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
3060 Woodview Court
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
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