Harper and Swimmer’s Syndrome.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 | Filed under Handy Tips

Well, this isn’t about horses except that most people who have horses also have dogs.

I have a few… you probably do, too.

The reason I thought this article was pertinent was that I had just written my Saturday PhoBlog when I saw this article about Harper.  What was compelling for me was that I had just inserted into my PhoBlog a photo of a flat laying puppy.  I thought it was cute.  I had no idea that legs splayed like this was a lethal (if not treated) syndrome.

Quickly I edited out the photo and read this article about Harper.

I thought some of you might want to know about it, too.

Pretty Cute, eh? But it took much time and energy to get her to this state.


This is the photo I saw in the news which made me take a second look at my PhoBlog.

Looks cute, but it isn't...

As you can see, it looks kinda cute if you didn’t know that this was a lethal issue.

From what I have read, if one doesn’t start exercising the legs and muscles of these pups, they fail.

The affliction is called, “Swimmer Puppy Syndrome” and no one really knows why.

Lots of time exercising in a warm pool...


I continued to read about it (Paper found here) and found out that several breeders have come across this syndrome with varied results.  Most concur that the exercise of swimming helps these pups survive – but it must be done quickly.

Some vets think it has to do with spine and ribcage malformation.  Others think it has to do with the whelping box or maybe the floor of the room where they are whelped.

Not very scientific.

Also, I wasn’t able to find any long term results for those who had been saved by the swimming exercises… ? I don’t know if that means that swimming is a new therapy and not that many dogs have been documented?  Dunno.

But, I figured this information was good to know for all of us who might run across a Swimmer Pup or have a friend who finds one.

On the job!


This is the story I saw on the news.

You can click this link to read the story.

Harper's Story


Alive and well!



I found this sweet video of Harper swimming and being a puppy.

Click to watch the video!



I looked to see if I could find anything like this in horses.  I didn’t.  I’m guessing if something like this presented itself in a foal, not many would think it was curable.  Dunno.  Has anyone seen this in a foal?

I think all information is good to store in the back of our minds.  One never knows how Harper’s Story might come into play later in our lives…

Happy ending for this pup - She's a girl, not a boy.


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2 comments have been posted...

  1. Laura

    I am aware this was a long time ago. It doesn’t feel like that long ago, you didn’t do this story justice. You are missing huge part of the story. After she got the diagnosed for the puppy she went straight to Louise’s pet connection the owners of that store helped her out and got her in to the university. You can’t just get an appointment.

  2. peg

    I’ve seen it and fixing the flooring of the whelping box seemed to help.. Puppies were made to be born in a den with dirt floor,not a slippery newspaper covered area.
    I don’t think a foal could get in this situation as they don’t lie on the floor for 2 weeks.

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