Photographic Guide to Saving Swimmer Puppies

Saving a swimmer puppy

 

 

I’m proud that, for a number of years, the most popular post on this blog is ‘How to Save a Swimmer Puppy‘. However, I am frequently asked for photographs to illustrate the techniques I mentioned. I have recently had a litter of puppies, so I could stage images showing techniques on young puppies for saving a swimmer puppy.

 

Sling Method

This is by far the most simple method. I use a pillow case, suspended from the back of a chair, and then the puppy is placed inside the pillow case, meaning the puppy is basically in a hammock. When the puppy is placed in the hammock, is important that their legs are tucked underneath them, or the puppy is on their side.

It’s important that the puppy is not allowed to get cold while in this sling, too. You can warm the material of the hammock before placing the puppy inside, and then you can also put a heat pack underneath, on the ground, too (as hot air rises).

You can do this several times a day, ensuring that the puppy stays warm and gets plenty of time to feed in between its time in the sling. Puppies are surprisingly tolerant of this process and rarely object when their stomach is full and their a good temperature.

This is a (zebra-print) pillow case that is suspended on the back of a red chair. Inside, is a baby puppy.  This process will help to fix swimmer puppies.

This is a (zebra-print) pillow case that is suspended on the back of a red chair. Inside, is a baby puppy.
This process will help to fix swimmer puppies.

A puppy (little black blob at the bottom) in a suspended sling. This will help puppies recover from swimmer syndrome.

A puppy (little black blob at the bottom) in a suspended sling. This will help puppies recover from swimmer syndrome.

 

 

Handcuff Method

Using electrical tape, you can create handcuffs that pull the puppies legs inwards, preventing them flailing out to the side as a swimmer. It’s important when using this method that you don’t do it too tight. (To be honest, when I’ve used this method, I’ve had it fall off numerous times a day because of how loose I make it. Fine by me!) You also want to make sure you don’t put too much length between the cuffs – remember the cuffs are supposed to pull the pup’s legs inwards, so if you make the cuffs too long, then the puppy’s legs are still going to be able to swim.

Tools required for the handcuff method: Electrical tape and a pair of scissors!

Tools required for the handcuff method: Electrical tape and a pair of scissors!

Step one: Cut a length of tape. We only need one length of tape, and the exact length will depend on your puppy and how far east west its legs are.

Step one: Cut a length of tape. We only need one length of tape, and the exact length will depend on your puppy and how far east west its legs are.

Step three a: Make one loop of the handcuffs. (This image is for illustration purposes - in reality you'd need the puppy's leg in that loop!)

Step two a: Make one loop of the handcuffs. (This image is for illustration purposes – in reality you’d need the puppy’s leg in that loop!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step three b: Make a second loop of the handcuffs. (Photo for illustration purposes - in reality, there would be a puppy with a leg through each loop!)

Step two b: Make a second loop of the handcuffs. (Photo for illustration purposes – in reality, there would be a puppy with a leg through each loop!)

I’m sorry that I am not much of a photographer, but here are some pictures to try to illustrate how these handcuffs look actually on a puppy.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

A puppy in swimmer handcuffs.

The benefits of the puppy handcuffs is that they can stay on for long periods of time, and the puppy can still feed and cuddle mum and litter mates while wearing them. Sometimes mothers will remove the handcuffs, and sometimes they fall off, so you are likely to have to put on new handcuffs several times a day. Initially, for a severely affected puppy, you may need to start with long handcuffs then reduce the distance between the handcuffs over time. Puppies are surprisingly tolerant of the handcuffs and rarely fuss once they’re on and they’re back at the milkbar!

 

For more tips please do see How To Save a Swimmer Puppy.

20 thoughts on “Photographic Guide to Saving Swimmer Puppies

  1. I just saw someone with a pit bull puppy on their porch who said he was a swimmer. His back legs were tied and he was screaming in pain. I don’t think this is normal but want to confirm. Should I call the police?

    Thank you,

    Erin

    • Swimmer puppies should be dealt with before 8 weeks, and generally will not scream when they’re hobbled. It does not sound like a genuine approach in the situation you’ve described.

    • We got a 8 week pit bull 3 weeks ago. He seemed to be a perfectly healthy puppy. The first week was great and then one morning when we let him out of his kennel he couldn’t Walk. Two days later he has his shots and since then he has gotten worse. He just lays around. He whines a lot but I think he’s bored. He doesn’t seem to be in pain. He legs are straight out. Any suggestions. Vet game him any anti-inflammatory after X-rays he say that be had hyoerthroic osteodysthrophy but the symptoms aren’t the same

  2. Hello, I have a puppy who I believe might be a swimmer puppy, however her legs go directly in front of her and pulled under then to her sides. Her chest is to the ground and her paw pads face up. I can send a picture if needed.

  3. I wasn’t having any idea about swimmer puppies. My Bitch is not swimmer type but I think I have gain much Knowledge that how to treat swimmer puppies. Someday my bitch too has puppies then I will able to use that.

  4. We are about to get a puppy. We went and saw her yesterday and she was walking oddly almost dragging her back legs is she a swimmer pup?

    • It’s hard to say from this brief description. I certainly would not buy a puppy that was not working properly when purchased at 8 weeks.

  5. I have a 3 week 2 day litter of 2 our girl stands up on front legs but is unsteady on back letting them kick out to the sides I noticed afew days ago but as her brother had only just started to stand wasn’t worried now he’s standing solid walking g ect it’s obvious she’s not the same I have today since reading this been sitting with her on lap holding legs in place massaging ect and will have her vet checked Monday but us anything else I could do to help please

  6. I have a litter of french bulldogs, they are now 4 weeks old. I have noticed that the largest of them all struggle to get up on his bag legs to walk. I have found this website very helpful and I now know how to help him recover. I have also read that gentle swimming lessons could help him strengthen his muscles in his back legs. Would you recommend this?

    many thanks

    Julie

    • I just watched an episode of Bondi Vet where one of two puppies were diagnosed as having swimmer puppy disease.
      That was why I had to google to learn more and picked this website!
      Chris the vet showed owner how she can help the puppy with physio exercises to strenghten the back legs, a cute little splint in the puppy clothing but instead of having it cover back it was used under tummy to help align the chest to grow properly and also using swimming lessons by holding puppy under tummy so it can use all four paws doing doggy swim! It helped as puppy was weightless in the pool or tub and was using his back legs properly and gained so much muscle strenght! Well worth checking Bondi Vet website and see if you can watch that specific show!
      It was amazing when he came back 3 weeks later after owner had worked hard with it and you couldn’t tell which puppy had the disease! Amazing and interesting!

  7. Hi I have a 6 week old pug who possibly has swimmers syndrome or spinal bifida. What do you suggest? I’m doing squat stretches and using pool noodles for him to walk along. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thank you

  8. Hi, 3 weeks ago my French bulldog self whelped 5 beautiful pups. 3 passed away 48 hours after the birth and the vet could not give us any answers as to why. 2 days ago one of the pups lost a little weight and then refused to eat. I made an appointment with the vet urgently and within a few hours he deteriorated further of breathlessness. The vet said he had a flat chest, they put him in an incubator but unfortunately he couldn’t tolerate being out of it and he died yesterday!! I’m so heartbroken and incredibly nervous for our last pup!! I took him to the vet, and they said he is also flat chested! I’ve been searching Google for some form of help as our vets don’t seem to no what to do!! They gave me antibiotics,which made him sick! We have a whelping bed, which he can totter around. His back legs do lag behind a little. He will not sleep on his side. I’m going to try the pillow case and hopefully this will help! I’m terrified we r going to lose him too!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>