We have passed the first huge milestone- the first 48 hours. These two days are such a critical time for puppies, and I always breathe a sigh of relief when we pass this point.
Overall, it’s been a very good start. Duchess is doing well as a first time mama. She’s diligently caring for her babies. She’s drinking the well dry, and eating us out of house and home, but those are good things. 🙂 Feeding ten babies requires a lot of calories!
Nine of the puppies seem to be doing well. They are gaining weight, nursing well, and are acting like healthy puppies. Some signs I like to see with puppies are round bellies, hydrated skin, a strong suck reflex, activated sleep (twitching while they sleep), the ability to crawl to their mom, the ability to stay close to their littermates for warmth, and steady weight gain. By those signs, we have a healthy, thriving litter.
The tenth puppy, the runt I’ve named Nova, isn’t thriving quite as well as her siblings, but the fact that she is still alive is huge! I’m honestly amazed that she has survived. I was pretty unsure about her when she was born. Some people say it’s possible for a few puppies from a litter to be conceived several days later than the others. This means when they are born, you’ll have a set of large, older puppies and a set of smaller, younger ones. With puppies, even just a few days in the womb makes a very significant difference. I have two puppies that are noticeably smaller than the others. This litter was born fairly early on the time table. If these two puppies were indeed conceived later, then that means they are a few days premature. Another possible explanation is that the placentas were attached at a place that didn’t have as much blood flow, limiting the nourishment that they received. Either way, Nova had nature working against her.
In comparison to her siblings, Nova is TEENY! It’s hard for pictures to show just how tiny she is. Currently, she is no bigger than an iPhone 7. I am a petite person, so my hands are very small in comparison to most.
However, she does have some things going for her. Besides being small and weak, she appears healthy. She was also able to nurse some from Duchess during the first 24 hours. This means that she got some of the antibody-rich colostrum which will be a great benefit and protection for her in the coming days.
When she was born, she weighed 5.5 ounces. I could pinch her skin and it stayed in a pinched ridge, meaning she was dehydrated. She kept getting pushed away by the other puppies, which meant she struggled to stay warm. She could hardly hold her head or crawl.
Zach put up a heat lamp to keep her warm. I gave her Nutri-stat regularly and helped her nurse. This helped to hydrate her. I also started bottle feeding her raw goat’s milk every few hours from a slow-flow baby bottle. A wonderful friend of mine gave me a recipe to pump up my goat’s milk. I added plain yogurt, Karo syrup, and a raw egg yolk. This makes a rich, creamy formula full of fat, sugar, and calories. I feed her one milliliter for each ounce of body weight at each feeding. Right now, she is guzzling about one teaspoon each time.
Nova’s weight dropped in the first 24 hours to 5.4 ounces. It’s not uncommon for puppies to lose a bit of weight in the first day, but little Nova doesn’t have any weight to spare. She held steady at 5.4 until last evening. This morning, Nova tipped the scale at a whopping 5.8 ounces!
Now, she has the strength to hold her head and crawl. She stays with the other puppies and doesn’t get pushed away. She can even latch on to nurse by herself sometimes. She takes a bottle well, but her suck is still weaker than that of the other puppies. But she is a fighter! She squeals now when other puppies try to push her away when she’s nursing. She has a bit of strength to compete with them. Based on how far she has come in the first two days, I’d say there is a reasonable chance she will pull through. I’ll be bottle feeding for a while yet, but I’m hoping to wean her back onto nursing from Duchess full-time as soon as possible. If that’s not possible, I’d like to at least back off bottle feeding so that it’s only a supplement and not her main source of nourishment.
I am hoping to get individual pictures of the puppies very soon, so check back in a day or two to check them out!