Breeding, Newborn Care Tips, Puppy and Kitten Care

When a Newborn Puppy 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?

Puppy Won’t Nurse

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.

Puppies in Watch

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.

How Do I Get My Newborn Puppy To Nurse

  • Flush the nose with a Saline/Lincocin mixture and drip drops into the nose.
    • 10 cc Saline solution (0.9% NaCl)
    • 1 cc (100 mg) lincomycin
    • Put in bottle and use in 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 three 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 with a newborn puppy that won’t stay latched on, call us at 800.786.4751.

Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM

Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.