Friday, September 11th:
Newborn puppies are strong but also fragile. We stay with the litter almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the first couple weeks to be sure that they are all doing well. We make sure that they all get a turn nursing, that the smallest pups are not relegated to the least productive forearm nipples, that they are comfortably warm and have good body tone.
Watch List Today:
Spruce (dark green)
Pine (pink) ?
Our A Litter were small, 171 to 300g as shown in the orange bar.
Neonate puppies have their eyes and ears firmly sealed and even their sense of smell is very weak. They can only move forwards and tend to navigate in circles. They lack a gag reflex, they cannot yet shiver or pant. Even urination and defecation require mom's help.
They can feel hot, cold and pressure when pressed up against mom or another pup. They wriggle and squirm to navigate their way to find meals on demand and they call out loudly when they get 'lost' and can't find the litter.
We can tell the temperature is about right when the litter piles up around mom. If they are too hot, they will spread out all over the box and if they are too cold they will scream incessantly.
Our best tool to monitor the puppy's ability to thrive and survive is a growth chart constructed using twice daily weights. By weighing each pup both morening and evening, we have an early indicator when all is not well. Small beings do not have a lot of reserve and once they start going downhill it can be very intensive and difficult to change the trend.
We currently have Larch and Spruce on the Special Watch List - a whiteboard with current weights that I have posted in the whelping room. The board is just a reminder to always check on these pups first and to make sure they get as much nursing as possible. I don't like to wake them to eat - they need sleep to digest and grow, but at times, I will nudge them to wake up if they are missing out on a feeding.
Larch and Spruce were both smaller to begin with and their growth has been fairly flat over the first 48 hours. I believe that Larch is just small - there is always one pup that is smaller than the rest and this is Larch. With Spruce's arm deformity, I'm a little worried that perhaps there is more going on with her than meets they eye. It could be just reduced mobility getting to the best nipple but it could be more internal abnormalities. While Pine is considerably larger, his curve has flattened out, so we'll be keeping an eye on him as well. We will keep weighing, providing the 'at risk' pups with extra nursing opportunities and watch for signs of more severe difficulties.