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6 Common Illnesses to Watch for in Puppies


3. Kennel Cough


Bacterial infection or canine parainfluenza viruses, both of which are airborne, cause kennel cough in dogs — also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. “The disease name is a misnomer,” says Dr. Dobies, “because animals that aren’t in kennels can —and do — contract it.” Puppies can be vaccinated against kennel cough starting at six to eight weeks, and then every six to 12 months after that, though the vaccine doesn’t necessarily protect against the disease, but does lead to milder symptoms.


Symptoms: Kennel cough starts with lethargy, decreased appetite and fever, then puppies develop a deep, often productive, cough. If untreated, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.


Treatment: If you note any unusual coughing from your puppy “…it’s best to get him checked out to make sure he’s not developing pneumonia,” says Dr. Dobies.


Recovery time: Kennel cough usually runs its course in 10 to 14 days.


4. Adenovirus


Adenovirus in dogs causes infectious canine hepatitis, but Dr. Dobies says it’s rarely seen these days because of the efficacy of vaccines. Often the adenovirus vaccine is given with the canine distemper vaccine, though you may want to ask your veterinarian about canine adenovirus type-1 and canine adenovirus type-2.


Symptoms: It’s really difficult to know if your dog has adenovirus, but it typically starts with gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea and can develop into jaundice.


Treatment: Inpatient fluid therapy and nutritional support may be required. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics and/or fluid reducers as necessary.


5. Leptospirosis


This bacterial disease can affect the kidneys and the liver and is transmitted through contaminated water and infected urine. Your puppy can be vaccinated against leptospirosis at 10 to 12 weeks, then again at 13 to 15 weeks. Be aware that not all clinics vaccinate for leptospirosis, so ask your veterinarian if it's appropriate for your puppy.


Symptoms: Symptoms of leptospirosis are flu-like: Vomiting and/or fever and/or lethargy, but they’re very vague to being with, says Dr. Dobies.


Treatment: Antibiotics


Recovery time: Depending on the severity of the infection, an antibiotic course can last four weeks or more.