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Swimmer’s syndrome – little researched puppy disease

Have you heard of swimmer’s syndrome?

Probably rather not, since this disease occurs in the youngest puppy age. So before you took your dog in. Swimmer’s syndrome – also called flat puppy syndrome – is a developmental disorder in puppies that is still very little researched. It occurs between the 10-16 day of life. For a few puppies also later with 4-5 weeks. So quite a long time before they move into their human family.

How does swimmer’s syndrome manifest itself?

Affected puppies do not get on their feet. You lie on your stomach and spread your legs. This means standing is not possible and so they row with their little legs. This is similar to the movements of a swimmer. This is how the disease got its name. All four runs may be affected. However, also only front or rear legs. The puppies are usually as lively as a whip despite the restriction of movement.

Will permanent damage remain?

The earlier exercise therapy is started, the more likely it is that late effects can be prevented. These include, for example, deformations. Because there is a risk that the chest deforms due to permanent lying. With proper treatment, 99% of affected puppies develop normally. Physiotherapy is very important for support. The administration of a vitamin B complex may also make sense. Swimmer’s syndrome can be diagnosed by a clinical examination.

Alternative diagnosis – which diseases should be excluded?

There are some diseases that should be excluded. These include congenital deformities or diseases of the nervous system and infectious diseases.

Which dogs are often affected?

In principle, all breeds can be affected. However, it is often smaller breeds of dogs that suffer from swimmer’s syndrome. By the way, cat puppies can also be affected.

What can physiotherapy achieve?

The aim of physiotherapy is to prevent deformations of the skeleton. Muscle contractures and degradation should also be avoided by appropriate exercise therapies. The puppy is supported in learning to walk. The dog owner should definitely be intensively involved in the therapy. Measures such as passive movement several times a day and movement initiation significantly support recovery.

Important recommendations for growers

It is recommended to equip the whelping box with non-slip surface. Affected puppies should be re-bedded frequently to avoid deformities. In addition, they should lie softly and optimally on the side. Also important: overweight puppies need to reduce weight.


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