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Swimmer Puppy Syndrome: My Experience Part 1

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Written by   8
10 months ago

Last 10th of May 2021, we welcomed another “newcomer” into our home. A male puppy, we named him Whoopi. After three weeks of life, we discovered that there was something amiss. His gait was not like other ordinary puppies at his age that they should have already learned how to stand on their own four legs, even though it might be an unstable gait at first. We noticed that he has difficulty pulling himself up in a standing position, and he is trying his efforts to crawl or forward movement by dragging his lower body along. He cried aloud whenever he is trying to pass urine, and his lower abdomen often soiled with his urine. 

I have tried searching for more information wanting to know what has gone wrong with him. I found out that his symptoms fitted with a condition called Swimmer Syndrome. 

 

Introduction

A case report done by Sun-A Kim et al, 2013 on Home-care treatment of swimmer syndrome in a miniature schnauzer dog claimed that Swimmer syndrome is an uncommon developmental deformity of newborns pups. They also reported that Swimmer syndrome is also known as Swimming-puppy syndrome, flat-puppy syndrome, Swimmer puppy syndrome, twisted legs, or Turtle pups. 

Causes

Together with another author from Thedogplace.org and animalso.com, the authors all stated that the cause of Swimmer puppy syndrome is idiopathic. However, it stated that the factor listed below may be the contributing cause:

i.        Hereditary – a genetic disorder.

ii.        Congenital – deformity happens due to in-vitro viral or fungal infections.

iii.        Environmental factors causing the pups to become lazy and immobilized, therefore it leads to undeveloped muscle properties.

 

Clinical features

- Flattened thorax/chest.

- The flattened chest, causes the heart and other organs to be pushed upward into the pleural cavity, making breathing difficult. 

- Pups become lazy and lethargic due to a lack of energy.

- Both hind legs splay outwardly from the body.

- Weak hind limb muscles make standing is impossible.

- When moving forward, the pups paddle their hind legs like the turtle.

 

Suggested treatment

Generally, Swimmer syndrome is considered untreatable, and therefore dogs or cats that have been diagnosed with Swimmer syndrome will be advised or opted for euthanasia. However, together with the advice from the veterinarian. Nowadays, the management of Swimmer puppy syndrome has been improved, many creative, innovative techniques and home remedies were introduced to ensure all the loving owners that there is still hope for their little fur friend. Among options of interventions are:

 

(Image from Unsplash)

Environment factor:

- Make sure the bedding is comfortable, fluffy, and soft to avoid chest compression over the hard flattened surface.

- Sock method to keep the chest elevated.

- Use of non-slippery mat to help the pup to gain traction in his effort to stand.

- Regular cleaning to keep the pup clean from urine and feces.

 

Diet

- Ensure the pup is being regularly fed, however excessive nursing can lead to overweight which will impose more pressure over the weakened legs.

- Get advice from your veterinarian for supplements support.

- Keep the pup in an upright position after feeding to prevent regurgitation.

 

Physiotherapy

- Use of harness to keep chest wall off the ground surface.

- Use of sling to facilitate or to train for standing posture apart from to institute weight-bearing awareness over the legs.

- Taping techniques to keep the legs in a normal functional position to facilitate correct developmental growth.

- Massage therapy stimulates muscle and nerve function, improves hind limb blood circulation, and assists in the digestion process.

- Passive exercise to maintain a normal range of movement over the affected and unaffected limbs.

- Weight-bearing exercise over the hind legs to institute equal weight to be distributed from the hips to the knees and foot.

- Tactile stimulation exercises to improve sensory stimulation using a soft toothbrush or a China calligraphy brush.

After gathered sufficient details about what is Swimmer puppy syndrome. I carried out a physical assessment on Whoopi and applied the plan of treatments as suggested. In addition to the methods of treatment listed above, I have included a technique called nesting technique in which I have found out that it works for him, as he has shown a fast recovery rate.

 

(Image from Unsplash)

To all fellow dog lovers, have you:

- Ever experienced being told about the poor prognosis of your newborn fur friend? 

- It’s must be heart-breaking news to know that you have to make a hard decision if euthanasia is the only choice given.

- It is sad to see how he or she paddles its hind legs to drag his/her motionless lower body forward.

- Maybe you have managed to successfully heal your puppy, and you have your story to share.

 

For me, this is my first experience treating Swimmer puppy syndrome, and I am happy to see Whoopi’s developmental milestone was not affected by his past medical issue.

Do stay tuned, I will share more on my treatment interventions on Whoopi in Swimmer Puppy Syndrome: My Experience Part 2.

 

 

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Written by   8
10 months ago
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Comments

What a cute name! Anyway, what a great way to give this disable pup a way to still enjoy life despite the deformity. I don't know that there is PT for animals my first to hear about it. I'm a PT, but for humans heheh! Those treatment strategies sounds really good, I think an orthosis can help too.

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10 months ago

Hi, Thank you for your respond. Yes, Physical Therapy do play a role in the rehabilitation of animals. It is quite famous in the developed countries. You can search for PT for animal rehabilitation. Stay tuned to part 2.

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10 months ago

Yes of course, not much here in my country . Checking part 2 soon 😉

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10 months ago

Part 2 done, only waiting to upload.

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10 months ago

I hope whoopi will feel better soon and good job on finding ways to help him and making him comfortable. Its the first time i hear about that syndrome

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10 months ago

Stay tuned to part 2. I am too delighted to know that Nesting technique do play a role in this type of disorder. Thank you for dropping by.

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10 months ago

Will wait for it 😍

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10 months ago

Do stay tuned, to be publish next week.

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10 months ago