Puppy Puzzler: Won’t stay nursing!

What is wrong with the puppy that latches on to mom, takes a couple of swallows and then lets go? The puppy tries to nurse again; and again the same thing happens. This is a common problem leading to malnutrition and weak puppies! What can you do?


The issue is very simple. These puppies can't breathe through their nose. They must pull a vacuum when nursing, they swallow twice, run out of air and let go. They have to make a choice, they can either nurse or breathe; they can't do both at the same time.

Puppies to watch:

High risk puppies are the pushed in nose breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs, but also puppies that have respiratory issues, eye irritation or coughing and still nursing.


  • Flush the nose with a Saline/Lincocin mixture and drip drops into the nose.
  • You can just use Saline alone but an antibiotic combination is preferable as these guys are often harboring an upper respiratory infection (URI). If you are going to treat, you just as well address the URI prevention at the same time.
  • Treat all the puppies once then treat the ones with issues twice daily for 3 days – longer if needed.


Raising puppies is about getting puppies growing and keeping them growing. These puppies are often diagnosed as dying from malnutrition but that is not the cause. The cause is failure to catch the "snuffed up nose"; the problem that keeps them from nursing! This quick treatment solves the issue of not breathing and prevents malnutrition from ever becoming an issue.

- Dr. B

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