Death of a puppy, right after being born or a few days brings heartache to its owner.
Imagine planning the pregnancy of your dog and preparing everything she needs for the delivery.
Imagine those long nights of taking care of these newborns, then suddenly one or more dies? It will just kill you inside – that’s what I can say.
I’ll discuss here a lot of things about newborn puppies and instances wherein they die at a very young age.
Aside from this, you need to act open-minded in discussing the causes of their death. As there are instances where the puppies die right after birth and some die after a week or two.
Furthermore, we’ll also share insights about the specific age when death would commonly happen. Also, we’ll mention the things you need to do as an owner when this happens.
Last but not least, this article will talk about preventing sudden deaths of our fur babies. Aside from preventing it, we can also understand the factors that affect the puppies’ life.
At what age do puppies commonly die?
Before talking about the age when a puppy commonly dies, I’ll inform you that there are also born dead puppies. These are so-called stillborn puppies.
If you want to know more about handling stillborn puppies, you can check this article.
For your information, a stillborn puppy is a puppy that is dead during the time that it was born.
There are several reasons that it may happen.
For some instances, the puppy is stuck in the birth canal for too long. Or it has not developed enough to let it live after being born.
Anyway, going back to the question. What age do puppies commonly die if they have just been born? The answer to this is during its first month.
A newborn puppy’s most critical stage is the first week up to its first month. The highest count of death is expected when they are not taken cared of properly.
The crucial stage is the first week because the puppies immune system is weak and not fully develop. So, the owners and of course their mother must protect them.
In fact, puppies cannot regulate their own temperature yet during their first week. Thus, it’s important that they always feel warm for they can easily feel cold and get sick.
Since they have a weak immune system, it’s also easy for them to catch virus, bacteria or germs from their surroundings. Therefore, it is also important that they are staying in a warm and clean place.
Although the first month is the most critical, it doesn’t mean that we should be less protective to our puppies after the first month.
Remember, their immune system becomes vulnerable for 1-3 days after the immunizations are administered. Thus, you need to have some precautions still after the 1st month.
Causes of puppy death at a young age
There are different reasons that cause puppy death and in this part of the article, we will enumerate those. We’ll also give more details about it for everyone’s reference.
Fading Puppy Syndrome
This is considered the most well-known cause of a puppy’s death shortly after being born. It is also known as early or sudden death in puppies.
Now, fading puppy syndrome happens to as early as the puppy’s first week up to 3 weeks old. Again another reason why the first month is the most critical.
What causes fading puppy syndrome? Here are some of the reasons:
Underdeveloped Immune systems
When immune systems are less developed, it is highly possible that these puppies will easily catch germs and bacteria. This will infect the puppies and cause death.
Birth defect presence
This commonly happens when the mother dog produces a large litter causes all puppies born unhealthy.
Mother dog’s failure to provide enough milk nutrients
Just like humans, mother dogs also produce colostrum which is full of antibodies. These, when taken by the newborn puppies, will give them enough protection from outside germs and bacteria.
If one or two puppies fail to nurse properly it is possible that they will not get enough nutrients.
Breast infection (Dam)
This is also called “mastitis” wherein calcium deficiency is happening. When the mother dog has this, her milk supply is limited.
If she has a large litter at the same time, then she can’t nurse all the puppies properly.
Canine Herpes Virus
This happens when the mother dog is a carrier of this virus and passes it onto her newborn puppy. The virus will attack the puppies underdeveloped immune system, causing it to die, commonly during its 3rd week.
During the article first part, we mentioned that puppies have a low immune system during their 1st to 3rd week.
Additionally, deaths during the puppy’s first month can also happen because of feeling cold or feeling too hot.
During the cold weather, you must make sure that your puppies are kept at a warm place. Or their mother stays with them for added warmth.
Exposing them outside in a severe cold weather is basically putting them at risk for different reasons.
You also need to watch out the puppies during the summer season same with the cold weather. When it is too hot there are breeds that may experience heat stroke. This is too dangerous for some specific breeds (my American bulldog for example!).
Unbelievable as it may seem, accidents still happen even to those young puppies. For larger breed dogs, (just like mine), it’s easy for the mother dog to step on her puppies.
This is not intentionally done (definitely!). But the mother dog being too big might hurt her young one accidentally.
The impact can be worse than expected as the impact of the accident can lead to something as serious as death.
Now that you know this incident, you should ensure that these young ones are staying in a safe area.
There are whelping boxes that are built for larger breed dogs where corners are the safe area for these small ones.
Manufacturer designed this to keep the mother dogs from stepping on or accidentally squishing them.
How To Prevent Your Puppies From Dying
There are a lot of ways to prevent puppy death depending on the possible causes of their death.
As an owner, you are willing to do so much to save them but you will still experience puppy death at some point.
For your reference, here are some simple ways to prevent any instance of puppy death.
We have mentioned that Fading Puppy Syndrome is one of the most common reasons why puppy death happens.
For this specific scenario, the prevention method for an owner is very limited but below are points that can help you.
Prior to breeding, make sure that your mother dog is of the right age
Prior to getting pregnant and during the pregnancy
Schedule a regular veterinary visit
Gaining or losing gives a clear indication if something is wrong.
In addition, to prevent puppy death you need to make sure that your dogs’ whelping box gives them sufficient space. For them to move around and not hurt their young ones.
Aside from that, these whelping boxes should also be made with the right materials so that these puppies are kept warm.
Especially during their 1st few weeks, as these puppies are incapable of regulating their temperatures yet.
What to do when your puppy dies?
Like what we mentioned earlier, you can only do so much in preventing a puppy from dying. Even after so much effort, there will still be times that a puppy will die.
Now the question is, what do you need to do when this happens?
Once you have a dead puppy in the whelping box, make sure to separate them immediately. If you’re uncertain of the main reason, it is important that they are separated from the rest.
This is to keep any virus or bacteria from spreading into other puppies.
Aside from removing the puppy immediately, it is also a good idea to clean the area where the puppy died.
Again to keep any bacteria or virus from spreading to the other puppies.
To know the actual cause of the puppy’s death, it's best to bring the dead puppy to a veterinarian.
The veterinarian will now examine the body and do some necessary tests to determine the cause of death. They will also determine if you need to do anything else after.
I personally suggest to visit the veterinarian after the incident. With the examinations, you will also understand the overall well-being of the mother dog as well as the other puppies.
If you are suspecting that the canine herpes virus is the cause of your puppy’s death, it is indeed important to visit the veterinarian.
Always remember that it can transmit to other puppies.
Once everything is completed, you now have the option of whether to keep the remains and dispose of them accordingly.
Or you would like to take the puppy and give them a burial ceremony (like other owners would do).
Just like what we have mentioned several times in this article. There will be times when a puppy will die and some odd instances when all of them will, right after birth.
What’s important is you know these possible reasons that may and will cause these deaths to make sure that you have your own way of preventing them from happening.
We have highlighted points that we think are important to each dog owner or breeder to remember.
Hopefully, this can help in making sure all your puppies are born healthy.
Once death happens to one or all your puppies, remember that it is important for professionals, such as veterinarians. This is to examine them because this can prevent your other from dying.
Based on examinations, you will also get to know if your mother dog is capable of being breed. And if she is not, then you will know what needs to be done in the future.