Coughing was a common complaint of newly purchased
puppies in the 1994-77 period as Singaporeans buy
imported puppies from Australia and more pet shops
are established. In 2002, there were around
140 pet shops. In 2005, the number is around 260
Purchased from a Singapore Pet Dealer, the
Australian imported 2-month-old puppy was inactive
of the day. Sleepy, not eating much, coughing and
diarrhoea. Symptoms suggestive of a viral
infection of a upper respiratory system and the
gastrointestinal infection too. The epiphora
(eye tearing) might be due to non-infectious
causes. An Australian-imported puppy
recovering in the a veterinary surgery, 12 hours
after treatment for diarrhoea. It was presented
with acute gastroenteritis. It could not stand for
more than few seconds but now it wanted to play
after rehydration and injections.
The teenage owners could not sleep and had delayed
treatment for 12 hours. The rectal temperature was
slightly below normal, the greenish black
diarrhoea was smelly but the puppy recovered.
The pet dealer agreed that the puppy be treated by
outside veterinarians as his veterinarian had
closed in the afternoon. The puppy would be eating
only one brand of dry food and should be producing
normal stools and go home within next 2 days.
Puppies less than 3 months old are now not
allowed by the Singapore veterinary authorities to
be imported with effect from 2002.
Advices to new veterinarians:
It is not advisable to ward puppies longer than
few days, as they may have relapses or other
sicknesses as their vaccination status is unknown
generally. Some pet dealers have their own vets
and may pay for the treatment but many will not.
The diarrhoea in a newly purchased puppy may be
due to sudden changes of diet, viral infections or
worms. Seek prompt veterinary treatment
before the puppy collapses due to lack of
nutrients and dehydration from the passing of
loose stools several times a day.
This 2-month old Australian-imported puppy died
within 2 days of purchase. Eye discharge,
coughing, fever and not eating and not active were
the only signs. Pet dealer refused to refund the
money or take back the puppy. The Buyer
quickly cancelled his credit card payment.
The puppy was recommended by his veterinarian to
be treated by the dealer's veterinarian as the
dealer persistently refused to return the money,
saying "eye discharge" is common and could be
It died within 2 days in the dealer's veterinary
surgeon's clinic and was diagnosed as due to
Pet dealers are generally reluctant to take back
the puppies as they don't know what have been fed
to them or what treatments had been given by the
Some Singapore Owners give the Chinese "bo chai"
pills and Pannadol for diarrhoea and fever when
rehydration is much more important. Taking back
the puppy means death and financial losses.
A 24-hour veterinary inspection and money-back
guarantee may be to the advantage of the buyer.
The incubation periods of viral infection is
7-14 days. Symptoms of diarrhea
and vomiting may then appear, despite the
veterinary inspection of good health on the first
2 days after import into Singapore. Therefore,
owners who bought a newly imported puppy which
looked healthy might still get surprised when it
started coughing or have diarrhoea 7-14 days
Expatriates & pet lovers:
Since many will buy puppies for their children
from pet shops, we hope the following tips may
help to prevent distress to the young ones when a
new pup dies within 7 days of purchase.
Buying imported puppies. Most puppies sold in
pet shops are imported from Australia at
2 months or less of age. They may not
have time to recover from the stress of travel
and new environment. Many easily fall ill. Pet
shops are most popular as a source of puppies as
they have a variety of breeds. Since 1998, the
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore
prohibits imports of less than 3-month old
Buy from a reputable pet dealer.
Cost of an imported pedigree from Australia
range from S$800 without pedigree papers to
$2,000 for those with pedigree papers.
Get a dealer's guarantee that
you can return the puppy within 24 hours and get
your money back if the veterinary inspection is
unsatisfactory. You may encounter great
difficulty in getting your money back. Avoid
such pet dealers. Get referrals from friends.
Buy local breds. Local-bred dogs
sold at pet shops are also subjected to
similar infections if their parents do not have
regular viral vaccination boosters. Local-breds
are usually advertised by individuals in the
Straits Times. There is not much breeding in
Singapore compared to 10 years ago and you may
buy a cross-bred small breed which may not be
what you want. Cross-breds cost around S$300 but
they may grow up to be very handsome looking or
Feed the puppy with approved food
and this area is where first-time puppy buyers
fail to observe or the pet dealer has forgotten
to advise the new owner. Many feed with
home-cooked food/snacks and buy other food,
upsetting the intestine and causing diarrhoea.
The puppy became less active as the diarrhoea
continued. It could still eat but looked
lethargic. When it can't stand on four legs, the
veterinarian is consulted. By then, it is too
late as the puppy becomes dehydrated, lying flat
on its side and its body temperature drops to
below 37 degrees Celsius.
Send the sick puppy within 12 hours to
the vet instead of procrastinating.
Sickness include vomiting, diarrhoea (most
common), coughing, not active anymore, not
eating, fainted, sleeping most of the time and
"crying". Many Singaporeans tend to wait and
see, till the puppy collapses before going to
Deworm the puppy after it has
been home for 7 days and have not shown any
signs of illness (eating well and active). Give
deworming syrup for 3 days and then repeat after
10 days (depending on veterinary instructions).
Deworm regularly e.g. 6-monthly.
Vaccination usually at 8 weeks,
with 2 booster vaccinations one month
later, then yearly vaccination.
90% of Singaporeans forget the yearly booster
but it this is important as your dog may get
exposed to viruses later when boarded or exposed
to other dogs.
Regular grooming of dog is
important for long-coated breeds.
Vinegar-smell in dog ears. Long-eared dogs have no
ventilation and need regular cleaning. Otherwise,
a strong smell and pus gather in the ear canal,
causing dog to be shaking ears and very irritated.
Tail biting and chasing as if bitten by mosquitoes
or ants. Normally anal sac (left and right)
produce a light yellow "cooking oil" type daily
but if the sacs are blocked or infected, the oil
cannot be released. It accumulates and become dark
green, then brown to black as in this case. If not
treated, the oil solidifies to become dry brown
granules or clay. The dog's anal skin areas will
be inflamed to become brown and then black with
hair loss. The dog owner may need to pull up
tail and squeeze the oil out from the sacs.
Ear cleaning of floppy-eared
breeds is usually neglected but it is important.
The Spaniel and Poodle are examples of
floppy-ear breeds. Do not pour ear powder
and oil into the ear canal, a common practice of
several Singapore dog groomers. These will
cause obstruction of the horizontal canal part
of the dog's ear.
Tail chasing, biting and
scooting may look hilarious but usually
indicates some problems of infection of hind
area or anal sac impaction. The dog has 2
anal glands on either side and below the left
and right of the anus.
Most Singaporeans think it is due to "mosquito
bite" when they see the dog running in circles
and biting its back or tail. Sometimes the Owner
sees the dog rubbing its backside on the floor
and think that this "scooting" action is normal
but it is not. The house can become very
smelly as the dog releases part of its anal sac
oil into the floor by rubbing its backside onto
Anal sacculitis or circum-anal tumour?
Histopathology is needed. In private practice,
many dog owners prefer to pay as low as possible.
Therefore, I do not recommend histopathology as
this increases he costs.