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Bilbo Baggins

Swimmer Pups

55 posts in this topic

Two pups born first litter for the Mum Cleo.

Boy 197 Fergus. Girl 196 Molly.

Both pups feed well form the start and no supply problems. Excellent Mum who stayed with them all the time.

Day 8 Dew claws done by the Vet who made the comment to my OH that he was concerned about Fergus's legs not moving very well and he was to be brought back the following week for a check.

Fergus 371 gr Molly 331gr

Day 11 Fergus 434 gr. Molly 394gr.

Second litter born. During the whelping rest periods I looked closely at Fergus and noticed that he had a flat chest and his front legs stuck out to the side and his back legs straight out.

I recalled reading in Karen Hedberg's book about swimmer pups. I rang various breeder friends and they agreed it was most likely a swimmer pup and offered a few suggestions.

One friend did not get back to me until late as he had been at a Show. His suggestion was to place egg carton foam under lay under the pups, place rolled up newspaper under that to give them further bumpy surface to move on and hang the pup in a pillowslip on the back of a chair.

Pups placed with Cleo as they were being born.

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Fergus is the tricolour at Mum's back end.

If you enlarge the photos you can see his legs sticking out behind him and he is flat as opposed to his sister who is curled over the new pups and her back legs are tucked under as are the new pups.

Two hours later all pups born and the two litters in together while we cleaned up the whelping box.

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In these three photos you can see that his legs are out behind him and that he is lying flat. Where as Molly even thought she is lying upright her body has a bend to it.

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A closeup.

Kadbury who had been helping with the whelping had in the mean time been doing some research on the Internet and had come up with various sites some through Chinaroad Lowchens.

Most of these sites stated that swimmer pups were hereditary.

I mentioned this to my breeder friend and his comment was not hereditary but enviromental.

Small litter, good supply, rapid weight gain. No need to move as Mum stayed put. No siblings to climb over or under to fight for a boob.

One of the sites said to put the pup on its side to feed and hold it there. We did this for the next 2 hours and it was a struggle to start with but he came to accept the idea.

Also to put him in a sock to keep front legs in. Needless to say he wriggled out of that.

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Day 12.

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During the morning I had kept placing him on his side to feed. A small amount of improvement can be seen in the placement of his legs.

Kadbury had remembered that she had some foam under lay on her double bed so she chopped out a piece from the side she did not use.

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Then we put Fergus in his sling.

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You can see how he is forced to lie on his side by the fall of his weight in the pillowslip.

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2 hours later he is snuggled up to Grandma Wil.

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Marked improvement. He is lying on his side and back feet starting to come forward.

Unfortunately I do not have any more photos of his improvement. I stopped putting him in the sling about 3 days later.

22 days old.

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32 days old.

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42 days old.

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No chest problems.

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Trying to escape the whelping box.

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laneka   

Excellent BB, thank you for post this. I also have learnt a lot by reading what you have done, just incase I need it. :) So pleased that he came through this, he is such a cute little boy.

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SwaY   
Most of these sites stated that swimmer pups were hereditary.

I mentioned this to my breeder friend and his comment was not hereditary but enviromental.

I think paper in a whelping box is part of the trouble that starts swimmer puppies off.

No grip, they just slip and slide everywhere.

Giant breeds most breeders use, carpet or something heavy with plenty of grip.

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Gretel   

Yes I don't like paper in the whelping box. If it's hot and my girl doesn't like vetbed I've used pillowslips with paper inside them.

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asal   

Like so many comments I just read, the only swimmer pups I have bred were on newspaper.

never used it since and not a single pup from the same mums "inherited" the problem in later litters.

one other "swimmer" although the pups were on a blanket he slid down a gap between the sides and the heat pad and when I pulled him out, bingo, flat chest.

it took weeks for his breastbone to regain its former shape.

so watch out for that one too.

Edited by asal

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My litter last year had 3 pups one of which died.

I had them on the foam underlay from day 2.

Ruby is a bedding rearranger and squashed a pup in a previous litter due to it being caught up in a towel.

No problems with last years litter.

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becks   

Did you mean the dew claws were removed at day 3 not day 8 which seems very late?

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Did you mean the dew claws were removed at day 3 not day 8 which seems very late?

The dew claws were removed on day 8 i know it was late but the vet was unable to do them before that, day 3 would have been the weekend.

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hilaryo   

I thought I would also tell of my experience with a swimmer pup. I know I searched everywhere for information when it was needed and you never know, it might help someone.

We also had a swimmer pup "Cindy".

She was born perfectly normal and was the biggest, strongest pup. My bitch only had 4 puppies so there was plenty of milk to go around and she was putting on loads of weight.

The whelping box ground surface was newspaper, blankets with dry bed on top - so nothing wrong there. She was just a bit of a pig, would take her fill and then of under the pig rails to sleep on her tummy. As we had one small dog puppy that was not doing so well, Cindy slipped under the radar and we didn't notice anything was wrong until she started to slow down on the feeding at around day 6 and didn't put on any weight over a 12 hr period. She started only drinking from one breast and then I noticed her breathing was a bit laboured. I just freaked out when we checked her out and her ribs were totally flat with the outside edges sticking out sharply either side. Her legs were also spread out, mainly the front ones.

Here on DOL I got excellent advice. Unfortunately in my circumstances I couldn't use the excellent sling method that Bilbo Baggins used, so we did everything else that is recommended. Changed the bedding to the egg carton foam and also put small soft toys under the blanket so the pups would have to really work to get around the box.

We did physio every couple of hours with gentle but firm pressure on her rib cage. We also would wait until she was asleep and put her onto alternate sides, propping her so she wouldn't roll over onto her stomach easily.

She was just about normal in about 5 days.

Here's a pic of her now at 8.5 months.

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Kirislin   

It's great to hear your stories and see what you did, with the happy pics at the end being the outcome. I wanted to add my story if that is OK, I dont have alot of experience but mine is with a breed not known for swimmers, whippets, and I believe it was caused entirely by me, but I couldn't convince the vet of that.

My whippet Kibah had a litter of 9. 7 survived but Kibah was in a bad way so I had to hand rear them. I had never had anything to do with puppies, a complete novice. I managed to foster 4 puppies off to another newly whelped whippet litter so had 3 to rear myself. After about day 4 I think the vet noticed 2 pups looked like swimmers, it was the first time I'd heard the term. She suggested I put rolled up towels, to form long lumps under the bedding to make them crawl and climb over it, I too had newspaper in the whelping box.

I was doing 2 hourly bottle feeds around the clock and the poor little pups would struggle and cry so I gripped them firmly. I suddenly noticed as they struggled I'd hold tighter and this is how I held them. (Didn't have a newborn on hand so this little toy will suffice)

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I realised I was squashing their chests flat even though I thought I was being gentle, their little bones were so fine and soft.

As soon as I became aware of what I was doing I changed how I held them to like this, IMG_3777.jpg

and it only took 2, maybe 3 days before they were back to normal. I suspect if swimmer pups were held between 2 flat palms,(cant demonstrate cause no one to take the pic) for a few minutes several times a day they would come right as I firmly believe in my pups case it was entirely caused by my handling, I suppose that comes under environmental.

Here's one of my swimmers as an adult, my own girl Feather, as you can see, her legs work just fine now.

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Edited by Kirislin

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Krislin I am sure that what you describe is spot on. New borns have very soft bones and easily movable. Great that you were able to work it out quickly and fix.

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I have never had a true swimmer but I did have a puppy who was several days slower to walk than her litter mates due to here huge weight and I believe she may have ended up a swimmer if I had not intervened when I did.

Litter of three all close to 500gm born. The mum was eating like she was feeding 7 or 8 and still losing weight as the three little piggies were draining the milk as fast as she could make it. They all doubled their birth weight in about 6 days and proceeded to gain about 100gm a day. The boy was quite active but the slightly smaller girl got all the attention as she had colic for 10 days, no doubt due to gorging herself. After a few days of battling with the colic baby I realised that the big girl was hardly moving around and was just feeding all the time. She was so fat she couldn't move and as the weather was really hot she tended to lie flat out on her tummy all the time. It was so hot that I had ice packs rather than heat packs in the whelping box for the puppies to lie on despite the fact they were in an airconditioned house. Without the ice packs they would scream.

Every time I found the big girl asleep I would roll her on her side and when the puppies were feeding I constantly removed her to the far side of the box so that she would have to crawl across the vetbed or towels to get a feed. The other two where well up on their feet by 10 days and fat girl struggled up a couple of days later. After this she was fine but I think she would have had a real problem if I had not made her crawl across the box constantly in order to get to the milk bar.

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I have never had a true swimmer but I did have a puppy who was several days slower to walk than her litter mates due to here huge weight and I believe she may have ended up a swimmer if I had not intervened when I did.

Litter of three all close to 500gm born. The mum was eating like she was feeding 7 or 8 and still losing weight as the three little piggies were draining the milk as fast as she could make it. They all doubled their birth weight in about 6 days and proceeded to gain about 100gm a day. The boy was quite active but the slightly smaller girl got all the attention as she had colic for 10 days, no doubt due to gorging herself. After a few days of battling with the colic baby I realised that the big girl was hardly moving around and was just feeding all the time. She was so fat she couldn't move and as the weather was really hot she tended to lie flat out on her tummy all the time. It was so hot that I had ice packs rather than heat packs in the whelping box for the puppies to lie on despite the fact they were in an airconditioned house. Without the ice packs they would scream.

Every time I found the big girl asleep I would roll her on her side and when the puppies were feeding I constantly removed her to the far side of the box so that she would have to crawl across the vetbed or towels to get a feed. The other two where well up on their feet by 10 days and fat girl struggled up a couple of days later. After this she was fine but I think she would have had a real problem if I had not made her crawl across the box constantly in order to get to the milk bar.

It does sound as though you avoided the swimmer syndrome. Good work. ;)

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tanya   

Hi, I have just gone through this with one of my pups. Although it only affected one of his back legs which was stuck right out the side of him. He was so huge and still is at 9 weeks. But i had exrays done on him to rule out any bone displacements or abnormalities and was also told that i may have to put him down. But after some ringing around of some breeders who were alot more in the know of my breed than our local vets, I changed his bedding and wala. I got some rubber matting which is used as a undermat kind of thing for carpet and it woked a treat. Oh and i also put rolled up newspaper under to make lumps and bumps in order for him to work his muscles more. He is still a rather large puppy but is zooming around just as well as the others.

Glad i didn't listen to initial of having to put him down...

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Most of these sites stated that swimmer pups were hereditary.

I mentioned this to my breeder friend and his comment was not hereditary but enviromental.

I think paper in a whelping box is part of the trouble that starts swimmer puppies off.

No grip, they just slip and slide everywhere.

Giant breeds most breeders use, carpet or something heavy with plenty of grip.

I had a swimmer in a litter just over a year ago - I've been breeding Standard Poodles for 16 years, always used paper for bedding, at least in the 1st week or so, and this was the 1st swimmer I ever had. I gave him physio on his legs & chest every few hours for about a week, and he came right. As a side-effect, with all the attention he got, he turned into a particularly cuddly, loving boy. I nicknamed him "Thorpy" (because he was a swimmer) but he's now living in Tasmania, very much-loved, and named Sirius!

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Sivvy   

Its not the newspaper that does it, its because their bedding is flat and whelping box usually too warm. I had one and it come right after massaging, and moving his legs around clockwise and anticlockwise motion. After I looked up swimmers it stated to make the bedding waving so the pup has to climb up and down keeping it mobile. The say put paper or rags under the bedding.

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Lesley   

A friend of mine had a litter with 2 of the puppies diagnosed as 'swimmers' and this was easily corrected by completely lining their whelping box with egg cartons.

I know it sounds weird, but the egg cartons are not slippery and their mountainous surface made the little swimmers use their legs as God intended them to.

By 7 weeks you would have been flat out picking which ones were the swimmers.

Hope this may help,

Cheers,

Lesley

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