Puppy health woes: prevention is better than cure

Pooch babies are prone to diseases, infections or defects, which can prove fatal. Responsible pet parenting calls for regular care and observation, which can go a long way in preventing diseases in our puppies. Here are a few common puppy health diseases, which can be easily averted by expanding our awareness aura…to make our cute little angels healthy and happy.

Neonatal anoxia and HypoxiaNewborn pup will either have fast breathing, fast heart rate or very shallow breathing. Compression of umbilical cord during passage through the birth canal causes physiological hypoxia (rise in carbon dioxide).Causes: False swallowing of amniotic fluid by the puppy especially when mother does not clean the puppy properly. It can also occur due to prolonged anaesthesia, posterior presentation of pup, injection of oxytocin at the premature stage of fetus, umbilical cord knotting and premature birth.Prevention: By cleaning the laryngeal junction using bulb syringe, vigorous rubbing of thorax, and stimulating the respiration.Treatment: Through respiratory stimulants by placing the pup in an incubator and inducing oxygen.

Haemolytic Syndrome

Puppy Health Symptoms: Its signs appear within 24-48 hrs of birth, which include weakness in some puppies from the same litter. Prevention: Further breeding of mothers of effected puppies should be avoided, irrespective of male dogs blood group.

Puppy Health Treatment: Keeping diseased puppies away from the mother. The affected puppies are kept in an incubator under medical supervision.

Water puppy syndrome (WPS)

Symptoms: Affected puppies weigh up to twice their expected weight, which results in stillbirths.

Causes: A foetus in a uterine horn fi lled with a large amount of hemorrhagic fl uid, or the after effects of a virus, the mother got during pregnancy.

Prevention: Vaccination in case of suspicion of the virus and avoiding repeated cross breeding which has already resulted in affected litters.

Treatment: No treatment, they usually die within 36 hours.

Toxic Milk Syndrome

This is an infection or bacterial poisoning of one or more puppies during feeding and the puppies affected by it whine continuously, have purplish ‘caulifl ower anus’ whereas the mother shows signs of vaginitis and painful teats. This leads to diarrhoea and enteritis in puppies and they pass straw yellow coloured faeces with a sour odour.

Causes: Haematogenous infection of milk by acute bacterial infection. Prevention: Not breeding the female dogs with recurrent mastitis.

Treatment: By reducing suckling (separate mother and litter every 3 hours), premature drying-off of the mother and artificial feeding of puppies and antibiotic treatment to the mother.

Neonatal Septicaemia

Affected pup shows the signs of isolation, apathy, and continuous whining.

Causes: Immuno-suppression (viral infection, absence of colostrums), umbilical infection, and toxic milk syndrome. Predisposing factors are maternal infections (mastitis, buccodental infections, pyoderma, metritis) and infections, which pass up the umbilicus originating from the bedding.

Prevention: By controlling nursing hygiene, disinfection of umbilical cord, bottle-feeding and separation of puppies from mother in case of maternal infection.

Treatment: Symptomatic treatment of puppies in septic shock apart from broadspectrum antibiotic therapy.

Fading Puppy Syndrome (FPS)

FPS leads to premature death before 2 weeks of age. The pup shows signs of asymptomatic disease at birth, with gradual fading away within 4-5 days.

Causes: Attributed to various causes like toxic milk syndrome, distemper, immune immaturity, etc.

Prevention: By managing the risk factors in the whelping areas, monitoring the colostrums ingestion and daily body weight gain.

Treatment: By gradual warming of hypothermic puppies (avoid infrared lamps which tend to worsen dehydration), placing affected puppies in an incubator at a temperature adjusted to 30 degrees C.

Swimming Puppy Syndrome (SPS)

SPS causes malfunctioning of motor development causing splayed fore limbs or hind limbs or tortoise like posture. Either signs are present at birth, or become obvious at about the second or third week of age, when puppies learn how to walk.

Causes: Nutritional defi ciency in mother’s food and environmental factors like slippery fl oor and over crowding. It occurs mostly in small breeds like Dachshund, Yorkshire, English Cocker Spaniel, or breeds with large thorax and short limbs like Pekingese, Cavalier King Charles, Basset Hound, French and English Bulldogs.

Treatment: By physiotherapy for 10 minutes for 4-5 times a day. Almost 90% puppies recover from this condition. Place the puppies on rough floor and stimulate the paws pads with toothbrush. Your vet might advise Vit- E and Selenium in the mother’s diet as well.

Parvo virus infection

This is one of the most common fatal infections seen in puppies in India. Symptoms: Infected pup fi rst goes off the food and become dull and starts vomiting lead to dehydration and blood stained diarrhoea and if not treated at the right time they die. This infection spreads like a infectious wave through infected stool, saliva, urine to the other puppies.

Prevention: Go through a ‘witness parvo test’ for quick diagnosis of parvo virus in the unvaccinated pup.

(Dr. R. T. Sharma is a renowned veterinary surgeon and president of PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society). He is also associated with RSPCA, London and Animal Welfare Board of India.

– by Dr. R. T. Sharma
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