Trouble at the breakfast bar
It’s the time of year when we see a lot of plastic washing baskets at the pet hospital. Inside, snuggled in towels and old T-shirts are litters of puppies or kittens along with a very proud and protective mum, if she can fit.
Apart from the cat abscesses and itchy dogs (that have been arriving in busloads) we have seen an unusually high number of two problems associated with these washing baskets. Some info and a few tips might help some of you with expectant mothers.
YoYo and her five puppies arrived in one such light grey washing basket this week. YoYo is a four-year old cocker spaniel that never quite made it to see us for her little op and so she now has five little mouths to feed from her breakfast bar. But YoYo wasn’t feeling too well and had stopped eating. At four weeks old the not so little puppies were starting to drag quite a lot of milk from YoYo. The more they suck, the more milk is stimulated to be made. But this can also create a few problems.
After unlatching several puppies we were able to lift YoYo out of her nest and have a good look at her undercarriage. She certainly felt very hot to handle and the thermometer confirmed her high temperature. Underneath was where the problem was coming from. One of her rear mammary glands was very swollen, red, very hot and had a small discharging sinus that looked like it was ready to open up into a larger opening. Poor old YoYo had mastitis or inflammation of her mammary gland. This can be very serious if left untreated as the infection can spread and make the mother extremely sick as in YoYo’s case.
The cause. It’s a balancing act that goes wrong really. The kittens or puppies need to drink just enough of the milk to reduce the contents of the glands at every feed but sometimes they don’t drink enough or the gland produces too much milk and everything gets a bit tight. The gland swells and will sometimes burst to the outside as in YoYo’s case.
A susceptible time is at weaning (4-6 weeks in puppies and kittens). This is when the young are starting to eat solids and drink less off mum, but mum can have a lot of milk that needs releasing. So it is really important to gradually wean puppies and kittens. Just taking them away at six weeks without giving mum a chance to gradually reduce her milk production is asking for trouble. Slowly introduce solid food to the little ones and gradually limit their access to mum and things may go more smoothly.
YoYo was given some much needed antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and Melanie ( YoYo’s owner) put warm compresses on YoYo for several days until the swelling subsided. The second problem that we have been seeing is “milk fever” in our four-legged mums. Yep, dogs get it as well as cows. This is low blood calcium levels. Kittens and puppies can drag a lot of calcium from mum via the milk and if the mother isn’t on a good commercial complete food then life-threatening low calcium levels can occur. Meat diets won’t do it! Prevention: A good commercial complete diet from late pregnancy through to when the little ones leave home.
If you have any problems with mum or the kids then give us a call on 357 9993 (Pitama Rd) or 356 9993 (Hokowhitu)