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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18817
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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Our dam had a litter of 7 puppies, but was not a very good

Customer Question

Our dam had a litter of 7 puppies, but was not a very good mom. She lost 2 puppies in the first 2 days. She wouldnt pay attention to them or feed them much. I took the puppies from her and am bottle feeding them. However, it is like one by one, they lose interest and become lethargic. They are still eating, yet very reluctantly. I have to dropper feed them. Since I started bottle feeding the puppies, 3 more have passed. I don't know know what is going on. They have adequate heat and fed correct amounts, at correct intervals. One of the remaining puppies is doing amazing. It has been the largest and most active from birth. She is double the size of the others and nurses from a bottle like a champ! The other, last puppy, is almost her size, but not quite and has always been just as spunky. Except for this afternoon. She is now becoming more lethargic and less eager to eat. I've noticed that her poop is brown, thin, and horrible smelling. Is this a sign that she is going to lass next? What could be wrong?! I am in a very remote location and vet access is not an option, unfortunately. This was also the dams first litter.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help the puppy. What is the dog's name?
Customer: No names. They are only 10 days old.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about the puppy?
Customer: Not that I can think of.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 months ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.

Did the pups cry a lot?

Was their suckling instinct reduced or non existent?

Is mom on flea preventative?

When was mom last dewormed?

Did any pups have milk come out of the nostrils after bottle feeding them?

What temperature is the room you have them in?

Does mom at least lay with them?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
No, they don't cry a lot. Only between waking up and me getting the formula made.Suckling instincts nonexistent except for the one biggest puppy that seems to be the only one thriving.Mom is fully vetted and current on everything.No milk out of their noses.The room is our livingroom and stays about 75*, but they are in a welping box that has a heating pad. Puppies are warm.Mom does not lay with them. She has zero interest in them. She was actually picking them up by their bellies and tossing them around on day 2 after birth and wouldn't choose to feed them. They only ate if they happened to find their own way to her when she laid down. That is the main reason we removed them from her.7 puppies born, 2 passed within the first 2 days.
Day 5, the 3rd puppy passed.
Yesterday, day 9, the 4th puppy passed.
Today, the 5th puppy passed.
The two left have been the most active and the two I have had the most hope for. But one is now showing signs of slowing down, like the other 2 prior.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 months ago.

Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful.

There are many reasons your puppies may be dying that include serious worm infestation, flea infestation causing anemia, herpes virus, and bad milk from mom or congenital health issues. It is sometimes referred to as fading puppy syndrome.

This site has information on fading puppy syndrome.

You can read about herpes here:

This site goes over ways of helping save fading puppies.

Normally I would suggest you have at least one pup checked by your vet to help determine a cause. If mom is inexperienced then you can't use her as an accurage judge of the pup's viability. An experienced mom will often not feed a pup that has problems or is ill. Herpes could be playing a roll in the passing of your pups and if this is the cause, she shouldn't have a problem later.

Unless your female was dewormed in the last couple of weeks of her pregnancy, she likely passed worms to the pups which can lead to a weaked state but I wouldn't expect them to expire this fast. A fleas infestation can lead to death but if she is on flea preventative, that shouldn't be an issue either.

Now the whelping area should be around 90-95F the first week, and 85-90F the second and then 80-65F the 3rd week. After the third week, a puppy can maintain their own body temperature. A heating pad is helpful but only if a portion of the whelping area has the heating pad and the other a covering that will allow the pups to move off of the pad when it gets too hot and not be on a cold surface.. If they become chilled, they develop an upper respiratory infection and go downhill very quickly. Sometimes a heating pad will help dry up fluid in the lungs but often a pup won't make it once they become chilled. The same applies to aspirated formula. If a pup is not swallowing correctly, formula can be aspirated into the lungs leading to aspiration phneumonia. This happens quite often with bottle fed pups since it can be quite difficult to get the right about of formula. In fact often breeders will use a new makeup spong to deliver formula to newborn pups being careful to inspect it often to ensure no pieces become loose and are ingested accidentally. The sponge helps minimize aspiration pneumonia.

Being too hot from laying too long on a heating pad can lead to dehydration especially if they are not eating well. Dehydration kills fairly quickly. I'd be inclined to have the one that is now slowing down seen by your vet to determine if herpes is the cause in his opinion especially since you do still have a week or so before the other pup can regulate their own body temperature.

If it is herpes at least it won't be an issue with her next litter. If it isn't, then you do have to determine if the cause is congenital, or environmental or parasitic. If congenital, you will not want to repeat that particular breeding. If environmental, you will be better equipped to handle the next litter and have a suitable draft free area for the whelping that can be kept at an elevated temperature for a few weeks. I know my electric bills is always much higher after we have a litter.

You might keep in mind for future litters that adding a drop of pancake or karo syrup to the formula often keeps a pup interested in nursing. A smear on the nipple often gets a strong suckle going as well. I would seriously consider having the fading pup seen as soon as possible.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer positively so I am compensated for my time.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Both puppies are still alive this morning. The weaker one seems to be the same as yesterday. Not worse or better. If it is the herpes, should I separate the two, since one of the puppies seems to not be sick?The weak puppy is only drinking 2 or 3 CCs of formula at a feeding, where the bigger puppy will drink 1 - 1.5 oz per feeding. I think I will give the sponge feeding a try for the weaker puppy, as she does not suckle at all. She sort of slowly laps each drop on her tongue.Their heating pad is only on half of the welping box. Their is carpet beneath the welping box, a thin, soft blanket in the bottom, the heating pad on one side and then a puppy pad over top of all of that. They seem to pee and poop on their own while in the box. (I do still assist them with wiping their bottoms after each feeding and they do pee every time and poop about every 3rd feeding. But they do poop between feedings in the welping box.)I read the links you sent. The herpes one mentions they may be blind. Does that mean blind as in just can't see? Or blind as in no eyes? The weaker puppy, I have suspected that she does not have any eyes, as the area/lid slits, is a bit smaller and seems sunken back a bit. The bigger, vibrant puppy has her eyes open today and they have never appeard the same as the weaker puppy.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 months ago.

In some cases, the pups just can't see but at this age, the eyes should just be starting to open and may not open for a few more days or so. I'd try the trick of using a little karo/pancake syrup with the little one as that jolt of sugar may be what thw weaker one needs to suckle a bit stronger. Now if it is herpes, all the pups were infected but the bigger one is just better able to conserve body heat being a bit larger. Now some people recommend monitoring a sick pup's temperature and trying to keep it up around 102F as it is believed that pups survive herpes better if their body temperature is a little closer to a normal temperature of 101-102.5F.

If indeed she doesn't have eyes, then perhaps it is congenital defects which led to her disinterest in the litter. If so, the little one might never actually catch up and thrive. It might be an uphill battle for a while. You'll have to just wait and see or have the vet give an opinion. Congenital defects can be a mutitude of things. I had a senior dog inadvertently get pregnant and she had a couple of pups that were not viable after birth. One had no face. So congenital defects are something that does occur.

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