First I’ll introduce you to Cadie, a 7 year old female springer spaniel. Cadie was bred this spring. This will be her last litter of puppies. After this litter, Cadie’s owner plans to have her spayed to decrease of the risk of things like uterine infection (called pyometra) or uterine cancer.
Most dogs are pregnant 2 months before they give birth to their puppies. After 44-45 days of pregnancy, the puppies’ skeletons usually calcify and can be seen on an x-ray. When we took the x-ray above, Cadie was nearing the end of her pregnancy. When we looked at Cadie’s x-rays, we saw 4 puppies for sure, although we thought there may be a 5th puppy hiding behind one of his sisters or brothers.
We soon found out that there were in fact 5 puppies that Cadie whelped at home.
After the puppies were born, one of the puppies did not seem to be doing as well as the rest and was not nursing, so she was brought to see Dr Oliver at North lake. Dr Oliver determined that she was dehydrated and a little weak on her suckle reflex. She was warmed to proper puppy body temperature then tube fed to try to get some calories into her. She was also given subcutaneous fluids to improve her hydration. She improved rapidly and went home to her mother afterwards.
One important thing to know about puppies is that they have to eat very frequently to keep up their body glucose (sugar) level. It is very easy for a puppy to become hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and dehydrated if they are not eating or drinking, sometimes only a matter of hours. It is also very important to make sure they maintain a good body temperature cuddling up to their mother and siblings. Breeders will often put a heat source (heat lamp or warming pad) at one end of an enclosure to make a warm temperature gradient so that puppies and mom can choose their preferred temperature.
Then there was “Grey cat”, a loveable cat without a home. She was found as a stray cat and a good samaritan started feeding her. It was soon apparent that her belly was becoming larger. She was brought to us at North Lake Vet for an exam. She looked very healthy on exam but we believed she was pregnant. An x-ray confirmed kittens.
We counted 5 kittens in the x-rays that we could see. Grey was started on a kitten food with more calories for a pregnant mother cat. We also checked a stool sample and found intestinal parasites called hookworms. Grey was given a dewormer and both Grey and her kittens will be dewormed every 2 weeks as the kittens are maturing to help kill parasites. Kittens are notorious for having parasites even if their mother appears parasite free. Some parasites become dormant in an adult animal’s body but become active when the pet becomes pregnant (certain hormones stimulate them) and can be transmitted through the placenta or the milk to the babies.
After our good samaritan found out Grey was pregnant she brought Grey inside and built a birthing box for her with soft blankets, so when her time came she had a warm soft place to have her kittens. A week later, 5 kittens arrived with no complications and “Grey cat” became “Mama”.
So it looks like all five kittens found homes and Mama cat will hopefully stay with her good samaritan. We are very happy for them.
Disclaimer: Although babies animals are very cute and look easy to care for, this is often not the case. Breeding a dog or cat irresponsibly can contribute to pet over-population and I do not encourage this. There can be many unforeseen and unexpected complications with breeding animals, including costly medical care (birthing problems, caesarian section cost) sickness and health risks, even death. If you are seriously considering breeding your pet please contact a veterinarian first to have all the information/preparation to make it a healthy experience.