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Litter of Newborn Dalmatian Puppies

Breeders – experienced and inexperienced – will benefit from monitoring their newborn pups for the following parameters. These parameters have been modified based on recent research gleaned from Neocare in France.

Assessing and monitoring specific numbers can be very helpful in early intervention with newborn pups, and managing these will help prevent loss of these fragile new dogs. Simply peeking into the whelping box does not give adequate information for either the breeder or the veterinarian asked to help with intervention.

Once you have collected this information, you can open a productive dialogue with your veterinary team. You can only manage what you can measure.

With this data, we can assess, intervene, and provide specific treatments early enough in the first few days of life, and significantly reduce neonatal loss, sometimes reported to be as high as the loss of 40 percent of newborn pups.

Parameter Risk Managing the Risk
1.     APGAR score Appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration A Problem APGAR score of <7 is associated with a 22x risk of death in the first 8 hours after birth.

Pups with an APGAR of 4-7 can achieve a 90% survival rate with appropriate intervention.

Repeat or continue resuscitation efforts of suctioning, oxygen, epinephrine, caffeine, ventilation, and veterinary care as indicated.

Pups with an APGAR score of 0 – 3 need intensive resuscitation efforts.

2.     Weight Low birth weight pups have an 81% chance of death in the first 48 hours. Pups in the lightest 25% of its breed have an increased risk of mortality during the first 2 days of life.

Weight loss >4% is associated with 8x risk of death.

See formula.

A digital scale is essential (grams preferred.)

Toy breeds – 100 – 200 gm

Medium breeds 200-400 gm

Large breeds 400 – 600 gm

Giant breeds – 600 – 800 gm

3.     Litter size Large litters have a 4x increased risk of neonatal death associated with low birth weight. Provide nutritional support with a bottle or tube feeding. A Nuby medi-nurser bottle is recommended.

Plasma if colostrum is limited.

4.     3 H syndrome Hypothermia -> ileus of gut -> dehydration ->  hypoglycemia.

Room temperature – 75o F.

Surface temperature – 90 to 95oF.

Rectal temperature 94 – 96oF (first 24 hours)

Rectal temperature 96-98o F (first week)

Hypothermic pups have a 4x increased risk of death.

Humidity should be 55% +/- 10%.

Monitor hydration with MM moisture and urine color.

Plasma (IV, IO, SQ or oral) or colostrum orally along with appropriate antibiotic therapy should be prescribed.

Rectal thermometer and Weather station to monitor temperature and humidity.

Pups cannot regulate their body temperature until they are 3 weeks old.

PuppyWarmer incubator and oxygen concentrator recommended.

Increase surface temperature.

Avoid use of heat lamp due to a risk of dehydration, overheating and starting a fire.

The T.E. Scott Whelping nest is recommended.

Avoid feeding until pup has the appropriate rectal temperature for 1 hour. Pups should be warmed slowly.

5.     Hypoglycemia Glucose of 90 mg/dl or higher at 24 to 48 hours of age– normal.

Glucose < 90 gm/dl = 4x increased risk of death.

Glucometer & foot pad stick.

Karo syrup or 5% dextrose.

Tube or bottle feeding.

PetTest glucometer and sticks recommended.

APGAR Parameter 0 1 2
A = Mucus membrane color
P = Pulse, Heart rate
G = Grimace, Irritability reflex
A = Activity, Mobility
R = Respirations

The following are the 5 P’s of safely tube feeding newborn pups.

Do NOT sponge or eyedropper feed due a to the risk of aspiration.  If pups are too weak to adequately suckle on a bottle, tube feeding may be safer.

1.     Premeasure tube – enter to rib,

2.     Pinch -> vocalize before feeding,

3.     Pass with chin down,

4.     Pass down side, prefer left.

5.     Prewarm – puppy and formula

About the author: Marty Greer, DVM, JD has run the Veterinary Village Small Animal Clinic in Wisconsin since 1982. She is an expert in canine reproduction, is the author of Canine Reproduction and neonatology, and is a frequent lecturer on the subject. Dr. Greer also studied law at Marquette University, is a partner in Animal Legal Resources, LLC, and is a board member of the National Animal Interest Alliance.

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