Sick Puppy Choking on Milk and Trouble Breathing

Our question this week was:

Dear Dr. Debra,

My dog had 9 puppies. One of them at birth was not breathing well and he was blue after some massage but he start breathing. Right now they are almost 3 weeks old. All the time after eating he is choking and vomit his milk and it sound like he has problem breathing. He is losing some weight right now he is half size than the other. Will you have any information to give me? Of course I took him to a veterinary clinic and the doc saw nothing abnormal. Regards, Hope you could point me in the right direction.

Ghali Boualem


Hi – thanks for your email. Sorry to hear about your pup. It sounds like a potentially very serious situation. I’d worry that he has aspirated and may have aspiration pneumonia which is fairly common in puppies. If he is having trouble breathing, is choking, loosing weight – I’d recommend having him examined and evaluated for pneumonia. He could have an X-ray to determine how serious it is. He also may need to be tube fed to deliver the nutrition he needs until he is stronger. They can also have problems from low blood sugar, low body temperature and dehydration.

I’d also worry about there being an underlying problem that may be causing him to aspirate.

An article that might be helpful to you is Aspiration Pneumonia. Also, this article on orphaned puppies may be helpful as it walks you through nursing care and tubing feeding puppies. I know he is not orphaned but you may need to feed and care for him separately to make sure he gets what he needs.

Another very good article that may help is one called Fading Puppy Syndrome that talks about causes for newborn puppies to do poorly.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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