Monday, August 31, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Dog Breeder

Most people think my days are filled with contented dams
and cute pups
I often get notes expressing jealousy over the wonderful life I am able to live breeding and raising dogs.  Those notes are sent with so much love and joy that I accept them graciously.  I know most people think my days are filled with contented dams and cute puppies.  Occasionally do I chuckle over those emails after I've just done Poop Patrol, made yet another run to my vet's or answered a late-night emergency call from a worried owner. But yesterday was a day that I think needs sharing because it's an experience every breeder has but few other folks know about.

Yesterday, we almost lost Mr Purple.  He has been our smallest puppy since birth and hasn't kept up with the other pups' weight gains.  And yesterday, four days into his life, he crashed.  We had been watching him vigilantly, 24/7, since his birth.  And when I say 24/7, I mean every minute of every day someone has been with the litter, monitoring him and ensuring no one got chilled or squished by a sleepy mom.  Needless to say, we are all a little tired...especially me :-).

Mr Purple had lost weight on Saturday night so the next morning I went to work checking his vitals-- temperature, blood sugar, urine pH and hydration.  The puppy room looked like a hospital ward.  He had a very low-grade fever and was slightly dehydrated so I gave him glucose solution, one drop at a time.  Puppies can't gag so it's easy for them to choke if you go too quickly.

The puppy room looked like a hospital ward
He rebounded enough for me to take a nap but when I awoke late yesterday afternoon, Puppy-sitter Extraordinaire Noelle told me she was worried about him.  She was right!  He was limp and weak so I started emergency measures.  I tube-fed him fluids, which entails sliding a narrow feeding tube down his throat into his stomach.  Yes, it's a scary thing to do but essential when puppies are too weak to nurse.  The other option is taking them to the vet for IV fluids but it was Sunday night so that wasn't easily done.  And like most breeders, I worry about taking a newborn puppy to a vet clinic where they may come in contact with bad bugs from sick dogs.

Despite my efforts, nothing was working!  His temperature climbed to 101.5 F (normal for a one-week old puppy is 96-97 F). He was so dehydrated that I couldn't get blood to test his blood sugar.  He was flacid and limp.  Bottom line, Mr Purple was dying.

I started sub-cutaneous fluids and called my vet for antibiotics.  What kept me going this whole time was how annoyed he was with everything I was doing to him.  He fought tubing and the sub-Q fluids so hard that he stabbed me with the needle.  Yay!  I was thrilled he still had enough strength to resist my efforts, even if they were well intentioned.  He had no way of knowing that and just knew I was making him uncomfortable.

Today, Mr Purple is robust and vigorous
My wonderful vet (shameless plug...Dr Jim Zgoda, Otterkill Animal Hospital, Campbell Hall, NY) called in a prescription for antibiotics, Noelle came back to puppy sit and at 10 PM last night I got home with the drugs. We ended the night with another tube feeding session, this time with formula since he still wasn't nursing enough.

Although I didn't sleep last night, apparently Mr Purple did...and he nursed!  Today, he is robust and vigorous.  He gained weight overnight and is nursing actively.  He is still very annoyed with me but I know he'll get over it if I can just keep him alive.

My breeder friends are probably reading this post, thinking, "So what?  We all do this."  I agree but I don't think other dog-lovers have any idea what goes into raising a litter of healthy, stable puppies. Yesterday was just one of many challenging days and thankfully, it ended well with Mr Purple rebounding.  So today, I am again lucky to be a dog breeder!

P.S. The Puppy Cam went down yesterday morning but I should have a new one here and installed sometime tomorrow.  

1 comment:

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