Fading Puppy Syndrome
What is Fading Puppy Syndrome:
The failure to thrive in newborn puppies, or neonates, is often labeled as fading puppysyndrome.
The syndrome can occur from birth to 9 weeks of age, but is usually reserved for nursing babies. Affected neonates can decline
quickly and die, so immediate detection and treatment are KEY to survival. Be sure you know what to look for and what to do
if you see any of these warning signs:
- Failure to suckle
- Crying and crawling from being uncomfortable
- Cyanosis or "Blue Baby"
- Occasional sloughing of tail and toes tells us we are missing the signs of illness
Causes of Fading Puppy Syndrome:
The causes of fading puppy syndrome are divided into three groups: environmental,
genetic, and infectious.
- Hypothermia - Puppies' body temperatures vary with the environment for the first week of life, thus making them easily
susceptible to becoming too cold or too hot. They are able to shiver, which helps keep them warm, when they are about 6 days
old, and they develop the ability to pant in response to overheating within the first week. Neonates that are too cold are
unable to digest food or nurse. Their heart rates drop, GI shuts down causing bacteria absorption, and moms decrease care
(Bitch culling). Hypothermia is less of an issue in warmer climates but still is a major complication the first 3 weeks. Too
hot is equally an issue; a good sign that it is too hot is a restless puppy that is spread out and does not touch litter mates!
- Maternal factors - Overweight or older moms are more likely to experience neonatal loss. Slow birthing puts puppies at
risk the first week and you should increase monitoring of these litters.
- Maternal neglect - Is rare in dogs. Mom’s reluctance to lie with and warm the neonates, refusal to permit nursing,
or lack of sufficient milk production must be identified. Large-breed or over weight dogs may also step on or clumsily crush
puppies lying down.
- Environmental toxins - Avoid pine oils and phenols as well as bleach or quaternary ammonium (e.g. Roccal—Pfizer
Animal Health; Parvosol—Neogen) residue. Neonatal skin is thin and translucent allowing chemicals to be readily absorbed
through the skin. Breathing chemical fumes is also a concern. If you are losing babies post birth, bedding material and products
used to clean the whelping box can be the issue! Better to use gentle cleaners with little odor, and remove all residue before contact with the neonates.
- Genetic or congenital factors
- Physical defects - Abnormalities of the mouth, anus, skull, and heart are causes though uncommon. Pectus excavatum (Pigeon
Chest), cleft pallet, or any issue they are born with should be identified.
- Birth weight - The normal puppy birth weight varies with breed. For example, Pomeranian birth weights are about
120 g (4.2 oz), and Great Danes weigh about 625 g (22 oz). While pups and kittens may lose a small amount of weight (<
10%) during the first 24 hours of life, after that weight gain should be steady. Pups should gain 10% of birth weight daily
for 3 weeks a day. Babies that are 25% smaller than siblings have a 50% chance of issues in the first 3 weeks!
- Infectious agents
- Because of their immature immune systems, puppies are at risk for infection if mom is ill, through umbilicus, gastrointestinal,
or contaminated environments. A clinical sign of bacterial infection in nursing pups is “fading puppy”.
- Common Bacterial infections: E-Coli, Klebsiella, Staphylococcus intermedius, and ß-hemolytic strep and common causes.
Cephalosporins can be safely sed in the neonate kitten or puppy and covers these organisms effectively.(7)
- Viral infections: Many viruses affect neonates. Two common are:
- Canine Herpes
- Canine Parvovirus - Type 1 & 2
What to Do:
If a Neonates should lie away from the group, cry constantly, act restless, or fail to nurse they should
be removed and examined at once.
- Week one and two - Normal puppy neonates sleep and nurse. They spend most of their time in a group and cry only briefly
- Three to 8 weeks - The amount of activity increases dramatically after the second week. The eyelids separate between 5
and 14 days. Ear canals open at 6 to 14 days. Other benchmarks are crawling at 7 to 14 days, forelimb support at 10 days,
and locomotion at 3 weeks of age. Teeth appear at about 6 weeks of age, commonly delayed in toy breeds. By the age of 5 or
6 weeks, sleeping alone is normal. These benchmarks can vary dramatically among breeds and family lines.
the exact causes of fading puppy syndrome is seldom known, your veterinarian will initially focus on supportive care and diagnostics.
Initial therapy will include providing supplemental warmth, nutrition and especially glucose, broad spectrum antibiotic, and
fluids will all be needed to stop the fading until the cause is identified. Blue babies may get a blood transfusion and oxygen
when needed and antibiotics will be started.
If you see anything of concern and don’t know the cause, get your
veterinarian involved sooner than later! Bring in the Mom and the entire litter for examination. Be sure to bring records
of weight gain since birth and any other data you have collected. History of mom’s exposure to other dogs or cats during
the last third of pregnancy as well as the travel history and exposure to cats/dogs who are showing is important. Location
of the litter, temperature, and exposure of the whelping box
to other animals and birthing issues are all helpful. Moms ease of delivery, appetite, diet, vaccinations, mothering skills
history, and medications used is also needed. Timely veterinary care provides the best chances for saving these neonates'
lives. Congenital defects should be identified and corrected when possible. Intensive treatment of ill neonates is time-consuming
yet extremely rewarding.
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical
advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers
to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.
Check our items for sale page for a whelping
This article is amazing and worth sharing. Many top chi breeders use this...my mentor told me to buy the best bitch
I could afford....but I have never seen it put more clearly.
Here is another great article
written by BJ Andrews in 2002. I agree with her 100% plus my mentor in Poodles back in the 70's told me the exact same thing
so I have always concentrated on producing a strong bitch line in the three breeds that I have worked with through the years.
The Genetic X Factor . . .
The real secret to becoming a top breeder of top winning, top producing AKC champions is
the genetic "X" factor...
Long before there was a TV show on this theme, I explained in breeding seminars, my Akita
video, and in many magazine articles “The strength of the sire is the power of the dam.” The genetic truth is
in that simple sentence but you won't get it until you know why and how it works.
If this were a genetics textbook, it
would lead you with step-by-step lessons but student or master, here's a shortcut lesson to an amazing discovery.
could buy dozens of dogs and try all the fancy methods but unless you understand and apply the X factor you might as well
go back to knitting or whatever creative thing you previously enjoyed. You can study until you are conversant with terms like
genotype, phenotype, and homozygous. You'd be convinced that you knew all there is to know about breeding great dogs. A lot
of dog breeders have read genetics books and use all the right terms but before you get too impressed by their rhetoric or
writings, check on how many great dogs they have bred.
Hopefully, you already know that a great male brings a breeder
glory but it is the bitch that sustains a breeding program. The strength of the sire is the power of the dam. Okay, I'm regularly
quoted on that but I'll bet you don't really know why it is true.
I used the phrase on our Akita “demo tape”
during the eighties and some said it helped them realize where the famous Akita sires actually came from. Once they had viewed
legendary dogs like Sachmo, BigSon, and Widow-Maker (pictured above, courtesy Moretto film company), they replayed the tape
and thought about the message. It was repeated in my books and I'm flattered that it has been so widely quoted. After judging
the Top Twenty at the 2010 Akita National, it was especially gratifying to see that so many great breeders really "got it"!!!
I didn't have to look at pedigrees to know who understood where the power was.
Proving Genetics Statistically
the premise seems too simple. For those who rely on statistical data; Bill and I are owner-handlers who don’t “network,”
have no dogs at public stud and keep fewer than four breeding age bitches, yet we’ve had over half of the Akita Hall
Of Fame Producers including the All-Time #1 and #2 Sires, and two of our bitches are tied for the #1 Dam All Time. Many of
our Top Ten Producers broke existing show records and a several O'BJ dogs set new ones which still stand over two decades
The "power of the dam" has also enabled us to produce top winners and/or producers in three other breeds so it
is not just a trite saying; we know where the power is and how to use it. You can do likewise.
In the sixties, we noticed
that most “dominant sires” (Dobermans, Rottweilers, etc.) produced greater numbers of outstanding bitches than
they did sons. My mentor, Dorothy Gooch of Skyraider Dobermans, planted a seed that grew into a belief. Questioning other
breeders, I became convinced it was indeed the dam of a great sire who passed on genetic prowess. Taking it a step further,
I noted that a stud was only as good as the bitches he served unless he was extremely dominant in which case, it was his daughters
that would earn him a reputation as a great sire. Sachmo is still the Top Sire of all Working Breeds from only 41 litters.
Thirty years later, some savvy people remember him for the long list of ROM bitches he sired rather than for his 101 AKC Champions.
Now, through genetic science, we are able to prove what top breeders previously only “knew.” It isn't that the
bitch influences a litter because she nourishes the pups, there's a purely genetic reason why the dam contributes so much
to a breeding program. I’ve always been fascinated by differences between dog breeders and livestock producers. The
latter have exhaustive data on hardiness, weight, and reproductive ability because cattle, pigs, chickens, etc. are an economic
crop. Companion animal breeders have to muddle about without the economic incentives that spur great scientific advances.
The Real Genetic X Factor
Now from the Thoroughbred Industry comes a genetic revelation. It is soon to be proven that
the female passes on intelligence and physical attributes through something I nicknamed the “X Factor” because
as a lay person, I can make up simple terms. It seemed right though since the X chromosome is actually much larger than the
Y (male) chromosome. X carries a heavy genetic load. The female chromosome is responsible for most of the highly desirable
characteristics for which breeders strive. If a mare gets the magic double X, she is even more empowered to reliably produce
outstanding progeny, including great sires. What we dog breeders have learned from each other, geneticists are finally confirming.
So knowing that, how does one reach the pinnacle of success in dogs? There are two roads. The shortest route is buying and
campaigning a great male. The other is buying a great bitch out of a great bitch, and using her wisely. It depends on whether
one wants instant or long term gratification. Both goals are equally important, especially when it takes a sizeable budget
to mount a successful campaign. A person may have to choose which goal is most satisfying because rarely can you do both.
The sport will remain healthy because if dedicated fanciers who campaign outstanding breed specimens created by the most talented
of breeders. It is a wonderful partnership.
If you have discovered that your forte’ is study, nurturing, and creativity,
then put your money and time into a great bitch that comes from a line of great bitches. She should become a ring star herself
before being bred. You will have to think carefully if she is of a late maturing breed. The question of whether to breed or
show her first is always a tough one. But one thing is as certain as anything ever is when it comes to genetic formula, if
she is from a line of powerful bitches, she’ll give you males that not only win, but with a little luck and planning,
those sires can pass on her qualities to your next generation.
That is why “The Strength Of The Sire Is The Power
Of The Dam.” Shucks, we always knew that, we just needed the geneticists to confirm it.