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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 10854
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My dog has recently had 6 puppies (4 weeks tomorrow) but 2

Customer Question

My dog has recently had 6 puppies (4 weeks tomorrow) but 2 of the puppies are swimmers do you think they will survive with our help?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.

Hello Katie, I'm Dr. Deb.

I recently came online and see that your question about your pups hasn't been answered. I'm so sorry that you've had to wait for a response,but if you still need assistance, I'd like to help if I can.

I'm sorry that you have two swimmer puppies but it is possible that they can survive and thrive with your help. As you may know, the exact cause of this syndrome isn't known although it may be genetic in certain breeds (although Labs are not included on the list).

Some pups can develop the problem is their flooring is too slippery .Additionally, it appears that overweight and heavy-boned puppies are more prone to become swimmers.


Regardless of the cause, the sooner you address this problem, the better since it is possible that they can develop normal function.

1. I would replace whatever flooring you have with eggcarton-type foam which will give better traction.

2. Help the affected puppies stand and walk several times a day.

3. Try not to let them sleep on their chests, but rather their sides.

4. You'll need to hobble their legs with adhesive tape above and below their elbows (for front legs) and knees if back legs are involved to prevent splaying. These will probably have to be changed every day since they'll get dirty. This picture shows what I mean.

View Full Image

5. Swimming can help as well although you'll have to use a harness, sling or your hands to support them.

In most cases, with intense physical therapy and immediate attention to the problem, these pups will be fine.

I hope this helps. Again, my apologies for the delayed reply. Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Do you suggest we take them to a vet for this ?
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 3 years ago.

You could if there's any question about the diagnosis but most owners who have puppies like this will work with them at home.

If you're uncertain about the hobbling technique, there are quite a few articles and videos online which describe the process. Or your vet could demonstrate for you.
Once you do it a few times, it's fairly easy. You just don't want the hobble to be too tight such that circulation is compromised.