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Water Puppies

by Mark Burke, D.V.M.

This condition is primarily in flat-face breeds, such as, Boston Terriers, English Bulls, French  Bulls, and Pugs.  At birth, the pups are larger than normal, because of fluid under the skin.  This can be in varying degrees from barely detectable or a pup may be twice the size of a normal mate.
 Water pups are born alive because their oxygen and nutrition is being delivered from the dam, through the umbilical cord.  After birth, the pup's lungs should start functioning, however, when they are full of fluid, they often suffocate soon after birth.  I have seen one pup in a litter, and have heard of an entire litter being involved.  The mild to medium effected pups that survive the first 2 - 3 days, seem to become normal.
 Treatment needs to be immediate and intense for a water pup.  First, elevate the head and extend the neck for a more clear air way.  Take one or two fingers and rub the genitalia to encourage urination.  Administer furosemide(Lasix) .1 to .2 ml intramuscularly, to increase urination, this can be repeated every 30 to 45 minutes for three injections.  Caution:  more than three could cause dehydration.  Keep the pups warm and stimulate urination as described above every 2 - 3 minutes.  Do no give up: mildly effected pups can take 30 to 90 minutes to breath normally.  Moderately effected pups take 90 minutes to 4 hours to breath more normal.  Severely effected pups are difficult to save, they usually drown before 30 minutes have passed.
 Prevention is always the best treatment.  We ultrasound females at 30 to 35 days, and if they are pregnant, we put them on low salt dog food.  We recommend Science Diet H/D, or Nutro in green bag, as there is no added salt.  Folic Acid added to the female's diet will help prevent anemia.  This can be found in a pharmacy or health food store, along with liver extract capsules.


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