Fading Puppy Syndrome

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Fading Puppy Syndrome

When you have a newborn healthy litter of puppies born, and then start losing puppies – it really sucks and hits your emotions really hard. It makes you question many things like “what am I doing wrong?” “why am I losing these puppies?”
Fading puppy syndrome can mean quite a few different things, but generally, it means when you have puppies that are born and they appear to be perfectly healthy upon arrival but then they start fading away and dying within the first few days or even couple weeks of being born.

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You have a healthy, beautiful litter of new puppies just born, it is so beautiful to watch them crawl to mommas body and start sucking milk, even when sometimes they do need help learning how to get milk because this is important to the survival of the puppies, making sure they get milk quickly and the colostrum . The puppies are born, momma is doing good, the job is done, right? Sadly, not always. But this is just part of it. Losing puppies can just be part of it – typically they do best without us interacting and interfering with them, however, sometimes we can do things to help and make sure the mom as well as the puppies get stronger, thrive and grow.
So, you have this beautiful litter of puppies born, sometimes you have one or two born that were just simply not meant to be or had problems that we as humans cannot see, nothing we can do about it, they will pass away fairly quickly. However, the others that seem to be doing well on arrival still might need your help to make it. Fading puppy syndrome happens to all breeders from time to time, typically it happens more often in “toy” breeds. These puppies are usually perfectly healthy acting with no problems, but then start to get weak and fade. But what can we do?
Sometimes puppies can get pneumonia from possibly getting milk in the lungs or other fluids from being born, most will say to start the puppies on some form of amoxicillin and to tubeĀ feed that and milk as needed. Puppies just starting to die when all else seems fine can really be heartbreaking, but is a fact of life for a breeder, but as a breeder, it is our/your job to improve, learn, and not give up hope.
These puppies also that “fade” can simply be dehydrated from not getting quite enough to eat or very little. You can check them just like you would of a human or grown dog, but slightly pinching the skin between two fingers and easily pulling back on the skin, if it slowly goes back down then there is a form to dehydration. When puppies start to fade, or even with other animals I have learned that the swallowing reflex is one of the first things to really stop working when a puppies body starts to shut down and they can very easily and quickly become dehydrated. Many times we see a puppy get behind the mom when she is laying down feeding the others, or it is off and not eating, normally we would pick up the puppy and put the puppy back by a nipple and assist the puppy into starting to eat again and make sure the puppy is eating. What we need to do when we see something like this though is check the puppies for dehydration. Also, make sure the puppy stays warm is VERY important. Actually, if you feel inside the puppies mouth and it is cold, that means the puppy has not recently eaten and needs to do so very soon.

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Knowing and understanding about puppies getting cold, possibly getting pneumonia from inhalation, and dehydration issues as well is very important for us to all know and learn about to help keep puppies on the right track to staying healthy and growing. While not all puppies can be saved, some can, even 1 saved is worth the time and effort – doing something is better than nothing – ALWAYS.