For the next few weeks, we will be releasing previous posts from the old website.
A Rough Start on August 9th
By Amy Jo Akin, August 20th, 2009
This is the 5th litter to be born on our farm, but the first litter with complications. It has been quite an ordeal! Thankfully, we have come through it relatively well and have much satisfaction as we peek in on the 5 thriving white chunks in the puppy bed. The puppies are thriving.
We thought this would be Hannah’s last litter, primarily based on our vet’s recommendations and gleanings from other breeders and various resources. Mama dogs cannot have an unlimited amount of babies, and we would like to not “push” a dog to have more litters than she should. This “should” is variable, however, depending on the girl. Hannah had not had a litter for a year and she was in excellent shape when we decided to go ahead and breed her. Her pregnancy went very well, but her mammary glands developed a little differently right before the time came for her labor. The babies were all born w/out difficulty, but soon after Hannah delivered them all I realized that things weren’t normal.
That was 11 days ago. It has been a blur of round-the-clock tending, but things are going very well now. We now consider ourselves to be neonatal puppy helpers, canine lactation specialists, and people who are more “taken” with our dogs than ever. God is amazing in His creation, and Hannah and her puppies are testimonies to how MARVELOUS He is.
After the puppies arrived, Hannah developed mastitis right away. In fact, I think she was developing it even before the litter was born. The infection caused her to be “depressed” once the litter came, and it caused 4 of the 9 puppies to die w/in the first 24 hours (those 4 were the smallest in the litter and, probably, too little to handle the toxic load from the bacteria). It was terribly sad and alarming. We responded as quickly as possible, getting them all to the vet, getting Hannah started on antibiotics, and monitoring the puppies and Hannah around the clock. Much to my dismay, the vet initially said we would have to wean the puppies and maybe even separate them from Hannah entirely. I wanted to fight this if at all possible. I have much to write about the details of treating Hannah, partially supplementing the puppies, and working so hard to maintain her ability and willingness to nurture her babies, even if she couldn’t fully feed them. One of us will write a blog about it as soon as possible. As a summary for now, I hearkened back to my own breastfeeding days, feeding Hannah anything and everything I could think of that would appeal and encourage her to eat and drink. We drenched (large feeding syringe) her w/chicken broth and Gatorade to keep her hydrated. We allowed the puppies only to nurse from the unaffected teats at first, and then allowed the larger puppies to get on those once Hannah’s medication took affect. We became more concerned when we realized that Hannah’s milk supply was waning. We did research and returned to the vet for help. We are on the 2nd medication to help increase her supply. For a while, though, we didn’t know if she’d be able to feed the puppies long-term or not! We agonized and prayed and worked when Gage, one of the two smallest puppies, did not gain at all for 4 days and struggled to eat. We rejoiced when, on day 8 we took him back to the vet and received encouraging news that he had an extremely small hole in his soft palette. This was an explanation for his trouble and it is repairable (at 6-8 weeks) as long as we could get him fed and get him to gain. We tried one more nipple (of many different tries of nipple and syringes) and it made a big difference. Since then he has been gaining rapidly and catching up to the rest of the group. As of now, all 5 puppies are doing just great! They are all gaining steadily and Hannah is still caring for them all. 2 of them eat almost all of their milk from her, 2 are about 50/50, and Mr. Gage is mostly bottle fed but gets onto Hannah when he wants it! Additionally, the medications are helping and Hannah is making more milk each day. We are very thankful.