Management Prevents First Week Puppy Loss!
Fifty percent of puppy loss before weaning happens in the first 7 days! (Dr. Peterson, Small Animal Pediatrics)
If we are going to make an impact in saving these first week babies, we have to prevent the causes of loss. Respiratory, GI issues and malnutrition are found to be the big three!
Respiratory prevention is getting these babies on the ground quickly. We have come far in getting these babies born in a timely manner which is important for two reasons:
- Babies shorted of oxygen from birthing tend to be more lethargic, more congested and ineffective at nursing. Both malnutrition and respiratory issues from aspiration of amniotic fluids are of concern! Slow birth makes the baby prone to inhaling amniotic fluid. Babies that nurse well keep their energy up. When they are not eating, they have little backup energy to fight with. Babies often have some aspiration which is a non-issue when eating and getting good nursing care from mom. That brings us to number 2!
- Slow to whelp causes tired moms. Twenty-four hours is too long to whelp; 6-9 hours is the goal. Exhausted moms are recovering, not doing puppy care! The need to get babies on the ground and in a timely manner seems obvious, but is often overlooked as a cause of first week puppy loss. Two products have the biggest impact on labor:
- Calcium gel – Needed for effective contractions and better puppy movement in the uterus. Timely delivery is the goal. (See Careful with Calcium article.) Low calcium at this stage often leads to uterine inertia, puppy loss and C-Sections; all undesirable.
- Raspberry extract – Eases ligament spasm post contraction which eases labor. It is especially helpful with early labor spasms in first time moms who have no idea what labor means! Breeders’ Edge® Oxy Mate™ Prenatal has red raspberry extract in the prenatal vitamin or you can add the concentrate red raspberry extract to your water three weeks before birth.
GI ISSUES AND DIARRHEA
GI issues and diarrhea is the second major loss in first week. To prevent first week diarrhea, we put probiotic in the moms two weeks before and two weeks after whelping though most just keep mom on Probiotic in food while nursing. Puppies are born with sterile guts and by day 3 the gut is populated with bacteria from mom. Mom gives them good bacteria (and bad) when cleaning and caring for them. Giving probiotic to mom insures mom only gives good bacteria to her pups when cleaning. This has been quite effective during this stressful time!
When stopping puppy loss, let puppy have colostrum only the first 24 hours, allow colostrum to manage the issue. The newborn's gut is sterile at birth and mom seeds the GI tract with bacteria, good and bad, by 72 hours old. We can help mom and insure healthy population of bacteria in the newborn gut! Day two through seven start
D.E.S. Health-Gard liquid
or Doc Roy's® GI Synbiotics Gel
probiotic once daily. Giving puppy probiotic once daily will hasten population of the gut with good bacteria. You want to give bad bacteria nowhere to live! Use caution here as puppies don’t swallow well - just wipe gel on tongue and it will be swallowed.
When treating active diarrhea you may need antibiotics with the Probiotic gel. Probiotic gel dose: Tiny breed puppies get ¼ cc and large breeds 1 cc/3 pounds given 3 times daily until diarrhea is resolved, usually in 48 hours.
Use the newer probiotics that bypass the stomach or you will be disappointed with the results! The majority of the live bacteria are killed in the stomach acid and enzymes which is the first line of defense against food poisoning! They need to be coated bacteria or spores which bypass stomach and set up house in the small intestine. The newer probiotics have that. When populating the gut you need all bacteria to make it to the small intestine, not just to the stomach!
Puppies should not lose their life to malnutrition! Respiratory and diarrhea overlap here but being sure puppies are born fighting to live and moms are dripping milk at birth rather than 5 days with a limited milk supply assures puppy survival. Get them growing and keep them growing!
Get mom as healthy as possible! If we want mom birthing timely and having puppies that fight to live, we need adequate iron and prenatal vitamins; no arguing here! Puppies are born with all the Red Blood Cells (RBC) they will have until 6 weeks old and mom has a 25% increase in RBC during pregnancy so both need iron! If born anemic, babies stay anemic and weak until 6 weeks. You will fight to save them. That is why human moms take prenatal vitamins and why dog moms should have them as well! Give them prenatal vitamins.
Milking involves a complex process of glandular development in late pregnancy and Prolactin telling the gland to start milking at birth. Moms that don’t go through labor won’t get the trigger to start milking; they usually have plenty of gland but nothing told the gland to start milking! Reglan will give that “Prolactin Trigger” when milking is a problem
(See Won’t Milk article.)
but you can avoid the issue totally. Oxy Momma™
by Breeders' Edge®
is a prenatal designed to stimulate milking. It contains Fenugreek and Chaste tree fruit – both herbs used to promote milk production. Starting Oxy Momma one week before due date will get them dripping milk at birth. It’s that effective! Don’t use more than one week before birth or you may end up dripping milk before puppies are present; mastitis is the worry when babies are not nursing. If you are an herbalist, you can use 200 mg of Fenugreek, one week before birth and get similar results. Oxy Momma has herbs dosed with the prenatal vitamin!
Puppy loss in first week is manageable! If we are going to save first week puppies we have to get moms as healthy as we can and newborns fighting to live. Get puppies growing and keep them growing is an achievable goal!
If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
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