Knowing the signs of fading puppy syndrome could mean the difference between life and death for a newborn pup.
If you’ve ever had a dog give birth on your watch, you know there’s often a sad reality about the whole process: some of the puppies are going to die.
And sometimes everything will appear fine at birth, but the puppies end up slowly dying a few weeks after; this situation is something we call fading puppy syndrome.
Given this information, you might wonder what is fading puppy syndrome?
Well, read on, and you’ll find out all you could ever want to know about this unfortunate condition.
What is Fading Puppy Syndrome?
Sadly, this syndrome isn’t exactly uncommon.
According to PetPlace, about “20 to 40 percent of all puppies born do not survive past 12 weeks of age.” which is all put under the catch-all term fading puppy syndrome.
So, let’s say your dog has a litter of 10 puppies. This statistic means that two to four of them are most likely going to die.
Honestly, when I first thought about this statistic, I was shocked about how much damage this syndrome does to the dog community.
I mean, you’d think we would have figured out how to help bring these puppies into the world better?
However, the problem lies in how undetectable this condition is to human beings. See, the symptoms are vague, and when they do become noticeable, it’s often too late.
For instance, I just fostered a pregnant dog, and she had eight puppies under my watch. All the puppies came out healthy, and it was smooth sailing for the first couple of days.
But by the time we gave her back for her transport date a week or two later; there were only six puppies left.
Then, I was told this situation was completely normal and having six alive was considered a successful birthing experience.
Well, they said it was expected because of fading puppy syndrome.
Now, given this information, you’re probably wondering how you could have a different experience than me and come out with all the puppies alive.
Well, even though it’s hard to detect, they’re some signs that indicate a puppy is having trouble that could help you.
Signs of Fading Puppy Syndrome
Since Fading Puppy Syndrome is a catch-all term, there are many different signs that something could be wrong.
But in general, the signs something is wrong with the puppy will last only 24 hours before death occurs and be among the following:
- Low birth weight
- Isolated from the mother and the rest of the litter
- Poor appetite
- Decreased activity
- Weight loss
- Doesn’t gain weight
- Low body temperature
- Very loud whining in the early stages, might become quiet in the later stages
If you notice any of these, you should seek out a vet’s opinion immediately.
Now, it might be too late as some of the puppies are just sadly not meant for this world. In some cases, it doesn’t matter what we do; the puppy is too weak for them to recover.
For instance, during my previous mentioned fostering of a pregnant dog and her puppies, I had the unfortunate experience of having a noticeable runt of the litter.
See, she was much smaller, weaker, and whinnied loudly throughout the night.
In response, I tried everything and anything to help her along, but eventually, she succumbed to whatever condition was affecting her health.
It was heartbreaking, but I don’t regret trying to help her pull through the circumstances she was fighting.
And honestly, it doesn’t hurt for you to try. After all, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to try and make sure a puppy survives?
With this in mind, it’s essential you coordinate with your vet and try to figure out what made the puppy sick and why this is happening?
But before we discuss the potential reasons behind this syndrome, we must also note that this syndrome can be one of two types : infectious or congenital.
Of course, infectious is a little bit more problematic as it has a chance of infecting the other puppies, while congenital is something like a congenital disability or being the “runt.”
However, these two types often overlap because the ones that get the infections are usually the ones that the mother senses are weak and doesn’t care as well for him/her as she does for the other puppies.
Why Does This Happen?
You’re probably asking yourself what is the reason why this happens? I know, I was asking myself this exact question, when those two puppies died on my watch. Well, it turns out there are many different reasons for why this happens:
- A puppy can’t regulate its body temperature that makes them vulnerable to illnesses and environmental stress
- Puppies have an immature immune system, which means their unable to cope with disease .
- This immature immune system also makes them prone to “ insults, including infections and environmental, nutritional, and metabolic factors .”
- Puppies have an incredibly poor ability to “regulate fluid and energy balance. ”
Now, that we’ve gone over why puppies are susceptible to this syndrome, it’s time we cover the underlying reasons why they fall victim to it.
What are the Causes of Fading Puppy Syndrome
Generally, the issue causing the puppy to fade away slowly falls into one of three categories: mother related, environmental related, or pup related.
- Mother fails to provide adequate nutrition.
- She suffers some injury that makes her unable to nurse.
- The birthing process was complicated and had a lasting impact on the mother.
- Problems with the milk.
- Sanitation concerns
- The temperature is too extreme in either direction, whether it’d be too hot or too cold.
- Congenital disabilities
With all this new information about Fading Puppy Syndrome, I hope the next time you’re taking care of a pregnant dog it will help you ensure all the puppies stay alive.
In the end, this article will hopefully make you feel more comfortable with this sad reality that affects puppy litters around the world.
And remember, pay close attention to the puppies, you might notice something that could be the key to saving their adorable little life!