Fading Puppy Syndrome
Bacterial Germ Infection
Bacterial germs can gain entry in the womb birth canal or through the navel stump. However, in most cases, it is thought that the bitch herself carries the infection in her womb prior to birth, and the Staph, Strep and E-Coli germs contaminate the pubs digestive system and blood. In severe cases, the contamination can be spread as the bitch licks her new-born puppies to warm and clean them after birth. In severe cases, puppies that are born small and weak may already be infected by the germs that build up in the womb, because of a low grade infection in the uterine horns themselves. Most of the puppies that develop a severe septicaemia infection during the first 2 – 4 days of birth usually are born healthy. They are initially active, but start to deteriorate within the first 12 – 24 hours. As compared with a viral infection, which occurs at a later stage from 1 – 2 weeks of age, puppies with a bacterial infection, which occurs at a later stage between 1 -2 weeks of age, puppies with a bacterial infection, usually lose condition and appetite within a few hours. The most significant sign is swelling and distension of the belly. The navel cord often becomes more prominent and reddened due to infection.
Young puppies do not have a lot of reserves, and infection quickly sets up a lethal toxic reaction. It is essential to get them to your vet as soon as possible so that suitable antibiotic treatment, usually Lincomycin, can be given. The navel stump should be treated with antiseptics, such as a weak iodine solution, to dry it out and reduce the risk of it maintaining an active route of infection.
Proper nursing to ensure that the puppies are kept warm and fed with bottles will help to increase the chance they will recover. However, it is most important not to waste time hoping the puppies will get better and improve. You must recognise the problem as soon as possible, particularly if a puppy starts to fade and develop a bloated tummy, and promptly seek advice from your vet. Some breeders separate affected puppies away from the other ones so that they do not have a chance of spreading any infection on their skin and navel cords as the bitch licks them and transfers it to other puppies. However, again your vet will give you advice on the best way to manage the sick puppies.