Aspirated Pneumonia

Breeders will often use the term Aspiration Pneumonia. Often this is medically described as bacterial Pneumonia, and the root cause is mostly aspirated milk, though it is possible to aspirate mush.

Specific to Aspirated Pneumonia, prevention is the key:

  • Aspiration (when no cleft is present) often is caused from milk flowing faster than the puppy can ingest. The two most powerful teats on the mother dog usually are the two closest to the hind legs. These are great for your strongest feeders but can have risk of too strong of a flow rate for a weaker feeding puppy.
  • If you see milk around the nose of a puppy, the next breath likely brings some of the milk into the lungs. When the material spoils, this is how the bacteria is formed. Nebulizing saline when you first see milk around the nose will help the puppy expectorate the foreign material.  Use a bulb Syringe or Delee Mucus trap to get some  of the milk out then Nebulize 4-6 minutes, wait an hour, allow the saline to loosen up the material.  Repeat these steps every couple hours for 4 times or so. This helps you get much of the milk out of the lungs before it spoils. This can lessen or prevent bacterial pneumonia.

If you are at the point where you suspect bacterial pneumonia, please consult your veterinarian:

  • Nebulize 4-6 minutes, wait an hour, allow the saline to loosen up the material.  Repeat these steps every couple hours for 6 times or so. (can vary based upon the severity of the bacterial pneumonia)
  • Your veterinarian may want to prescribe medicine specific to your puppy’s condition. It is important to note that, while seemingly less possible, viral pneumonia also exists. The puppy must be properly diagnosed to prescribe the right medicine. If the source of the pneumonia is aspirated milk, the Veterinarian would prescribed a medicine that kills off bacteria. This is essential to giving your puppy the best probability of returning to a healthy condition sooner.
  • There are techniques such as coupage, (lightly tapping the ribs and back) that can help free foreign material.

Elevating the head helps with breathing and helping expectorating foreign material. Some breeder use the  “pup in a cup” method—where the pup is upright in a coffee, with bedding, while nebulizing. This allows gravity to help the nebulized saline assist the puppy to expectorate the foreign material, and aid the caregiver to extract the foreign material with a bulb syringe or Delee mucus trap.

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