|Just a lazy Sunday!|
“Feast or Famine”To add to the challenge of nursing nine puppies, Skye contracted mastitis this week - an inflammation of a mammary gland which is an infection caused either by a little bite or scratch or in this case, an overabundance of milk. This is not uncommon in larger litters and not serious when diagnosed and treated in the early stages. We opted for two courses of treatment: the medical solution of a regimen of antibiotics coupled with the homeopathic one of basting the wound with saline solution and the incredible healing properties of honey. For a bit of relief, we put a little wading pool out in her run for her to use to cool off with or treat her to some hydrotherapy in the shower.
With an elevated temperature, Skye’s milk production virtually stopped so we had to begin bottle feeding her mini pack. Once her temperature dropped, she was able to nurse a bit again, at least the ones who weren’t so keen on hitting the bottle. We have to keep part of Skye’s “equipment” bandaged up so we’re monitoring the pups very closely to ensure that they all get a turn at the milk bar while it’s under repair.
It’s exciting for us when the puppies’ eyes open at around the 10-day mark. Many of the puppies’ critical organs including their brains are not fully formed and they will spend several weeks developing rapidly. Since the gestation period in dogs is short (63 days), the tradeoff is that puppies are quite helpless at birth. Biologists refer to species that produce immature dependent offspring as altricial, which means “to nurse, to rear or to nourish”. It refers to the need for the young of these species to be fed and taken care of for a long period of time. Puppies are born with their eyelids tightly shut because the eye itself is still developing and is extremely fragile. The closed eyelids serve as a barrier to protect the eyes from potential damage. Now that their eyes are open, it will take a few weeks before their eyes mature and their eyesight begins to approach normal. The puppies are also born functionally deaf since their ear canals are closed. While their ear canals begin to open at around the same time, the ears are much more fully formed than the eyes and their hearing will be quite acute within a week or so.
At first glance, it may appear that the puppies spend all their time sleeping, but they spend a good deal of time exercising. As but as they lay there asleep, they are constantly twitching. These involuntary actions, referred to as “activated sleep”, help strengthen their leg muscles and begin to build muscle mass. This allows them to plod around on all fours when they’re in search of their mom for a snack and that’s fairly often.
That’s it for now but be sure to join us next week for another riveting installment of “Puppy Tales”.