04/27/13

Companion Animal Taskforce in NSW – Feedback

Screenshot from Companion Animal TaskforceI actually think we have pretty good legislation in regard to companion animal welfare.  NSW is no exception – they have the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that is simple, but effective. You can’t be cruel to animals, you have to give them food, water and shelter, you have to give them vet treatment if they need it, you can’t just abandon them, you can’t fight them, you can’t sell dying animals.

Then there’s the Companion Animal Act. It requires that pets are idenitified with a microchip and collar and tag, registered, and keep those details up to date. Your dog can’t escape. You can’t have your dog offlead (except for off lead areas), and you can’t have your dogs near food areas or kid areas. Some breeds have to be muzzled (boo). Your dog can’t attack people or animals. You have to pick up your dog’s poo in public. And then what happens if you’re bad and you let this stuff happen.

All pretty simple stuff, but all stuff that makes total sense and is very easily enforceable.

But recently, across Australia, there has been justifiable concerns about the number of animals that are killed in pounds.  In SA, we are still waiting for the report from the Select Committee on Companion Animal Welfare (Dogs and Cats).  In NSW, they created the NSW Companion Animals Task force (brief summary of the process and players) and they had recently released a report to the Minister for Local Government and and the Minister for Primary Industries. (Oh, sorry, they went off course and made two reports, in fact, another on dangerous dog legislation.)

Basically, this is a big breeder crackdown. Somehow, the Taskforce is under the impression that breeder regulation will improve shelter euthanasia rates. However, the regulation allows backyard breeders to keep breeding with no penalty. They want their breeder’s code (which I has previously criticised) to be enforced from standards through to guidelines. They want anyone breeding to have Certificate II in Animal Studies.

The also say that a pet owner license system would “be onerous for cat and dog owners”, but it seems like this is a logical group to target when considering the shelter impound and euthanasia problem. Generally, owners surrender pets to shelters – not breeders.

Indeed, the Taskforce puts blame on breeders for the killing that pounds do.  The report is dismissive of no kill and no kill legislation, but this is the only way to stop shelters from killing our pets. The Taskforce fails to acknowledge any obligation on pound facilities to ensure animals in their care aren’t euthanised.

There’s some good bits. They want breeders to be linked to animals they breed through their microchip – something I suggested way back in 2010.  Rescued and desexed animals would also have cheaper registration fees – an excellent incentive to spur people to adopt.  The Taskforce wants to make it easier for people to rent with pets. A few good bits in an otherwise disappointing report.

Unfortunately, you can’t do much about it but fill in a form on their website. But you may as well, it doesn’t take very long: Fill in their feedback form. NOTE: You must fill this form in quickly after you load the page, otherwise your session will ‘expire’ and you will lose all your selections. Unfun!

At the end of the form, there’s a section where you can submit less than 2000 characters. I chose to focus on the most prominent issues in this field, as obviously space was limited!

This report neglects to note that animal shelters are where animal euthanasia actually takes place. Considering this, implementing legislation that obligates shelters to undertake best practice may be beneficial in reducing euthanasia rates.  This could include mandated strategies to increase reclaims, “Oreo’s Law”, or mandating minimum times for animals to be available for adoption.

When animals are reclaimed, this means they are not at risk of being euthanised. Shelters should be required to post impounded animal photos online, and there be a required process in using microchip information. Furthermore, they should be open at convenient times (for example, 8am-8pm) so working people can reclaim their pets.

“Oreo’s Law” would prevent shelters euthanizing animals where they have rescue group alternatives. In other words, pounds would only be able to destroy animals when it is really ‘the last option’.

Additionally, companion animal welfare would benefit if facilities were obligated to have animals available for adoption for a minimum period.  This means that ever animal is given a minimal period to be removed from the facility by another party, and so escape euthanasia.

If we were to determine that breeder-licensing scheme was in the best interest of animal welfare, then the code of practice’s standards and guidelines are not.  The code practically obligates animals to be raised in sterile conditions that are not conducive to the psychological interests of animals.  This is particularly true of puppies, which have a critical socialisation window where they are required to interact with a range of new stimuli to be well-adjusted adult dogs.  Ironically, ‘dangerous dogs’ are often dogs with inadequate socialisation experiences, which is what the code of practice practically obligates breeders to abide by.  Any breeder code needs to focus on breeders’ producing pets that are physically and psychologically sound, which is clearly lacking in the current code.

Obviously, there is a lot more that could be set, but space is paramount, and so focussing on the critical issues is most important.

We can only hope that all recommendations, particularly regarding the breeder code, don’t get through. It’s up to us to provide sensible feedback to inform their decisions. Lets hope that logic wins out.

 

Further Reading:

DogzOnline’s call to action

SavingPets has written on the Companion Animals Taskforce:
Same, Same & Not at All Different - on the Taskforce’s willingness for pounds to continue their killing
RSPCA NSW Announces Support for Companion Animals Task Force - on the unsurprising reaction from RSPCA

And what I have written on companion animal welfare legislation in the past:
Clean and Kenneled: The Future of Dog Breeding – on how the breeder code in NSW puts puppies in kennel environments
What is the Answer? (To puppy farms) – on microchipping being linked to breeders
My submission to the Select Committee on Companion Animals

04/25/13

The Week In Tweets – 25th April 2013

Gee, I’ve left this segment for a little too long, and now we have oodles of awesome links to get through. For those unfamiliar with this segment, it’s where I share links that were posted on my twitter. It’s a big post (even in good times) and provides a few hours of good reading with a cuppa.

 

Tweet of the Week

The Tweet of the Week (the ‘must read’ post) was very hard to find this week amongst some really awesome content. There were oodles of really good posts to read, and I’d urge you to look at more than just this one.

BUT! I did choose one, and that was Ruffly Speaking’s “What is a “sound” dog?“. This is a really great explanation to dog anatomy, and will make for good reading. It is simple enough and illustrated to be extra helpful. A must for showies, but others in the dog world will find it of value, too.

 

RSPCA Stuff

Free cat microchipping and desexing program in Victoria run by the RSPCA.

From Saving Pets: “What walking in the Million Paws Walk is really supporting” (a must read), “RSPCA NSW announces support for Companion Animal Task Force recommendations“, and “Not so precious: When an ear infection proves fatal“.

Hunter RSPCA kill rates “too high”.

And in response to RSPCA SA’s raid on Moorook Animal Shelter: A news segment on Channel 7 and, from Mark Aldridge’s blog, “RSPCA, do they protect all animals in need?“.

 

Rescue and Sheltering

This one was close to being the Tweet of the Week. The Dogged Blog is fast becoming one of my favourite blogs! We tweeted their post, “Know the opposition: Why are you blaming the shelters?“.

And this one was up there in Tweet of the Week competition too: “To save animals, you have to like people“.

And this was a really good article too: “Ripples in the Rescue World“, about the damage that rehoming inappropriate dogs does to rescue and adopters.

A plea to the rescue community.

American Strays.

The problem with dandelions (on common breeds who become lost).

Innovative Sheltering.

Council told fewer pets killed at animal shelter.

From SavingPets: “Is Albury pound about to kill your cat?” and “An easy trick for less adoptions“.

Arrest sheds light on ‘dog flipping’ issue.

From YesBiscuit!: “AL Pound Kills Freshly Bathed Cat Upon Arrival” and “The Irresponsible Public Helps Reunite a Family in Memphis“.

Select Committe on Dogs and Cats as Companion Animals Submission by CAWS.

‘Frantic’ search for dogs lost in Hume crash.

16 incredible transformation photos of shelter dogs (really sweet post).

 

Dog-Human Aggression

Dog detective examines fatal dog attacks.

Poll: Dog attacks terrorise family a second time.

Police under investigation over ‘dog’s’ witness statement.

‘I don’t want my dog on death row’ (breed specific legislation).

I Speak Doggie – a video for children on dog safety.

From Canine Aggression Blog: Dogs, Police and Use of Force – Part 1 of 3 and Part 2 of 4.

Why dogs bite and how they warn us.

From the ‘For the Animals’ blog, which posts a lot on violence towards dogs from police: “Campaign Police Will Receive Training After Shooting Up Neighborhood“, “Star shot by police ready for adoption“, and  “Police Shootings of Dogs“.

 

Dog Health

Lean Dog = Longer Living Dog.

Limited Vaccine Protocol.

Are Omega-3 and Fish Oils Essential for Dogs?

Canine Theriogenology for Dog Enthusiasts.

From Terrierman: “Wash Your Dog for Healthy Canine Skin” and “Knuckles as Weight Gauge” (with pictures!).

How a kong toy nearly killed my dog.

Environmental Factors Can Affect the Incidence of Hip Dysplasia.

Impact of environemtnal factors on the incidence of hip dysplasia.

 

Dog Health – Desexing

Why tubal ligations and vasectomies for pets can be like pulling teeth.

Think Twice.

Question, quesiton, question! New insights in the health effects of spaying and neutering.

Intratesticular bupivacaine injections make nuetering less painful in dogs.

Rethinking spay and neuter.

Golden Retriever study suggests neuteirng affects dog health.

 

Dog Training

On a week with less competition, this would’ve ranked up there for the tweet of the week.  An excellent video: “The pitfalls of negative reinforcement“.

Leadership: One size does not fit all.

I’m Mean to Dogs.

Taking Food Away (video).

Food Bowl Training (video).

From Dog Spelled Forward: “Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization for Dogs” and “On leash aggression: no greetings!“.

The ultimate guide: How to stop a puppy from biting and nipping.

Avidog: Inspiring and empowering dog breeders and puppy owners.

Is planet earth round?

From Eileen and Dogs: “Errorless” Learning and Pack Leader.

The Dog Whisperer: FAQ.

To those that defend Cesar Millan.

Understanding Thresholds: It’s more than under- or over-.

Learn to Earn Scavenger Hunt: Super Fun Dog Class Game for Training Dogs Self Control.

Puppy training – Help your pet do their best.

Ready for Baby Mini-Series: Routines and Spaces.

Fear of loud noises: A common problem in domestic dogs?

From Reactive Champion: “Thank-you for not shaming me” and “Why punishing anxiety doesn’t work“.

Clicker Expo – Kay Laurence Connect Walking.

Grow the Value.

Glenn Miller Routine – Hooke on Swing (video).

Eight things to do with a set of cones (and your dog!).

Talking Clicker Training.

 

Dog Beahviour

Evaluating Your Dog’s Stress Level.

Zoom Room Guide to Dog Body Language (video).

What does my dog’s bark mean? A dog bark translation guide.

 

Dog Science

Agriculture and parting from wolves shaped dog evolution, study finds.

Dogs understand intimacy.

What the Dog Knows.

Ancient skull holds clues to dog domestication.

The truth about cats and dogs.

How do kenneled dogs react to familiar and unfamiliar dogs?

From mastiff to miniature poodle, dogs know each other by sight.

 

Dog Breeds and Breeding Pedigree Dogs

Points win prizes – but wreck dogs.

From Terrierman: “The Kennel Club Freak Show“, “A pictorial history of terriers; their politics and their place” and “Genesee Valley Beaver Dog“.

From Pedigree Dogs Exposed: Bravo Mr Foote and Bullmastiffs – as “gud” as it gets?.

From Retrieverman: “Historians believe they have found the earliest modern purebred dog on record” and “Jock of the Bushveldt“.

Torture Breeding.

Styrian Coarse-Haired Hound.

I Have a Headache.

ASPCA criteria for responsible breeding.

I love dog breeders.

Our dogs are beloved companions 98% of the time.

Health Tested Puppies from Conscientious Breeders.

What is a breeder?

Affenpinschers.

 

Other Dog Stuff

A Dog Named Migaloo.

‘Genius’ Misses the Mark.

Pet Pointers: How to include your dog in your wedding.

Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership

My Dog: The Paradox got turned into a book.

SlimDoggy Resource Links.

 

Other Animal Stuff

This could’ve easily been a tweet of the week, too!: Underground Supermodels.

Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living?

Beloved “Bozo” the black bear shot dead, town mourns.

Why do cats purr?

Isolated tribe man meets mdoern tribe man for first time – I find the human behaviour interesting, and I liked watching the dogs, too.

Social interactions get female cockroaches in the mood.

World’s rarest whale seen for the first time.

Mice mothers inspire mice fathers to take care of their children.

Two kitties looking for a new home, currently located in SA: Laura and Mercy.

Nurturing nests lift theste birds to a higher perch.

Those inbred lab mice.

Zombie ants have fungus on the brain, new research reveals.

Cosmo Talks: Animals are capable of emtoional suffering by Betty Jean Craig.

 

Instagram

Adelaide Animal Expo.

Winnie and Myrtle… Myrtle demonstrating comfort, Winnie demonstrating normal.

Our new puppy, Breaker!: Sniffing the plants, Police horse catches Breaker, Breaker’s face, Breaker at 8.5 weeks.

Winnie’s litter: There’s always one, Cute face on side of puppy pile, Cute face on top of puppy pile, Winnie and puppiesSleeping upright puppy.

Myrtle and Digger. Digger sleeping, Myrtle chewing stuff up.

 

04/22/13

Clean and Kennelled: The Future of Dog Breeding

Many animal welfare groups call for legislation that defines what ‘best practice’ is for breeders.  They state that their goals are to eradicate any suffering of animals used for breeding. While I, too, am concerned about the wellbeing of animals, this concern extends to all dogs, and not only those used for breeding practices.  Because of this, I advocate for animal welfare legislation to be upheld nation-wide.  While I certainly want to discourage individuals motivated solely by profit and romantic ideals from breeding dogs, I do not want to see committed, knowledgable and ethical breeders removed from their hobby.

However, this is exactly what dog breeding legislation seems to be doing in Australia.

Puppies, on grass, with two adult dogs: Sin! According to Australian breeders legislation.

Puppies, on grass, with two adult dogs: Sin! According to Australian breeders legislation.

Nationally, here are two significant pieces of legislation regarding dog breeding, though both are only applicable to certain areas.  There is the Gold Coast’s “Breeder Code of Practice” which targets anyone with entire dogs, and, in NSW, there is the “Breeding Dogs and Cats – Code of Practice“, which targets anyone breeding animals.  These codes seem to have been developed in consultation with one another, because they are very similar in a lot of ways. Significantly, both codes have ‘standards’, which are enforceable, and ‘guidelines’, which are just recommendations on breeding animal husbandry.

 

Commercial Breeding Establishments Only

Both the Gold Coast and NSW document is written in a way that obligates people to keep their animals in kennels and concrete enclosures. They define breeding establishments as being purpose built (NSW), the floor as being ‘non-porous’ (GC), that needs to be disinfected weekly (NSW & GC), and run off into a sewage system (NSW).

I know what this is trying to do – it’s trying to stop people with a large number of dogs running in muddy and faeces-laden runs. However, this legislation targets anyone who breeds dogs (NSW) and anyone with an entire dog (GC). This means that people who keep and raise dogs and puppies in their home are effectively illegal.

For example, my puppies are raised in the dining room – an excellent place for puppies to socialise to general household ruckus. However, my dining room was not purpose built for puppy rearing, it is not disinfected weekly (though it is cleaned daily when housing puppies), and it doesn’t have a drain, let alone a drain to a sewage system. This means I wouldn’t, legally, be able to raise puppies in a home environment while in NSW or the Gold Coast. To follow legislation, my puppies would have to be raised in a purpose built enclosure outside or in a shed, something I think is hugely undesirable and indeed detrimental to the psychological development of puppies (it would produce what Ian Dunbar calls ‘Lemon Puppies‘).

Effectively, both these pieces of legislation have made-illegal the practice of raising puppies in a home environment. The alternative is raising puppies in a kennel environment, and that just doesn’t make sense considering what we know on the importance of puppy socialisation. However, considering the NSW legislation also says that puppies “must not be separated from their mother until 7 weeks”, it seems that the legislation has zero interest in producing amicable, sociable, independent, and well-rounded puppies.

 

Dogs Can No Longer Be Crated

Both schemes specify minimum sizes for animal enclosures.  The Gold Coast calls for the dog to be able to move away from its bed to urinate and defecate. This legislation pretty much means that crates cannot be used, as they are smaller than the minimum enclosure sizes specified. Considering the benefits of crate training, why would legislation be introduced to delegalise it?

The minimum enclosure sizes increase for the number of puppies, which makes sense, except it doesn’t define an age. This means they require a bitch with puppies to be housed in a minimum area of 3.5 metre square area (NSW). I often lock a bitch in a 1 metre square area with their puppies during the first week or two, because otherwise I find bitches neglectful of their puppies. It, of course, depends on the individual bitch, but with legislation such as this in force, I can’t make decisions based on these individuals. I am serious when I say that not locking Clover in with her puppies would almost undoubtly have resulted in puppy death – but this would be contravening the legislation in NSW that requires bitches to be able to escape their young. How is that in the best interest of animal welfare?

 

Co-Habitation of Animals is Foggy

Both pieces of legislation are a bit unclear, but seem to suggest that animals should be isolated from one another.  The Gold Coast Scheme asks for enclosures to be “disinfected between animals”, which implies that two animals may not share a run.  The NSW legislation requires bitches in season to be “isolated from other animals”, a truly bizarre request. I wonder if the writers of the legislation realise that bitches require an entire and fertile male dog to get pregnant, so can run with any dog that doesn’t fit that description and avoid pregnancy?

In kennel situations, having a dog companion is important to enriching the day-to-day life of that dog. Furthermore, for young puppies, having dog-dog play is important for developing bite inhibition. And, again, for the hobby breeder at home, running dogs together is a natural part of dog ownership. It doesn’t make sense that people with two or more pet dogs can run them together, but having two or more breeding animals means that this is no longer an option.

 

Elements of Mandatory Desexing

I have already discussed the implications of mandatory desexing schemes, and both these schemes stink of mandatory desexing.  The Gold Coast scheme even says “A permit condition may require the holder of the permit to desex an entire female animal which the holder of the animal has retired from breeding”. Yuck! This comes back to considering the well being of individual animals (is desexing really in their best interest?).

 

Arbitrary Limits for Animal Welfare

Both schemes have, with no real basis, decided that numbers determine bitch welfare. For example, in the Gold Coast, a bitch is clearly compromised if she has more than 4 litters, and if she is older than 6 years old.  In NSW, a bitch can’t be mated on their first cycle, regardless of their age.  Of course, I wouldn’t advocate breeding a bitch at 6 months, but many bitches don’t come in until they’re 18 months or older. What hazard does pregnancy in a bitch’s first cycle cause?  While these strange numerical scales are probably good guides in general, they are by no means indicative of animal welfare.

 

Double Standards

I find it ironic that the Gold Coast scheme says that “Euthanasia of cats and dogs is only acceptable for the relief of incurable illness, chronic pain, and suffering”, yet the RSPCA of QLD euthanises 30% of dogs and puppies that come into their care and 44% of cats and kittens (according to their 2011/2012 annual report).  Why are breeders, whose ‘job’ is to breed animals, held to a higher standard than shelters, who’s job it is to shelter and protect them?  Furthermore, the scheme calls for secure enclosures, yet the RSPCA QLD admits to having 15 dogs escape throughout the course of the year (again in the 2011/2012 annual report). Can you say “what the”?

 

Weird Inclusions

Some parts of the scheme are just plain weird. In the Gold Coast you are allowed to tether animals (known to increase aggression in dogs), but you can’t microchip them before 8 weeks of age…

In NSW, breeders need to record keep everything, have emergency procedures for evacuation documented, and have functioning fire righting equipment. All very excessive for a home, hobby breeder.

 

Puppy on grass! Legislation wants this banned!

Puppy on grass! Legislation wants this banned!

 

So what does this mean?

While animal welfare groups who push for breeder standards have good intentions, so far, no legislation has been produced that does anything other than legitimise the practice of kennelling dogs and raising puppies in kennel environments. While I would not argue that all kennel environments are ‘bad’ for dogs, they certainly fall short of socialisation that can be achieved in a home environment, and so fall short of producing the best puppies that they can.

Breeders have a responsibility to care for the wellbeing of their animals – but disinfectant, concrete floors, and isolated animals isn’t necessarily indicative of animal welfare.  Dog welfare is as much as the psychological aspects of keeping and raising good dogs: Selecting appropriate parents with good temperaments, providing enriching environments, socialisation and toilet training of puppies, and monitoring their dogs for life.

If socialisation was mandated, I would be all for it. If breeders were responsible for their animals for life, that would be awesome.

Making breeders keep their animals in kennels instead of houses is just backwards to everything we know about dog welfare.

 

Further Reading:

Can Breeders Breed Better?

The Sin of Breeding Dogs

The Fallacy of Mandatory Desexing

What is the answer (to puppy farms)?

 

 

04/14/13

How to Save a Swimmer Puppy

THERE IS HOPE FOR SWIMMER PUPPIES. THEY DO NOT NEED TO BE EUTHANISED.

Phew. Okay, I just wanted to get that off my chest. For anyone who is googling for help for their swimmer puppy, the search results can be very dis-inspiring. I wanted to explain that it actually only takes a few days to a week to get a swimmer puppy to a mostly normal pup, and then several more weeks until the puppy is unrecognisable as a past swimmer.

 

What is a swimmer puppy?

A swimmer puppy is a very young puppy, normally 4 weeks of age or younger, who has legs that stick out to the side rather than underneath. Their chest is normally flat, and their back legs sometimes drag behind them. This often means that swimmer puppies struggle to walk, as their legs don’t push them off the ground, merely along it (‘swimming’ along the ground). It is important that a swimmer’s puppies legs are righted as soon as possible.

 

This is the swimmer puppy we had in our 2010 litter. He was born with some signs of being a swimmer. You can see that his legs stick out to the side instead of underneath or in front of him. Unfortunately, his condition was not recognised until a week later - but he still was walking normally by 8 weeks, and is not recognisable as a swimmer today.

This is the swimmer puppy we had in our 2010 litter, pictured at 3 weeks. He was born with some signs of being a swimmer. You can see that his legs stick out to the side instead of underneath or in front of him. Unfortunately, his condition was not recognised until a week later – but he still was walking normally by 8 weeks, and is not recognisable as a swimmer today.

 

What causes swimmer puppies?

Some puppies are undeniably born as ‘swimmers’, with legs that stick out to the side. However, whether this is genetic (caused by genes) or merely congenital (caused by in-utero-carriage) is hard to say. Many people report that puppies sometimes develop symptoms after being held in particular ways, as their bones are soft and pliable. From this logic, it’s not unfathomable that difficult birthing could also result in puppies that may be ‘pressed’ into a swimmer body shape.

However, a lot of swimmers are born as normal puppies and then become swimmers through their environment. One of the most significant causes of swimming is when litters are raised on surfaces with poor traction – particularly surfaces like newspaper.  These puppies can’t gain purchase on the floor, and end up ‘swimming’ instead of moving.  As noted above, some claim that puppies can become swimmers through routine poor handling (e.g. applying pressure to the pup’s chest when holding) and even one-off unfortunate incidents (e.g. a bitch laying on a pup).  Puppies in small litters (especially singleton puppies) are at risk of becoming swimmers from being overweight.

 

How do I fix a swimmer puppy?

They can be fixed!  The sooner you begin to implement some of these fixes, listed below, the faster you will begin to see improvements. (And the longer you leave it, the worse the condition can be.)

  • Make sure the bedding in your whelping box is easy for the puppy to grip on! Vet bed is great for this, but you can also use carpet, rubber matting, synthetic grass, etc.
  • Make the surface of the whelping box undulating. You can achieve this by putting egg carton, lumpy foam, or scrunched up newspaper underneath the bedding in the whelping box. This helps to encourage swimmer puppies to use their hind legs.
  • Place the puppy in sleeping positions that are helpful to recovery. Puppies that sleep on their chest will exacerbate the flatness on their chest, so place sleeping swimmer puppies onto their side at every opportunities. Also ‘tuck’ in the legs of these puppies, so they’re underneath the pup’s body and not out to the side. Obviously you can’t do this all the time, but even doing this occasionally will see improvements.
  • Be conscious of the way you hold the swimmer puppy. Don’t hold the puppy in a way that exacerbates the symptoms – so don’t place pressure on their chest, and don’t encourage the legs to stick out sidewards.
  • You can hobble the puppy. Basically, create ‘paw cuffs’ that pull the legs together using tape, a small child’s sock, or whatever may work. Obviously, make sure that the cuffs don’t cut off circulation. Even though this feels barbaric to do, the puppies I have done this to have not really objected to the process. (Click for photos of the puppy handcuff method.)
  • Let the puppy have sleeps in a sling (like an inside out pillow case hanging on a chair) in between feeds. (Ensure puppy is kept at an appropriate temperature.) Make sure the puppy’s legs are in the appropriate position before you leave them hanging – you don’t want to exacerbate their swimmer status! (Click for photos of the puppy sling method.)
  • Apply puppy-physio. Put puppy on your lap on their back, and gently massage their legs and ribs, and move legs in all directions – gently!
  • Encourage the swimmer puppy to move around, even by simply making them ‘walk to the milkbar’.
  • For obese swimmer puppies, restrict feeding times and especially get them to ‘walk to the milkbar’ (work off their meals!)
  • Some anecdotal evidence suggests that an overheated whelping box could aggravate the condition. Depending on your particular context, it may want to reconsider any external heating in the whelping box.

 

The same puppy at 9 months. This puppy had pretty much all the methods outlined applied from 4 weeks old, and was walking normally by 8 weeks.

The same puppy at 9 months. This puppy had pretty much all the methods outlined applied from 4 weeks old, and was walking normally by 8 weeks.

How do I prevent swimmer puppies?

Recognise the symptoms and act immediately! All the advice suggested above won’t hurt a puppy that is ‘normal’. Indeed, it’s just good sense to have a whelping box with good traction and try to manage the weight of young puppies. Starting early in swimmer rehab will see earlier results, and get the puppy normal sooner rather than later.

As there may be a genetic basis to swimmer puppies, seriously consider running on swimmer puppies for breeding purposes. This is particular true if you are consistently getting swimmer puppies in your litters, despite implementing high-traction surfaces and otherwise ‘doing everything right’ in terms of managing your whelping box environment.

 

Please share your successes with swimmer puppies. I would love to hear from you.

 

For more information, see the post Photographic Guide to Saving Swimmer Puppies.

 

This post is created with thanks to the Swimmer Pups thread on Dogz Online, and all the breeders who have contributed.