How to tell if your puppy is healthy

6th February 2022

The biggest concern new pet parents have is the overall health of their new family member – from making sure you buy a healthy puppy to ensuring they stay healthy as they grow up. You’ll quickly get to know your new puppy and what is normal for them, but it can be a huge worry if something doesn’t seem quite right. This guide will take you through the top signs to look out for to ensure you buy a healthy puppy, and when you might need a trip to the veterinarian.

Buying a healthy puppy 

Buying a puppy can be an overwhelming and complicated process to navigate, and there’s a lot to consider. Welcoming a puppy into your family is not a decision that should be taken lightly, and you need to do your research to make sure you choose the right breed to fit with your family and lifestyle, and that you buy from a responsible breeder or rescue.  

So, what should you look out for to make sure you buy a healthy puppy? Well, the first thing to ensure is that the breeder or rescue is reputable. Sadly, there are still many puppy farms and irresponsible breeders out there who are selling puppies without completing the necessary health checks, or ensuring the pups are raised in a healthy, clean environment.

In the UK, the Kennel Club is a great place to start – not only can they give you information on all the different breeds, but you can also be assured that their registered breeders are following all the rules to make sure they breed healthy pups.  

Puppies need to be brought up in a clean environment and receive routine preventative healthcare including flea and worming treatments, and vaccinations. If any of these things are not done properly, the puppies can be at risk of serious illness. But it’s also important to consider health from a genetic perspective – certain breeds can be susceptible to genetic conditions such as heart disease and joint problems. So, it’s important to know that the pup’s parents are healthy and not suffering from any conditions that they could pass on to their pups.  

Top tips for buying a healthy puppy 

  • Make sure you see where the puppies are kept – is it clean? And do the pups have access to food, water, and toys? 
  • Always make sure that you see the mum. Some breeders will also be able to show you dad too! If the breeder is not willing for you to meet mum, this should be a red flag. Of course, this might be different at a rescue as often pups are without their mum.  
  • Do the puppies seem bright, playful, and want to interact with you?  
  • Do the puppies look a healthy weight? 
  • If you are buying a pedigree puppy, the breeder should provide you with information on any breed-specific health checks that have been carried out. 
  • Has the puppy been microchipped? This is a legal requirement by 8 weeks of age in the UK. 
  • The breeder might have already had your puppy’s first vaccine done before you take them home – make sure they can provide you with the vaccine record.  
  • If you have any worries, or something doesn’t feel right, follow your instincts and take your time to think before you take home a puppy that could be unhealthy. 

Signs of a healthy puppy 

Ultimately, a healthy puppy is one that is happy, bright, playful, and enjoying life! Puppies are a bundle of energy, but they also like to take plenty of naps to recharge. It’s all about a healthy balance.  

A healthy puppy should have all his preventative healthcare needs covered – a full course of puppy vaccinations, and flea and worming treatments. A healthy puppy should have bright, clear eyes, clean ears without excessive wax, a clean, shiny coat, a slightly wet nose, firm stools, and be a healthy weight. Your veterinarian is always on hand to answer any questions you have, and to reassure you if you are worried! 

10 signs you should take your puppy to the vet 

It can be very worrying as a new pet parent if you think something is not right with your pup, and you’re bound to have questions and worries throughout your pet’s life. This is completely normal for any puppy parent, and your veterinarian is always available to help you!  

We get to know our pup’s personalities and habits, and quickly get to know what’s ‘normal’ for them. So, when something doesn’t seem quite the same as it usually does, it’s natural to worry as these changes are often a sign that they’re feeling poorly.  

It’s important to speak to your vet as soon as you feel concerned, to give you peace of mind and ensure your pup gets any treatment they need.

These top 10 signs are an indication that you should get your pup checked at the veterinary clinic: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea/Change in stools 
  • Excessive drinking 
  • Change in appetite 
  • Lethargy 
  • Itching/Scratching/Scooting 
  • Head shaking 
  • Changes to the eyes 
  • Limping 
  • Sudden weight loss 

There are also some more serious signs to watch out for that indicate you should take your pup to the veterinarian urgently. These emergency symptoms are not that common, but if you notice any of them you should call the vet’s clinic straight away.  

  • Open wounds or heavy bleeding 
  • Difficulties breathing 
  • Collapse/loss of consciousness 
  • Seizures 
  • Extreme pain 
  • Swollen or hard abdomen 
  • Ingestion of poisons 


Being a pet parent is a big responsibility, and it’s totally normal to be concerned about your puppy’s health. Do plenty of research to make sure you buy a healthy pup from a reputable breeder or rescue. This can be daunting, but there are lots of simple tips you can follow to help you! Keeping an eye on your puppy’s health and development is important too, and if you spot any signs of something not being quite right, then you should always get your pup checked over by a veterinarian.