Common Newborn Puppy Problems

Newborn dogs have a much higher risk of succumbing to common puppy problems. While adult dogs handle things like fleas and parasitic worms well, they can kill puppies. There are also a number of diseases that puppies struggle to survive. The health of the parent is extremely important in ensuring your puppy grows to be strong and trouble free.

Puppy Problems Related to the Birthing Process and Nursing

The Merck Veterinary Manual makes it clear that many puppies die during or within three weeks of their birth.

Common issues include:

  1. malnutrition during the pregnancy
  2. exposure to disease,
  3. parasites
  4. birth defects
  5. room temperature

The mother dog should be eating a special diet during pregnancy and while nursing. She's passing on nutrients to her puppies before they're born and through her breast milk. If she's not maintaining her weight, her puppies will suffer. Lack of essential vitamins and minerals will effect the pupoy's health. A lack of nutrition with the mother dog also impacts milk production.

In small breeds, dams often struggle to safely deliver puppies. Narrow hips and pelvises in many breeds, especially toy breeds, frequently require C-sections for safe delivery. Many pet owners fail to realize how important it is to seek veterinary care when labor doesn't progress.

Once born, puppies must be kept warm. Their metabolism doesn't allow them to regulate their own temperature for the first month. A draft-free, warm environment is required. Using a whelping box in a room that is maintained at 85 to 90 degrees is best. Keep the humidity level around 50 to 60 percent in that room.

Puppy Problems Related to Disease

Puppies are not given vaccinations until they're three weeks old. Until this milestone, the dam's health is essential, as is breast milk because the dam's natural immunities are passed on to the puppies.

Brucellosis is one infection that can cause a bitch to abort her unborn puppies. There is no cure for this disease, so it's critical to keep the mother dog quarantined during her last trimester and while the puppies are nursing. After birth, the disease is rarely fatal, but it can stunt puppies growth. If any dog has Brucellosis, do not use that dog for breeding.

Parvo is dangerous in puppies. There is a vaccination but puppies must be older before receiving it. Leading symptoms of Parvo include respiratory distress, diarrhea and vomiting. Diarrhea and vomiting lead to dehydration. Puppies rarely survive Parvo. Keeping dams out of kennels, dog parks, dog shows and other public areas where an infected dog might be playing is key. This keeps the puppies safe until they are vaccinated.

Puppy Problems Related to Parasites

Fleas, ticks and parasitic worms all pose huge risks to a puppy's health. Puppy problems from these parasites involve the risk of anemia. Puppies have a much lower body weight and cannot afford to lose any body fluids. A flea or worm infestation can quickly drain them of blood leading to anemia. Blood transfusions and IV fluids are often necessary to save their life. Because many puppies are too young for flea medications, it's important to keep the dam flea free.