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Common Puppy Illnesses | Blog | AKC Pet Insurance

Pet Health and Safety  •   AKC Pet Insurance  •   Jan 27, 2022


Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time, but it’s not all hugs and treats. While you are showering them with affection and showing them off to friends and family, keep in mind that your new pet is susceptible to a variety of common health conditions. Like many childhood ailments, most common puppy illnesses are easily avoidable if you follow a few simple rules. Addressing other problems will depend on your ability to spot warning signs and take the right preventive measures. 

Do you have a sick puppy on your hands? Check out our guide to common puppy illnesses below, and make sure to consult your veterinarian if you recognize any symptoms or other puppy health concerns. 

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)

Your veterinarian will likely administer several Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) vaccinations throughout your puppy’s first months. These vaccinations are highly recommended.

Dr. Jim Dobies, a member of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, notes that CDV “can be a really ugly disease.” Though initial symptoms resemble respiratory illnesses like the common cold, sneezing and runny eyes can evolve into pneumonia and permanent brain damage. 

Many dog owners mistakenly disregard these mild, early symptoms. As a result, dogs are often suffering high fevers and seizures by the time they reach a vet. Treatment can take weeks and typically requires inpatient services. CDV can even remain dormant in the bodies of dogs who survive it, and is far more dangerous when it strikes again later in life, often resulting in severe neurological symptoms.

Parvovirus (Parvo)

Parvovirus (parvo, for short) is another common and highly contagious disease that affects young dogs. Fortunately, it’s also easily prevented with a series of puppy vaccines. The shots typically start around 6 to 8 weeks of age and continue for several months. Your veterinarian will help you determine the appropriate canine wellness schedule for your dog. 

Symptoms of parvo include fever, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. Puppies are extremely contagious (to both dogs and humans) once they begin exhibiting symptoms. Emergency veterinarians can usually ease symptoms with intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and antibiotics to stave off infection.

Kennel Cough

The term “kennel cough” is the popular name for canine infectious respiratory disease, a condition caused by exposure to a number of common viruses and bacteria. Veterinarians can vaccinate your dog against kennel cough during their early office visits. In addition to kennels, dogs often catch and spread infection in other highly populated areas like parks and training groups. Your veterinarian may suggest vaccinating your dog against kennel cough when receiving puppy vaccines.

Symptoms should look and sound familiar to pet owners who’ve had a cold or the flu. Lethargy, sneezing, and a dry cough all indicate a potential infection. While contagious pets should be separated from other dogs, mild cases are typically easy to treat with fluids and rest. Veterinarians may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to ensure severe cases do not worsen into pneumonia.

Pet Insurance for Puppies

It's important to plan on scheduling a first wellness exam with your veterinarian shortly after bringing your puppy home to ensure they’re in good shape from the start! Enrolling your puppy in a pet insurance policy when they’re young is another great way to prepare for the unexpected. Wellness Coverage from AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company) reimburses for a variety of routine and preventive care expenses, allowing you to focus more on the health of your pet and less on costly veterinary bills. Click here to get a quote today!

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