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Puppy Health Problems


Fading Puppy Syndrome

A normal puppy gradually weakens and dies within a week or two of birth. Not a specific disorder, but generally applied to infectious causes. The puppy usually cries continuously and loses weight.

Elongated Soft Palate.

This is the most common breathing disorder. The soft palate is the flap of skin at the back of the throat. If the palate is too long, it blocks the airway making it difficult for the dog to breathe. The dog can also choke on or spit up pieces of kibble and even pass out from lack of air. Signs are excessive panting, unable to calm down quickly when excited, and possibly vomiting. Loud, raspy breathing when overheated is another symptom.

A vet can check the palate by looking down the dogís throat, many times while the dog is awake if he/she is calm and will allow it. Otherwise, a mild sedative can be given so the vet can do a thorough check. Surgery can be done to shorten the palate but is not suggested until the dog is about a year old as the palate may still grow when they are pups, and another procedure may be required at a later date. Sometimes the dog may need to have laryngeal saccules or tonsils removed also, and the vet will do this during the palate clip if required.

Inguinal Hernia

An inguinal hernia is the result of abdominal organs, fat or tissue protruding through the inguinal ring. Inguinal hernias are presented as skin-covered bulges in the groin. They can be bilateral, involving both sides, or unilateral, involving only one side.
Inguinal hernias are more common in females than males, but do occur in both sexes. As with umbilical hernias most inguinal hernias will shrink and disappear as the puppy grows, although you must keep an eye on the size of the hernia(s).
Inguinal hernias can also occur in unspayed, middle-aged female dogs. This may occur as the result of stretching of abdominal tissue due to pregnancy, or atrophy of abdominal tissue and musculature due to advanced age.

Swimmer Puppies

A swimmer puppy moves about with both front legs out to the side of the chest, in a paddling motion. They appear to be swimming when they move, hence the name "swimmer puppy". The hind legs trail out behind with little or no movement. The description of the puppy is flat chested, flat abdomen, the front legs become warped, moving outward and upward, the hind legs become splayed. When nursing, the puppy usually arches its back extremely in a backward movement. They do not flex at the neck anymore. Occasionally one puppy doesn't want to return to a normal relaxed state on its side and insists or remains upright causing the flattening of the chest which, if left undisturbed, leads to swimmer syndrome and probable death.

Water puppies

 This condition is primarily in flat-face breeds.  At birth, the pups are larger than normal, because of fluid under the skin.  This can be in varying degrees from barely detectable or a pup may be twice the size of a normal mate.
 Water pups are born alive because their oxygen and nutrition is being delivered from the dam, through the umbilical cord.  After birth, the pupís lungs should start functioning, however, when they are full of fluid, they often suffocate soon after birth. I  have heard of an entire litter being involved.  The mild to medium effected pups that survive the first 2 - 3 days, seem to become normal.
 Treatment needs to be immediate and intense for a water pup.   Prevention is always the best treatment.  We ultrasound females at 30 to 35 days, and if they are pregnant, we put them on low salt dog food.  We recommend  folic Acid added to the femaleís diet will help prevent anaemia.  This can be found in a pharmacy or health food store, along with liver extract capsules.


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