Friday, September 26, 2008

Tube Feeding Puppy Neonates

I now have a whopping TWO tube feedings under my belt, and both have gone very well. I was a bit more coordinated in my second efforts (smoother) than in my first, but in both cases, the feedings went quickly and without incident.

For the first time all week, after being tube-fed Mr Black (our runt) went over two hours without fussing (after both tube feedings). Before, even after alone time on Elsie's full teat, he'd start fussing 10 minutes after nursing.

Now he's sleeping soundly, doing normal puppy grunts, twitching away as he should, dreaming, and seems comfy. Phew. It's about time (it's been a really long week), and it warms my puppy-grandmommy heart to see (I can't tell you how relieved I am knowing he's getting the proper nutrition he needs).

FYI, here's the equipment we used to tube feed our little guy (we may have to do the same for Mr. Red later today, but we won't make that decision until we see how our evening weight checks work out). It includes a #8 Fr (2.7 mm) feeding tube/urethral catheter (for veterinary use only), a monoject plunger of the size suited to this feeding tube size, and Esbilac Milk Replacer for puppies (I used the prepared liquid in a can, slightly warmed in the microwave):

Here are what the tube and plunger look like in their packaging:

I thankfully had these things on hand largely because of the counsel of my breeder friend in AZ (Momma Teese) and because of the information provided by this wonderful, wonderful resource written by Myra Savant-Harris, R.N.:

This book (Puppy Intensive Care: A Breeder's Guide to Care of Newborn Puppies) included a DVD that provided actual footage of Savant-Harris tube feeding one of her pups (step-by-step instruction). That coupled with the detailed instruction she provides in the book (along with Momma Teese's encouragement from AZ and our vet walking me through it on the phone) gave me enough confidence to try.

Savant-Harris also has one other book out, that's taken much of the fear out of whelping and helping newborn pups for me. It's called "Canine Reproduction and Whelping: a Dog Breeder' Guide" and it covers virtually everything you need to know from mating through whelping and aftercare of both dam and newborns. I've been referring to both resources throughout our experience with this litter.

And though I'd read a lot before referencing this resources (I've read or referenced over twenty books and countless articles on the subject), I've learned so much more from these two books, especially about helping a pup in trouble.

You've got to understand, I am not a medical professional in any capacity. I've never even seen a feeding tube or catheter (an experience I was graciously spared with my own labor and deliveries). The thought of pushing this rubber tube down my canine grandbaby's throat completely intimidated and terrified me (I was so sure I was going to hurt the pup).

When it became apparent that we either tube feed Mr. Black or watch him die, the choice was made for us. I had to at least try.

Having done it now (twice), I realize that my fears were overblown, BUT the only reason I could attempt the procedure in the first place was because I had good solid resources, mentoring, and encouragement. I could never have done this on my own.

Our experience with this litter continues to remind me of how much I need people, how I'm not meant to be a rock or an island (as Paul Simon once glorified in song), and how okay it is for me to ask for help.

I guess we really are in this together (whether it's raising Labs or living life). It's the human (and canine) condition. And truth be told, I prefer it this way.

Self-sufficiency is a lonely world in which I never want to live again.

Thanks for being part of my needing-people world!

'Til next time,


Cheryl said...

I'm so glad that the tube feeding seems to be helping. I'm sending prayers and good thoughts to the little guys. Thanks for keeping us posted.

JuliaR said...

Good for you! I would mostly worry about putting the tube down the wrong pipe because I don't know what else could go wrong. I am glad you got over your fear of it and just went with it. And I never knew puppies sang when the slept! Adorable.