Wednesday, August 29, 2007

First Vet Visit: Not TOO Traumatic

Well, we trotted off to the vet's office today with Elsie carrying her lead in her mouth (something she's never done before) and the puppies snuggled in the puppy box complete with warming mat and sheepskin bedding.

Elsie has mastitis (an infection in the mammary glands). When I checked her teats yesterday morning, she had a golf-ball-sized, hard lump between two teats that seemed tender to the touch (the rest of her teats are floppy and soft), so that's what I suspected. I was thankful we already had our vet appointment for her checkup so we could get her started on antibiotics right away.

Antibiotics, warm compresses, and regular expression of the milk from the involved teats -- that's all we can do for her. I had mastitis with one of my own babies two decades ago, and believe me, it's not fun (for humans or canines). Elsie is still tolerating the pups' nursing quite well, though. What a trooper!

Other than mastitis, Elsie is doing wonderfully. Even her coat feels soft and healthy (I thought she'd be pretty ragged by now). We are supplementing her regular food with puppy food and puppy formula (great nutritive value perfect for lactating moms). And we're making sure she has constant access to water (she drinks like I've never seen her drink before). So, she's staying hydrated and doing well. Phew.

The pups are all just terrific! (Can you see me beaming?!!!) They're plumping up as they should, umbilical sites are healing nicely (no herniations), and palettes are all in tact, which I checked and knew, but wanted the vet to verify. The vet says they look great and, again, that we're doing all the right things.

So, since everybody was fine and healthy, they snipped their front dew claws (none had dew claws in the rear). The dew claws are like thumbs (not opposable, of course) in that they are a fifth digit, but found on the inside of the lower leg just above the paws.

Now, before you hang me for putting them through that, dew claws can be an issue later in life (especially getting caught or torn in the field), and to remove them later requires major surgery (general anesthesia and such). It's better to remove them now. It's a little "owy" that prevents a bigger "owy" later (how I used to explain vaccinations to my kids when they were little).

Since the pups aren't completely developed neurologically yet, and though dew-claw-removal hurts them (yes, they did yip heartily), it doesn't cause the same kind of pain that it would later on to remove them. And immediately (I mean immediately) after they clipped the dew claws, each pup settled down into happy grunting again. They seemed oblivious.

My human babies had harder times with their immunizations than these pups did having their dews claws removed.

They, of course, removed Elsie from the room (took her back to the vet's kennel) while they worked on the pups -- didn't want to upset her.

So, the pups had a "traumatic" day yesterday. But they're all fine and squiggly as usual. They don't even notice their little bandages on their wrists (which come off tomorrow).

You can see their little white bandages on their front paws in these last two photos. Some vets suture, some use glue (like super glue); ours just prefers a little gauze taped over the wound.

The veterinary staff, of course, ooh's and aww'd over the squirmy, grunting pile. But they were respectful about not touching or trying to pick up the pups yet. They also spent boatloads of time praising Elsie. :o)

She strutted around like the consummate proud mama (as she should!).

It's funny. When we got home, Elsie couldn't wait to get out of the van. She picked up her lead in her mouth and sat at the sliding side door waiting for Don to let her out of the car. When he did, she jumped out of the van and trotted with lead in mouth over to the gate where she promptly turned around and sat down.

She wouldn't go in the gait until I removed the puppy bin from the car, too. :o)

What a mom! She was just waiting for her kids. :o)

'Til next time,


JuliaR said...

I remember one of James Herriot's stories (which were written quite a while ago) in which one of his clients had a cow with mastitis. The vet didn't think much could be done but to make the farmer feel like he was doing something, he gave him some bag balm and told him to rub it in and massage the udder as often as he could. Some short time later, he went back to the farm and the cow's mastitis had completely disappeared and the farmer's hands were as soft as a baby's. Turned out the farmer stayed up all night and massaged the udder every hour. Not that you should do this and it is from my recollection of a story, but it might be something to ask the vet and more holistic than just antibiotics.

Joan said...

Thanks so much for the suggestion, Julia. I do recall that story from Herriot's books, now that you mention it.

We have been massaging the lump, like the farmer did his cow's udder, as Elsie tolerates (certainly not every hour, though). It does seem to be breaking up a bit.

We went with antibiotics because her temperature was starting to go up and because mastitis can often be caused by a bacterial infection (at least that's our understanding). I guess you could say we were playing it safe and opted to be more aggressive for the pup's sake.

But, yes, the holistic approaches can and do work well with dogs, too.

Thanks for you insight!