Evaluating fading puppies and kittens - Veterinary Medicine
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Evaluating fading puppies and kittens
When these feeble neonates arrive in your clinic, quickly and systematically assessas many variables as possible that may be contributing to their dwindling condition.



The most useful diagnostic test is often necropsy of a deceased neonate. Strongly encourage owners to allow submission of the entire pup or kitten for evaluation and further testing by a veterinary pathologist particularly skilled in reproductive and neonatal disease.* Ship the neonate overnight, refrigerated but not frozen. The pathologist should be allowed to pursue bacterial culture and virus isolation as indicated by the gross findings. While expensive, this procedure will often save others in the litter and can provide vital information to prevent recurrence of the problem at the next breeding. When pathologists are alerted that living littermates are awaiting the diagnosis, timely results are usually provided.

Piecemeal submission of organs, tissues, and microbiology samples may cost as much and provide less information. However, if this is the choice of the clinician and owner, take care to prevent contamination during the gross necropsy, and submit any abnormal organs for histopathology and for culture, virus isolation, or polymerase chain reaction testing as indicated by the gross findings. Contact the laboratory for recommendations for sample submission.


Careful history taking and physical examination and diagnostic evaluation of ill neonates can be readily performed. Attention to detail can provide clues to the causes of illness. The initial treatment of fading puppy and kittens, as well therapy for specific causes of the syndrome, is covered in the next article in this symposium.

Joni L. Freshman, DVM, MS, DACVIM
Canine Consultations
3060 Woodview Court
Colorado Springs, CO 80918


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