Understanding Swimmer Puppy Syndrome

What is swimmer puppy syndrome?

Swimmer puppy syndrome is a condition that occurs in very young puppies usually within their first two weeks of life. It is characterized by a flattening of the chest and abdomen, which makes it difficult for the puppies to stand, crawl or walk. It occurs most often in dwarf breeds, such as the West Highland White Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel, and the Pekingese, but can develop in other breeds as well.

Understanding Swimmer Puppy Syndrome

Symptoms of Swimmers Puppy Syndrome

Before listing the symptoms of puppy swimmer syndrome, it is essential to note that many people often mistake this condition with pectus excavatum. However, the difference between these two conditions is that most puppies suffering from swimmer syndrome can easily recover. With that said, common symptoms of swimmers puppy syndrome are as follows:

  • Puppies That Lie Flat on Their Bellies
  • Refusal to Lay on Either Side
  • Turtle-Like or “Swimming” Movements
  • Front Legs That Splay Outwards
  • Extended Back Legs
  • Flattened Chests and Bellies That Worsen With Time
  • Regurgitation of Milk That Worsens With Time

Causes of Puppy Swimmer Syndrome

In some cases, there may be no apparent causes of swimmers syndrome in puppies. However, some factors that may contribute to its development include obesity, genetic deformities of the chest region, slippery flooring in whelping boxes and excessive heat.

Complications of Swimmers Syndrome in Dogs

When left untreated, puppies can suffer many complications due to swimmers syndrome. These problems involve both developmental issues as well as serious complications involving the joints, lungs and digestive tract. Some of the most common complications that can result from swimmers syndrome in dogs are listed below:

Common Treatments for Swimmers Puppy Syndrome

There are several things you can do to prevent and treat swimmers puppy syndrome. First of all, line your dam’s whelping box with shredded newspaper to provide proper footing for puppies. In the case of obese puppies, limit their feeding times by removing the mother from her whelping box at regular intervals.

Your veterinarian can help you establish a proper feeding schedule for your puppies based on their age and size. Water therapy has been found to be helpful with swimmer puppies as well. From time to time, gently hold puppies in a tub of warm water and allow them to “swim” ensuring that their heads are above water.

This type of therapy will help their motor coordination and strengthen the muscles in their legs. Another thing you can do is encourage them to lay on their sides. If this does not work, place them on top of empty egg cartons to relieve the pressure on their chests. By using all of these helpful methods, your puppies should recover in no time. Find more puppy care tips here.

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