Your puppy looks sick. What should you do?

Looking after your puppy is a big responsibility that can feel overwhelming, more so if you’re a first-time pet owner. Puppies expend a lot of energy through playing, exploring the world and making new friends. This can make it challenging to know if your puppy is tired or if there’s something more serious going on.

Caring for a sick puppy is something you’d rather avoid, we understand. But as your puppy is growing, they can be more susceptible to health issues than adult dogs, due to their undeveloped immune system. This is why it’s crucial to stay on top of your puppy’s vaccination schedule. It will help to prevent infections and sometimes even deadly diseases.

When it comes to being a responsible pet owner, remain vigilant and know how to spot the symptoms of a sick puppy. This way, you can react swiftly and take the best course of action.

Puppy lies on a white, soft blanket

Let’s run through some well-known signs that could mean a sick puppy

  • Bad breath
  • Dry, cloudy or red eyes
  • Dry skin or lesions
  • Diarrhoea
  • Joint stiffness
  • Unjustified increase
in thirst

  • Excessive drooling
  • Excessive licking or scratching
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Change in appetite


Dog lies in blanket on couch

Is my puppy sick, tired or upset?

Those first few weeks with your puppy are precious as you get to know each other. The more observant you are, and the better you understand their character, the sooner you will see if something is off.

If you suspect that your puppy is more than just tired, take a step back and assess the past 24 hours. Has there been a change in their routine or environment that could be causing them stress? Has the temperature changed, leading to a loss of appetite or mild dehydration?

Trust your gut—you know best if your puppy is experiencing a common health problem or not. When in doubt, contact your vet. They may be able to handle your questions over the phone or via email. This will help you to have a clear read on the situation. It is always better to get a professional diagnosis than to not take any action.

Common illnesses seen in puppies

You want to build a healthy future for your puppy. They go through significant changes and growth in their first few months. Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the illnesses they could face during this important phase.



Be sure to keep your puppy’s eyes clean as part of their regular grooming. Eye infections in puppies can be spotted through discharge or unusual habits such as squinting or excessive touching of the eye area. Head to your vet for a professional opinion if you have any doubts.

Keeping your puppy’s ears clean should be a regular part of their grooming routine. Especially at this curious stage when very little is off-limits for them. Ear infections in puppies are not unusual and can result in an unpleasant odour, excessive head shaking, licking or pawing. Your vet can clear up the problem and send you home with a cleaning solution.

Recharging their batteries after running around is perfectly normal. But if your puppy seems overly tired and less engaged than usual, it may be a sign of something more serious. Pick up the phone to your vet and make an appointment.

Digestive problems in puppies are all too common. It could be the stress of settling into their new home, a change to their diet, or they took a bite out of something they shouldn’t have. Observe them, and any other changes in their behaviour, and don’t hesitate to call your vet if you are concerned.

Dehydration is something to watch out for in your puppy, especially during the warmer months. But it can also be caused by vomiting or diarrhoea. There are several signs of puppy dehydration to watch out for: sticky or dry gums, sticky saliva and loss of skin elasticity. Check in with your vet to understand the best course of action.

Puppies are high in energy, which means they need high-quality food to keep them nourished (and ready to play). A change in routine or your absence could cause your puppy to briefly abandon their food. But if the problem persists, it’s time to check in with your vet.

Puppy skin problems can occur due to their cute clumsiness and excitement to explore. It’s a good idea to check their coat and skin on a daily basis, for scratches, ticks or insect bites. If you find something unusual or their coat loses its shine, book a vet appointment right away.

Puppy sits on brown blanket at home

Looking after your sick puppy

It is important to stay calm and patient if your puppy starts showing signs of being ill. They will pick up on any stress you are feeling, which will only add to their anxiety. Your role is to keep them comfortable and encourage them to rest. Make sure they have access to fresh water and make a note of their symptoms, as well as any changes in their behaviour. The quicker you act, the better.

You may have noticed that we always advise calling your vet if you have the slightest doubt about your puppy’s health. That’s because the relationship you and your puppy have with your vet is significant. They are your trustworthy ally when it comes to protecting your pet’s health. The more information you can provide them with, should you have a sick puppy on your hands, the faster they’ll know how to act.


Related Articles

Outdoor cat checking surrounding while he eats

​Why does my puppy have diarrhoea?

Read more
Kitten hides under blanker

Why does my dog keep scratching?

Read more