By keeping an eye out for these five top conditions, you can do a lot to keep your young dog safe.
1. Infectious diseases
Because their immune systems haven't yet matured, puppies are prone to infectious diseases that are easier for adult dogs to fight off. One of the most dangerous of these diseases is parvovirus. Parvo causes vomiting and diarrhea and can result in death in young dogs.
The best way to protect your puppy from these illnesses is through a regular vaccination program that generally begins at 6 weeks of age and continues until the pup is 16 weeks old. These vaccines can do a lot to protect your young dog from contracting one of these serious illnesses. You can also protect your puppy by keeping him away from unvaccinated dogs before the age of 17 weeks. Even though your pup has received his inoculations, keep him from being exposed to these diseases before his immune system has had a chance to mature.
An assortment of parasites loves to infest puppies. Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, are present in just about every puppy and need to be removed with deworming medication. External parasites that can wreak havoc on a puppy's health are fleas, ticks and the scabies that cause mange. Protecting your puppy from fleas and ticks can be done with a puppy-safe flea-and-tick preventive. At the first sign of mange â€” hair loss, scratching and scabby skin â€” take your puppy to the vet for medication.
3. Congenital abnormalities
Some puppies are born with genetic health problems that need to be immediately addressed. One of the more common abnormalities in male puppies is one or both undescended testicles. The testicles that don't drop down need to be surgically removed. Other abnormalities can include hip dysplasia, heart issues and umbilical hernias. Your veterinarian is the one to diagnose and treat these and other genetic problems.
5. Eating foreign objects
When it comes to watching out for your puppy, your veterinarian is your best friend. Keep your vet in the loop. She will guide you on how to protect your puppy from disease, accidents and his own silly behavior.
An award-winning writer and editor, Audrey Pavia is a former managing editor at Dog Fancy magazine and former senior editor of The AKC Gazette. She is the author of The Labrador Retriever Handbook (Barrons) and has written extensively on horses as well as other pets. She shares her home in Norco, California, with two rescue dogs, Candy and Mookie.