Saturday, March 20, 2010
It is nice to have a mother who knows how to do her job. Kaya is exceedingly careful in getting in and out of the whelping box. She carefully looks where she places each foot and circles the box until an empty spot opens up before she lies down. Cheri or I were up many times during the night to check on mom and family, whenever there was a squeal of distress. Finally it was clear that, even with our oil heater turned up to its full 1600 watts, the room was too chilly for pup-comfort. So Cheri installed a radiant heater on the folding chair we have in the whelping room. That did the trick and everyone went soundly to sleep until morning.
In some ways, Kaya is too dedicated to the pups. She will not let me take them, one at a time, to weigh and examine for possible dermoids and other general characteristics. When I take one of the pups, even to just outside the whelping room door, she leaps out of the box and hovers around me, trying to lick the puppy and get it back where it is supposed to be. The only problem with this is that she gets all worked up and jumps in and out of the whelping box and I am afraid that she might accidentally step on one of the squirming puppies because of her distraction. So for the time being, there won't be any weights or examinations. Maybe tomorrow she will have calmed down enough that I can get in some exam time.
Saturday, March 20, 2010 5:10 PM
I finally figured out a method to separate Kaya from the puppies long enough to get weights for today and do at lease cursory examinations. I took the puppies in batches and put them in a box, which I took into the adjacent room. The puppies love being in the little cardboard box; they curl right up in a ball and go to sleep. As long as they are sleeping and quiet, and out of sight, Kaya is fine (I don't think she can really count above about three). There are two girls that I already know by sight; the livernose and the one who has a single crown ridge. I took them first, weighed them, did a quick DS survey, and recorded notes about ridge and white markings. Then I took the four boys and did the same. Finally I took the four girls I don't already know by sight. The problem was that when I took a puppy from the cozy little sleeping pile in the cardboard box to do the weight, the puppy would begin to squeal (they don't particularly take to being held by people yet), whereupon Kaya would go bonkers trying to rescue the puppy from its torment. By working quick I found that I could weigh and get the pup back to the whelping room where I could stand by the box and do the DS survey and note features for my notes. This worked pretty well and as the pups get more used to being held and Kaya gets more trusty that I will really bring them back, this will get easier. As expected, there has been no substantial change in weight during the first day; the average loss was about 1.5%.
We also decided on names for the puppies. The theme for this litter is Mexican food. Throughout the whole morning of the whelp we had lots of workers here; the three-person house-cleaning crew, the three-person yard crew, and three more workers who were installing the new Sharp solar panels on the roof. We were impressed that all but one of these nine workers speak Spanish as a native tongue (and two speak nothing else). It just seemed appropriate that we select South-of-the-Border words for our puppy names. So we have:
A few pictures from Saturday afternoon:
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Kaya's milk is starting to come in and the pups registered a modest net weight gain over the last day (3%). From here on, I expect they will begin to gain 1-2 ounces each every day. Because they are so many, we have the necessary ingredients for milk supplement on hand. Last night was quite uneventful; Cheri only got up to check once and I was up twice. There weren't any problems. We are using two heaters in the room now and keeping the temperature over 85 degrees. The puppies like it this way and sleep pretty much non-stop, except for the times they are suckling.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Cheri and I had a dinner engagement last night in San Francisco (Organic Syntheses dinner, the American Chemical Society is in town). We had our house/pet sitter Scott Sorenson come over and stay with Kaya and the pups for the five hours we were gone. There wasn't really much for Scott to do, but he is so responsible that he visited the whelping box and counted to ten about every 10 minutes! Today I had to be in San Francisco for the Organic Syntheses Board of Directors meeting in the morning, for the first time we left Kaya and the pups unattended for about four hours (between the time Cheri left for work about 9 and when I got back from SF about 1. Things were fine. Kaya is now getting a bit bored being in the whelping box all the time, so she has the run of the house and she does hop out and come to visit me, bark at the neighbors cat hunting gophers in our front lawn, and go out in the yard to relieve herself. The solar installers are here again putting the 16 new Sharp panels up, so all of the other dogs are spending the day in the kennel. They would be fine with the workers, but the guys are going in and out of the back yard to fetch tools and materials and I don't want to take a chance that one of the dogs will wander out through the door into the front yard.
As I predicted, Kaya's milk dropped yesterday and the pups put on an average of nearly 1 1/2 ounces each--net weight gain of 11% in 24 hours! This never ceases to amaze me--that would be like me gaining more than 20 pounds in one day!
The pups also had visitors this afternoon. My former student Anna Mapp and her husband Adam Matzger, both professors at the University of Michigan, are in town for the American Chemical Society meeting. They stopped over for a visit and brought their son Eli, who had a good time holding a couple of the puppies.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Things have pretty much settled down to a routine now. The pups are growing normally (another 9% weight gain in the last 24 hours) and Kaya is much more comfortable with people holding the puppies. She hardly notices when I take one out of the box for weighing or when I pick one up to take him/her up to the front of the house. It is important for the puppies that they get used to being held and we try to handle them whenever we are in the whelping room.
The new solar panels are almost installed; here is a picture of two of the workers who inspired the puppy names.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
When you are raising a litter, every day brings new situations and challenges. Kaya's pups are getting increasingly mobile as they grow and get stronger. They don't creep yet, but they can scoot around amazingly fast. I have been using a nice cushy pad and they love to nap on it (see following picture):
However, the problem came this morning when it began to get cool (I usually turn off one of the heaters in the morning and open the door to the bathroom so Kaya can have the run of the house). Anyway, it got a little cool and half the puppies buried themselves under the mat. I heard unusual noises coming from the whelping room and when I went to investigate, there was Kaya standing by the box whining. She knew there were some missing--and I suspect she knew where they were, since I don't think she can count past five--but she didn't know how to deal with the problem by herself. So now they have a thinner bath mat--which, of course, they don't like much at all:
Weight gain continues (8% since yesterday, weighed a few hours earlier today). Nevertheless, I will be suplementing the smaller puppies some today. Partly because with so many, the bigger, stronger puppies are getting more than their share, and partly because a little supplementation as we go along for the next week or so will extend the time that Kaya is able to nurse. It is a real burden on a mom's metabolism to be able to produce enough milk to enable a total litter weight gain of almost a pound every day. Her appetite is ravenous and we are feeding her more than twice as much food as our other dogs. But she will soon begin to lose weight and we don't want that to happen before the pups are big enough to wean to solid food.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 2:16 PM
I made up a batch of the puppy formula and gave a first helping to the three smallest girls--Salsa, Churra and Pasilla. They took about 3/4 ounce each and let me know when they had enough.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
One of our two heaters didn't work last night for some reason and the pups got a little cold and were wimpering a lot. When I went in to see what was up, this is how I found them. Notice how they have all huddled up next to the side of the whelping box that is right next to the oil heater:
I am taking half-sister Lily to a dog show in Vallejo today so I weighed a little early. Nevertheless, the net gain for the last day was still about 5%, although it was concentrated in a few puppies, who gained 2 ounces or more. It was gratifying that one of these was Pasilla, who added 2.25 ounces. She was one of the three who got supplements yesterday, and it seems to have worked. This afternoon I will continue the supplements with her and all the pups who did not gain at least one ounce in the last day.
Friday, March 26, 2010 7:54 AM
Houston, we have a problem! When I woke up this morning, I remarked that Kaya had not come visit us in our bed during the night, as she has been doing the last few nights. I went into the whelping room and she was laying on the cushion next to the whelping box and made no attempt to greet me. I sat by her and noticed that one of her boobs seemed still full of milk. I touched it and was rewarded with a yelp of pain. A little investigation revealed that the nipple on that boob is not expressing milk and that it is painful to Kaya if I press at the very top of the boob. Clearly she has a mild case of mastitis, which is an obstruction in the mammary glands. I will also be taking Kaya to the vet this morning to have the problem examined and possibly start her on antibiotics to prevent gangrene mastitis from setting in. In the meantime, Cheri and I have been treating the boob to 10-minute courses of hot compresses, followed by putting one of the puppies on the nipple to see if any milk is flowing. At the beginning I tried using Tostada, who is a "super sucker" but even she could not dislodge the obstruction and get the milk flowing again. Although Kaya doesn't feel well, she is still taking care of keeping the pups and whelping box clean. And she did eat breakfast, although her appetite is clearly down and she only ate half as much as usual. I'll report more later after my trip to the vet. The emergency did cause me to skip this morning's Vallejo show. Yesterday Lily was Winner's Bitch and picked up her 5th point. Lily and Sheila were all ready to go for an 8 am ringtime today, but will be staying home instead.
Hopefully, we have dodged a bullet. I took Kaya to Bishop Ranch for an 8:45 appointment with Dr. Pogrel. After exam, he agreed that Kaya has early-stage mastitis in just the one gland (the first one on her left side). Although it was still tender, he was able by gentle massage to coax a few drops of milk from the nipple. The good news is that the milk was fresh and did not show the green or yellow cast of milk from an impacted gland that has already begun to abcess. Dr. Pogrel gave Kaya a cephalozin injection and we brought home cephalexin capsules for the next week. This will keep the mastitis from progressing to gangrene mastitis, which is a pretty serious thing. For today I will continue hot compresses for 10 minutes at a time every two hours and do some more of the "boob massage" that Dr. Pogrel taught me. When we got home, Kaya raced back to the whelping room to check on the puppies. We found that in our absence, they had all burrowed under the soft mat, which was pretty soiled with puppy "cheese poop." I needed to remove the safety rails today anyway, so I put all the pups in their little cardboard box, took out the rails, changed the carpet piece for a fresh one, and replaced the sleeping mat for a clean one. Kaya got into the clean box and let the puppies nurse and by the time I got back to the room after taking the soiled bedding to the washroom, they all had their fill. I noticed that most of them don't spend very much time on the nipple of the affected boob, but it doesn't seem as full as it did this morning, so they may have already emptied it.
About 11 I brought my bowl of hot water and towels back to the whelping room to do another compress round. Kaya saw me coming and decided that she would rather nurse, so she jumped in the box and let the pups eat again. I applied warm compresses to the top of the inflamed gland while the pups were nursing and was able to see that some milk is now coming out.
It is clear that she is feeling a lot better. After nursing, she came to me and told me that she was ready to eat now, so I took her out to the kennel and gave her a mid-day meal of two cups of the Canadae grain-free kibble that we use for Dawn. I weighed the pups and found a net gain of 7% since yesterday. Everyone gained; the big gainer was Nacho, who packed on 2 3/4 ounces.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Kaya seems to have handled the little mastitis glitch. Yesterday I put warm compresses on the impacted gland about every two hours, sometimes while she was lying on her side with the "boob of interest" at the top and while the puppies were nursing. I tried to have Tostada on the nipple that was having trouble with flow rate--as Meg Ryan put it, she can suck nails out of a board.
Kaya is still getting 1000 mg of cephalexin twice a day to be sure that there is no infection, in case the ducts are not fully open. The problem with mastitis is that a lot of milk builds up in the milk gland and stays there a few days, then begins to curdle and sour, leading to bacterial infection. It can rapidly abcess, in which case it is called "gangrene mastitis". When this happens, there is usually a blow out through the skin and it is really messy. The bitch has to go on major antibiotic therapy and be bandaged in such a way that it would not be possible for her to nurse the puppies. We have experienced this once, but fortunately it was when the pups were already about three weeks old, so we just weaned them to pan food a little ahead of schedule. If it happened this early, we would be stuck with bottle feeding ten puppies every 3 hours for another 10-12 days.
After her antibiotic treatment and the compress and massages of yesterday, Kaya's appetite returned and she had lunch (two cups of kibble) and a big dinner (two cups of kibble and three raw chicken backs, with the necks attached). This morning she chowed down 2 1/2 cups of prepared Honest Kitchen. Her energy has also returned and she is running to the front of the house to bark at the joggers running by, along with all the other dogs. I weighed at 8 am and found that the average gain since yesterday was aonther 7%. While I was weighing, Kaya lounged in the bed alongside the whelping box and I treated Salsa, Churra and Pasilla to private seatings at the restuarant while I weighed the other puppies. The pups also had their first visitor today, my friend Susan Whitehead.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
We had another show in Vallejo today and Lily was WB/BOW again so now she has 9 points and is "minored out", meaning that she just needs two majors to finish. Kaya and the pups had visitors--Alex, Darla, Giovanni and Marlena came to see their girl, and my friend Ashu Ravidan came from the dog show and stopped on her way home to play with the pups. Average weight gain for the last day was 6%, but two of the pups showed minimal or negative gain. They will get special seating this afternoon.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Well, Kaya and the pups are doing well, but I was struck during the night with a nasty virus. Chills, then fever, lots of aches and pains. I suppose it could be flu but this year I had both vaccinations, normal and H1N1. I slept until noon, then got up to have a little coffee (lack of caffeine was giving me a headache). While up I weighed the critters, changed the bedding in the whelping box, and fed Kaya her lunch. All but one pup gained weight with the average gain being another 7% to an average of a little more than 1 1/2 pounds. One puppy, Burrito, has been stuck on 25 ounces for a couple of days and he will get supplementation when Cheri gets home this afternoon.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
My virus was intense but quick and today I am almost as good as new. Nothing like 36 hours of almost continuous sleep to perk one up. The pups are continuing their boring existence--eat sleep, poop sleep--eat--etc. Average weight gain since yesterday was about 5%.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Yesterday I had to be off to San Francisco early for an all-day consulting job so we arranged for our pet-house sitter Scott Sorenson to come over and feed Kaya her lunch meal. I didn't get the pups weighed yesterday but when I weighed in this morning at 10 am I found that they are all prospering--average weight gain continues at about 6.5% per day--six are now over two pounds and the smallest two girls are more than 1 1/2 pounds each.
Friday, April 2, 2010
The pups are two weeks old this morning and the eyes and ears are open. They are staggering around the box on wobbly legs instead of scooting, as they did until just a few days ago. There usually comes a point in the development of a litter when the pups and mom get into a rythm on converting mom's food into milk and thence into puppy. We are at that point now with this litter--in the last 24 hours, six of the ten puppies gained more than 3 ounces. Poblano, our biggest boy, gained a stunning 6 ounces! On the other hand, the two smallest are having a harder and harder time competing and both Salsa and Pasilla did not gain since yesterday. Cheri just gave them both a bottle of supplement and we will do that at least two more times today. From here on, they will get special assistance in feeding until they gain enough weight to hold their own in the feeding frenzy.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Salsa and Pasilla each got the goat's milk bottle supplement twice yesterday, about 1 1/2 ounces each in each round. They have both learned how to nurse from the bottle and scarf the milk right down. Bottle-feeding a puppy makes them like to be picked up because of the obvious positive reinforcement. But it doesn't make them like to be cuddled because when they are picked up they expect a reward! Anyway, they both responded as desired and their weight gain is back on track. They each weighed in at 31 ounces this morning. Poblano continues to be the biggest gainer and he is almost three pounds now.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Kaya and her growing family had a happy Easter morning. Little Salsa started the day with a 2-oz milk bottle, then Kaya got her morning meal, along with the other adults. When she came back in, she jupmed in the box to feed the puppies, as is her general case after she eats. All ten puppies went to work and after they had fed a few minutes, Cheri and I took out the five biggest piggies and left the others to nurse their fill with no competition. They are getting to be real chunks now; Poblano and Nacho are both three pounds and the two smallest girls, Salsa and Pasilla, are both a bit over two pounds. The average weight is 37 ounces, which makes a total of 370 ounces, or more than 23 pounds of puppies! Since the total birth weight was only 8.7 pounds, this means that Kaya's nursing has resulted in a total weight gain of almost 15 pounds in just a little over two weeks.
It was my grandson Conner's 11th birthday so we had a little party this evening. Conner and 9-year old Camille enjoyed playing with the puppies.
Monday, April 5, 2010
The critters are getting very big and active. We are getting to a point where we are having to separate the pups sometimes for nursing. The biggest are so much stronger and faster nursers that they work the whole bar and empty most of the milk before the smaller sibs have had their share. So at occasional nursing times, I pull Poblano, Nacho, Tostado and Tamale out of the box and let the others have mom by themselves.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Every morning around 10 I weigh the pups and put them one-by-one out of the whelping box so that when they are all weighed I can pull out the mats, pick up the wet newspaper, and rebuild their box. The little cardboard box I have been using to contain them while I do this is way too small so this morning I put them loose on the bathroom floor. They were not used to the bright light coming in the windows and they all whined and moved back toward the little whelping room. Three found their way through the bathroom door and into the master bedroom, where two discovered the dog bed that Kaya sleeps on at night. They were quite happy to stay there because they recognized mom's smell.
Today's average weight gain was only about 3.5%, less than usual. Probably it is because of timing--sometimes I think I have weighed them not long after a nursing and today I think it was about four hours since the last nursing.
Sometimes Kaya really wants to be with the puppies but then she discovers what she has forgotten--they only see her as a milk bar. So she messes around with them and gets them all stirred up, and then eventually abandons them to their frustration. At this point she really only nurses about four times a day.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
We are doing more nursing maintenance now and it shows in the weight chart. Piggy Poblano is not hogging the goodies as much and he is only gaining 1-2 ounces a day, whereas Salsa, Pasilla and Taquito are getting their share and are putting on 2-4 ounces a day. There will be lots more visitors today as Cheri's brother and his family are in town checking out colleges for one of their daughters and will be spending the next two nights here with us.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Three weeks old today. The pups are doing great. Little Pasilla and Salsa have pretty much caught up with the pack and now we have five who are all similar in weight. Partly this has been because of our "nipple management". Whenever Cheri or I are there when Kaya lies down to nurse, we be sure that two of the biggest puppies are held out of the pack until all of the prime real estate has been occupied by the rest of the puppies (this would be the largest glands toward Kaya's rear) and then we let the two big porkers take the smaller nipples at the front end.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Saturday was lots of activity for the pups. We tried a select group (Pasilla, Salsa, Churra, Taquito) on goats milk formula from a bowl and they took to it like little kittens. They had several visitors since yesterday--our friend Audrey Richards and her two grandchildren came Friday afternoon, Barb Bridwell and Susan Whitehead came Saturday afternoon. Also, I made an exercise pen area with a varikennel so they can get used to being in a space that isn't as confined as the whelping room that they have called home the last three weeks.
About 5 pm I prepared the first real pan meal for the pups. It was 20 ounces of the goats milk formula and 1 1/2 cups of Gerbers rice cereal. The initial feeding was, as usual, chaotic with some pups diving in (literally).