Trou­ble at the break­fast bar

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS -

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)

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