Skip to content

Healthy Pets

Font Size

Common Illnesses in Puppies and Kittens

Even young pets that have had their shots can get sick. Here's what to watch out for.
WebMD Magazine - Feature

We'd had our new kittens for about two weeks when one of them developed diarrhea. It was a stinky mess in the litterbox -- and one that had me worried something was seriously wrong. A quick consultation with a veterinarian helped us figure out that the culprit was the leftover milk the kitten had lapped out of a cereal bowl one morning. Though I had shooed her away from it, she drank just enough to upset her tender tummy.

Like human babies, animal babies are susceptible to all sorts of illnesses and conditions. Here's what you should know.

Recommended Related to Pets

The Laying on of Paws

By Julia Szabo Volunteering their time wherever help is needed, trained therapy animals and their human partners are helping to make the world a healthier place. If your outgoing pet thrives on attention, you can maximize your bonding time together -- and make a profound contribution to your community -- by becoming therapy partners. Across the country, these volunteer teams dedicate themselves to lifting spirits at hospitals, nursing homes, and anywhere else they're needed. "It's...

Read the The Laying on of Paws article > >

Puppies and Kittens: Why You Need a Well Visit

Your first step after getting your pet is to take her to a veterinarian to make sure she's gotten the vaccinations she needs. The vet will also give her a thorough physical exam, including checking her stool for signs of internal parasites (not unusual in young animals).

"This first visit is important for all new pets," says Scott Shaw, DVM, an assistant professor of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. But it's especially important if you get them from sources other than adoption agencies or breeders, he notes. "When you get animals as strays or through other families, you never know what health issues might be smoldering."

Kittens and puppies are vulnerable to internal parasites (such as roundworms, hookworms, and coccidiosis) and external parasites (such as ear mites, fleas, and ticks). Symptoms of internal parasites include diarrhea, a potbelly, and weight loss. Symptoms of external parasites include scratching, dandruff, and black crust inside the ears.

Medical Problems in Kittens

Upper respiratory infections. Kittens pick up respiratory viruses fairly easily, and they often develop secondary bacterial infections as well. Symptoms include sneezing, eye discharge, and loss of appetite. "Because they're so young, they just become miserable little things," Shaw says.

Accidents. "We see a fair number of kittens who get sat on or crushed in reclining chairs," Shaw says. "Owners need to be very, very careful. "Kittens can also sprain or fracture their legs if they fall from counters or table tops and tear their nails if they get caught in fabric."

Today on WebMD

Puppy digging hole
Are you putting your pet at risk?
Cat looking at fish
Things we can learn from our pets.
dog and kitten
27 ways pets help your health.
Get the facts about prevention.
Woman holding puppy
Sad dog and guacamole
Siamese cat eating from bowl
cat on couch
Cat People vs Dog People Slideshow
Kitten playing
Orange cat nuzzling woman
German shephard reading a book