Apartment Puppies in
Singapore - How Singaporeans care for their puppies.
Will oxytocin save the mother's life?
Puppies may not be as important as the mother.
"My Chihuahua is 54th day pregnant. She had given birth to two puppies. One is stillborn. The other one has a hole near her umbilical cord," said Mr de Souza. "The bitch has stopped labour contractions for over two hours. What is your professional advice?"
"The puppy with the hole near the cord would have been caused by the first-time mother biting the cord too near to the skin. This is a common complaint," I replied trying to stay awake. It was nearly midnight and I would prefer no midnight surgeries. "What is the bitch's rectal temperature?"
Most Singaporeans have a thermometer at home since the SARS (severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) viral outbreak in early 2003. The government had presented each household a free thermometer to monitor human temperature and Mr de Souza had one too. "The temperature is 37.5 deg C. Shall I get an oxytocin injection from a veterinarian to stimulate the weak womb to contract and expel the puppy?"
"37.5 deg C is lower than the normal adult dog's average of 38.5 deg C." I explained. "The rectal temperature usually drops to 37.2 deg and as low as 36.8 deg C 18-24 hours before birth. It then increases. Now, she is giving birth and the temperature should be higher." So, was the bitch stressed out? Was the bitch going to die? The bitch was stressed but it was not going to die yet.
I continued, "You assume there is one puppy. As you have not done an ultra-scan or X-ray, how do you know?" A Caesarean delivery cost much more than an oxytocin injection. "Oxytocin is no use if the puppy or puppies are too big or positioned wrongly."
The water bag had not come out and therefore the puppy or puppies were still alive for the time being. "The next puppy should be born 30 minutes later." The books advise that the breeder should call the veterinarian if there is no birth after two hours as the bitch might be in difficulty giving birth. Delays kill the mother and puppies too.
In this case, the first-time mother might deliver. But she might collapse and her puppies might die with her. "It is up to you to decide whether you want a Caesarean to be done," I said as I struggled to keep awake. "54th day puppies seldom survive past 7 days, in my experience."
It was now the mother's life that was important. The mother could give birth another time if she was alive. Mr de Souza decided on the Caesarean delivery. The bitch's temperature was also 37.5 deg C before surgery. The puppy with the hole near her belly was stitched up but did not survive the next day.
The other two puppies survived when I phoned on day 3 but one of them was weak in suckling. "This puppy would need to be kept warm and fed every hour," I said. It was unlikely to survive even with bottle fed milk. Mr De Souza had not used any bottle feeding as the bitch had sufficient milk.
Mr de Souza had to put the puppies to suckle and took them away from the mother after suckling every two hours. He massage them to make them pass urine and stools. He believed that the mother would kill the puppies. So, he was very careful. Would the 54th day premature Chihuahuas survive?
1. Bitches normally deliver their puppies from the 58th - 63rd day after the first mating.
2. Premature puppies require intensive care by the breeder. The puppies which suckled less and less will die within 7 days despite intensive care by the breeder. Reasons might be the foetal distress due to protracted labour and infections.
3. Puppies which are delivered by Caesarean at the correct time usually grow up strong and healthy as for those Shih Tzus shown here. Delays in Caesarean for over 2 hours after the last pup is born or water bag had burst, usually result in weak puppies.
4. Give a bit of dry meal to 3-week-old puppies. By week 6, they should be weaned off the mother's milk. Some mothers don't mind them suckling at week 6 as for the Shih Tzu mother shown in this webpage.
Extracts from the
Apartment Puppies in Singapore: How Singaporeans care for their puppies.
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS.
Buyers interested in this book to be published in 2004, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 9668-6468.
The black Chihuahua puppy in the case study grew up strong and healthy.
"Doc, you said it would not survive!" the owner said. "It is much bigger than its sibling."
It is best for veterinary surgeons to keep quiet. In this case, the home breeder missed a lot of sleep as he nursed the puppy every 2 hours for the first week.
He was successful but many equally good home breeders were not.
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