Our Chocolate Labrador Blossom had a litter of puppies five weeks ago. I had ultrasound scanned her during her pregnncy and reckoned on nine pups which is a huge number of puppies for a first litter. The first four puppies were born naturally but, with a still huge abdomen, her progress stalled and at 2 am I had to rush her down to the surgery at Maple Street for a Caesarian Section operation.
When I last wrote, the nine puppies were only 2 days old. With 3 bitches and 6 dogs to look after, Blossom had her hands full but was taking to motherhood really well.
5 weeks on and all nine puppies are making fantastic progress. When they were first born, they weighed around 500 grams each and now they weigh around 3 kg. A 600% weight gain in 5 weeks means that Blossom has been working very hard. Blossom, like many Labradors is very fond of her food. She has been putting so much energy into producing milk for the puppies that we have been feeding her about four times her usual quantity and yet she has still been losing weight.
In the last week, we have started to introduce the puppies to some solid food and they have taken to it really well. They have been in the kitchen for the last 3 weeks and had their very first venture outdoors on an enclosed patio today.
Within the last 2 weeks, the puppies have started to develop personalities. While they are all similar in size we can now tell which puppies are most confident and outgoing and which are the more quiet and contemplative. They play and interact with each other now and have a couple of toys that they love to carry around. Unfortunately, none of their toys are currently quite as much fun as the cupboard handles in the kitchen which seem to hold a fascination.
After what seems like weeks of clearing up after puppies, our house is starting to get back to normal. Five of the six puppies have gone to their new homes and we just have one puppy left who is still looking for a home.
Our adult dogs have come out of hiding now that the majority of the puppies have stopped rampaging round the kitchen and the one remaining puppy can receive much more in the way of one to one attention now the marauding pack has been disbanded.
The puppies have become much more robust in the last couple of weeks and the process of searching for homes began a couple of weeks ago. Being a registered breeder, we were able to advertise the puppies on the Kennel Club website. The site is a fantastic starting point for anyone looking for a new dog. There is a wealth of information for the prospective new dog owner. All puppies are advertised according to their breed and location. We have had enquiries for puppies from across the North of England.
Dog ownership can give a huge amount of pleasure but is also a commitment, both in terms of time and finance. Owning a puppy and working full time is probably not possible without the help of friends or family and so we were very selective in who we were happy to take one of our puppies. Having formed such a bond with the puppies in the first 8 weeks of their life, we wanted to be certain that they all went to the good homes that they deserve.
Of the puppies that have gone to new homes, some have gone to families and some to couples, some have stayed locally and some have gone further afield, but the common factor has been the joy that people have had when collecting their new puppy. The excitement on the faces of both adults and children has made all the hard work seem worthwhile.
Bramble, our 3 year old black Labrador’s puppies are 6 weeks old now. They are growing at a phenomenal rate. Each day, I leave for work in the morning and I am sure that they are larger and more energetic when I get home than when I left.
Bramble is incredibly proud of her 6 puppies and is always attentive, but her enthusiasm for feeding the puppies has gradually declined as their tooth length has increased. Now that the puppies’ canine teeth have emerged her enthusiasm has diminished even further. We started the puppies on cereal and puppy milk about 3 weeks ago and now they are eating complete puppy biscuits with huge enthusiasm. As their solids intake has increased, the work involved in keeping them on clean bedding has increased exponentially.
Around the time that the puppies started eating solids, we moved their bed into the kitchen so that they had lots of social contact and over the Christmas period, when our house was busy with visitors, the puppies had lots of socialisation from visitors old and young.
Mostly, the puppies spend their time in a pen in the kitchen which keeps them safe and warm and controls where they toilet. When we get them out of the pen, their characters shine through as they investigate the kitchen. The world is a fascinating place as they start to explore and understand their surroundings. Initially, they were attracted to the kitchen chairs and would stand under them trying to suckle from the underside of the seat. They also tried to suckle from our 1 year old chocolate Labrador, Blossom, much to her amusement. Now they hide behind table legs and pounce out to ambush their siblings.
With only 2 or 3 weeks until the puppies can go off to their new homes, they get to be more and more fun every day.
Bramble, our 3 year old Black Labrador was mated at the beginning of October after previously rejecting a series of suitors. Bitches are pregnant for 63 days and I ultrasound scanned her at 3 weeks and confirmed that she was definitely pregnant.
For the 10 days before whelping we had been quite concerned about Bramble. She started to get very large and uncomfortable and was reluctant to eat. Since this was her first pregnancies, the changes to her body were quite bewildering for her and as her milk started to come in, her temperature shot up and she felt very sorry for herself.
The high temperature worried me as I was concerned that something may have gone very wrong with the pups however an ultrasound scan confirmed good strong heart beats in the pups. I prescribed a course of antibiotics and some medication to lower her temperature and the fever passed and she started to look much brighter.
Finally!!… on Thursday morning Sarah, my wife, rang me at the surgery to say that Brambles waters had just burst. Sarah sat with her and by the time I managed to get home at lunch time, 2 pups had been born. While I was back at work, I got regular updates as further pups were born. In all, Bramble had 6 Black Labrador puppies – 2 dogs and 4 bitches. The pups are all of very similar sizes and are very lively.
Bramble was a little bit bewildered by the first pup but has now taken to motherhood fantastically well. She is incredibly gentle and attentive and the pups alternate between frantic feeding and very deep sleep. We weigh them regularly and, as expected, their weight dropped very slightly in the first 24 hours but it has now stabilised and they are starting to grow and get stronger.
The puppies eyes will open in a couple of weeks so we will have 8 pairs of Labrador eyes watching us eat our Christmas Dinner this year!!
A couple of weeks ago, during a busy afternoon surgery, I was presented with a 12 week old British Bulldog puppy called Rollie. Most puppies at that age are very cute but Rollie, with her folds of excess skin and her huge wide eyes was instantly a hit with our nurses and receptionists.
Bulldogs belong to a group of dogs called the brachycephalic breeds. They have been bred over many generations to have a short muzzle. Many people think that this gives them a “human like” appearance. Unfortunately, while their external features have been modified by breeding, the structures deep in the throat have not, so the result is that the soft palate (the fleshy part at the back of the throat) is too long for the shape of the face.
As Rollie was carried across the waiting room in her owner’s arms, I could already hear the tell-tale bubbly rattle from her throat. Despite being bright and playful, Rollie’s chest sounded awful through the stethoscope and I had a bad feeling about state of her lungs. We admitted her immediately to the hospital and x-rays of her chest were taken within the hour. The X-rays revealed a severe pneumonia and because of the problems in Rollies throat, she simply could not cough up the fluid that was accumulating in her lungs. The X-rays showed that she was literally drowning in the fluid within her chest.
Swabs were taken and she was put onto powerful medication to deal with the infection and break up the mucous in her chest. Over the next few days, we kept a close watch on her progress and saw some of her signs ease a little but her chest continued to sound very noisy.
Despite the medication, she just could not cough up the mucus on her chest so the decision was taken to shorten her soft palate surgically. As soon as Rollie was anaesthetised and a breathing tube was inserted into her windpipe bypassing her soft palate, she immediately breathed more easily. It is vital that the correct amount of tissue is removed as removing too little would not achieve the desired effect and removing too much would mean that Rollie could not stop food entering the lungs rather than the stomach. A portion of the soft palate was removed from the back of her throat and as she came round from the anaesthetic, it was immediately clear that her breathing was improved.
It has taken a few days for her to make a full recovery but she is now back home, her breathing is much improved and she is just as cute as ever.