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Puppy Puzzlers - 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 noses. 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.


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


  • Flush the nose with a Saline/Lincocin mixture and drip drops into the nose.
  • You can use just 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 may as well address the URI 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. 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.

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
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 your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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