Causes of puppies mortality

Причины смертности щенков

Communication with the quadruped friends has always brought pleasure and happiness to children and adults, as dog is the most faithful, affectionate and kind pet. However, like all living creatures, it is susceptible to multiple diseases. Particularly increased mortality rate is among the puppies from birth to 3 months of age, as they born completely helpless, blind, deaf, with impaired temperature regulation. And often the owner, without having even basic veterinary skills, gets easily lost in a critical situation, unaware how to help his pet.

Usually dogs possess a well-developed maternal instinct and in relatively favorable conditions they have no any difficulties occur to them.

However, weak small puppies are frequently born with breathing difficulties. Sometimes the smallest of them die, literally, on the 2nd day.

Initial causes of death may be the following:

  • Insufficiency of breast milk (colostrum)

  • Poor milk quality (bacterial infection presence)

  • Failed attempt to bite off the umbilical cord

  • Too high or, conversely, too low ambient temperature

  • Congenital abnormality of a puppy (too small in size, cleft palate, viscera dysfunctions, etc.)

In addition to threats at birth, puppies are exposed to numerous diseases because of their natural curiosity and desire to pick up and eat any tiny subjects on their way.

So, which illnesses bring the most common fatal outcome for dogs since their early days of life?

1. Diseases and dysfunctions of the dogs’ digestive tract

Abdominal distension

This arises from a single excessive intake of food, and also from the uniform meal, consisting of cereals, vegetables, which are low in fat and protein content. Often the cause of abdominal distension is a sharp puppies’ separation from their mother with subsequent transition to coarse indigestible meal. Relapse as well arises from the desire to feed a dog with a large portion of liquid food in contrast to its natural needs for more dry, concentrate nutrition. Here is also important a weak gastrointestinal dog’s ligament, when food does not normally move across the stomach, but falls lumpy to its bottom. In some cases, this causes a rupture of the stomach wall with the release of content into the abdominal cavity, accompanied by peritonitis and rapid death of the animal.

In case of emergency you can help your puppy by entering probe, coated with vaseline, first to its mouth and then into the esophagus. Use the interdental wedge, at that, to keep the puppy's mouth open.

You can also add vaseline oil to the animal’s food. For the treatment is usually prescribed large doses of vitamins E and B12 on the background of neostigmine.

Coprostasis or intestinal constipation

It consists in painful, difficult, movement of dejection along the bowels. Commonly it is the prolonged puppy’s fecal obstruction due to malnutrition, fraught with hardening of dejecture and occlusion of the intestinal lumen. Either small swallowed (chicken) bones or scraps of wool, plastic, rubber items and grass are strongly contribute to this. Twisted tail type’s Bulldogs and Bull Terriers have tail area, lying close to anus, which also becomes a cause of constipation.

Constipation is characterized by slight increase in the animal’s stomach size, anxiety in its behavior and by frequent attempts to make defecation.

Castor and vaseline oils are usually most appropriate for puppies’ treatment in the proportion of 1:20 or sunflower oil by no more than 1 teaspoon a day. As a laxative, it is also useful to give white magnesia (magnesia alba) by 1/2 teaspoon a day in combination with warm water enemas.

Very important here is to dilute the puppy’s everyday food with wheat bread, pumpkin pulp, boiled liver, bran, milk and celery ration, by adding it in small portions.


Inflammation of the mucous membrane in the puppy’s large intestine, characterized by meteorism, diarrhea, combined with anorexia and pain or defecation in small amounts with blood. In general, diarrhea is the main symptom of the disease. The stronger the faeces smell, the more serious the illness. Enterocolitis is rarely a consequence of malnutrition; more often it is a consequence of severe infections, chemical poisoning, tumoral lesions of the intestinal wall.

The main symptoms are abdominal bloating, tummy rumbling and liquid stool, alternating with constipations. Sometimes the anus area has become inflamed, when the dog begins to lick it hard, then sits down on the ground and starts to ride as "on a sledge".

First aid in such situation is a 1-2-day break in food, with a plenty of water to drink, followed by congee porridge and minced meat, given in small portions by 1-3 tablespoons at a time. Additionally, infusion of chamomile, oak bark decoction and dill water are helpful as well. Drug treatment should be designated by veterinarian.


Is also caused by inappropriate puppy feeding. Usually, when its food is too hot or cold. Big breaks between meals, large portions of poor, hardly digested foods are complementary contribute to the manifestation of the disease.

The reasons can also lay in puppy’s indiscriminative feeding behavior, by eating different vegetation, swallowing the surrounding small items, which results in irritation of the mucous membrane of the stomach, where the obvious symptom is persistent vomiting.

For cure here is better to organize a day food break and let the puppy lick the ice cubes for to quench its thirst. Antiemetic preparation "Pepto Bismol" by 2 ml once a day is frequently applied for treatment. Then the dog’s feeding is arranged carefully, in small portions, starting with cereal, low-fat cottage cheese and cooked meat. Later puppy is gradually returned to its normal diet.

2. Infectious diseases

Plague or distemper

Puppies are mainly infected in 2 weeks after the suckling period. Plague is highly contagious disease with viral nature. Plague virus belongs to the micro viruses, containing ribonucleic acid. Sources of infection are extensive - that is not only sick or newly recovered dogs, but the puppy’s objects of use. Rodents, birds, and even blood-sucking insects may serve as virus carriers. Preceding helminthic invasion, lack of outdoor walks, cold, wet weather, deficiency of vitamins and poor quality food are strongly amplify the disease recurrence. First signs of the sickness are high temperature, fever, appearance of small eruption on the hairless parts of the animal’s skin, which is later turning into bubbles with a yellowish-green content.

In case of acute course the disease lasts from 2 weeks to a month, in chronic course it may last up to six months, culminating in coma and fatal outcome in the absence of treatment. As the disease is highly infectious, treatment is carried out strictly under veterinary supervision. Initially 1-5 ml of calcium gluconate is injected, followed by vitamins B12 and B1, introduced by 5 ml during a week period. 10-15 injections of each vitamin are generally prescribed for 4-5 months age puppies. In order to prevent distemper, timely vaccination is very important, as this sickness precisely leads to dogs’ death in most cases.

Worm infections


The disease comes from a variety of worms’ species, which get into the dog’s body (roundworms, tapeworms and whipping types of parasites). In general, they affect stomach and intestine, though there are types that settle and parasitize in the liver, pancreas and heart of an animal. For weak puppies worms are especially dangerous, while the adult dogs have stable developed immunity to their metabolic products. Affection with worms may happen even during the fetal development. Treatment of puppies has usually started after 2-3 weeks period under the strict veterinary supervision, as the most drugs have clearly defined side effects. In the presence of several diseases in the puppy’s organism at the same only separate preparations are allowed for use.

The most popular drugs with broad spectrum of action, giving no adverse effects, are "Polyverkan" "Droncit plus" and "Panacur".


Increased threat these species of worms represent for puppies.

A large concentration of ascarids larvae in the digestive system abruptly deteriorating puppy’s health. Sick puppies develop slowly, quickly come to exhaustion, their hair coat is worsening and stomach is bloating, followed by frequent diarrhea with vomiting. Since the length of grown-up ascarids reaches 20 cm, they are easy to discern in the excrements of the affected dogs. Infection occurs either through food, drinking water, sleeping carpet, containing the worms’ eggs or through the excrements of animals. Reproduction of parasites in puppies goes on in stages. Initially, at ingestion, the eggs of ascarids reach the intestine. Later on, the developed larvae penetrate into lungs, where by causing the puppy cough, they get swallowed again. Having reached the dog’s digestive tract for the second time, they grow into adult worms.

A whole range of medications have been developed, which are most productive against parasites. For instance, such drugs as "Mebendazole" and "Verkom" give minor side effects. Therefore they are commonly used for treatment of 3-4-week-old puppies. Additional treatment is carried out after 2-3 weeks. Wherein, applying the drugs, prescribed by a veterinarian, it is important to follow dosage instructions, and adhere strictly to the sanitary regulations.

In the most vulnerable period after birth, puppies need proper nutrition, temperature mode and recurrent medicinal support. In particular, you should not save on quality feed and prompt veterinary care, because with the proper care, your pet will become a full-grown, healthy dog. And considered actions, compliance with the elementary rules of hygiene and veterinary keeping, timely vaccination will relieve you of unnecessary painful emotions and even tears if your puppy suddenly dies.

Dogs are generally strong and hardy animals, but in home environment they, unfortunately, are prone to illnesses no less than people. However, with training, care and proper attention your best friend will delight you for a long time until its old age, which dogs have in 10-12 years on the average.

Attention! All the above-described procedures and medicaments do not guarantee the treatment. In any case, first thing you have to do is to consult with veterinarian.

Read also:

How to select a Healthy Puppy



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Soleil Gonsalves
Are you a veterinary professional? The plague is not caused by a virus , it’s caused by bacteria and is a completely different from distemper virus. Not sure you should be giving health advice