Common causes of puppy mortality diagnosed at the AHL, 2015-2018

Margaret Stalker, Maureen Anderson

As part of the OAHN Companion Animal disease surveillance network, we investigated causes of mortality in puppies submitted to the AHL for postmortem examination from Sept 2015 to Dec 2018 (n = 75). Cases were subcategorized by age (birth to 2 wks, 3-8 wks, 9-16 wks). Clinical signs were often similar regardless of age or etiology, including listlessness, fading or dying pups, or pups found dead. Some exhibited diarrhea and/or vomiting prior to death.

In all age groups, bacterial etiologies were the most frequent infectious diagnosis (Fig. 1), and included bacterial/aspiration pneumonia and/or septicemia (Streptococcus canis, Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, Escherichia coli, Pasteurella canis, Klebsiella spp., Streptococcus lutetiensis, Enterococcus faecalis, and Histophilus haemoglobinophilus were the dominant bacterial isolates), and diarrhea/enteritis (attaching, attaching/effacing, enteropathogenic, and hemorrhagic strains of E. coli, and Campylobacter jejuni).

Viral diseases included canine herpesvirus, canine parvovirus (including parvoviral enteritis and parvoviral myocarditis), and canine coronavirus.

Protozoal diseases included systemic neosporosis and coccidiosis.

Congenital anomalies included cleft palate, small intestinal stenosis, pectus excavatum, ectopic ureters with cystitis/pyelonephritis, atrial septal defect, hepatic biliary aplasia, and nephropathy.

Lesions in the category of trauma included mismothering, and included emaciation/dehydration, diaphragmatic rupture/herniation, and thermal burns.

Miscellaneous conditions included mesenteric volvulus, gastric foreign bodies, and peracutely aspirated food.   AHL

Figure 1. Common causes of puppy mortality diagnosed at the AHL, 2015-2018.

Figure 1. Common causes of puppy mortality diagnosed at the AHL, 2015-2018.

African swine fever alert for companion animal/mixed practitioners:

Please see “African swine fever – resources for veterinarians” on page 22 of this Newsletter.

Entry of ASF into North America would be devastating to our swine industries as a result of border closures and lost trade. Border controls have been tightened (and more sniffer dog teams) to prevent inadvertent entry of foodstuffs in travellers luggage. Feed suppliers are well aware of the threat of importing ASFV in feed ingredients.

ASF virus easily persists and can be transported in cured meats.  Should these slip through security and be shared with pet pigs, ASF could appear in our backyard. Please be alert to unexpected illness in pet pigs!