I’m filled with nostalgia when I look at this picture. It reminds me of a time that is long gone. I was then a veterinary student. I was young and bold. And when you are young and bold, well, you make mistakes. Nothing abnormal there because, somehow, that’s how we learn.
At this time I owned a bitch and, by accident, she got pregnant. She gave birth to 9 puppies two months after. I was not ready for that at that time. I made mistakes. I’ll skip you all the things that went wrong because there were quite a few of them. The thing is : I ended up losing 4 of the pups. Obviously I was sad. Hard to feel good when you know you failed. But one thing I learnt from life : failure is not an end. You need to stand up. And come back stronger.
I guess that’s what motivated me to learn. I read textbooks. I spoke with veterinarians involved in this area. I left Toulouse and all my friends to go to Paris to join CERCA, a specialized center in canine repro. I thought I was leaving for just one year. It turned out to be a fantastic 7-year adventure. I clearly learnt a lot and when I had my next litter, felt better prepared.
As soon as gestation was confirmed, guess what I immediately bought ? A scale.
THE best way to monitor newborn's health
It is so far the greatest tool ever to monitor a newborn’s health. You breed dogs : you need to have one of those on hand before the puppies are even born.
Here are 5 reasons why it is such a huge game changer :
#1 Rule of thumb : a healthy puppy gains weight on a daily basis. When puppies do a plateau or lose weight, something is definitely wrong. And this is always the first clinical sign you will be able to detect. Thanks to your scale.
#2 In veterinary textbooks, it is often written that « puppies can lose up to 10% of their initial birth weight on the first day after they are born. » That’s what I was taught, and I’ve said it for many years in my lectures. However, when it comes to canine neonatology, we never stop learning. Recent studies showed us that this is not true. Anytime puppies lose weight, it means danger.
They should ALWAYS gain weight
#3 Puppies should be weight as soon as possible after they are born. Recent studies indeed indicated that low birth weight puppies have a risk of neonatal mortality increased 13-fold. As soon as those puppies are detected therefore, preventive measures should be taken to optimize their chances of survival (like supplementing them with a milk replacer for instance).
#4 A new parameter has recently been introduced in the field of canine neonatology. It is called « Early Growth Rate » and here is how it is calculated :
If Early Growth Rate ≤ -4% , risk of neonatal mortality is increased 8-fold. -4%… When this is detected, again, preventive measures to optimize survival rate will need to be taken. You will need to do the math, sure. But again, you will definitely need a scale.
Colostrum absorption & weight gain are correlated
#5 Proper weight gain as discussed above is well correlated with colostrum absorption (more on this here ). We now know that around 20% of puppies won’t receive the colostrum from their mother (see here for more info). When this happens, the neonatal mortality risk is increased 9 fold. This confirms that colostrum absorption is crucial in puppies. And it also offers a very simple tool to detect those that are at-risk… and again, take early preventive measures.
So if you don’t have one yet, buy a scale for your maternity. And when you have newborn puppies, use it daily.
It a simple thing that will definitely help you a great deal.
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