Middle Road Veterinary Hospital

Puppy Watch List. What to look out for...

Puppies can suffer many of the same health conditions as adult dogs, but because of their age, some of these should be considered more serious.

Following is a list of the most common illnesses and emergencies in puppies;

1/.         Vomiting and diarrhoea are the most common reason puppies are an emergency.  It’s very common in newly rehomed puppies for a variety of reasons, including the stress of rehoming, parasites including worms, bacterial infections, viral infections (including the deadly parvovirus), dietary indiscretion and rapid changes in diet.

Puppies with vomiting and diarrhoea should be seen by a Veterinarian regardless as well as the following;

  1. Lethargic, not acting normally or not wanting to play
  2. The abdomen seems bloated or painful
  3. A large amount of fluid being lost due to vomiting or diarrhoea
  4. Blood in the vomit or diarrhoea
  5. The puppy has not yet received a full course of vaccinations
  6. The puppy is receiving medication for a different reason
  7. There is a suspicion of an infectious cause (more than one dog is affected and displaying symptoms)

2/.         Poisons, toxins and drugs can all be more dangerous if ingested by a puppy as their liver and kidneys have not fully matured. Particular ‘favourites’ include slug pellets, rat bait, anti-freeze, chocolate, raisins, human medications (e.g. painkillers) and other pets’ medication. Please contact your Veterinarian immediately. Please keep the packaging if you are able and bring it when you see the Veterinarian.

3/.         ‘Foreign bodies’, such as bones, stones, socks, or non-food materials getting stuck in the  gastrointestinal tract, are more common in puppies. Symptoms often include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and abdominal pain.

4/.         Other gastrointestinal problems such as worms

As puppies’ immune systems aren’t fully developed, puppies require more frequent doses of wormer than adult dogs.  Large numbers of worms can cause intestinal problems including vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and weight loss. Worms are extremely common in puppies and your Veterinarian will be able to recommend a suitable wormer for your puppy.

5/.         Head and trauma injuries in puppies

As puppies are smaller creatures, they are more prone to being stepped on or squished beneath falling objects and dropped and are therefore more likely to be seriously injured. Puppies feel pain more easily than adult dogs. We would always recommend that a puppy showing any signs of pain, breathing difficulties or behavioural changes after a traumatic incident should be seen by a Veterinarian immediately.

6/.         Puppies chewing things they shouldn't. 

Puppies explore the world with their mouths — licking, mouthing and chewing virtually everything they encounter, and this behaviour can lead to a lot of trouble! Chewing electric cables can be life-threatening if they chew through the plastic and get an electric shock.  Any animal receiving an electric shock should be brought to the Veterinarian as soon as it is safe for them to be moved.

Some more common signs your puppy might be under the weather would include;

1/.         Lethargy

Puppies need lots of rest -- it's just a part of the developmental stage they are in. However, when they are not napping the day away, they should be playful, inquisitive and energetic. If you notice that your puppy is lazing around, or exhibiting a general lack of enthusiasm, please make an appointment with your Veterinarian, as this could be a sign of a wide variety of illnesses, from bacterial infections to a virus such as parvo.

2/.         Loss of appetite

Please take your puppy to your Veterinarian immediately, as the puppy’s reluctance to eat may be caused by something serious.

3/.         Whimpering

Just because your puppy can’t speak to you, doesn’t mean they won’t try. If you notice your pup making unusual noises or whimpering incessantly, please make an appointment with your Veterinarian. It could very well be that they are just vying for attention, but if the whimpering persists, or if it seems like they are not whimpering to be noticed, it might mean that they are injured in some way, or possibly suffering from internal pain, which could indicate an illness.

4/.         Licking or Itching

Puppies are still dogs, and dogs lick and scratch themselves. However, if you notice that they are really going after one spot, it could be caused by a rash or an allergy.

5/.         Dizziness (Ataxia)

Puppies are certainly no stranger to unusual behaviours, often chasing their own tail or things no one else can see. If it seems like they are walking around listlessly, or in a ‘drunken’ manner, it could be symptomatic of low blood sugar or dehydration. You should take them to your Veterinarian as soon as you can, as this could become serious.


It may seem like the overall response to any symptom is to rush over to the Veterinarian, however in reality it is that it can be very hard to tell when your puppy is just being a puppy or if there is something more serious going on below the surface. Use your best judgement when trying to help your puppy get back to normal, and never hesitate to let a Veterinarian look. Better safe than sorry.