When to call the vet about your Labrador puppy


We get a great many health questions in the comments section on this website.

Especially on our puppy page.

Quite a few  questions arise because people are not aware what is normal for a young puppy.

Quite a lot of the puppy questions are about puppies that need to be examined by a qualified vet.

In the UK it is illegal for anyone other than a qualified vet to attempt to diagnose or treat another person’s dog.

That includes online.

In addition, it is rarely appropriate to attempt to make a diagnosis over the internet, even for a veterinary surgeon.  

But it can be very difficult for new puppy owners to know when  to call the vet.

For this reason, I am posting up some guidelines as to what is normal for an eight week old puppy,  and what might suggest that you need to take your puppy to your local vet.

Normal for puppies

A healthy Labrador puppy sleeps deeply but is lively when awake. 

2017 international dog name surveyHe smells lovely, has clean ears and eyes, and pees often (eg at hourly intervals or more frequently) during the day.

When to call the vet to your puppyHe eats hungrily, and may have several bowel movements between waking up and bedtime.

Many Labrador puppies cannot last more than four or five hours at night without a wee or a poo.

Upset tummies are common in new puppies after rehoming, but need to be taken seriously as small puppies can get dehydrated very quickly.

Puppies bite very hard (it hurts) and growl fiercely while playing.  This is not aggression.

All the above is normal.   The following is not normal

Not normal for puppies

  • Call your vet if your puppy seems listless, won’t eat, has persistent diarrhoea, is sick more than once within 48 hours, or twice in a week.
  • Call your vet if your puppy swallows anything you think may harm him, cries for no apparent reason or in an unusual way.
  • Call your vet if your puppy’s breathing is noisy or laboured.
  • Call your vet if he drags one of his limbs, is unsteady on his feet, or seems to be limping.  Call your vet if your puppy has a discharge from any part of his body.
  • Call your vet if your puppy cuts himself, falls badly, or just seems generally off colour.

If in doubt, call your vet!

Puppies under eight weeks old

Very young puppies need special care.  If you have purchased a very young puppy, please read this article  Too young to leave Mum.  We cannot advise you on feeding underage puppies,  you do need to get this information from your vet.

More information

There are lots of articles on puppy care in the puppy sections that are listed on the main puppy page.  Just click on puppies on the menu bar at the top of this page.

We do try and answer as many of your questions as possible but will always give priority to topics that are not covered in the articles that are already on the website.

Getting support

It can be stressful and scary looking after a brand new puppy.  Why not check out the forum where you can get help from other puppy owners,  and where we can answer your questions in more detail.   We’d love to see you there.

More information on puppies

Happy-Puppy-jacket-image1-195x300For a complete guide to raising a healthy and happy puppy don’t miss The Happy Puppy Handbook.

The Happy Puppy Handbook covers every aspect of life with a small puppy.

The book will help you prepare your home for the new arrival, and get your puppy off to a great start with potty training, socialisation and early obedience.

The Happy Puppy Handbook is available worldwide.



  1. My 6 month old lab puppy is not eating his food he is only drinking water and milk and after few minutes he vommiting it and not active he is always lying down

  2. When I woke up this morning, my 4 year old lab, Molly, is all swollen on the right side of her face. Feels like the size of a baseball. I gave her some Benadryl this morning. But nothing yet. She’s eating and acting normal? Not sure what’s going on.

    • This is one for you vet Jeff, there could be a whole range of different reasons – including dental problems that will get worse if left. Hope she is better soon

  3. My 2year Labrador is not barking from 4days. And he is not active .and his back side leg is not active .and he can’t stand up properly why ?pls answer

  4. I need help… My red fox Labrador puppy which 5 months old now . Her name is Sadie . Sadie broken her leg last month and had surgery right away. The doctor asked us to keep her in the crate all the time. After two weeks she seems better then we let her out of the crate but not go outside for any activity . Problems is today after x-Ray to review her broken leg, Doctor was not happy about the result because the screw has loosened which means she is too active. Now have to keep her in the crate all the time for the next month . Sadie is high energy puppy and do not happy about stay in the crate all the time and will barking and crying like crazy. Is there have any way that we can help her to be more calm to stay in the crate all the time ? I know right now as the high energy puppy locking in the crate all the time will do bad effect to her because that is against the natural . I still hope she can be the happy doggy in the family . Some tips or some advice can help me ? Thank you very much .

  5. Hi, I am having 3 months old black labra puppy. suddenly he is facing problems in walking, first in back legs and now little problem in front legs too, front legs sometimes goes wide. He can not walk , and always shivers while sitting or standing, but no fever, i have checked many times. its 102 . he can’t even stand now.. plz help me, i’m very much worried for him. I love him and want him to be alright.

  6. My 3 month old yellow lab was hit in the face & now has 2 very blood shot eyes, one looked out of focus & was closing. What do I do? Will he be o.k.? I’m very worried

  7. What if my puppy ate a small bone of chicken? not on the leg part but maybe on the rib part? Can you help me. Im worried.

  8. We have just bought home a 5 month old black lab, he has been having 5 to 7 poohs a day that are a bit loose, is this normal? We have been feeding him Purina Beta for puppies as that is what breeder had been feeding him.

  9. Hi Pippa,
    My puppy is 4 months and has red eyes. She also snores alittle while sleeping. She’s lively, eats a ton, and seems happy. Are her red eyes normal?

  10. Hi pippa. My 5 month old puppy keeps heaving when he gets excited and makes a deep sounding breathing noise. Should i contact the vet or is this his vocal chords developing?

  11. My 11 week old Lab puppy is loosing alot of hair when I give him a bath.I just want to know if this is. normal. Thanks if u can help.

    • If your puppy’s coat is thick and even then it is probably a normal amount. If the fur is looking sparse, patchy, or just in poor condition, check with your vet. Pippa