The Phone Rings… I hear a frantic voice on the other end of the line; “We just don’t know what to do. We just got back from the vet’s with one of our three-week-old puppies…and the vet told us to put him to sleep, but we can’t do it. We just can’t…” Part VI

Rottweil Xpress / February 1990

After a few minutes I was able to calm him down. I found out that the puppy was a three-week-old male suffering from severe seizures. They had just weaned him today with a mixture of condensed cow’s milk. The puppy would not eat from the mother and now the mother was continually pushing the puppy away from her. Boy, did this ring a bell in my head. This same thing happened to us last October. Our litter was progressing perfectly – almost too perfectly. The puppies looked great. They were gaining weight every day; everything seemed fine. Then we started to wean them at about three and one-half weeks of age. We don’t just all of a sudden take the puppies away from the mother. Rather, we do it slowly by building a little box in front of the kennel which allows the puppies access to the food in it but the mother cannot get to the food. Then, slowly, as the puppies desire, they wean themselves away from the mother. We have found that this creates a stress-free weaning process. But what happened in this particular situation is that one of the male puppies in our litter on his first day with supplemented food ate too much food too quickly and ended up with colic. The gas from undigested food began to build up in his little stomach and he began to panic. He ran all over the whelping box in circles, crying, then screaming. We tried to hold him but it did no good.

Next he went into uncontrollable convulsions; with each twitch and scream I began to panic. I ran to my husband for advice. He began reading in the veterinary journals he has. The most prominent symptom was his seizures so that was our starting point. Of the various possible diseases, the worst case scenario was Herpes, but none of the other puppies seemed affected and we had never had this problem before. My husband then asked what we had done differently today from other days and I told him that we had started whelping the puppies today. With a little more research we came up with the most possible explanation; that the puppy got colic from eating too much too quickly; then, as the undigested food sat in his stomach his blood-sugar began to drop, he became hypoglycemic and the seizures started. We had to get his blood-sugar up so we began feeding him a mixture of pedialite, which can be purchased at any drugstore or supermarket, Karo syrup, and half of an aspirin. We fed him with an eye-dropper every hour for the next twelve hours. It is very important to note that a puppy in this state cannot have any milk substitute or mother’s milk until he is stabilized.
We held this puppy all night, feeding him this mixture, taking his temperature, and holding him close against our bodies while he went through his seizures. When the morning sun crept through the windows over our bed and woke us we found that the puppy’s temperature was now normal and the seizures had stopped. This story was one of the ones that had a happy ending. The puppy went on to become one of the best males we have ever produced.
I went through this same scenario of events with the couple on the telephone. They seemed relieved to share their problem with someone else. They tried our suggestions and the next morning we got one of those phone calls that make breeding all worthwhile. The little puppy that last night had been sentenced to death was now alive and well and feeding once again on his mother. One word of advice that I would share with you is don’t be in such a hurry to wean your puppies. Let nature take its course and proceed on a slow, stable basis. Whenever I am pressed to make a decision on our dogs I always think how this would be done in the wild. And, I honestly feel that whelping in the wild would be done on a gradual, step-by-step basis.
Until next month, rrrrrrrring!

Article written by Evie Lynn