Most Common Health Issues with English Golden Retrievers

Most Common Health Issues with English Golden Retrievers

We believe it’s our responsibility as breeders not only to raise and train wonderful puppies but also to prepare you for any potential health issues that may arise. To ensure the well-being of our puppies, we have a detailed Nursery Schedule in place, and each puppy receives multiple examinations by veterinary technicians and veterinarians to detect any visible problems.

NuVet Diet Supplements for your English Golden Retriever

However, it’s important to note that certain issues may occur after the puppy arrives in its new home. No honest breeder can guarantee that a puppy will never experience health problems like diarrhea. Puppies are living beings, not machines, and it’s impossible to predict every aspect of their health. Nonetheless, we offer a comprehensive warranty that covers major conditions such as death, dysplasia, and severe heart murmurs. If you utilize TLC, NuVet, and NuJoint with autoshipping, the warranty can be extended to four years.  

While we stand by our warranty, it’s essential to understand that we cannot guarantee against every potential health problem. As responsible breeders, we perform health tests on our English Golden puppies before they go to their new homes. However, even with thorough testing, it’s still possible for some issues to go undetected. We take every precaution to ensure the health of our puppies and would never knowingly sell a puppy with a known health issue. Nevertheless, it’s important for prospective owners to be prepared for the possibility of encountering health issues.

2puppybags Our warranty specifically covers death, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and severe heart murmurs, which are the most common and significant health conditions. However, it’s important to note that puppies, like all living beings, may occasionally experience minor health issues such as allergies or urinary tract infections, which are not covered by our warranty. When purchasing a living being, there is always an inherent risk, and we want to ensure that you are fully prepared for that possibility.

In addition to our warranty, we follow a rigorous process of breeding only health-tested adults and ensuring that puppies are free from any known health issues. However, we cannot guarantee against every potential health problem that may arise. To help you anticipate and address any minor common issues, we have compiled a list below that includes symptoms, treatments, and additional information for each condition.


Diarrhea is common in Golden Retrievers, as it is the most prevalent illness we encounter. The main cause is the stress of being in a new home, which can result from factors such as long car trips, plane journeys, or separation from littermates. Stress can trigger diarrhea and weaken a puppy’s immune system, leading to increased numbers of Giardia or coccidia and worsening the condition. In some cases, diarrhea may be accompanied by blood or mucus in the stool, which is a common occurrence in puppies due to irritation in the lining caused by Giardia, internal parasites, or stress-induced diarrhea.

Before leaving our facility, every puppy is treated for all internal parasites, including hookworm, whipworm, tapeworm, roundworm, coccidia, and giardia. We conduct a fecal test on each individual puppy to identify and treat any potential issues, ensuring their health and informing you accordingly. Although Giardia can persist in a dog’s system and resurface during periods of stress, we take preventive measures and adopt a more aggressive treatment approach if needed. We administer panacur once every other week as a preventative measure, but if your puppy develops giardia, we recommend daily panacur treatment for approximately 10 days. Giardia is not typically detected in a regular fecal test, so if you observe any symptoms in your puppy, please request a specific test to check for elevated giardia levels.

Treatment – Treating your puppy with anti-diarrhea medications such as pro-pectalin (included in your puppy packet) and metronidazole (Flagyl) can help cure it. Note: If your puppy experiences “water diarrhea” accompanied by vomiting, loss of appetite, and lethargy, prompt administration of anti-diarrhea medication is necessary. These four symptoms can be fatal if not treated promptly. Take your puppy to the vet immediately if they exhibit these symptoms to obtain the necessary medications. Additionally, mix their food and water with Nutra-Cal and/or Dyne High Calorie Solution. It is crucial to ensure that your puppy remains hydrated and receives sufficient calories. The risk lies in dehydration and hypoglycemia. Once again, if your puppy only has soft stools, it is not a major concern. However, if it progresses to water diarrhea (which will be noticeable) and they lose their appetite, immediate action is required.


Coccidia is a parasite that affects dogs, particularly puppies, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, and potential dehydration. Although some people associate it with worms, coccidia is not a worm but rather a distinct type of parasite. Adult dogs are usually unaffected, while puppies are more susceptible and can develop a life-threatening illness if they become dehydrated. Coccidia is a common issue among puppies.

Until recently, there was no effective medication available to kill coccidia. However, a new medication called Marquis has been discovered to be effective in eliminating the parasite. We now use Marquis, which comes in a small tube priced at $200, and administer it to every one of our puppies every other week from 6 to 16 weeks of age. Some may consider this approach excessive, but since implementing it, we have significantly reduced the number of puppies going home with coccidia. Nevertheless, we would like to provide some general information about coccidia, just in case.

Coccidia infections may come and go, especially during stressful times such as transitioning to a new home. We have had instances where puppies come home and, within a couple of days, their coccidia infestation worsens, resulting in a sick puppy for 2-3 days. This situation is unpleasant for both the puppy and the new owner. Although the coccidia count may appear fine during a fecal test, it can still escalate. If this occurs, it is crucial to ensure the puppy stays hydrated and receives ample food. To aid hydration, we administer a mixture of water and sugar directly into the puppy’s mouth. We also provide them with calorie-rich soft food to maintain their strength.


Giardia is a common parasite found in almost all puppies and is similar to coccidia. Although not a worm, giardia can cause diarrhea. Due to coprophagia (explained below) and the sensitive stomach of Golden Retrievers, giardia can easily multiply and lead to severe infections.

Giardia is the primary cause of persistent diarrhea in our puppies. Stress and a weakened immune system can contribute to the growth of giardia, resulting in even more diarrhea. Unfortunately, there is currently no medication that effectively eliminates giardia as completely as coccidia. Consequently, many of our puppies experience recurring giardia infections and require multiple treatments.

To treat giardia, we use two medications: metronidazole (Flagyl) and fenbendazole (Panacur). We administer Panacur multiple times to all puppies, as it treats giardia and acts as a comprehensive dewormer, targeting roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and other parasites. In the final days before pick-up or shipping, we administer Panacur daily to each puppy. If we observe any stool-related issues, we also provide treatment with Flagyl. However, neither medication completely eradicates giardia, making it challenging to achieve full elimination.

Before going home, every puppy undergoes a Giardia test, which detects the presence of ova or parasites. Since we operate as a kennel, all our puppies will test positive for Giardia Antigens, indicating previous exposure to giardia. If the test shows no active cysts, the puppies are not contagious and should not receive treatment. In the event that your dog tests positive for giardia at the lab, please inquire whether it is the presence of antigens or actual ova/parasites. Treating without active giardia can lead to medication resistance.

If your dog tests positive with active cysts/parasites prior to leaving, we will inform you and provide the necessary medication for treatment. Over time, the puppy’s immune system typically becomes more effective in combating giardia, making time the best remedy for this condition as they grow older.


Ichthyosis is a genetic condition found in Golden Retrievers and is characterized by scaly skin, dandruff, and potential hair loss and skin hyperpigmentation. Although usually mild in Golden Retrievers, it can occasionally be more severe. While there is no cure for Ichthyosis, it can be effectively managed through brushing, using gentle shampoos and conditioners, and providing a diet high in fatty acids. Most European Golden Retrievers are carriers of the condition, although our adult dogs are not affected. There is a possibility that your puppy may develop Ichthyosis later in life, even if they currently show no signs of the condition. Dandruff can be an indication of Ichthyosis, but it is not always a definitive symptom. Genetic testing is now available to determine whether a dog is a carrier, clear of the disorder, or affected.

False or Minor Heart murmurs

Like our vet, yours typically listens for any irregularities, including “soft murmurs” or “Grade 1 or 2” heart murmurs.

  1. Here are a few important points to note. This issue is extremely common in puppies and typically resolves by the time they reach 16 weeks old. We encounter this issue more frequently with pups going home at 8 weeks rather than 12 weeks, but we still want to inform you.

  2. A “soft heart murmur” is not dangerous, and even a “moderate” heart murmur is typically harmless in young puppies. Only a “loud,” Grade 5, or Grade 6 heart murmur poses serious health threats. We have never had a puppy with a serious heart murmur, and after checking your pup, the vet heard nothing abnormal. Our warranty covers Grade 5 or Grade 6 heart murmurs, which are very loud and can even be felt by a trained vet.

  3. A “soft murmur” is so faint that a stethoscope cannot accurately diagnose it. A puppy can have an irregular heartbeat due to stress or excitement. I had a breeder friend who had their puppy diagnosed with a “moderate” heart murmur by a vet. They spent $400 on an echocardiogram with a canine cardiologist to obtain an accurate reading of the puppy’s heart. It turned out that the puppy had no heart murmur, and it’s likely that the vet misinterpreted the sound of an excited or stressed puppy. If your vet detects a serious heart murmur, they will inform you, and then you can consider getting it checked out with a canine cardiologist.

Allergies/ Food Sensitivities

Goldens are more like people in their digestive system than any breed we know of. They all have different allergies and food sensitivities. We chose TLC Whole Life Puppy Food because we buy directly from the manufacturer, which means it has fewer preservatives. We found that many preservatives in high-quality dog foods were causing our pups to have consistent diarrhea. Because of this, we switched to TLC Whole Life Puppy Food, and it has greatly helped.

We’ve had pups with the oddest of allergies before. We’ve seen Goldens with allergies to chicken, grass, barley, pork, soybean, white potato, green peas, and more. You may need to visit your vet and order an allergy test, such as the one found on, to determine the specific allergies.

Hot Spots

A hotspot is a warm, painful, swollen patch of skin 1-4 inches across that exudes pus and gives off a foul odor. The infection progresses when the dog licks and chews the site. They appear suddenly and rapidly enlarge within hours.

Hotspots commonly appear under the ear flaps, often occurring just before shedding when trapped moist dead hair is present near the skin.

For hotspot treatment, clip away the hair to expose the hotspot, gently cleanse the skin with povidone-iodine shampoo (such as Betadine) or chlorhexidine shampoo (such as Nolvasan), and allow the skin to dry. Apply an antibiotic steroid cream, powder, or spray twice daily for 10-14 days. Ensure thorough drying of your dog after bathing and swimming, especially in hot, humid, or wet weather, to prevent hotspot development.


This is a fancy term that basically means your Golden likes to eat poop. It’s the most disgusting thing, but it is common in Golden Retrievers. Probably about one-fourth of Golden puppies will do this at least once, and some experience a persistent issue with it. Besides being disgusting, it can cause health problems. Giardia and especially Coccidiosis increase greatly if they have this problem.

The good news is there’s usually an easy solution if your Golden experiences this issue – over-the-counter medicine. You can purchase anti-coprohagia medicine at any Petsmart, Petco, and even Walmart. We’ve tried several types, and all of them have proven effective. Basically, you administer a chewable tablet to your dog, which makes their feces taste and smell revolting to a dog. If you have multiple dogs, you need to administer the medication to all of them; otherwise, your puppy may choose to consume the feces of other dogs.


The most common name for bordetella is “kennel cough.” It is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause coughing and, if not treated, could lead to more serious respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia. We vaccinate all of our adults and puppies against bordetella due to the risk. The vaccination typically lasts for 1 full year.

Even though we vaccinate, it is possible for puppies to contract bordetella. They don’t receive their vaccination until they are older, so there’s a chance they may get it earlier. Kennel cough is not contagious to humans and rarely a serious illness. If your puppy starts coughing, they may need a 10-day course of antibiotics. Common medicines used to treat kennel cough include Clavamox, doxycycline, and clindamycin.

One of the challenges for any kennel is that if one young puppy gets infected, it’s very difficult to prevent the spread to other puppies and litters. After receiving treatment, puppies can still get infected again due to exposure from other pups. Leaving the kennel environment with treatment is actually helpful. Before shipping any puppies, our veterinarian thoroughly examines each puppy individually. They conduct fecal tests, check their hearts, and examine their lungs for any signs of respiratory illnesses. If your puppy is coughing or showing any signs, we will promptly inform you and provide the necessary medicines for treatment. Occasionally, it can still slip through, as stress from a new move weakens immune systems, leading to the exacerbation of minor issues. If this happens, your vet will be well-equipped to handle it.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in puppies. They are caused by the presence of bacteria in the urethra and bladder, leading to inflammation and pain for the puppy. The most common cause of UTIs in puppies is the migration of bacteria from their feces into the urethra. Due to a puppy’s developing immune system, the likelihood of bacteria causing an infection is higher compared to adult dogs.

Watch your puppy for signs of a UTI. These infections can spread to other parts of the body and require immediate diagnosis and care from a veterinarian. Inspect your puppy’s urine when it empties its bladder. If the urine appears dark, cloudy, or bloody, it likely indicates a urinary tract infection. Blood in the urine indicates the presence of red blood cells, indicating a UTI. Smell your puppy’s urine; a foul odor suggests the presence of bacteria in the urine, indicating a UTI.

Other signs include straining while urinating, constant urination, excessive drinking, weight loss, lethargy, and fever. If you notice these signs, having your pup treated with clavamox or cephalexin for 14 days will usually resolve the UTI. UTIs can hinder potty training as well. It’s very difficult for your pup to hold their bladder for long with a UTI.

Bacterial Infections

Golden Retrievers are very sensitive to a multitude of bacteria, resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite. These can be very dangerous, especially in pups under 16 weeks of age. The most common bacterial infections we have seen are from E. coli, Campylobacter jejuni, and Salmonella, which are primarily spread through feces. Given their occasional problems with coprophagia (see above), these bacteria can easily pass from one pup to another.

If your pup is lethargic, has diarrhea, or is vomiting, make sure to take them to the vet immediately. If a fecal test rules out coccidia or giardia, the most common issue is bacterial infection, particularly Campylobacter jejuni. This can be cured with a combination of antibiotics, ensuring your pup receives fluids and energy. Administering a shot of cerenia can help prevent vomiting. Zithromax is recommended, and Baytril can be used if necessary to treat Campylobacter jejuni.

The key to managing these issues is keeping the puppy hydrated and providing sufficient energy. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary to ensure the pup receives the right amount of fluids, especially for younger pups. Typically, after 4-5 months of age, these bacterial infections cause fewer problems.

Localized Demodectic Mange

This disease occurs in dogs under 1 year of age. The appearance of the skin is similar to that of ringworm. The principal sign is thinning hair around the eyelids, lips, and corners of the mouth, and occasionally on the trunk, the legs, and the feet. The thinning progresses to patches of ragged hair loss about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. In some cases the skin becomes red, scaly, and infected.

Localized mange usually heals spontaneously in six to eight weeks, but may wax and wane for several months. If more than five patches are present, the disease could be progressing to the generalized form. This occurs in approximately 10 percent of cases. Treatment: A topical ointment containing either benzoyl peroxide gel (OxyDex or Pyoben), or a mild topical preparation used to treat ear mites can be massaged into affected areas once a day. This may shorten the course of the disease. The medication should be rubbed with the lay of the hair to minimize further hair loss. Treatment may cause the area to look worse for the first two to three weeks, but will soon begin to clear.

Important to Remember

I want to emphasize that the issues mentioned above are not severe for the most part. Most are common and can be handled by a good veterinarian and a watchful eye from you, the owner. But it is important not to panic, even though some of these issues might seem scary when they happen.

Puppies are like any other young beings. As their immune systems are developing and they live around other pups, illnesses can occur. But it’s important to stay patient and realize that none of these are major health issues. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us, and we will help you take the proper steps. Our goal is to provide you with the healthiest English Golden Retriever puppies possible and provide ongoing support once they go home with you.