Every responsible breeder out there goes out of their way to ensure that they are creating and raising healthy puppies. Part of making sure that your litter is healthy before they are sent home to their new families is getting them vet checked. Every breeder dreads hearing bad news from their vet. No one wants to be told that their puppy has an issue, and no one wants to have to report to a buyer that there is an issue with their new puppy. Let's face it, when dealing with a live being some things are out of your control and everyone raising any type of animals will deal with a health issue at one point in time.
Since I have been raising puppies for quite awhile now I wanted to shed some light on common "issues" that may arise with puppies. I want to stress the word "Common" because the things I am going to touch on are exactly that, common, and can and will most likely arise with anyone that raises puppies.
Umbilical Hernias: An umbilical hernia is a protrusion of the abdomen where the belly button is located, you may have heard of the term "outie belly button." When a puppy has this you will feel a small bump on there belly button and often times it can be pushed back in. There is no exact cause for an umbilical hernia, they don't cause any pain or pose a health threat, and they are easily repaired when your puppy gets spayed or neutered.
Here are a few good links for additional information on umbilical hernias:
Heart Murmurs: One of the things included in a vet check is for our vet to listen to the puppies heart for any signs of a murmur. What is often referred to as an "innocent heart murmur" can be quite commonly diagnosed amongst young puppies, usually between the ages of 5-8 weeks, and is usually gone by the age of 4-6 months. When a puppy is diagnosed with this the vet will make a note of it and tell you monitor it as your puppy grows. If a heart murmur is detected that is not considered "innocent" your vet will recommend further testing and treatment.
Here are some links for more information on heart murmurs:
Cherry Eye: A cherry eye is an inflammation in the tear gland of the third eye lid and will cause a red swelling or bulge in the corner of your dogs eye. These can occur in any breed but seem to be more common amongst breeds that have more of a droopy eye such as Cocker Spaniels, Bull Dogs, Beagles, etc. When a cherry is diagnosed by a vet they may at first prescribe anti-inflammatory drops and then surgical repair.
Here are some links for more information on heart murmurs:
Ear Infections: Floppy ears are adorable but they are also a big cause for ear infections. Bacteria, fungus, and ear mites are all common causes for ear infections and it's important to keep an eye on your pet to see if any of these issues arise. If your dog is scratching at their ears or shaking their head they should have their ears checked by your vet. If their ears are red, inflamed, or smell bad they also should be checked out by your vet. There are many different types of ear meds out there so the vet will prescribe the proper med once the cause of the infection is determined. If you have a dog with floppy ears it's important to keep their ears clean and dry and to check them often.
Here are some links for more information on ear infections:
Worms: There are several types of worms that are common in dogs, and because of this, it's important to start de-worming puppies at two weeks old and to continue de-worming them for several weeks after. Different types of wormers kill different types of worms and more than one dose is needed to kill the current infestation and then future hatching eggs. It's very common for a vet to request a stool sample which will identify if your dog has worms and what type they are so that a treatment plan can be made. It's important for a buyer to continue de-worming their puppy after they are brought home from the breeder.
Here are some links for more information on worms in dogs:
Parasites: Coccidia and Giardia are the two most common parasites diagnosed in puppies because they are literally everywhere and very easy to pick up and spread. When you take your puppy to the vet they will ask for a fecal sample to test for worms and parasites and it's very common for puppies to test positive for giardia or coccidia (no matter who you bought them from.) Symptoms of the parasites can include diarrhea, loose or watery stool, bloody stool, and dehydration. Some puppies can test positive without ever having any symptoms and some of the tests used for detecting Giardia are known to have false positives and negatives. We are not "cage breeders," we don't believe animals should be raised or confined in cages and we feel it is vital for puppies to get life exposure at a young age. When the weather is nice we take the puppies outside to bask in the sun, roll in the grass, take in the fresh air, see the blue sky, and just to run around and be puppies. We feel that socialization and life experience far outweighs the risk of getting a common parasite that can easily be treated. Taking a puppy outside runs the risk of exposure, not only to parasites, but to diseases, especially if you are in a strange place or high traffic pet area. It's important to socialize your puppy but also to take them to safe places to help ward off some disease so be diligent about where you take them before being fully vaccinated, and know you run the risk of exposure to parasites. Due to Giardia being so common and prevalent we treat our puppies with Panacur before they come home to you and it wouldn't be a bad idea to have some on hand incase your puppy gets exposure. Panacur can be bought over the counter and online without a RX.
Here are some links for more information about Giardia and Coccicia:
Owning a puppy is expensive, especially the first year when you have to get prepared for their arrival and also pay for medical expenses including vaccinations, spay/neuter, heartworm, rabies, de-wormers, etc. I highly suggest looking into a health insurance plan for your pet or putting away some money for unexpected expenses to ensure your puppy gets the care that they need.
If a puppy is diagnosed with any of the above things I mentioned the vet should make a note of it and the breeder should inform you of what they were told. Most often a breeder will fix the things that they can such as an ear infection, cherry eye, or worms, but things like an innocent heart murmur need time and an umbilical hernia is repaired during the spay/neuter surgery. I know some of these things can sound scary but please don't judge a breeder based on an issue. I have mistakenly gone down that deep, dark hole of the internet and read horrible posts from puppy buyers instantly calling breeders names, writing bad reviews, and being bullies over little things that they don't realize can be so common. Puppies are living beings, issues happen, and it's important to understand that they can easily be treated.