How You Can Tell if Your Puppy is Sick

How You Can Tell if Your Puppy is Sick

How can you tell if your puppy is sick? Puppies can fall ill for a variety of reasons but their symptoms aren’t always easy to detect.

Diagnosis of sick puppies can be challenging because puppies frequently get sick very quickly. It is not uncommon to hear about a puppy that was running around, playing, eating, and drinking normally in the morning becoming horribly sick and not moving just 4 to 6 hours later. In adult dogs this kind of rapid development of symptoms would be uncommon, but it happens regularly with young puppies.

Common Signs of a Sick Puppy

Some common indications of a “sick puppy” include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Less interest in playing
  • Lack of appetite or decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Straining to urinate or defecate
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Sleeping more
  • Less interaction with you or other pets
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble walking
  • Rapid or difficult breathing

You are the person who knows your pet best, and owners often notice subtle early warning signs that someone else may not detect. If you observe any of the mentioned symptoms or see any other signs that concern you, call your veterinary hospital as soon as possible. In fact, it’s worth seeking the advice of a vet even if you can’t quite pinpoint what’s wrong. That feeling that something is “off” about your dog can be indicative of a health problem.

The safest approach when you suspect your puppy is sick is to have your puppy examined. Once your pet is under the supervision of a veterinarian, the vet may ask additional questions to help localize or diagnose the problem.

Questions Your Vet May Ask About Your Sick Puppy

For the quickest diagnosis, be prepared to answer some of the following questions:

  • How old is your puppy?
  • How long have you owned your puppy?
  • Where did you get your puppy (adoption center, breeder, previous stray)?
  • What other type of pets do you have?
  • What interaction has your puppy had with other dogs?
  • Has your puppy been vaccinated? If so, what vaccinations have they had and when?
  • Has your puppy been exposed to other dogs or puppies with parvovirus?
  • Has your dog experienced any previous illnesses?
  • Has your puppy been dewormed?
  • Is your dog currently under treatment for an illness or disease?
  • When did the symptoms start?
  • When is the last time your puppy was acting totally normal?
  • Are you giving any medications to your puppy (prescription meds, flea control, heartworm prevention, other)
  • Are any other pets in your household ill?
  • Have there been any recent activities such as boarding, grooming, or trips to the park?
  • Is a majority of your pet’s time spent indoors or outdoors?
  • Have you changed what you are feeding your puppy?
  • Does your puppy run free or is he on a leash?
  • What brand of food does your puppy eat, how much, and how frequently?
  • Do you feed table scraps? If so, what and how often?
  • Could your puppy have chewed on and potentially swallowed anything not digestible?
  • Is there a chance your puppy could have had any exposure to electrical cords, toxins, medications, antifreeze, rat poison, etc.?
  • Is your puppy drinking water and keeping it down?
  • When was your puppy’s last bowel movement, and was it normal?
  • Is your puppy urinating normally?
  • Have you noticed your puppy experiencing any coughing or sneezing, lameness, or trouble breathing?


By supplying the answers to these questions, your veterinarian will be in a better position to help your puppy and determine the underlying cause for the symptoms.

Additional tests may be necessary to find out what the problem is but the answers to the above questions can greatly narrow the area of concern.

I hope this article gives you more information on how to tell if your puppy is sick. If you have any concerns about your sick puppy, please call your veterinarian.

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