Monday, September 22, 2008

Vet Visit #1: A-OK

The neonate gang had a traumatic day. :o( But it was a good and necessary day. :o)

DTS (Dear Twin Sister) came over early this morning to help me load up the gang to haul them to vet's with Momma Elsie. First, we wanted Elsie looked over to make sure she was doing okay. Then we wanted our Dear Dr. Wagner to look over the pups to make sure all was well with them. Then we wanted to make sure to have the pups' dew claws removed (done anytime during Days 3, 4, or 5 to minimize trauma for the pups).

[Side note: Before you hang me on this, I understand there's some debate in the canine world about removing dew claws in certain breeds. But we've seen the trouble Ridge has had with his (his breeder did not remove dew claws, so he still has them), and we've landed at the conviction (after much research) that dew-claw removal for field and working breeds when the pups are very young (3-5 days old) is the most responsible and most humane way to go (not to mention the best thing for the animals long term: if they tear them later on, and they really do, it's major surgery to remove them). I really don't want to debate this here; please just trust that we love our animals, and that we're very careful about what we do and have sound reasoning behind why we do it.]

So anyway, we loaded the gang into the warming box, and draped the box with snuggly fleece to keep the drafts out. Then we loaded the warming box in the van (with heating pad plugged into the car's cigarette lighter using a power converter), and put Elsie right next to the box, then off we went.

Here's the set up once we got to the vet's:

Not to worry: there's no lid on the box, and the heating pad is still plugged in (you can see a little bit of the white cord for heating pad in the left-center of the image). It's just an open-topped rubbermaid bin draped with fleece paw-print fabric.

Elsie was fine about all this, but very attentive:

Dr. Wagner came in, and we talked a bit about Elsie's whelping and such. He examined Elsie, and she really looks great. She does have some thickening of mammary tissue (precursor to mastitis), so we're watching that and doing warm compresses and massaging those sites a couple of times a day. Since her milk came in, I've been checking Elsie's teats twice a day for any sign of mastitis, and I noticed yesterday that she started developing some solid, lumpy areas in two places. Our vet confirmed that when he examined her, but her temperature is normal, so it's not full-blown mastitis yet. Hopefully we'll nip it in the bud.

The pups look just as they should: round, plump, twitchy, with yoda ears and lizard-like squiggles. ;o) BUT we were growing concerned (I should say "I" as opposed to "we") because a couple of the pups have been fluctuating in weight. We had one lose weight the first day, but after making sure he got on a teat when it was full several times, he put on 3 oz. overnight. In the meantime, however, three other pups lost weight. We're watching it closely, weighing them twice a day.

This scale is SO much easier to use than the sling scale we tried (and didn't like) or the postal scale we went back to when the sling scale didn't work out. It arrived today, and it's wonderful! And my little $1.00 fleece baby blankets from the dollar store work very nicely as a cushion on the scale. :o)

So we'll continue to weigh the pups twice daily for the next couple of days. If we see any weight loss continue for 48 hours straight, then we'll call the vet again. Ups and downs, particularly when we're checking weight every 12 hours, is normal. Steady loss is not. That's when we'll know we have to supplement.

All the pups have good sucking reflexes so if we have to start supplementing them, we can just bottle feed instead of tube feeding (if nursing isn't working, bottle feeding is, by far, the better option if it can be done; tube feeding is more traumatic). So I'm relieved we can supplement with a bottle if we need to (using our puppy nursing kit and Esbilac or Just Born milk replacement for pups). But we may not have to at all. We'll see.

But so far so good.

I'll admit, I was really worried last night, especially after three of the pups lost weight yesterday (I cried like crazy because I thought we might be losing the litter -- it's crazy where our heads go when we're sleep deprived and have no margin). Dr. Wagner assured me that the pups look just fine. He never would have done their dew claws if they didn't. I trust him implicitly, so I'm taking his word for it, and I'm relaxing a bit. I guess I just needed the reassurance of a professional (I didn't get a chance to talk to Momma Teese out in AZ yesterday after three more pups lost weight -- Dr. Wagner is my next best thing!).

So I'm a little saner this afternoon, though still sleep deprived. :o)

And Elsie is still being a terrific mom. She's so much more relaxed and confident this time. I wish I were more like her!

And the little guys are squiggling like crazy even more. And they're ALMOST wagging their tails (thought not quite yet). It's hysterical when they all line up to nurse and all their little tails wag together. I'll put a video clip up when it happens with this litter. It's just too cute.

So that's where we are today. Tired, but sane, and hanging in there. I think Elsie is the sanest of us all!

In the meantime, the pups sleep through it all. :o)

'Til next time,


JuliaR said...

I'll never forget reading that story in a James Herriot book, about the farmer whose cow had mastitis. I think one quarter was solid with it and the other three were going. Herriot told the farmer he could try massaging the affected quarter as much as he could but he didn't hold out any hope for saving the udder. The next day, Herriot went by the farm and the cow had NO mastitis at all. He asked the farmer what had happened and the farmer said that he had sat up all night, massaging the udder and the mastitis just went away. Perseverance! Knowing how you look after those dogs of yours, I have no worries about Elsie. And about the dew claws - you could associate it with circumcision, if you like. Ouch! Some people believe in it and some don't. But that ought to quiet those who disagree with you. And if they keep disagreeing, just walk away, or hit "Delete".

Bentley said...

Kudos to you Juliar! I know That Joan so appreciates feedback from her blog friends, especially now when she has had so little sleep. Your encouragement and confirmation on how well she cares for her dogs will make her tomorrow so much better!

They sure are cute. Bentley's ears perked right up when he heard one of the clips of them squeaking!