Failure to thrive in nursing puppies is often referred to as Fading Puppy Syndrome. This is not a specific disease. Rather, it is a description applied to puppies that appear normal at birth but do not grow or thrive during the first few weeks of their lives.
Fading Puppy Syndrome Causes
There is no one cause of fading puppy syndrome. Potential reasons for newborn puppies to fail to thrive and eventually die include the following:
- Maternal Obesity
- Maternal Age
- Problems during the birth (dog pregnancy and birth)
- Neglect by the mother
- Toxins in the environment
- Bacterial infection
- Infection by viruses, including Canine Herpes Virus, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper and Infectious Canine Hepatitis
- Genetic factors
- Metabolic dysfunction
- Immune problems
- Anatomical abnormalities
- Problems with the thymus
- Low birth weight
In the majority of cases, the syndrome is not caused by just one of these factors. Instead, there are multiple contributing problems.
Fading Puppy Syndrome Symptoms
Symptoms of fading puppy syndrome can be vague, but warning signs of this dangerous condition include the following:
- A blue tinge to the gums or skin
- Constant crying
- Weight loss or inadequate weight gain
- Failure to nurse or insufficient nursing
Any of these signs in a young puppy should trigger a visit to a veterinarian. Puppies can decline quickly, so rapid intervention is critical.
Fading Puppy Syndrome Treatment
To give a fading puppy the best chance of survival, prompt treatment is required. Treatment for failure to thrive in newborns is aimed at keeping the affected puppy warm and hydrated, managing blood sugar, providing appropriate nutrition and treating any diseases or conditions affecting the animal.
When the puppy is warm and hydrated, it should be fed small amounts of formula or food. Because cold puppies cannot digest or absorb food, it is important to make certain the animal’s temperature is stable and appropriate before feeding it. If food sits in the stomach, the puppy’s risk for developing aspiration pneumonia, a serious respiratory condition, increases.
How to Take Care of Newborn Puppies
In most cases, mother dogs provide all the care puppies need. The role of owners and breeders is simply to provide a clean environment, health care and proper nutrition to the mother. If you have an orphaned pup, however, you should consult with a veterinarian about appropriate feeding and care. You will need to feed the puppy often and keep it warm and clean. Because young puppies cannot urinate and defecate on their own, you will also need to stimulate the animal for normal body functions to occur. Raising a puppy? Know about Puppy Basic Care: How to take care of puppies.
Whether puppies are being raised by their mother or you are hand raising them, you should be alert for signs of fading puppy syndrome. If you are in any way concerned about a puppy in your care, take the animal to a veterinarian immediately.
Kittens can also suffer from this syndrome called Fading Kitten Syndrome.