Common Ailments

During your time with you, the puppy you are raising might become ill. These are more common, non-life-threatening ailments that can occur.

Please contact your advisor or area coordinator if you think that the puppy is experiences any of these ailments.


Please refer to "The Scoop on Poop" article on the website for more information. Young puppies experience diarrhea more commonly than the older pups and dogs. We might ask you to drop a stool sample off at your vet or the Foundation.

Diarrhea can be an indicator of stress, excitement, or dietary indiscretion. If the puppy starts having diarrhea please follow this protocol:

  1. Notify your advisor or area coordinator. Monitor the pup's energy level, attitude, and water intake.
  2. Allow the pup to have free access to water so they do not become dehydrated.
  3. Fast the pup for 6-8 hours. This step helps "reset" the pup's system. If their stomach is upset and causing the diarrhea the pup will continue having diarrhea if fed. The fast should skip at least one meal, sometimes two.
    1. Example: The pup starts having diarrhea at 8pm. You will not feed them breakfast and feed them lunch.
    2. Example: The pup starts having diarrhea at 10am. You will not feed them lunch or dinner.
  4. After the 6-8 hour fast you can start feeding the pup chicken and rice, Science Diet I/D food, or another low residue food provided by your advisor or veterinary.
    1. You can use quick rice, white rice, or brown rice. It's best to keep a couple microwave bags of rice on hand.
    2. You can use boiled chicken or canned chicken. Avoid using fatty or dark meat chicken. Do not use any chicken with seasoning or additives.

Chicken and rice ratio:

2/3 cup of rice to 1/3 cup of chicken for 3 days

After 3 days dry food can be reintroduced slowly

¾ c CR with ¼ c dry food for 3 days

½ c CR with ½ c dry food for 3 days

¼ c CR with ¾ c dry food for 3 days

If the puppy continues having diarrhea, seems lethargic, or starts vomiting, please contact your advisor or area coordinator immediately.

Internal Parasites

Internal parasites can cause lethargy, discomfort, blood or mucous in the stool, and diarrhea, but they are not life-threatening. If you suspect the puppy has any type of internal parasites, please contact your advisor or area coordinator. You will need to bring a stool sample to the vet or Foundation so plan ahead!

Many pups have internal parasites at a young age because they are easily susceptible and internal parasites found in our environments.  Internal parasites that cannot be seen by the naked eye are giardia, coccidia, whip worm.  You might see hookworms or tapeworms in the pup's stool if they have them in their GI tract.

Internal parasites are an easy fix with deworming medications and keeping the relieving area clean.


 Vomiting is less common than diarrhea, but it can happen occasionally because puppies are quick to ingest items on the floor. Sometimes the pup will vomit a yellow colored, mucous or foamy substance along with the item they ingested.

If the puppy ingested something they were not supposed to like medication, human food, or a toy, please notify your advisor or area coordinator. It is important that we observe the pup's health and the pup does not become dehydrated or ill.

After updating your advisor or area coordinator, please follow this protocol for vomiting:

  1. Fast the puppy for 6-8 hours so the pup's stomach can settle without having to digest more food.
  2. Allow the pup to have free access to water so they do not become dehydrated.
  3. Give the pup small, frequent meals of a bland diet like chicken and rice (see the above "Diarrhea" section above to instructions on making the mixture), Science Diet I/D, or another low residue food provided by your advisor or veterinarian.
  4. After 24 hours of no vomiting the pup can return to normal feedings.

If at any point the pup seems lethargic, dehydrated, has continuous vomiting, has no interest in food, or continues to decline please contact your advisor or area coordinator. If the issue seems like an emergency please take the puppy to the closest vet immediately.



Dehydration can occur is the pup has continued or frequent diarrhea. Even if the pup is drinking water dehydration can occur because of vomiting or diarrhea. To check for dehydration, you can do the following:

Skin pinch: pull the skin between the shoulders of your pup up away from the body. Normally, the skin will immediately return to normal. In a dehydrated pup the skin will not return to normal position immediately.

Gums examination: normal gums will be moist and a healthy pink color. A dehydrated pup will have tacky and/or pale gums.

If you think the puppy is dehydrated please contact your advisor or area coordinator.

Hot Spots

Hot spots can appear anywhere on the body, but they are more common where the pup can lick or the area can stay warm and moist. They are raw, oozing, ulcerated skin and can have a plaque like appearance.

Hot spots will more frequently occur during hot, humid weather or if the pup is experiencing an allergic reaction to something in their environment. Some dogs can develop them after swimming and not drying completely.  Hot spots can drastically grow or become worse in a short amount of time. Please contact your advisor if you notice a hotspot on the pup.

After speaking to your advisor please follow this protocol:

  1. Clip the hair over the area if possible. Do not use scissors, only use clippers.
  2. Wash the area with warm water and diluted antibacterial soap three times daily.
  3. Thoroughly dry the area. You can apply a powder like baby powder or gold bond.
  4. Keep the area dry and do not let the puppy lick or scratch the area.

If the hot spot worsens, grows in size, or the pup will not leave the area alone your advisor might recommend taking the pup to the vet to receive further treatment.


Pyoderma are pustules found in small numbers on the surface of the abdomen on almost all puppies (known as puppy pyoderma). These usually go away without treatment. Adolescent dogs (5 to 8 months old) often get pimples on the chin (chin acne). If they spread, they may need antibiotic treatment. Monitor the pyoderma to make sure it isn't spreading or causing the pup discomfort.

Please contact your advisor if you think the issue is causing the pup discomfort or worsening.

Sarcoptic Mange/Scabies

Scabies has zoonotic potential, which means it can be transmitted from animals to people. Usually, it is picked up in wooded areas or from other dogs and wild animals. Puppies or dogs with weakened immune systems are more susceptible.

It is a microscopic mite that bites the dog and triggers intense itching. These mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Scabies can lead to hotspots or open wounds because the puppy will continuously scratch or lick the area to relieve the symptoms.

Please contact your advisor or area coordinator if you think the puppy has sarcoptic mange.

Demodectic Mange/Demodex

Demodex does not have zoonotic potential. A mite that resides in the hair follicles creates patchy hair loss; they generally do not create intense itching. Usually demodex is diagnosed in younger animals (under 1 year of age) or older animals that are immune compromised. These mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Please contact your advisor or area coordinator if you think the puppy has demodectic mange.


We provide topical flea prevention, but if you live in an area with untreated grass, wooded areas, or where fleas are common your pup might be host to these little bugs. Fleas can cause scratching, irritation, and self-induced skin infections. If you think that the puppy has fleas please contact your advisor or area coordinator.

Fleas can reproduce quickly and live in the environment, like your home, so it's best to avoid the issue altogether by using preventative.


Ticks can be picked up in tall grass areas and wooded areas. If your pup plays or walks in areas where ticks are common please check them frequently during their body handling sessions for ticks.

If you spot a tick on the puppy, remove it with tweezers. Apply Neosporin or peroxide to the wound. Check the area periodically to make sure the wound is healing properly (drying up and scabbing over).

Please contact your advisor if the wound is not healing or if you frequently find ticks on the puppy.


This is an inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eyes. You will notice redness, additional discharge, and irritation in the eye if the pup has conjunctivitis. Causes are usually infections or allergies, but it can be caused by environmental problems like dust and dirt.

Please contact your advisor or area coordinator if you think the pup has conjunctivitis.


When you see “rolling in” of any part of one or multiple eyelids creating squinting, tearing, and even corneal ulceration from the hairs rubbing the eye.

Please contact your advisor or area coordinator if you think the pup has entropion.


This is common cause of lameness in 4- to 12-month-old puppies. Sometimes described as “growing pains,” it is characterized by lameness that wanders from one leg to another over a few weeks to months. It is an inflammation in the long bones of the legs. The lameness may last on any particular leg for days to a few weeks. Although you should never assume this is the cause, panosteitis is a frequent and, fortunately, non-harmful cause of lameness.

The affected dog may favor one or more of its legs, sometimes limping severely or to the point of even carrying the leg. Frequently, the dog will seem to recover completely from whatever was bothering him. A few days or weeks later, it may show the same signs on that or even a different leg.

Please contact your advisor or area coordinator if your dog shows any signs of limping.

Lameness or limping

There are many possible causes of lameness, including developmental causes (as in hip or elbow dysplasia), infectious causes (Lyme disease), and trauma (sprains and strains). Unless a leg is obviously broken, we ask that you confine the pup in its crate and call your advisor or area coordinator for advice.

Many lameness problems are transient and resolve within 2 to 5 days of crate rest. If the problem worsens, is severe, or persists beyond 5 days, please call the Foundation right away.

If a veterinary workup is needed, we will discuss the best options for diagnostics and treatment.  This is because if anything is found, we will need to provide prompt, expert care with our orthopedic specialist.

Urinary Tract Infection

UTIs occur more commonly with female pups, but they can occur with males, too. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection are usually frequent urination, straining to urinate, squatting several times to urinate, blood in the urine, discomfort when urinating.

If you think that the pup has a UTI please contact your advisor or area coordinator. If possible, collect a sample of urine to take to the vet. You can collect the urine by sliding a shallow container under the pup while they're relieving.