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Sometimes a litter of puppies might include a “swimmer” and that is a puppy that appears to be unable to stand and try walking like other normal puppies in a litter.  The “swimmer” puppy will have its legs and arms outstretched and be unable to sit and stand like the rest of its litter.   Interesting that the therapy used to help the “swimmer” puppy includes water therapy and swimming. But then again, I think we know that water therapy is good for most conditions.

Most “swimmer” puppies  may be put down once the breeder realises the condition and struggles with the condition but to no avail or the puppy will die on its own. This video and the link below shows hope for this type of puppy.

The background behind the swimmer syndrome is a puppy that seems to be malformed, and unlike its litter mates will remain flat while nursing and have very restricted movement. Normal puppies have lots of movement and will nurse on their sides. The pup with the problem will have a flat chest.

I have heard of, in Barbados recently, a litter of puppies which were all “swimmers” and left behind a disappointed breeder and people who were looking forward to getting a puppy from the litter.  There are various theories as to why a litter has these malformed pups, some say it is genetics, nutrition of the bitch was lacking, the environment in where the puppies were whelped. But I don’t believe that the cause is known for certain.

The earlier the flat chested puppy is discovered, the better the chance the breeder has of trying with it.  Suggestions being to put this pup on a nipple full of milk and when it is sucking, turn it over on its side. It will take patience and supervision but it is important to not allow it to lie flat on its chest with its feet spread out.

Other thoughts which might help could be to massage the “swimmer” puppy’s limbs and body to build muscle tone. If the other puppies have started to try to walk, the “swimmer” could be hobbled.

Here is an excellent article by a Bulldog breeder on how to help a puppy with the swimmer syndrome.

I hope this video and the link above will give new hope to breeders with pups of “swimmer syndrome”.

A pupppy in a very recent litter of a small sized dog was recently saved in Barbados using some of these methods.  It took a lot of time and patience and caring on the breeder’s part and he told me that he plans to keep the puppy which is now walking and running.

The more knowledge a breeder can acquire, the greater the chance of saving puppies and I think it is wonderful that this knowledge can be shared through the internet.



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