Letting Trouble Puppies Die?
If the dam is experienced, I'm wondering if there is a case for letting puppies that she knows just aren't thriving to die (or removing them to have them PTS). I know there are folks in the Tamaskan dog community in Europe who practice this regularly, as mom often knows more about her pups than we can tell. If it's a practice in the USA the breeders I know sure keep quiet about it.
I think new mothers cannot be counted on to identify a trouble puppy, as some accidentally exclude or crush their pups out of inexperience or even confusedly treat them as whiny squeaky toys. But a mother on her second or third litter is a bitch whose instincts I'd be more keen to trust. There's usually a reason that she persistently refuses to feed or removes a puppy from the whelping box, and I'm just wondering if our human desire to 'save them all' is really the best plan for them.
I have multiple threads about my dogs on here, but one in particular has been nothing but a medical headache since he was born. He would not nurse when whelped, mom kept leaving him at the cooler end of the box, he did not seek his littermates, and received sub-q fluids twice in the first three days. He picked up just fine after that and by week 7 was the largest in the litter, but I always harbored a reservation about that in the back of my mind. His breeder said it happens all the time and they just need some help sometimes, and I believed it and thought no more of it. I'm sure a lot of the time a fading puppy just needs a little boost and then is right back on track.
Since then, we've had issues. All the dogs and puppies at his breeder got hookworms and my boy had the worst complications. It took him longest to resolve the diarrhea and he was the only one who had lethargy problems. When he was 10 weeks old he developed a limp that continued till recently, and he was diagnosed with non-traveling pano that has now become full-limb pano in the past few days. As I type this he is curled in a ball in bed because all his legs hurt so bad. And he's an extremely stoic dog.
He cannot have Rimadyl or Vetprofen because when he was on pain management for his pano initially he developed a severe gastric complication (may not have been related to the medications, but to be safe he no longer takes them), in which his stomach flora succumbed to enterococcus, his gut shut down, and we had to open him up twice. He had four inches of dead intestine removed and had his pyloris cut after being hospitalized and not being able to digest food for over a week (constant vomiting).
Most recently and perhaps as a complication of his 'outbreak' of all-limb pano he has stopped eating and had uncurable diarrhea for five days. Despite sub-q fluids, pro-pectalin, probiotics, and metro his diarrhea has continued. His prostate is enlarged and mildly painful. He has diminished appetite, each day he refuses food more.
He's also had spotty hair loss around his mouth (checked for demodex even though both parents back at least three generations have no signs whatsoever, scrape was negative).
He is obviously not a breeding candidate, and I was going to rehome him with a family I know who has his sister and uncle, but I'm going to keep him as a pet instead. He 's just too complicated to pawn off on somebody else and I have an employee discount working at my vet so it's a lot easier for me to handle all this crap than whichever family he ends up with.
I love him and he's the sweetest boy I know, but I can't help but wonder if 'saving' him in the whelping box was the best choice. His mother has had litters before and she's a good mother. Continually excluding him may have been done for a very good reason. Maybe he has a systemic disorder that we just haven't diagnosed yet. Maybe he has an auto-immune disease. One more system problem and we'll have to find a specialist like Dr. House to see if there's a common thread that unites all his issues or if he really is just the unluckiest dog in the medical world.
Luckily, the pano will resolve some day. We'll see how his diarrhea goes; if we have to open him up again to re-cut his pyloris I might have to make a hard decision. I cannot have him put under every 4 months and cut open. That's too cruel and unnecessary. I hope it doesn't come to that. I'd hate to have to euthanize him for that. I'm just glad he was free; I've paid far more than his sale price would have been just to keep him alive. He's been by far the most complicated dog I've ever owned. One of my females has HD, but that was simple. Another female has had zero problems and I didn't realize how nice that was until I had this male to compare it to.
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