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Dr. Stacy
Dr. Stacy, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1556
Experience:  10 years of experience in general practice.
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My 6.5 yr. Old Cav. Just had her 1st litter. 7 pups born on

Customer Question

My 6.5 yr. Old Cav. Just had her 1'st litter. 7 pups born on day 59 of her pregnancy. One had an open abdomen and my vet deamed him/her unviable. So I asked him to put her to sleep in case she was in pain.to cut a long story short after about 15 hours she had given birth to 7 puppies with birth weights from the smallest:102g, 129g,130g,173g, 176g, 181g and 213g. And we have lost 4 of those puppies. I am praying that the last 3 will survive and am trying to deal with the guilt of not having formula and tube feeding apparatus which might have saved two (one I think my bitch lay on her for long enough to smother her!) Were most of these puppies underweight from the start? When I told my vet that puppy 1 was 176g he said that was "very big for a cav. Pup." But now I'm beginning to wonder if she just had so many pup's that she went into labour a few days early and maybe had pups that were concieved later than the first who suffered? (Accepting my own inexperience playing its part. My vet said the u/s showed 2 or3 and I rejected an x-ray because I didn't like the idea of sedating a pregnant dog.i regret that) am I just making excuses for myself or what could I have done to prevent the loss of over half her litter? And is there a chance she would have another litter as big if I bred her again? A grieving cavalier owner.:'(
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Stacy replied 3 years ago.
Hi. My name is Dr. Stacy and I'm sorry you are having such a rough time. I raise and breed French Bulldogs and I know how hard it can be.

I'm not sure from your post how old the puppies are.

First, that is quite a bit of variation in birth weight... so the bigger 4 puppies are a good size, but the 102g puppy is smaller than I'd like to see.

Second, 59 days post breeding may be full terms. The breeding date and conseption date can be up to a week apart because of the length of time that semem lives in the uterus. So, unless you were measuring progesterones to determine her ovulation date, 59 days may be fine.

Were the puppies strong when they were born? Did they have a strong suckle? There are several reasons you can loose puppies in the first few days, some of them are beyond your control. There could be congenital defects (such as the one with the open abdomen) that you can't see that cause them to fade. There are viral infections, such as herpes virus that causes fading puppy syndrome that they could have.

My advise is to take a deep breath and take control of the things that are within your control, do your best with those because that is all you can do.

First, make sure the puppies are warm enough. Do you have a heat lamp? Being cold is the #1 preventable cause of puppy loss in the first few days. Use the puppies as a guide to help you know if they are too cold. If they are piling on top of each other, they are too cold. Second, is mom as comfortable as she can be... minimize her stress. Do you have a whelping box that has rails to prevent her from laying on the puppies? If not you may have to supervise her until the puppies are a few days old. You may have to take her out of the box when you are not watching, but you also need to realize that you can not watche her 100% of the time and that the more stressed she is, the more likely she is to lay on puppies.

Next, eating.... Does mom have milk? you may not be able to express much, but if there is some there.... focus on trying to get the puppies on mom. If they are weak and not suckling well then you can consider tube feeding. However, if you are not comfortable tube feeding, don't do it. If you have access to them, SQ fluids and electrolytes plus a dab of karo syrup in their mouth to keep their blood sugar up can be the best thing for a weak puppy.

You are doing all the right things. Keep doing them. And, if you do breed her again, I would choose a different male (just in case congenital problem were genetic). As far as herpes virus goes.... it is just a risk with first time moms, after that, mom passes immunity to future litters.

If you have more questions, please let me know.

Dr. Stacy