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Early Death in Puppies

Fading Syndrome (Neonatal Mortality) in Puppies

Fading Syndrome, also known as neonatal mortality, poses a significant risk to newborn puppies during their initial two weeks of life. These young pups enter the world with underdeveloped immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to a variety of threats including infections, environmental factors, and metabolic challenges. Furthermore, their immature organs and systems make them susceptible to fluctuations in body temperature and difficulties in regulating glucose levels, which can lead to hypoglycemia. Notably, pedigree puppies are more prone to experiencing this syndrome.

Symptoms and Types

  • Weakness
  • Low birth weight
  • Weight loss
  • Inability to gain weight
  • Reduced activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Persistent vocalizations and restlessness in the early phase, with the puppy possibly becoming inactive and quiet in later stages
  • Separation from the mother and littermates
  • Diarrhea
  • Low body temperature


Dam (mother)-related Factors:

  • Challenging birthing process or prolonged labor
  • Issues with milk letdown
  • Injury
  • Inadequate nutrition

Environmental Factors:

  • Temperature and humidity fluctuations
  • Poor sanitation

Puppy-related Factors:

  • Congenital defects
  • Infections


To diagnose your puppy’s condition, it’s important to provide a detailed history of its health, including any symptoms and background information on its parentage. Following the history-taking, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination. Laboratory tests will involve a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis.

Blood tests may reveal signs of anemia, alterations in leukocyte (white blood cell, WBC) counts such as low platelet count (essential for blood clotting) and elevated white blood cell count, typically indicating infections. The biochemistry profile may show decreased glucose levels (hypoglycemia) and other organ-related abnormalities. Urinalysis may detect hemoglobin in the urine, suggesting red blood cell issues, and the presence of bacteria, indicating a urinary tract infection. Further tests may involve isolating viruses or bacteria from various bodily fluids. Additionally, your veterinarian will conduct a fecal examination to check for parasites.


If a neonate exhibits a low body temperature, the veterinarian will gradually raise its body temperature to normal levels over several hours to prevent sudden shock to its system. Oxygen supplementation will be administered if necessary, and intravenous fluid therapy will be initiated to address any fluid deficits.

For cases of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels), fluids containing glucose will be administered during fluid therapy. If the puppy’s body temperature is significantly below normal and it lacks a suckling reflex, it will not be allowed to feed initially; however, once it has been warmed, nursing will be encouraged. Antibiotic therapy will be initiated if bacterial infections are suspected.

Living and Management

Avoid attempting to feed your puppy at home if it is not effectively suckling from its mother’s teat. Monitor your puppy’s hydration status daily by observing urine color and checking for signs of dryness in its mouth. Dryness and dark yellow urine may indicate dehydration, in which case, contacting your veterinarian for advice is necessary. Additionally, monitor your puppy’s weight daily and ensure that the mother is adequately nursing the puppies.

Providing good home care is crucial for facilitating your puppy’s swift and effective recovery. Adhere closely to all guidelines for medication administration and feeding at home. Refrain from altering or discontinuing treatment without consulting your veterinarian. Precise dosage and timing of medications are vital, as immature animals have varying capacities for drug metabolism and excretion. Even slight adjustments in drug dosage can negatively impact your puppy’s recovery.

Your puppy requires special attention to its nutritional needs due to its delicate condition and inability to feed independently. Patients with low glucose levels require extra care, including feeding at prescribed times of the day and adhering to a feeding frequency tailored to your puppy’s breed, age, and size requirements.

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