Facility Management, Pet Tips with Dr. B, Puppy and Kitten Care

Treating Upper Respiratory Infections in Puppies

This year we are seeing big weather swings and with that, more upper respiratory infections in puppies than we would normally. But there is good news. It is possible to get away from treating URI in every litter!

How Do You Treat an Upper Respiratory Infection in a Puppy

  • Do an intranasal vaccine for kennel cough (your choice) when puppies start eating gruel. This is usually good to do at the same time as the parvo only vaccine. You want the vaccine in one week before you see URI issues start.
  • Most URI issues start one week after mom leaves. The week before, start doing saline/lincomycin nose drops. Just drip it in the nostril and let them blow it back out.
  • If we get mucus back, repeat until it comes out clear.
  • Do that to the puppy four times a day for two days then twice a day until you are comfortable. Usually after about three days, watch closely for issues then go to doing this twice a week. If this is your first time doing this, don’t worry, it is quick and easy to do.
  • Only a few URI’s usually happen when a puppy is nursing. Saline/lincomycin nose drops are okay and they keep baby on milk. If the baby is stuffed up and can’t breathe, they can’t nurse.
  • Use saline drops four times a day or as much as needed to get the puppy on a nipple. Our goal is to open their nose so they can breathe and nurse. If you have never used saline drops, most fear aspirating them. But this is not an issue with saline. If you get it into the lung, they just absorb it like they do with subcutaneous fluids. I’ve been using this technique for 20 years now I have never had an aspirating issue.

Lastly, be ready with doxycycline if any puppy starts to get sick with a URI that you’re uncomfortable with. Penicillins (amoxycillin) won’t penetrate mucus and will not be effective for an upper respiratory. And, of course, it’s always a good idea to work with your personal veterinarian on any difficult URI issues.

Next time an upper respiratory infection affects one of your puppies, give our Pet Care Pros a call at 800.786.4751. We are here to help you get through it and come up with a plan to prevent respiratory issues or anything else that has your pets feeling under the weather.

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.