The risk of a puppy umbilical cord infection is increased when it is severed quite close the abdominal wall, leaving little room to cleanly separate and heal properly.
When infected, the umbilical cord will become swollen and red and an abscess may develop from which pus will be drained.
A puppy umbilical cord infection may also be caused by the transmission of bacteria by the mother at the time she severs the cord. This happens if the mother carries some form of dental disease or the immediate environment is contaminated by stools and urines which are powerful bacteria transporters.
In addition, if one puppy in the litter develops an umbilical cord infection, the odds that the other puppies get it is pretty high.
Prevention and treatment
If you notice signs of infection around the umbilical cord area you should immediately consult a veterinarian as an antibiotic treatment will likely be required.
The likelihood of a puppy umbilical cord infection can be successfully prevented by applying iodine, at the time of birth, to the navel stump. If an infection does develop with one puppy, it is best to consult your veterinarian on measures to prevent the spread to the entire litter.
From birth to weaning, how do I keep my puppies healthy?
A puppy umbilical cord infection is one of many potential issues that may develop during or after birth. The first few days of puppy life are a very sensitive and critical time. They condition their survival and their future quality of life. Indeed, 30% of puppies die between birth and weaning and 23% before the fifteenth day of life. The causes are multiple: delivery difficulties, congenital malformations, environment of the puppies and the physiological immaturity of the newborn.
Observation of the puppies and the mother, as well as the knowledge of certain diseases that can affect the puppies, can offer a better understanding of this crucial period and prevent health concerns in the puppies.
Newborn septicemia (presence of bacteria in the blood) may be due to an infection of the mother (infection of the uterus, infection of the udder, infection of the mouth, infection of the skin, infection of the anal glands) or poor hygiene in the place where the puppies and the mother live. The puppy’s skin is permeable to all pathogens during the first week of life. This is why, to prevent infections in newborns, it is necessary to monitor the health of the mother and the hygiene of the living space.
Symptoms vary depending on the bacteria present in the environment, from a simple puppy umbilical cord infection, conjunctivitis or an infection of the skin, to an infection of the abdomen (peritonitis) or even the sudden death of the puppy without visible warning signs. In very severe cases, the conditions of the puppies can quickly deteriorate.
The therapeutic management of the condition must be very rapid. Your veterinarian should prescribe antibiotics adapted to the infection, the age of the puppy and/or local treatments.
Toxic milk syndrome
Toxic milk syndrome occurs between the second and eighth day of life. The puppy’s temperature drops suddenly (35°C), the sucking reflex disappears while the puppy becomes dehydrated. The anus is then purplish and the puppy starts vomiting, has diarrhea and moans.
Several hypotheses have been put forward to explain the syndrome. An incompatibility between the mother’s milk and the puppy’s body, a deficiency in minerals or trace elements or a bacterial toxin secondary to mastitis are the most common drivers. Weaning must be immediate and your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate antibiotics.
Viral and bacterial diseases
An appropriate vaccination of the mother provides immunity to protect the litter, in particular against a very serious disease, parvovirus. In such cases, or in extremely aggressive conditions, infection with the parvovirus virus causes sudden death.
Likewise, vaccination against leptospirosis protects the mother and the puppies against some of the bacteria responsible for the disease. We can therefore meet cases of leptospirosis in puppies of unvaccinated mothers, or during infection with leptospires not contained in the vaccine.
Other germs specific to newborns (herpes, Brucella, mycoplasmas) can be the cause of serious diseases.
Appropriate prevention measures
While some of the following can be seen as a reaction measure it can actually prevent further damage. Therefore, both types of intervention are recommended.
The veterinarian must check the living conditions of the puppies and control the environment. The room temperature must be maintained at 32°C during the first week and then gradually lowered to 22°C. It is also necessary to check the humidity and the ventilation of the environment.
- Isolate the litter and separate the mother from the puppies as soon as the first symptoms appear.
- Keep warm and hydrate the puppies.
- Ensure the mother is healthy.
- In the event of the death of puppies, have your veterinarian perform autopsies and obtain bacteriological samples.
- Antibiotic therapy should be started very early. Oral administration is ineffective during the first five weeks of life.
- Disinfection takes place on clean surfaces. The rigorous cleaning of surfaces and places where puppies live (baskets, mattresses) must precede effective disinfection. It is recommended to wait 5 to 10 minutes between each step.
QnA on puppy umbilical cord