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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16303
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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I have a nursing dog with 7 puppies. They are fat & seem to

Customer Question

I have a nursing dog with 7 puppies. They are fat & seem to be healthy (probably have worms?) but the mother has lost a ton of weight since they were born (3 wks ago). I've read I can't deworm the mother as long as she's nursing. Today, she seems so lethargic & dehydrated but is eating. She seems to be starving all the time. Help!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
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Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian & I would like to help you with your wee one today.

First, mum will be using a lot of her own nutrition and resources at this life stage. She will have devoted a lot to developing her pups in utero and now continues to do so via providing milk. Still, if your lass is dehydrated and lethargic on top of struggling to maintain her weight, we have a problem.

Therefore, to start, since you noted that she is starving and therefore happy to eat, we need to increase her nutrition intake. You can do this by feeding her a bigger volume of food but you will also want to feed her more nutritious food. Therefore, consider supplementing her with a high nutrition diet like Hill's A/D, Royal Canin Recovery, or even a liquid diet like Clinicare or Dogsure. Otherwise, we commonly add puppy food to mum's food to get more calories/fat/protein into her.

Further to this, you are right about worms, as they do commonly cause issues for mum and pups at this stage (due to mum's immune system being vulnerable here). Therefore, we do need to worm her and the pups (if they are >2 weeks) now. Since she is lactating, this doesn't mean we cannot worm her just that we are limited in what we can use. Therefore, you need to use Panacur (Fenbendazole), as it is safe for nursing and even for pups over 2 weeks of age. So, that would be indicated here.

Next, you need to have a good look at mum. If she is losing this much weight, dehydrated, and unwell; we need to make sure there is nothing else going on (ie diarrhea) that would be causing this. If you see any signs amiss, then we'd want to consider a check up. Especially since her weak immune system will be making her quite vulnerable to opportunistic viruses and bacteria.

Finally, if mum is really struggling with nursing and maintaining herself at the same time, then we do need to think about early weaning for the pups. If she is already quite severely affected, then we'd even want to remove the pups and start bottle feeding. That way we are reducing what is being taken from her and giving her a chance to recover weight and condition.

Overall, you can worm her and should do so if you have not already. You just need to make sure to use the right wormer. Otherwise, we need to increase her nutrition intake, rule out infections, and even consider weaning the pups onto a bottle if they are taking too much of a toll on her.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the information, very helpful. What kind of milk should I give the puppies? I've heard that cow's milk is not a good substitute. Do I need to buy the puppy milk substitute sold at stores or vets offices? I also read you can start them on soft puppy chow mush (mixed with milk substitute & water) at 3.5 wks old. Would you agree with this? Since they are almost that age, should I skip the bottle feeding? They are good-sized puppies, probably weigh 4-6 lbs each. Thank you.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

You are very welcome,

You are right, we don't use cow's milk in these cases since it would just cause diarrhea and is not balanced for pups. Instead, we want to use puppy milk replacer (ie KMR) which most pet stores and vets carry over the counter. And while I do think it is worth offering puppy food now, then will likely need time to adjust to eating solids. Therefore, we'd likely need replacer milk for at least a few weeks while helping them with this transition.

All the best,

Dr. B.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

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