Is My Puppy Sick?

If you are anything like me, I tend to stress over everything that happens with my new puppy. A sneeze, a cough, an extra long ear itch – I often think the worst. Especially in those early days when the pup isn’t fully vaccinated yet. So, if you’re sitting in front of your computer worrying about your puppy – let’s explore the question, “is my puppy sick?”

Is My Puppy Sick – What’s Normal (And What’s Not)

Excessive sleeping can be normal – or it may be a sign of something more

If you have just brought home an 8 week old puppy (or young puppy in general), you may be wondering if certain behaviours are normal or an indication of sickness.

Please note that this page is NOT intended to diagnose any symptoms or behaviours! If you are worried about your puppy, there is no harm calling your vet or bringing your pup in for an extra checkup.

With a young puppy, you should be going to the vet frequent anyway, to keep up with the vaccination schedule

So, what seemingly ‘off’ things do puppies do that are generally normal?

  • Barking (sometimes, a lot of barking!)
  • Biting, nipping, and acting “aggressive” 
  • Submissive urination or peeing when excited
  • Nervousness, anxiety when left alone (may bark, whine, cry, yelp) 
  • Sleeping a lot (young puppies can sleep 18+ hours a day!) 
  • Getting the ‘zoomies‘ (running around like crazy, biting, growling, etc.)

Now that you know what to expect from a normal puppy – what signs should you look out for that something may actually be wrong? 

  • Limping or not putting pressure on a paw or leg
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Yellow or green discharge from eyes
  • Prolonged presence of the third eyelid 
  • Loss of appetite (especially if puppy was previously food driven) 
  • Vomiting and/or loose stool/diarrhea (though a variety of issues can cause this, many are not serious) 
  • Lethargy 
  • Whimpering for no apparent reason
  • Dizziness or loss of balance 

Any other abnormal behaviour your notice with your puppy, such as sleeping much more than usual, excessive pacing, excessive panting, and other unusual behaviours could also indicate a problem. 

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should get in contact with your vet. Symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, and bloody loose stools can sometimes indicate a serious problem in young puppies – such as parvo

Preventing Puppy Illness

You should keep your puppy away from unvaccinated dogs 

Although you probably want to try your best to avoid being an overly-paranoid ‘pawrent,’ it is a good idea to take some precautions with your young puppy. Diseases such as canine parvovirus and distemper have a high mortality rate and are, unfortunately, very contagious. 

So, here are some things you can do to help prevent your puppy from catching serious illnesses such as parvo while they are still unvaccinated. 

  • Limit exposure to other dogs (unless you know the dog is fully vaccinated)
  • Avoid places where unvaccinated dogs may be (e.g. pet stores, dog parks, or even walking in your neighbourhood – depending on your vet’s recommendation)
  • When visiting the vet, carry your puppy 
  • Ensure your puppy gets their booster vaccines when needed (usually they occur at 8, 12, and 16 weeks old and then yearly after that) 
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