Friday, January 27, 2006

Puppies Are Growing But Mid First Week Crisis


The Critical First Days of Life

Just about anything can happen to a puppy in the first few days of life. With no working internal thermostat and sub normal temperature for a dog 0f 98 degrees, it takes them almost ten days to work up to normal temperature for a dog of 102 degrees. Therefore, getting chilled is one of the biggest dangers for newborns. Just crawling in the wrong direction can lead to a fatal drop in body temperature and/or pneumonia.

Getting stepped on or fatally injuried is another danger for newborns. For inexperienced moms or dams of large litters it is not unusual to lose a puppy to accidental injury. The tiny puppies are too small to protest loudly if they are being smothered and even if they do protest someone must be within ear shot to rescue them. In one of our recent litters, Emma woke me in the middle of the night during her first week. She was a smaller puppy but had gained weight steadily and she was strong. Her lungs were well enough developed for her to let our a shriek when she was underneath her mother. I pulled her out at 3AM and her little face was red from screaming. Her tounge was sticking out while she was panting in my hand.

By far the largest number of neonate deaths occur in the first 48 hours and fall steadily over the first two weeks. We consider Keeshond puppies well on their way when they weigh over one pound and have doubled their birth weight. This is why we sleep within hearing of the babies for the first several weeks and they are not left unattended for any period of time.

Nursing a Double Crew

Windy's puppies on the fourth day are quiet and nursing steadily. The only worry we have is two small boys who were born at about 5 and 6 ounces respectively. They cannot gain the usual one ounce per day as that would be more than 20 percent of their body weight. The problem is that their litter mates who were born at 9 and 10 ounces are gaining steadily and are now twice the size of the two little boys who have been named "Short Stop" and "Slider". They get pushed off the nipples easily by the bigger puppies and close supervision in needed to make sure they get their fare share.

The Well Runs Dry

So, on the fourth day, Ryan was tring to get the lttle boys to nurse when he came out to the family room and announced, "Windy, is dry. I can't get any milk from her, and the little boys are losing weight." The boys had gained weight slowly but if Windy's milk was gone that would be a disaster. I tried too and could only get a tiny amount from one back quarter. Off to the veterinarians we went for help, tube feeders whatever could stem the tide.

It Fills Up Again

By the time we reached the veterinarians she had milk and the babies after heart checks, hydration checks, and weight checks were pronounced healthy. Supplemental feeding was not recommended as the more the puppies nurse the more milk is produced. Supplemental feeding of puppies reduces the production of dams milk. We were advised to continue rotational nursing which we had been doing, placing the smallest puppies on first when the milk supply was fresh.
A sigh of relief, and the blush of stupidity for pushing the panic button! But, then hey, how many people have had experience with this many Keeshond puppies!

Back home the puppies are installed in the whelping box and all is well for now.

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