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Thread: Looking for some advice with a struggling puppy

  1. #1
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    Default Looking for some advice with a struggling puppy

    I need some advice for a struggling puppy. This little guy was one of 3 puppies, all boys, and weighed 10.2 ounces(!!) at birth. He nursed vigorously immediately, but lost a full ounce the first 24 hours. We started to supplement him just a little, but he continued to lose weight. So we started to tube feed him every 2 to 2-1/2 hours. At that point he stabilized and gained just a very small amount of weight. At about 2 weeks old we started to use the sponge method of feeding him that Sheena posted the link to (which, BTW, works VERY well!). He is now 3 weeks old and only weighs 16.3 ounces. We have been feeding him goats milk esbilac the whole time. By comparison, his brothers are BIG and healthy at about 40 ounces, so mom is definitely producing milk.

    So currently, he still nurses vigorously on mom, but I don't think he gets anything. If we back off on the esbilac, he drops weight. We are now feeding him about 3/4 ounce every 2 to 3 hours; he spits out the sponge when he is full and his tummy is very rounded. But he just doesn't seem to gain worth a darn. He is quite active and strong, especially when he smells the esbilac! He opened his eyes when he should have.

    We talked to the vet yesterday by phone and the gist of the conversation was that sometimes things are not meant to be. That may be true, but I'm not sure I'm ready to give up on the little guy yet, especially when he seems so strong. I keep hoping that at some point he will just take off. In the fifteen years or so of showing and breeding Cavaliers, my wife and I have never run across anything like this. Any advice or insight is greatly appreciated.
    Bruce H
    MysticKnight Cavaliers
    AKC Breeder of Merit

  2. #2
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    Hi Bruce,
    A few weeks ago we had a puppy with the same problem. Again this was my first experience of anything like this in over 40 years of breeding Cavaliers! She wasn't too bad until she got to around five weeks old and then never put on any weight at all. Her sisters were growing larger while she seemed to be shrinking! We struggled on with her till she was 10 weeks. She was very tiny and frail but ate well. She then started to have seizures as her system was slowly being poisoned. It was a heart breaking decision as by then she had become a little personality. I wish we had listened to our vet and had her pts weeks earlier. I really know how you feel wanting to fight for her but I feel our little girl didn't really have a good quality of life for those few weeks.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2008
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    Australia, near Shepparton in Victoria
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    Smile Best wishes

    I had one like this about 25 years ago - had to separate him from the other three in the litter once they opened their eyes, as he was getting 'bullied' by them He was less than 1lb at 6 weeks.

    He kept on going at his own pace and eventually got to about 14 lbs at about 3 years of age

    I called him Midget, and would have had him pts at about 12 months but my Dad wouldn't hear of it. Midget had a lot not to like about him, but had a fabulous personality. He became Dad's special friend - they went everywhere together - and I swear he gave my Dad at least another 6 or 7 years he wouldn't have otherwise had. Midget lived to be nearly 13.

    So Bruce, if this small person is meant to be, he will go on - just do your best, and hope for the best. You seem to be doing okay so far Perhaps try a very little, very finely scraped beef for him by himself - he's old enough now to tolerate it, and if he can't it will go straight through him and shouldn't cause him a problem.

    Good luck
    Jenny at Erinport
    Where Excellence Without Exaggeration Counts

  4. #4
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    Dec 2008
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    South Wales UK
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    I also had one like this and I still have him, now 10 years old. He was 11ozs born and lost wieght in the first week. At 2 weeks and 2 days he finally made it to 1 lb !! I started to wean him on scraped ,raw beef just before 3 weeks of age and he slowly gained weight. Like your pup he was strong. Beano then kept on growng and is really well up to size now. Just keep on doing what you're doing , it seems to be working so far. I did give Beano boiled (cooled) yogurt and a drop of glucose syrup before his feeds. Good luck.
    Barbara

  5. #5

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    What seems very odd about your pup is that he seems unable to suckle from his mother, or rather that his suckling doesn't help him get any milk. From the other things you say he doesn't seem to have a cleft palate. After he's eaten, do you help him evacuate or does his mother do that?? Are his faeces normal for a pup of that age?? I'm going off at all sorts of tangents here, but if his stomach is very rounded after he’s eaten maybe there is a problem with his intestines which either doesn't allow him to absorb his food properly or inhibits the passage......... just trying to think of any reason for his failure to grow properly. There is something niggling at the back of my mind; the name of a syndrome, but it escapes me at the moment.

    I have had quite a few puppies who have lost as much as an ounce after the first day, but they very quickly put it on again so I haven't worried. I’ve also had very few who have doubled in weight in the first week, which is supposed to happen. With the exception of three who grew huge, those that did double their weight were generally the smaller ones in a litter and "caught up". Even Unicité, who was a single puppy, didn't double her weight despite having the milk bar all to herself.

    It's impossible to say what happens: Raziela suddenly stopped gaining weight at four weeks of age, then began to lose it! We noticed a small lump under her jaw and took her to a vet who couldn't decide what it was, but said it seemed like an enclosed abscess. He gave me antibiotics to inject close to the site. That was nearly 13 years ago: she picked up and within a week was gaining again, and weighed about 4 lbs at eight weeks. She weighed 8 kilos this morning: about 17 1/2 lbs.

    On the other hand, a friend had a pup with similar problems at about seven weeks, and although she grew up and put on weight, it wasn’t enough: about eight or nine pounds adult. She was not strong, and died at about 2 from kidney failure: it's probable that there had been a kidney problem all along but no-one had checked her urine before she came obviously ill. This was some 25 years ago.

    Jane

  6. #6
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    Oct 2008
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    That's what I don't get about this puppy. He eats like crazy but barely gains. For some reason he doesn't seem to absorb the nutrients in the food he eats. I always try to pee and poop him before I feed him but seldom get very much. I've never actually seen him poop, maybe because mom is so meticulous about cleaning both him and his littermates. So we just continue on and hope for the best.

    Now the problem is that I'm getting REALLY attached to this guy. If he doesn't make it, it's going to be really tough for me. And if he does make it, I don't know if I'm going to be able to place him; it would have to be a very special home.
    Bruce H
    MysticKnight Cavaliers
    AKC Breeder of Merit

  7. #7
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    In 1992 my girl's litter of 3 arrived 10 days early. The vet said access to an incubator was needed, but I could not access one within travel distance, so the vet helped me devise a home made one. The 2 boys were 4 ozs each and the little girl only 2/14. Both boys were gone within 24 hours, but the girl thrived despite all the mistakes I made. Mum wanted nothing much to do with this one. The vet said it wasn't worth taking off the dew claws as she wasn't going to survive. I carried her around inside my bra for 3 weeks, giving her to Mum to toilet and snuggle. I drew off what milk I could get from Mum's teats and bottle fed it mixed with a little Goat Milk and honey. Puppy started to make steady gains in weight eventually and at about 8 weeks I got her onto scraped mince and a little egg. Round about then her mouth and sucking reflexes were strong enough to actually get some milk from Mum's teats. One week she gained 8 ozs. She grew into a robust but very small little Bl, but without much in the way of markings leaving her with an almost completely white coat on the body. She had no feathering. I decided to keep her as a pet because I had no idea whether her vital organs were completely formed or not and though I could not sell her as a pet.

    The markings slowly came in when she was about 3 or 4 years old and the feathering when she was about 8. I started showing her in veteran classes when she was almost 10 because I suddenly realised what a special little creature she was. Easter achieved every honour and award available to a veteran at that time because she was so amazing for her age - full of vitality and brimming over with the joy of life and loving that every Cavalier should have. She had inherited the sparkle and ring presence that her father had in abundance and was known all over the South West.

    I have no idea what it was that told me to persevere with this little one, but persevere I did, as I think you should with your 'little guy'. Easter repaid me a thousand times over by sharing an amazing 15 years of life with me and I have a very strong feeling that this little one may well surprise you yet. Let us know how he gets on please.
    Last edited by ByFloSin; 06-12-2013 at 03:27 PM.
    Warmest wishes
    Flo

  8. #8
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    Thinking the little guy may have some kind of stomach or intestinal issue, does anyone think a probiotic may help? Could it hurt at 3 weeks old?

    And thank you everyone for the comments thus far. I appreciate it more than you know.
    Bruce H
    MysticKnight Cavaliers
    AKC Breeder of Merit

  9. #9

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    Bruce, I think there's a variety of pastes for whelps you can get that are stuffed with flora and fauna, and some contain colostrum as well. Don't know best suppliers in US, expect your sources (or Google) will tell you. I know that there are some you can get that you give from day one, so I can't see that at three weeks it will hurt. Does sound as if he might be missing an enzyme or two - was the litter early? although by three weeks I'd have hoped it would have kicked in by now. Have you pored over Dr Jean Dodds' website? From various emails I've seen she's pretty good about phone calls too ...

    (Delighted the sponge thing works, must say when I saw it it was like a light bulb going on!)
    Sheena Stevens

  10. #10

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    I do hope he pulls through, it's so hard to explain to non dog people how attached we get to our puppies, I cried buckets when I lost a three day old girl from my last litter, crazy I know, but I'd spent lots of time supplementing her.

    I would also try getting him onto solids, it might be that he's not able to assimilate milk properly, but some finely minced beef could do the trick. Fingers crossed for you.
    Sue

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