse Sneeze
Any breed can suffer from the reverse sneeze or snorting air gasps as a spasm sucking in air, often with a honking sound.
However, flat-faced breeds and tiny puppies are most likely to suffer from this type of breathing.
The leading causes are:
- Allergies – may be accompanied by itchy eyes or skin.
- Viral infections inflame the nasal membranes, and your puppy may have bad breath.
- Nasal mites – you won’t see them, but they pass rapidly between dogs through nose touching.
If your puppy can’t catch its breath and is struggling to breathe, you need a vet.
Typically, these symptoms are mild, but you will still want to deal with the underlying cause if your puppy has frequent episodes.
The occasional sneeze is nothing to worry about, you don’t go rushing to the doctor when you sneeze, and your puppy will sneeze for many of the same reasons as you.
However, if your puppy is sneezing a lot, it may suffer from:
- Allergies – young puppies often outgrow these.
- Dental problems while teething can result in sneezing. Check for infection along the puppy’s gum line.
- Breathing in a small particle and sneezing to dislodge the irritation. If it doesn’t come out naturally, you will need to go to the vet for help.
- Infection – your puppy isn’t fully protected until it has all its shots.
- Breed-specific – the short-nosed breeds are prone to sneezing.
- Stress – sneezing is one of the calming behaviors some puppies use in stressful situations.
If your puppy has prolonged bouts of sneezing and other symptoms of illness, you will want to chat to your vet.
35. Puppy Is Breathing Heavy
Heavy breathing, instead of happy panting after a great play session, may indicate an underlying medical condition even in a puppy.
The typical causes of heavy breathing in puppies are:
- Heatstroke – always best to avoid as it can be fatal.
- Poisoning – your puppy is not discerning about what it eats.
- Heart failure – usually in older dogs, but it does happen in puppies.
- Cushing’s syndrome – a chronic disease with heavy breathing as part of the signs.
- Injury – if your puppy hurts, heavy breathing may be the only indicator of trauma.
- Bacterial or viral diseases.
- Something stuck in the throat.
Prolonged heavy breathing is a strong indication that something is wrong, and you need your vet to identify the cause and suggest treatment.
Heavy panting because your pup is too hot, excited, or overexerted differs from a puppy with distressed heavy breathing.
36. Puppy Breathes Hard While Sleeping
Are you confused over your puppy’s normal breathing while sleeping?
It may be loud, but is it heavy breathing while sleeping?
You can time your puppy’s breath – the normal range is 20-30 breaths per minute; over a hundred, and your puppy is breathing heavily.
It is easy to confuse panting with heavy breathing, and panting is how your puppy cools down. If your puppy gets hot, it may pant for a while, taking rapid breaths with its mouth open.
Your puppy may also breathe rapidly while dreaming. This rapid breathing is a short episode as the dream landscape changes and your puppy’s breathing returns to normal.
Heavy breathing while sleeping tends to be more alarming in older dogs than puppies, but there are times when it causes concern.
- Heavy breathing plus a cough may indicate a heart condition.
- Heavy breathing and a swollen belly may indicate worms or a medical issue.
Heavy breathing episodes while sleeping are a normal part of a puppy’s growth in most cases.
Only when you have other illness indicators, or your puppy isn’t developing as expected may it cause concern.
37. Coughing and Gagging
Coughing and gagging in puppies can indicate:
- Foreign objects in the airways.
- Kennel cough.
- Sore throat or tonsilitis.
- Tracheal Collapse.
- Congestive heart failure.
- Chronic bronchitis.
- Other diseases.
Coughing is a natural mechanism to remove something stuck in the airway or as a response to a disease.
Pups are prone to swallowing inappropriate items, and these may cause coughing or gagging but not affect your puppy’s breathing. You will need vet assistance to remove the object.
The big fear is kennel cough, your pup may not be fully vaccinated, and this disease will repeatedly make your puppy cough and gag. Your puppy may produce distressing honking sounds and have runny eyes and nose.
Kennel cough is highly infectious, and your puppy needs expert care.
A less severe illness is puppy tonsilitis or pharyngitis.
Your puppy may have difficulty swallowing, have swollen glands and run at a high temperature – symptoms are like yours if you have a cough with a sore throat or tonsilitis.
Your puppy may need soft wet food and antibiotics for up to a fortnight.
Puppies readily pick up worms. Roundworms are common, and eggs remain in infected soils and environments for years.
Ideally, you have your puppy in a strict worming program because you don’t always spot evidence of a worm infestation in the poop.
If you haven’t been worming your puppy, a cough and a potbelly may indicate roundworm. Get your vet to confirm it and sign up for proactive parasite control.
Your puppy and your family will be happier and healthier.
Cartilage rings keep the trachea open for breathing. If these rings are weak, they can collapse and restrict your puppy’s breathing.
It coughs and gags to get more air. It can be mild without needing intervention. Smaller breeds are more prone to this condition.
Some helpful preventative measures include using a harness rather than a collar and ensuring your puppy retains a slim figure.
If your puppy has congestive heart failure, it has a chronic condition that requires a lifetime of medical care. Typically, most puppies are health screened because a puppy with this condition is quite ill.
If you have a healthy, energetic puppy that suddenly starts coughing and gagging, this condition is the least likely option, but it is a possibility.
Your puppy can develop chronic bronchitis as a response to allergies or infections. There is no cure, but the condition is manageable with anti-inflammatories and antibiotics as appropriate.
Coughing and gagging are common symptoms of many diseases like pneumonia (bacterial or viral), distemper, or canine flu.
Typically, your puppy will have a cluster of signs together with coughing and gagging, and your vet will use these and appropriate tests to diagnose your puppy’s ailments.
38. Puppy with Hiccups
Puppies can and do get hiccups.
Provided the hiccups last for a few minutes and there are no other symptoms like lethargy, excess drooling, obvious swallowing, coughing, or wheezing, then puppy hiccups are not a big deal.
It is rare, but prolonged bouts of hiccups with distress and other symptoms may be a medical issue:
- Foreign body in the airways.
- Asthma or other breathing issues.
- Heat exhaustion.
- Heart issues.
Consult a vet if your puppy hiccups for a couple of hours or has other symptoms indicating your puppy is not well.
Problems with Eating and Drinking
The one thing you expect your puppy to enjoy is its food.
Is your puppy a picky eater, or has its eating habits changed?
Do you need to worry, or is it just another puppy phase?
39. Is Your Puppy Underweight?
First, it isn’t abnormal for your puppy to be underweight, especially when your puppy is new to your home and probably feeling sad and confused.
However, if your puppy is not gaining weight and not growing, you may have a health issue.
First, check with your vet and find out what weight gain is average for a growing puppy of your breed. Mark these weight gain milestones on your calendar.
Your vet will want to rule out obvious health issues like a parasite infestation.
Your vet will give you some guidance on a diet, but the top tips for helping your puppy for putting on a healthy weight at the correct stage are:
- Feed high-quality, age-appropriate puppy food.
- Feed moist foods – puppies don’t cope with a dry diet.
- Vary the flavors – no one likes a monotonous diet.
- Sit with your puppy while it eats – dogs are social animals.
- Small frequent meals work best.
- Change the bowls – perhaps there is an issue accessing the food.
- Change the location – the middle of a busy kitchen may not suit your nervous puppy.
- Increase exercise levels to stimulate appetite.
Weigh your puppy regularly because you don’t want to create an obese puppy with health issues.
You need to provide an appropriate diet for growth but not one that piles on unnecessary pounds.
40. Eating Poop
Some puppies eat poop – their own or other animals; the exact cause varies from searching for nutrients and acquiring gut bacteria to a bad habit.
Parasites transfer through animals via poop, and poop eating is generally an undesirable habit from the human point of view.
First, check that your puppy has access to fresh water and has a high-quality diet. Then treat the poop eating behavior as a training issue.
Shouting at your puppy may encourage it to think that eating poop gets your attention.
Your best approach is to distract your puppy away from the poop (offer a reward for walking away) and to restrict access to poop:
- Keep your puppy on a leash outside in unfamiliar areas.
- Move your cat litter tray so that it is inaccessible to the puppy.
- Clear up animal poop immediately – bag it and bin it.
41. Eating Grass
Most dogs eat grass, and it is normal for your puppy.
If your puppy eats grass and then vomits, it may have a digestive upset or a parasite infestation.
If you worry about pollution and dirt when your puppy eats grass outside, then you can grow some grass suitable for canine consumption at home so your puppy can have a clean snack.
You can buy packs of cereal grasses (wheat, barley, and rye) that are easy to grow in a pot and puppy friendly.
42. Only Eating Once a Day
You expect your puppy to eat small frequent meals, and for a puppy, one meal a day isn’t enough to sustain energy and growth throughout the day.
First, check with your vet to rule out health issues. Establish the daily quota of calories and nutrition and feed an appropriate amount at regular mealtimes.
Allow a ten-minute feeding window and lift the food after your puppy walks away.
Examine how often you give your puppy treats between meals. The treats form part of your puppy’s daily food allowance. If you and your family are constantly slipping the puppy tasty treats, it may be eating the meals informally.
A puppy putting on a healthy amount of weight is getting its nutrition; an underweight puppy may need help increasing its meal frequency.
Consider changing to a higher quality diet and increasing the moisture levels.
43. Puppy Is Refusing to Eat
A new puppy may refuse to eat because the food is unfamiliar – try and feed the usual diet and introduce changes gradually.
A young puppy can’t go longer than twelve hours without food, so you may need to consult a vet.
Other reasons why a puppy may refuse to eat include:
- Pain – if your puppy is teething, it may hurt to eat; offer moist, easy-to-eat foods or frozen treats. Check your puppy’s mouth for signs of injury.
- Preference – if your puppy is happy to eat treats but refuses to eat meals, it may be a picky eater. This habit is unusual, but perhaps the food you offer as meals is too dry for your puppy.
- Stress – if your puppy is stressed and anxious, it won’t eat. Try to ensure your puppy has a secure place to eat and other pets aren’t bullying it.
- Hot weather – you eat less when you are hot, and your pup may be feeling hot and bothered. Cool your puppy down and try again.
- Illness – your puppy may have an upset stomach, blockage, or an infection. Your vet will check for medical causes and advise on appropriate treatment.
Typically, a puppy refusing to eat is unusual; most puppies want to eat all the time because they are healthy, growing youngsters who need plenty of nutrients.
Some breeds are fussier than others, but it is time to talk to a vet if your puppy doesn’t eat.
44. Not Drinking
Puppies can rapidly dehydrate; any sign that your puppy is not drinking is a concern.
But if your puppy isn’t showing any other signs of illness, then maybe it is not thirsty now or has drunk water when you don’t notice. Puppies will drink available water and not only from their water bowl.
Your puppy’s daily water requirements equate to 2 fl oz per pound of body weight, and an 8lb puppy needs a pint of water per day.
Some water requirements come from eating rather than drinking if you feed wet food.
Your puppy will need more water on hot days and less on cold days.
If your puppy is not drinking its water from its bowl, then potential causes are:
- Strange taste – your puppy is super-sensitive to the taste of water, and your tap water may taste wrong to it. You can try aging the water (leave it in an open bowl overnight) or filtering the water to see if that makes a difference.
- Location – other pets may block access to the water bowl, or the place may feel unsafe to your puppy. Move the water bowl to a different location, and your puppy may drink more freely.
- Bowl is unsuitable – try a larger bowl with a smaller rim or a different style of bowl.
- Disease – some diseases may make your puppy feel sick and reduce its desire to fill its tummy with water.
Remember, your puppy can get dehydrated after a short time, so if moving the water bowl and changing the water type doesn’t prompt your puppy to drink during the day, you will want to chat to your vet.
If your puppy is not drinking and showing signs of dehydration, get your puppy to a vet to find out what is wrong.
45. Puppy Is Always Thirsty
If the weather is hot, your puppy will drink more frequently, but an always thirsty puppy may have an underlying health condition.
Some breeds are prone to diabetes, but other diseases and infections can mean your puppy is always thirsty.
Excess water intake is toxic for your puppy, and if your puppy keeps emptying its water bowl, it is time to contact your vet.
Other things you may notice that may show a potential illness include physical symptoms, noises, and drooling.
46. Puppy Is Limping
Your puppy may have an injury, an infection, or a thorn in its paw.
When you look at your puppy’s paw, and it feels hot, and your puppy yelps in pain, consult a vet. Don’t distress your puppy by squeezing or moving its paw.
If it is something simple like a stone or cut on the pads, your puppy will be quite patient while you remove the problem.
A small cut can become infected, and you may wish to bathe your puppy’s paw with a saltwater wash or antibacterial solution for the next few days.
Otherwise, keep an eye on the foot to ensure that your puppy stays well and doesn’t limp.
A painful foot that swells and feels hot to the touch may result from an insect sting or an infection.
47. Puppy’s Nose Is Dry
Traditionally a wet nose signifies your puppy is healthy. To function as a super smeller, your puppy needs a wet nose.
Does a dry nose mean your puppy is ill?
Your puppy can have a dry nose because of:
- Time of day – your puppy’s nose varies during the day, and you may spot it during a dry spot. Wait a few moments, and your puppy’s nose will be wet again.
- Dehydration – after a walk or play session, your puppy may need a drink of water.
- A nap – your puppy keeps its nose wet by licking it; while asleep, it may not lick its nose as often.
Unless your puppy has other symptoms (panting, drooling, shaking), a dry nose is unlikely to indicate your puppy is ill.
48. Puppy Has a Runny Nose
If your puppy has a runny nose, the cause may be:
- Allergies – most common reason.
- Blockage – discharge from one nostril means something is stuck up there.
- Infection – the discharge may be colored and smell bad.
- Disease – probably accompanied by other symptoms.
- Breed – the flat nose breeds tend to have respiratory issues.
If your puppy develops a runny nose, it is best to talk to your vet. Any change in your puppy’s normal condition is a potential sign of illness.
49. Puppy Is Bloated
Although your puppy’s tummy can bloat after a meal, this is temporary and subsides quickly.
Bloat is fatal if the swelling results from a twist in the stomach caused by excess air in the belly, and the giant breeds are at higher risk of this life-threatening condition.
If you suspect bloat, then get your puppy directly to the vet.
If it is a false alarm, you can heave a sigh of relief and then take some simple measures to help reduce the risk of bloat. These measures involve slowing down eating and drinking to reduce the quantity of air ingested at a meal.
Plus, ensuring your puppy gets plenty of rest time before and after foo.
50. Puppy Is Foaming at the Mouth
Foaming at the mouth means air mixes with the puppy drool to create foam – a rather gross version of the process of frothing milk.
Your puppy is panting while drooling, and the air causes the drool to froth. Frothing is a more visible sign of drooling.
The froth can mean:
- Anxiety during a stressful situation.
- Nausea from motion sickness or digestive upset.
- Overexertion – tone down the running to give your puppy time to recover.
- Bad taste in the mouth – your puppy may have mouthed something and is reacting adversely to the taste. That foul taste may be a toxin.
- Seizure – a more severe symptom, and you will notice twitching and spasms. Consult a vet immediately.
Frothing at the mouth is highly unlikely to indicate that your puppy is angry or has rabies. Despite the media stereotype, frothing at the mouth does not signify aggression in puppies.
If your puppy continues to foam at the mouth for an hour, it is time to consult a vet.
51. Why Is My Puppy Drooling Excessively?
Excess drool or hypersalivation may be a breed characteristic, a response to the arrival of food, or from other causes such as:
- Stress – drooling is a stress response for some puppies.
- Mouth injury.
Typically drooling because of poisoning, heatstroke, or sickness will have other symptoms that prompt a vet visit.
52. Why Is My Puppy Drooling in the Car?
The most likely explanation is that your puppy is drooling as a stress response because it is afraid of car journeys – the noise and vibration may be overwhelming.
Alternatively, your puppy may suffer from motion sickness.
If your puppy is afraid of the car, you can desensitize it by playing and sitting in the car when it is stationary, then building up to short trips.
You reward and distract the puppy while in the car to build positive associations with traveling in the car.
A stress vest or anti-anxiety medication may help if your puppy is nervous.
Many puppies suffer from motion sickness, and most outgrow the feeling as they mature. Some puppies have permanent motion sickness, and for these, you will need to consult with your vet about appropriate medication.
Puppies with motion sickness may vomit during car journeys, and you may need a routine of not feeding until after the trip and having a clean-up kit available.
53. Why Is My Puppy Shaking and Trembling?
Shaking and trembling may be from excitement or fear, but this behavior is over quickly.
If your puppy is shivering, shaking, and trembling continuously, it may mean:
- Distemper – your puppy may run a fever, cough, and have a discharge from its nose and eyes.
- Generalized Tremor Syndrome – can occur in any breed of dog and manifests typically between 9 months and two years. Straightforward to treat.
- Nausea resulting from poisoning or motion sickness.
- One of the symptoms of ingesting a toxin may accompany seizures.
- Epilepsy or another condition with seizures.
The duration of shaking and trembling from high emotions is short, and you don’t need to worry about emotional trembling. More persistent shaking and shivering mean you need to get your puppy checked for an underlying condition.
While your puppy isn’t fully vaccinated, it is vulnerable to distemper.
Puppies are notorious for eating inappropriate plants and objects, so accidental poisoning is possible.
54. Puppy Is Rocking Side to Side
If your puppy is rocking from side to side or swaying when it walks, there is probably something wrong with its inner ear. Your puppy can pick up an inner ear infection from a tick bite, injury, or a build-up of bacteria from moisture and dirt.
Some breeds (like spaniels) are prone to ear infections, and the rocking from side to side may be one of the first signs your puppy has an issue.
Your vet will want to examine your puppy and give you a routine to keep your puppy’s ears clean and free from infection.
55. Puppy Is Yelping in Pain
Random yelping in pain may result from:
- Muscle pain – perhaps your pup has over-exercised, and its muscles ache.
- Infection – your puppy may yelp when you touch an infected area like ears or paw.
- Anxiety – you may be unaware of a stranger or wild animal in the area, but your puppy may yelp as if in pain.
- General pain from teething or an injury.
Before taking your puppy to the vet, it is worth checking for other symptoms (your vet will ask). Yelping without other symptoms and no apparent injury may be an anxious response.
A yelp generally means something is hurting.
You will want a chat with your vet if your pup is repeatedly yelping during the day or night.
56. Yelping After Shots
Vaccinations are painful, and the injection site can hurt for up to 24 hours following the shot.
If your puppy yelps when you touch the injection site, it is because it feels sore.
If your puppy yelps after 24 hours, consult the vet because the reaction to the injection is too long.
Check your puppy for other symptoms of illness because the yelping may not be about the injection but have some other cause.
57. Missing Teeth
Puppies lose their baby teeth around four months, and by eight months, they have their adult teeth in place.
If your puppy is missing teeth before eight months, it is probably a baby tooth that has fallen out.
After eight months, you need to consult a vet as your puppy may have an injury or gum disease.
58. Why Is My Puppy Grinding Its Teeth?
Grinding teeth is generally a reaction to pain.
If your puppy is teething, provide appropriate chew toys and cooling soothers. If it is past the teething stage, your puppy may have an injury in its mouth or a tummy ache.
Give your vet a call as your puppy is signaling distress, and teeth grinding can damage your puppy’s tooth enamel.
59. Why Is My Puppy Losing Its Hair?
Regular hair loss is natural, but persistent hair loss resulting in exposed skin is an issue.
Your puppy can have excessive hair loss because of:
- Parasite infestation – hair loss may be around the neck if your puppy has fleas.
- Skin allergies.
- Hormonal issues.
- Recent injection – hair may drop out but will regrow.
A chat with your vet will help pinpoint the cause and best treatment to restore your puppy’s beautiful coat.
Taking Care of a Sick Puppy
When your puppy gets ill or is feeling under the weather, you want to help it get better quickly.
60. What Sort of Diet Should You Feed Your Puppy When It Is Unwell?
The type of diet your puppy needs depends on the nature of the illness.
The best drink for your puppy is fresh water, but if your puppy is suffering from a lack of nutrients, you may wish to offer a quality bone broth cooked at home or from a supplier of fresh dog food.
You need to avoid including toxic ingredients like onions and garlic, and you don’t need added salt. Commercially prepared bone broth for you contains all these ingredients and is not a suitable drink for your puppy.
Please don’t give your puppy milk, most dogs are lactose intolerant, and once weaned, your puppy cannot digest dairy.
If your puppy is off its food, you may want to tempt it to eat by hand feeding small portions of a high-quality protein – raw meat, alongside its regular food.
While your puppy is off its food, you may want to add extra moisture to dried kibble with appropriate pureed vegetables.
An itchy puppy suffering from allergies may need an allergy-free elimination diet to help identify potential allergic reactions.
Your vet will advise on the best diet, but you can get allergy-free puppy food or cook your meals using grain-free recipes or a little brown rice for bulk.
A lack of nutrients and a failure to gain weight may mean adding extra nutrients (like fish oil) to your puppy’s bowl or switching to higher-grade puppy food.
A puppy with diarrhea may need a course of prebiotics (formulated for your puppy’s gut, not yours) to help restore order to its unhappy tummy.
A teething puppy does best with cooling treats like frozen watermelon chunks or a hunk of raw carrot to help soothe its gums.
Suddenly changing your puppy’s diet may upset its stomach and digestion; even if your puppy is ill, you want to make gradual changes to the main diet.
Adding additional foods as a supplement to coax your puppy into eating isn’t the same as offering a completely new diet.
If you need to change your puppy to a higher-grade kibble, mix the new with the old to switch gently to a better diet without tummy upset.
61. How to Get a Sick Puppy to Eat and Drink?
One of the most effective ways to persuade your sick puppy to eat and drink is to socialize with the puppy while eating and potentially hand feed.
You can split the daily food allowance into five small meals so that you regularly check in with your puppy during the day and catch it when it is feeling ready to eat.
Small pieces of raw or cooked meat (not processed high salt or spicy meats) mixed with the usual puppy food may tempt it into eating because it is something different.
Moist food is more digestible than dry food for your puppy, and Pureed vegetables or fruit add moisture and texture to the meal.
62. How to Keep a Sick Puppy Hydrated?
The best liquid for keeping your puppy hydrated is water.
If your puppy doesn’t seem to be drinking water, check your puppy regularly for signs of dehydration:
- Sunken eyes.
- Excess panting.
- Dry nose.
- Loss of skin elasticity – when you pinch your puppy’s skin, it goes back immediately if well hydrated.
- Dry, pale gums.
Puppies dehydrate quickly, and you may need your vet to help rehydrate with the help of a drip.
You can tempt your sick puppy into rehydrating with ice cubes – a feverish puppy may find licking ice a relaxing activity, and it gets some water.
If your puppy has diarrhea and vomiting, you may want to add some electrolytes into the water bowl. You can buy tailored puppy electrolytes (beef flavor is popular).
If you chat to your vet, you can add a small amount of Gatorade or human electrolytes – but talk to your vet about the appropriate dosage for your puppy’s size and weight.
Offering watery treats like watermelon and adding moist pureed vegetables or water to dry puppy mix helps increase the water intake for your sick puppy.
63. Why Is Your Puppy Sick After Eating?
If your puppy is sick immediately after eating, it may be because it is eating too fast and pulling in a lot of air; the cause may be anxiety or habit.
You can change where your puppy eats and slow it down by using snuffle mats or adding a chain to the food bowl for it to eat around.
If your puppy has an upset stomach, any food hitting the stomach will cause an adverse reaction.
If your puppy vomits every time it eats, it is time to visit the vet. Your puppy may have an infection or a blockage.
64. Why Is Your Puppy Sick in the Morning?
If the vomit is a distinct yellow or green color, your puppy is throwing up bile, and it may be that it is starving and has an empty stomach.
You may want to offer a bit of dry kibble overnight so your puppy can have something in its stomach. The downside to this approach is that your puppy, if young, will need an overnight bathroom break.
If your puppy throws up after breakfast, it may be eating too quickly because it is too hungry. You can increase the size of its late-night meal and slow down eating breakfast.
An alternative strategy is to get up a couple of hours earlier to give your puppy a small meal and bathroom break before it gets too hungry.
It is up to you if you go back to bed or treat the earlier get up as bonus time to do something fun with your day.
65. Will Cat Food Make Your Puppy Sick?
If you have a pet cat and your puppy insists on eating the cat food, you may worry that this may make your puppy ill.
The first step is to eliminate your puppy’s access to cat food because the protein and nutrient mix is wrong for your puppy.
If your puppy has a sensitive stomach, then cat food may cause an adverse reaction with your puppy being sick and making a mess.
Generally, the occasional stolen bite of cat food is unlikely to make your puppy ill, but it will upset your cat.
66. Will Dewormer Make a Puppy Sick?
Treatment for parasites will form a regular part of your puppy’s routine because the risk of infection is far greater than the slight discomfort resulting from the deworming treatment.
After you administer a dewormer, your puppy may:
- Get diarrhea.
- Vomit and not feel like eating.
- Drool more than usual.
Adverse reactions are rare, and the mild ones last less than 24 hours.
If your puppy has symptoms that last more than this time or has severe symptoms consult your vet.
There are different brands of dewormers available, and you may need to juggle dosage and brand to suit your puppy.
67. Will Parvo Shot Make a Puppy Sick?
Catching parvovirus will make your puppy extremely sick and may have fatal consequences. This disease is preventable by vaccination.
Your puppy can have the parvo shot by itself or with other core vaccines.
Typically, there are no side effects, but after the shot, you may notice:
- Pain around the injection site.
- Your puppy seems sleepier than usual.
- Your puppy may get a little feverish – just like you after a vaccination.
- Your puppy might not want to eat for a day.
It is extremely rare, but some puppies may have an allergic reaction to the vaccination. This allergic reaction is treatable, and most puppies survive it without long-term consequences.
If you have a small breed, you may choose to have your puppy vaccinated with single-shot doses rather than in combination with other vaccines.
Summary: What to Do If You Think Your Puppy Is Sick?
If you notice symptoms and feel your puppy is behaving oddly, trust your gut instinct and call a vet. Most vets offer a free telephone or video consultation service, and it will cost nothing to put your mind at rest.
Prompt action if your puppy has a condition that needs medical intervention can save your puppy’s life or improve its recovery time.
There will be numerous occasions when you need help from a vet throughout your puppy’s life.
Consider signing up for a pet plan (which covers routine treatment like vaccinations, boosters, annual health checks, and discounts on treatments) and insurance against emergency veterinary treatment costs.
If you know the cost of your puppy’s treatment is covered, you can consult your vet regularly to keep your puppy in top condition.