Caring For Your Pregnant Dog

If you are caring for a pregnant dog, discuss with your vet about a high-quality and well-balanced diet to meet the increased energy needs for milk production and growth of puppies. As the pregnancy advances, the mother dog requires more food but will not be able to eat as much in one go as the growing pups take up more space in her abdomen. Offer her smaller and more frequent meals. Supplements or medications should only be given to pregnant dogs as prescribed by your vet.

The whelping date can be estimated by calculating 63 days from date of mating (if it is known). Speak with your vet about suitable dewormers to prevent intestinal parasites from being passed on to the puppies.

Normal gestation period

  • Approximately 63 days with each trimester lasting about 21 days.
  • Most dogs show no signs of pregnancy in the first trimester.
  • Continue the daily walks but avoid strenuous exercises.
  • Avoid overfeeding as an obese pregnant dog will have birthing difficulties.
AFTER DAY 28
  • Weight gain becomes noticeable.
  • An ultrasound can be done to confirm pregnancy by detecting fetal movement and heart beat.
  • Abdominal palpation can also be done by an experienced vet and if the mother dog is cooperative.

around day 40

  • The mother dog’s abdomen, mammary glands (breasts) and teats (nipples) are visibly larger.
  • There may be some milky discharge from the nipples.
around day 45
  • X-rays can be taken to estimate the litter size so you know if all puppies are successfully delivered during birth.
  • During the last 2 weeks of pregnancy, you can see and feel the puppies moving inside their mother’s belly.

Pregnant dogs like Angel (rescued stray) will deliver their pups about 63 days after mating. From day 45, X-rays can estimate the litter size when the pups’  skulls & spines are sufficiently mineralised.

One week before estimated whelping date
  • Take rectal temperature twice daily. A drop in temperature by 1 degree Celsius indicates that labour may follow in the next 24 hours.
  • Your dog’s behaviour may change prior to labour => e.g. more restless, lose appetite, licking vulva
  • Nesting behaviour => e.g. looking for secure spot, digging up bedding materials
normal delivery
  • Abdominal muscular contractions commence and the mother dog will strain and make heaving motions.
  • The mother dog will usually chew through the umbilical cord and lick the pup to remove fetal membranes to initiate breathing.
  • If the mother dog fails to do so, gently remove the membranes and wipe the pup’s mouth and nostril to clear the airway. Gently rub the pup with a towel until it starts to whimper and breathe normally.
  • The delivery time between each pup is about 10 to 30 minutes.

A post whelping check is recommended 24 to 48 hours after birth so that your vet can thoroughly assess the condition of mother & newborn pups. Your vet can also make sure no placentas or dead puppies are retained which can cause metritis, an infection of the uterus.

difficult birth and emergency delivery
  • Gestation lasts more than 64 days with no signs of labour.
  • Foul-smelling, dark green discharge from vagina.
  • No pups delivered after 60 minutes of active contractions.
  • Delivery time between each pup exceeds 30 to 60 minutes.
  • A pup becomes stuck halfway during birth.

If you notice any of these signs, seek veterinary attention immediately. Emergency caesarean section may be required to ensure the mother and pups survive. Our Mount Pleasant After Hours Emergency Clinic is situated at 232 Whitley Road S297824. Tel 6250 8333. 

after birth complications

Mother dogs who develop after birth problems such as mastitis and milk fever require immediate vet attention. Their puppies have to be hand-reared while they rest and recover.

  • Mastitis: The mammary glands can be infected from a blocked milk duct, scratch or cut and become hot, hard and painful. Milk secretion may be thicker and tinged with blood. Do not allow puppies to nurse from an infected gland. The mother dog requires immediate medical attention to prevent serious bacterial infection in her blood stream.
  • Eclampsia or “Milk Fever”: This is a life-threatening disease caused by low blood calcium levels (hypocalcaemia) in the mother dog’s body. She may appear anxious and restless with muscle tremors, convulsions and seizures.  It is more common in small dogs with large litters.

Didn’t plan for the pregnancy?

  • Accidents do happen. If your unsterilised dogs mate and your family is not prepared to care for puppies, speak with your vet about terminating the pregnancy safely.
  • Please consider sterilising your pets to prevent unwanted litters in future.
  • Sterilisation also prevents serious health conditions such as pyometra (infected uterus) and reduces the risk of mammary cancers in female dogs and prostate diseases in male dogs.

If you are thinking of letting your family witness the miracle of birth before sterilising your dogs or cats, do reconsider. Thousands of street & shelter animals are waiting for homes. Speak with our vets about sterilisation.

Common Causes Of Puppy Diarrhea

Those of us with puppies or kittens would have experienced at least one episode of diarrhea. Mild diarrhea usually resolves with lots of fluids, rest and a bland diet. If your pup suddenly develops watery bloody stools, seek immediate veterinary care. Young animals can  become dehydrated and very ill in a matter of hours.


THE stressED OUT PUP – give him a break

Your new puppies and kittens are going through a certain amount of stress. They are removed from their families and taken to a completely new environment, surrounded by new people, new scents, new sounds, new sights.

Reduce your new pup’s stress by holding off visits from excited family members & friends. No matter how cute he is!

Just like in humans, stress can weaken the immune system and cause diarrhea in animals. Help your puppy or kitten settle in well by reducing stressful encounters.

  • Bring back a familiar object if possible (e.g. toy, towel or bowl your pup has been using).
  • Provide a quiet cosy area for rest.
  • Monitor the amount of handling by family members, especially children who may rough-handle puppies unintentionally.
  • Hold off visits by excited family members and friends. Your pup should get familiar with your immediate family first.

the pampered pooch – TOO MUCH NEW FOOD and treats

A sudden change in diet can cause diarrhea, even when you are switching to a higher quality diet. Always find out what food your new puppy has been eating and have enough supply for a gradual 2-week switch if you intend to change his diet.

Avoid feeding too much treats – don’t fall for those puppy eyes!

Start by adding just a small amount of new food to his current diet. Over 2 weeks, gradually increase the amount of new food while decreasing the amount of original food until the switch is complete.

THE nosy SCAVENGER – don’t eat that!

Puppies love to explore the world. Like human babies, they put anything and everything into their mouths. Puppy proof your home to keep your curious buddy safe.

Bentley was down with diarrhea but looking bright as a lark. His family suspected he ate something from the garden.

  • Do not leave anything on the floor you don’t want your pup to chew on. Dogs have been brought to the vets after swallowing objects like coins, jewellery, clips, rubber bands.
  • Keep all medication out of pup’s reach.
  • Keep garbage and human food out of pup’s reach, especially those that are toxic for dogs (e.g. chocolate, coffee, tea, onions, grapes, raisins, avocado, alcohol, chicken bones.)
  • Always supervise your pup in the garden.
  • Learn to identify and remove toxic plants.
  • Keep fertilisers, detergents, insecticides, paint and oil out of pup’s reach.
  • Check your garden for hazardous objects like glass, nails, plastic pieces.

If your pet swallows a foreign object or toxic food, take him to the vet immediately. Click here for a list of foods our dogs should not eat.

the unlucky one – worms and other parasites

Your puppies may be infected with intestinal parasites from the environment or their infected mothers. Maintain good personal hygiene to prevent the spread of parasites to other pets and family members. Remove any faeces immediately. Wash and disinfect your hands after handling your pup.

Baby Max is feeling lethargic because he is infected with the intestinal parasite giardia

Faecal examinations are done to determine the type of parasites present and the appropriate dewormer or medication given. Common organisms causing diarrhea in puppies are:

  • “Non-worm” protozoan parasites: giardia and coccidia
    Like many other intestinal parasites, dogs get infected by ingesting faeces from infected animals or faeces-contaminated water. Puppies from crowded puppy mills or pet shops commonly carry the giardia parasite.
  • Intestinal worms: roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms
    Some worms and eggs can be seen in the faeces – tapeworms look like specks of rice and roundworms look like strands of spaghetti. Have your puppy dewormed promptly and speak with your vet about a proper deworming schedule.

Puppies with heavy-load of worms look bloated with a swollen abdomen.

the very sick pup – viral infections

Diarrhea is a common symptom of several canine viral infections including the highly contagious parvovirus. The virus is is transmitted by contact with infected dogs or contaminated faeces. It invades the lining of the intestines, affecting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and causes foul-smelling bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Young animals quickly become severely dehydrated.

Viral diseases like parvovirus is often fatal in infected puppies. They should be treated by a vet immediately.

Most puppies infected with parvovirus require hospitalisation. Treatment is focused on preventing secondary bacterial infections and providing supportive care (e.g. intravenous fluids and medications to control vomiting and pain).  Speak with your vet about vaccinations to protect your puppy against parvovirus.

If your pet is having severe and bloody diarrhea, seek veterinary care immediately. For after hours emergency, take your pet to Mount Pleasant After Hours & Emergency Clinic at 232 Whitley Road S297824. Telephone 6250 8333.

Protect Your Dog From Leptospirosis

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WHAT IS LEPTOSPIROSIS?

Canine leptospirosis, “lepto” for short, is an infection caused by a bacteria called leptospira. The bacteria is spread through contact with body fluids (most commonly urine) from infected animals.

How does my dog contract leptospirosis?

Leptospira bacteria is transmitted through the urine of infected animals (often rats and mice). The urine contaminates water sources, soil or bedding. Dogs pick up the bacteria through a cut in the skin, when they drink or swim in contaminated water, or when they get bitten by an infected animal.

Your dogs are at higher risk if they:

  • frequent outdoor areas with water bodies
  • drink from puddles or ponds
  • bite or eat infected rodents
what are the signs of leptospirosis?
  • fever
  • lethargy
  • muscle pain and stiffness
  • vomiting and diarrhea, with or without blood
  • loss of appetite
  • excessive urination (sign of kidney failure)
  • blood in urine
  • jaundice (yellowing of skin and mucous membranes, e.g. whites of the eyes) as the bacteria destroys cells in the liver.

Vomiting and diarrhea are common signs of other diseases. Take your dog to the vet for a health check and a lepto test if recommended. Leptospirosis is treatable when diagnosed early. If you have other dogs in the household, it is advisable to have them tested as well. 

how is Leptospirosis treated?

Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics, fluid therapy and supportive care. When treated early and aggressively, your dog can recover but there is a risk of permanent kidney or liver damage. 

what can i do to protect my dog?

This is not just about protecting our dogs from lepto. But keeping them safe from possible dangers out there.

  • Keep your eyes on your dog during walks => Put your phone in your pocket and focus on your dog. Many incidents can be prevented if we just pay attention.
  • Do not let your dog consume food waste
  • Do not let your dog drink from or play in puddles or stagnant water
  • Avoid overcrowded dog parks and boarding facilities
  • Stay away from rat-infested areas => Dispose waste properly to prevent pest infestation
  • Speak to your vet about vaccinations => No vaccine is 100% effective but it reduces the likelihood of infection. It is equally important to take other precautionary measures as mentioned above.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease. It can be passed from dog to dog, and dog to human. Practise good hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly after handling any dog.

Managing Pain In Our Pets

Our pets  may feel pain when they are sick or injured. However, recognising pain can be challenging as animals instinctively hide their pain and exhibit symptoms differently from us. It is important to understand species differences and observe our pets’ behaviour to know if they are hurting.

DSC_9363

Pain can be caused by physical trauma, e.g. being hit by a car, resulting in painful fractures & injuries. Brownie, rescued & rehomed by Causes For Animals.

Pain can be caused by:
  • physical trauma, e.g. falling from a height or being hit by car
  • disease or illness of internal organs, e.g. pancreatitis and blocked urethra
  • surgical procedures, e.g. sterilisation or bone surgery
  • spinal problem, e.g. intervertebral disc disease
  • degenerative changes, e.g. osteoarthritis
IMG_2173

Proptosed eye (displacement of eye ball out of the socket) due to dog fight injury. Although the dog was still active & bright when presented, pain relief was administered immediately to provide some comfort.

Our pets cannot tell us in words when they are in pain

It is important for us to watch our pets closely to detect any changes in behaviour. Your pets may be in pain if they are:

  • unusually quiet or withdrawn
  • very restless or trembling
  • hiding and avoiding human interaction
  • whining or whimpering
  • biting or snapping when touched
  • licking or biting a body part excessively
  • refusing food
  • limping
  • having  difficulty lying down or sleeping
DSC_8287

Increase in heart rate & breathing rate, higher body temperature & blood pressure, or dilated pupils may also be signs of pain.

Sometimes signs of pain are subtle and difficult to diagnose

Chronic pain due to age-related disorders like arthritis or cancer usually develops slowly and is hard to detect because some animals learn to tolerate and live with the pain. Chronic pain can create a “stress response” associated with elevations of cortisol. This may reduce the patient’s immune response, leading to infection and slower healing. 

Animals suspected of experiencing pain (e.g. limping due to strained muscle/ligament) are treated with adequate pain relief and symptoms are monitored for improvement. If undesirable side effects develop, treatment should be stopped or altered accordingly.

Pain management is crucial in managing a patient as it alleviates discomfort and helps the animal recover faster

Pain relief medication is usually administered before, during and after surgery. This helps reduce stress and pain associated with surgery, allowing the animal to rest better and recovery faster. It is always better to start on pre-emptive analgesia than to control pain once it has started.

IMG_8340

For older animals suffering from chronic pain (e.g. osteoarthritis) or patients with terminal illnesses (e.g. cancer), long term pain relief is administered to provide a better quality of life. 11-year-old Babe, gone over the Rainbow Bridge after a short battle with hemangiosarcoma.

If your pet suffers from chronic pain (e.g. osteoarthritis), some basic lifestyle changes can offer relief.
  • Control weight and incorporate light exercises (e.g. hydrotherapy) to decrease joint stress and improve muscular support of the joints.
  • Provide easy access to litter boxes or garden for elimination (e.g. gently-sloped ramp)
  • Raise food and water bowls to a comfortable level 
  • Provide non-slip floor surfaces to help your arthritic pet get up and walk more easily
  • Provide comfortable but firm beds to help your arthritic pet get up more easily
there are many different pain management protocols and there is no “best” one.

We will assess your pets to determine a good pain management plan, taking into account factors such as their history, current condition and physical examination.

Pain relief medications are available in pill/liquid/gel form or skin patches. Do not  medicate your pet yourself. Some painkillers for humans can be toxic to animals even in very small doses.

opt

This patient underwent a surgical procedure called enucleation (removal of the eye). A fentanyl patch is applied on the left side of her body. The fentanyl patch is a transdermal pain relief drug that provides relief for about 3 days.

The importance of prevention

We can take steps to reduce the risk of painful conditions in our pets. Regular dental checkups can help prevent the development of painful oral diseases. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the incidence and severity of osteoarthritis. Schedule yearly health checks to detect any health issues early and give your beloved pet the best chance at a long, healthy and pain-free life.

Contributed by Dr Teo Jia Wen, Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre (Farrer) with inputs from editor

Puppy Start Right: What You Need to Know about Puppy Socialisation

Who can resist a puppy face? Not many. So we bring home a puppy, we foster puppies and find them homes, we volunteer at a shelter to play with puppies, we may be a puppy trainer. We think we know all about puppies. Do we?

By Dr Kang Nee, cheerfuldogs.com
Ph.D., CPDT-KA, Low Stress Handling Certified Silver, Pet First Aid Certified, Puppy Start Right Instructor

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Whether you’re a puppy guardian, fosterer, trainer, here’s what you need to do to help that adorable puppy grow up into a calm and confident dog.

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The period from 3 to 16 weeks of age is a critical stage in a puppy’s life.

Puppies have a “ticking clock”

The period from 3 to 16 weeks of age is a critical stage in a puppy’s life – what he experiences during this time can form life-long impressions that impact his cognitive and emotional development. This period is called the socialisation period.

  1. What exactly do we need to socialise our puppy to?
  2. How do we do it?
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Choose a good puppy class where your puppy learns to be happy, confident & calm around different situations – great social skills that will guide him well through life.

stay home or socialise?

Some vets advise you to keep your puppy home until he has completed his vaccinations or until he is 5 to 6 months old. This is outdated advice. The risk of your puppy developing into a socially unskilled and/or fearful dog, outweighs that of him contracting an infectious disease by being out and about.

Find a good middle ground by taking your pup only to places where he’s less likely to catch something infectious, or get injured by the environment, people or other dogs. Avoid dog runs, animal shelters, adoption drives and places frequented by unfamiliar dogs.

But you can certainly:

  • bring your puppy to well-run puppy training classes
  • arrange small-group play dates with other puppies or dogs known to be in good health, up-to-date with their vaccinations and are friendly to other dogs
  • meet people and other dogs in calm settings and clean locations

Is it as simple as taking your puppy to all kinds of places, meeting all kinds of people and continually exposing him to things that may be new and scary to him, so that he can “get used to them”?

EXPOSURE ALONE ISN’T SOCIALISATION

A common mistake we make is to assume that just because we’ve exposed our puppy to lots of situations, he’s well socialised. For instance, if a puppy is afraid of dogs, we bring him to the dog run to meet other dogs there. If he avoids walking on grass, we keep putting him on grass. If he’s shy of children, we ask as many children as possible to pet, kiss and cuddle the puppy. Please stop!

Socialisation is NOT just about exposing your puppy to something, and letting him “work it out” on his own.

Would you let your child out into the street to “work it out” that crossing in front of an oncoming car is a bad choice? Would you let your child be exposed to frightening situations to “work out” how to be brave? I hope not.

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This is NOT appropriate socialisation: the puppies are not comfortable being so close to each other. They’re looking away from each other, their mouths are closed, their bodies are still.

Socialisation is about making an exposure to something (e.g. another dog, a child, garbage truck, vacuum cleaner, staircase) an enjoyable and calm experience for your puppy.

To achieve this “enjoyable and calm” element, you need to understand what your puppy is telling you by the behaviours he displays:

  • If he turns his head away as a child reaches out to pet his head, your puppy is not enjoying the interaction with that child.
  • If he’s running away with his tail tucked under his body when another dog (puppy or adult) chases him in the dog run, he’s not having fun making doggy friends.
  • If he’s barking and lunging at the vacuum cleaner and is unable to calm down, your puppy’s not having a calm experience.
  • If he’s pulling back and resisting strongly as you try to lead him down the stairs on a collar and leash, he’s not enjoying that experience at all.
This is also NOT appropriate socialisation: the puppy shows it’s uncomfortable by pulling its ears back, closing its mouth and keeping still. You can see the stress lines under its eyes and that “sleepy” look is another possible sign of stress. This puppy is not enjoying being carried by the girl.

This is NOT appropriate socialisation: the puppy shows it’s uncomfortable by pulling its ears back, closing its mouth & keeping still. You can see stress lines under the eyes & that “sleepy” look is another possible sign of stress. This puppy is not enjoying being carried by the girl.

In contrast, this interaction is more enjoyable for the puppy. Its mouth is open in a relaxed manner, its eyes are soft, the girl is not staring directly at it.

In contrast, this interaction is more enjoyable for the puppy. Its mouth is open in a relaxed manner, its eyes are soft, the girl is not staring directly at it.

To turn the tables around and make the above situations enjoyable for your puppy, creating distance is your primary force-free tool.

  • Instead of letting the child approach your puppy, let the puppy approach at his own pace. We all need our personal space, so does your puppy.
  • If the puppy is only comfortable enough to stay a distance of 5 feet from the child, that is your puppy’s threshold at that moment. Stay at that distance.

Use something that your puppy already loves as your second force-free tool to help create enjoyable, safe and positive associations with the child. If your puppy loves steamed chicken:

  • Feed your puppy small pieces of steamed chicken as he hangs out with you, 5 feet away from the child.
  • Watch your puppy for signs of stress: not eating, licking his lips, yawning, turning away, sniffing a lot etc. If you see these signals of help from your puppy, you need to take him even further away.
  • But if you see him relaxing, his body becomes loose, wriggly and he moves forward calmly and happily on his own, while still being able to pay attention to you, you’ve given your puppy an enjoyable head-start to making friends with that child.
  • At that point, you can either see if your puppy is ready to meet that child or you could keep that sweet experience for another time (remember, the patient child who’s helping you with your puppy must enjoy the encounter too!).
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Instead of just restraining your puppy for a bath, feed him bits of yummy food as you bathe him. Keep the first bath-time short & sweet & your puppy can grow to love bath-time!

Your role as a puppy guardian now, is to replicate that safe and enjoyable experience for each child, object, animal, person, situation, that he encounters in his life with you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your puppy would naturally love to be touched or handled by you.

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There’s a long list of “To Socialise” items: visits to the vet, cleaning his ears, brushing his teeth, handling his paws for nail trims, bathing, brushing etc. Your puppy also needs to learn to be comfortable walking on different kinds of surfaces, hearing different sounds, experiencing new things. Only when a puppy has learnt that the world around him is safe, would he gain that confidence to navigate it calmly & happily with you.

If you’ve socialised your puppy appropriately in his first four months of life (as described in the preceeding sections), the lessons serve to vaccinate your puppy against behavioural challenges that tend to crop up later in his life.

If you’ve socialised your puppy inappropriately (e.g. by only exposing your puppy repeatedly to something without making it fun and enjoyable), behavioural challenges such as fearfulness and reactivity may get worse over time.

If you’ve already missed that 3 to 16 week socialisation window, it doesn’t mean you cannot address behavioural challenges. Find a qualified, certified force-free trainer who has the knowledge and skills to help you.

Remember, start your puppy right with this rule, “keep it short, keep it safe, keep it enjoyable!”, and have a wonderful life-long learning journey with your family dog!


Read more: Kenneth M Martin, DVM & Debbie Martin, RVT, VTS (Behavior), CPDT-KA, KPA CTP (2011): Puppy Start Right. Foundation Training for the Companion Dog. A Karen Pryor Clicker Book

Dr Kang is a behavioural ecologist and certified professional dog trainer. Even whilst busy training dogs, she writes articles on dog behaviour modification and training for local and international magazines.