Symposium on fading puppy and kitten syndrome: Introduction
The neonatal period is variously described as the first two to three weeks of life all the way to the first 10 to 12 weeks. Fading puppy and kitten syndrome occurs during the time that a neonate is with its dam and litter, from birth to 6 to 9 weeks of age. In this symposium, I focus on this time frame and, for simplicity, use the term neonates in reference to this entire period. High-quality breeders of show dogs and cats and performance dogs spend thousands of hours and dollars to achieve particular goals in breeding. Each of the neonates produced has great value, both monetary and emotional.
The use of the term syndrome indicates that, while the appearance of the patients affected is similar, the causes are many and varied. Sources of neonatal mortality include the environment, genetics, and infectious agents. Timely and appropriate diagnosis and therapy can dramatically improve survival in fading puppies and kittens. Because the general appearance of ill puppies and kittens varies little, patients must be examined carefully. Specific attention to particular parameters and serial monitoring of these parameters are vital in assessing response to treatment and in making needed adjustments. Ill neonates worsen quickly, so early evaluation, supportive care, treatment, and serial monitoring will greatly improve survival rates.
My goal for this symposium is to provide resources and encouragement for practicing veterinarians to confidently examine, perform appropriate diagnostic testing in, and treat these tiny patients. I dedicate this symposium to the caring breeders and their litters who have taught me so much over the last two decades.--Dr. Joni L. Freshman