Articles Breeding Your Dog How to Care for Sick Puppies

What is a Fading Puppy?

fading puppy

Summary: It is estimated that between 20% and 40% of all puppies born alive do not survive. Most of these will die before they are even weaned. We describe this heart breaking and frustrating illness as a fading puppy.

What is a Fading Puppy?

It is estimated that between 20% and 40% of all puppies born alive do not survive. Most of these will die before they are even weaned. This most disturbing sickness is called ‘fading puppy’. Some information is known about it and yet there are still many questions surrounding it.

A typical case would be that a beautiful and healthy litter is born. All went well with the whelping process. And all is well shortly afterward. The puppies continue to vigorously nurse and appear to be doing just fine. Then, after a day or two some of the puppies become weak and progressively become weaker.

Fading puppies seem to lack the strength to nurse. They may become restless and cry incessantly. The mom of the litter may push them aside. Later their breathing becomes labored and nothing you can do seems to help. It is hard work to even keep them hydrated. When a puppy becomes dehydrated their swallow reflex is not as strong. When puppies cannot swallow liquid properly, the fluid goes into their lungs and pneumonia usually develops.

Causes of a Fading Puppy

Some say it is a bacteria problem, others say a parasite problem, and yet others say it is due to low body temperature or bad mothering. Other specialists just use the term fading puppy for puppies that die when no obvious cause of death is present. It is said that there will be no obvious cause of death in 40% of puppies that die and are termed fading.

If dehydration could be a problem, please read our article entitled Dehydrated Puppies: My Puppies Aren’t Getting Enough Milk. In the article we discuss using Esbilac Powder Milk Replacer for Puppies along with the PetAg Nursing Kit to help re-hydrate your fading puppy. Although dehydration could be only one of many potential issues with a fading puppy.

It is heart breaking for the owners of the litter and baffling to healthcare providers of dogs. Another hard to understand thing is that not all the puppies in the litter are affected and subsequent litters may or may not have fading Puppies.

If you have further comments or questions about a ‘Fading Puppy’, feel free to visit our Forums or make a comment on this article below. We encourage participation and feedback.


  • My experience over the years with the occasional falure to thrive has shown me that the problem may be in the mother’s milk if the entire litter is affected OR infection in a single puppy. Giving the mother a broad spectrum antibotic for a week as well as feeding her puppy forumla can save the litter. Perhaps one cause is bacteria in the mother’s milk or an odd off chemistry of her milk that is helped by adding the formula to her diet once aday. Supplemental feedings of puppies and even two drops of amoxicillin a day for the puppy for a week and a source of heat such a heating pad set on low.


  • Here is a recipr for a beef liver broth that I have heard does wonders for fading puppies. I have used the recipe once, but it was on a 6 week old puppy, so, not technically what this article is about. but, the “remedy” worked so great! The puppy we almost lost is now 12 weeks old and thriving! I have heard other Breeders use this remedy on fading puppies and I have heard that it works.

    Beef Liver Remedy For Fading Puppies

    Large piece of Beef Liver – boil slowly in a small amount of water (5 minutes or
    until the blood comes out).

    Let cool-drain the liquid ONLY; 4 drops into a dropper and feed the weak puppy.

    First dosage every 2 hours for 12 hours, then every 4 hours. Continue for however long needed until the puppy is thriving on its own.

    Don’t feed or use the liver itself, it is far too rich; use only the liquid


  • We have been lucking that we never lost a puppy. Most of it comes in part for having healthy and fit mothers who are fed the appropriate food and we also watch the puppies like hawks until they are 2 weeks old.
    We did have once a puppy who was fading as soon as she was born, she was not eating and loosing weight, and was very dehydrated. Our vet told us she would not make it. We did boil the liver, but instead of water, we used Pedialite, and we mixed the resulting broth with orphan puppy food replacement (powder). we fed her the mixture every 4 hours with a tear dropper, and Pedialite alone every 2 hours for 3 days straight. After 3 days, she was able to claim her nipple in the litter (9 puppies) and within 2 weeks she went from being the runt to being the largest one of the bunch.
    Liver broth save her life.

  • We always weigh puppies twice daily along with checking for signs of dehydration. We always use a heating pad but not to the extent that it dehydrates the puppy even more. If gains are not made within 24 hours we tube feed a puppy that appears to be starting the “fading process”. We also do subcutaneous fluids to aid in re- hydration if needed. It is easier to save a fading puppy if caught very early than trying to save a fading puppy after dehydration has already occurred. For more information on Yorkie puppy fading solutions.

    • I got Puppy milk and there tell you ….

      What i did …I went to the Vet .
      And there got some shots with Sailine…

  • Well all i can say….Lucky 7

    It was my first litter .And it was a lot of work still is ….
    3.45 Am Labor starts .
    First puppy was Born at 2.44 pm
    The 6 puppy was Born at 6.27…
    What a day Mom and i was so sleepy…..We did it ya.
    Well next Morning at 8…Am Mommy need to go Putty…
    Then back to bed….And then at 9.00 Am oh o what is that ?
    1 More puppy is looking out ….OMG
    So i help Mommy and we got the puppy out oh o ,NO sack ?
    Puppy was all green and no Sack omg ….
    I took the puppy and Blanket and rup rup rup …
    30 Sec later …The puppy make some noise …..We did it …?
    Hmmm well i put her on to Mommy and she got to town ….
    After this we went to see the Doc and he say,s all puppys are fine .
    Good job Mom and grandma 🙂
    This was 4 weeks ago …All 7 Puppys are well .
    All i can say is ….
    Make sure u be there 24/7 try your best …You never know what happens. I know i was sleepy the first Two week ,But trust me …
    I got 7 happy Puppys and there are Awsome …..

    Love them …..BUT NEVER AGAN …..

    Have fun

    A happy Grandma ….