Breathing Problems of Newborn Puppies
During life in moms belly, fetal respiration in developing puppies takes place courtesy of blood-gas exchanges with the placenta.
The lungs are not yet in use and there is very little blood flow to them. The day when puppies are born though, the blood/gas exchange from the placenta is suddenly interrupted once the umbilical cord is separated. This interruption leads to a temporary deficiency of oxygen known as hypoxia.
Fortunately, a reflex contraction of the chest muscles jumpstarts these pups breathing, drawing air into the lungs. Soon, the puppies are moving and loudly crying.
Not always though things go as planned. Some newborn puppies may struggle to breathe or they may breathe normally at first but develop breathing problems later on.
Signs suggestive of trouble breathing in newborn puppies include the puppys chest and belly expanding more than normal, open mouth breathing or breathing with the neck and head stretched out. Other signs of trouble are noisy, rattling, or raspy breathing, gasping for air and an abnormal breathing rate compared to the other puppies. If your the puppy is not responsive, getting cold and the gums have assumed a pale or blue tint, these are signs of an emergency.
How do I help my struggling newborn puppy?
Part 2 of 2: Caring For a Weak or Neglected Puppy
How to Give a Newborn Puppy CPR
As seen, whether you can save a newborn puppy that isnt breathing will depend on a variety of factors, but its always worth trying though. It is not unheard of a few apparently stillborn puppies to respond to the efforts of resuscitation. The below method of resuscitation along with shaking a puppy as described above has revived several listless puppies who werent breathing.
Now a word of caution is needed here: never blow air into the mouth of a puppy who is gurgling and never blow air into a puppys nose and mouth before it has been shaken and had fluids removed! These actions will only force the amniotic fluid into the lungs causing potential asphyxiation! The puppy basically drowns in its own fluids.
Administer CPR only after you have using the bulb syringe and shaking-down method several times so that you have cleared the airways as much as possible as these airways must be clear before you can perform CPR. Heres a brief guide on how to do CPR in a newborn puppy.
Wrap your hand around your pups chest with the fingertips in contact with the ribcage right below the elbow. Pump your fingers in rapid 2 to 3 pumps for the purpose of stimulating the heart and expel any oxygen in the pups lungs. These “finger compressions” are basically the equivalent of the chest compressions used in human CPR.
Next, immediately put the puppy’s nose and mouth into your mouth so that no air will escape. Gently blow 2-3 very small breaths into the puppy’s mouth and nose. Use caution: if you exhale your full breath, you can burst the puppy’s lungs, as it is still very small and developing. Do not blow air that you have purposely exhaled, simply use your cheeks to gently push air into the lungs. Give 4 breathes, then do a rep of finger compressions, until the puppy starts breathing again. Keep repeating this sequence several times, for as long as 20-30 minutes.
Check every five minutes that the puppy’s heart is beating. Keep trying, giving breaths and checking the heartbeat for 20 minutes. In newborn puppies, the pulse can be found just under the puppy’s front leg armpits. Gums that start getting pink rather than white or blue is promising. When the puppy begins to breathe again, simulate the mother’s tongue by rubbing the puppy briskly with a towel or cloth and patting the back.
How do you know if a newborn puppy can’t breathe?
- Nasal discharge.
- Tiring easily.
- Labored breathing.
- Increased heart rate.
- Blue-tinged mucous membranes.