Friday's REPRO TIP - These pictures (sorry they're a bit graphic) were taken during a surgery Dr. Jan performed on a Boston Terrier that was brought in with a very large scrotal swelling on one side. As you can see in the first picture, a large tumor was found to be completely deforming the left testicle (making it about 8-10 times its normal size), while the right testicle (middle picture) appeared to be unaffected. The last picture shows the mass after it was sectioned through the middle, and it's hard to even find normal tissue among all the deformed architecture. This little boy did great and recovered very well thanks to Dr. Jan's excellent care - and let's not forget to thank the rest of her team - Nicole and Kimberly!! Join us next week for a more detailed discussion of testicular tumors in dogs. Have a great weekend!
Friday's REPRO TIP - Water babies! What are they? A "water baby"(also known as ANASARCA) is a congenital defect in which puppies are severely deformed due to extreme water retention (see picture below - bottom puppy is a normal Cavalier King Charles puppy, top puppy is a water baby). What actually causes it is unknown, but hypothyroidism, cardiac defects and an undetermined genetic defect have been hypothesized.
• Most common in brachycephalic breeds (Bulldogs and Pugs)
• Treatment has been described using furosemide (Lasix) and potassium supplementation. Success rate with such treatment has not been reported and may be unrewarding.
All around...clearly not a desirable finding during a C-section (most common, as these puppies have great difficulty passing through the birth canal), and one with a sad ending
Friday's REPRO TIP - Recognize this birth defect? This is a great picture of a CLEFT PALATE, a congenital defect commonly seen in puppies. Congenital? Hereditary? What's the difference anyway? Congenital means "present from birth", while heritable means "able to be inherited" or "transmissible from parent to offspring". A cleft palate (most often congenital, likely inherited) is an abnormal opening in the roof/palate of the mouth, resulting from failure of the two sides of the palate to fuse together during development in the embryo. End result? An opening between the nasal passage and the mouth - so when puppies first start to nurse, milk typically comes running out the nose, making nursing sometimes impossible. Puppies often end up aspirating milk into their respiratory tract, often ending in pneumonia and death. This puppy was tube-fed for several weeks, with several ups and downs in its growth and development, and is currently awaiting surgical correction that is planned for sometime in the next 4-6 weeks.
A great reference to the most common congenital and heritable disorders in dogs? Check out this reference compiled with the assistance of Dr. W. Jean Dodds and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, including genetic predisposition to diseases. A GREAT RESOURCE FOR ALL BREEDERS!
Friday's REPRO TIP: Check out these cool x-rays! Emily came in just before her due date to be x-rayed in order to determine how many puppies were inside. We were lucky enough to catch a head-on view (facing the camera!) of the puppy on the left side of the x-ray, along with a zoomed-in version for better clarity. Our state-of-the-art digital x-ray machine provides unmatched clarity which is really helpful diagnostically - in this case helping us determine that 3 puppies would be coming out feet first. Although this is not a true "breech" position and is in itself a normal way puppies can be delivered, it does not usually provide as much dilation to the cervix and can sometimes lead to complications. And complications there were....Emily and her owners met Dr. Adams at 2:30 am Wednesday morning for a C-section, eventually delivering 4 live, beautiful puppies that today are doing great. Congratulations to you, Emily!
Friday's REPRO TIP - Meet Iris, a pregnant English Cream Golden Retriever, that came in last week because she was past her due date and her temperature had stayed below 99 degrees for over 48 hours (usually a sign that labor is imminent). Iris' owner brought her in for us to check out whether or not she or the puppies were in trouble. At that late stage of gestation the most important pieces of information are 1) progesterone testing and 2) fetal heart rates. Progesterone drops at the end of pregnancy which leads to whelping, and any value less than 2 ng/ml means that labor is on its way! FETAL HEART RATE (easier, cheaper, and faster to measure) gives us a direct idea of how the puppies are doing, so we decided to measure that first in Iris' case. Fetal heart rates were all greater than 200 beats per minute which is totally normal and reveals a lack of fetal distress. We therefore decided it was safe to give Iris some more time to do things the natural way, and 2 days later, 11 puppies arrived safe and sound! Congratulations, Iris!
Friday's REPRO TIP - What makes a bitch go into labor?
The initial stimulus actually comes from HORMONES PRODUCED BY THE PUPPIES, sort of like a knock at the door signaling that it's time for them to come out.
With a singleton litter, however, the knock can be so "quiet" that the bitch's body doesn't recognize that it's time to get things moving, leading to prolonged gestation and, well, no labor! Gestation can sometimes continue for 2-3-even 4 days beyond the normal due date, until finally the puppy is no longer able to survive in the uterine environment (which it has outgrown), leading to fetal death.
So what's the best strategy with singleton litters? Using OVULATION TIMING to help pinpoint the exact due date, beyond which it's best to not let the pregnancy go without intervening via an elective, planned C-section to hopefully deliver a live puppy!
Many a C-section has been done 2-3-even 4 days beyond the due date, most often delivering a dead, decomposing puppy that no one is happy to receive. More on this subject next week, but in the meantime, enjoy the pretty weekend!
Friday's REPRO TIP - Milk! Milk! So wonderful when you need it with a large litter, but what to do when it's time for weaning and Mama's still producing gallons?
This is a great time for mastitis to set in, especially when the puppies stop nursing abruptly and the mammary glands get engorged with milk. A most important key to successful weaning is to do it GRADUALLY (over a period of 2-4 weeks, sometimes longer) while simultaneously restricting food and water intake.
Lots of weaning schedules are available online, with the primary goal being that the amount of food offered to the dam be less than what she normally eats when not pregnant or nursing. Nursing frequency and duration should also decrease significantly, but I can't emphasize enough the significance of doing it GRADUALLY.
Finally, if stronger measures are needed, Bromocryptine is a wonderful addition to the plan - it decreases the production of Prolactin, the hormone responsible for stimulating the production of milk. No Prolactin, no milk!
Please give us a call if you need any help or have any questions regarding successful weaning. Have a great weekend!
Friday's REPRO TIP - Semen analysis - So what do all those numbers mean anyway? A good semen analysis should include (at a minimum) an evaluation of 3 important parameters:
MOTILITY (What percentage of sperm are moving in a consistently forward direction?),
MORPHOLOGY (How are the sperm shaped? Are any of them deformed?), and...
TOTAL SPERM CONCENTRATION (the total amount in the ejaculate). A stud dog should have enough normally shaped sperm that are able to reach the target (the egg) and perform their primary function once they arrive (fertilization).
Minimum acceptable standards for what is typically referred to as an "Effective Breeding Dose" are 100 million normally shaped, progressively motile sperm per breeding. Don't forget to factor in how many of them don't make the cut! Have a great weekend,
Friday's REPRO TIP - So when is she really due??? When will she deliver those puppies??
Breeders often try to calculate a bitch's due date based on when she was bred, but because bitches are often bred for several days in a row, this can seem like hitting a moving target. When the ovulation date is known (from PROGESTERONE testing), the due date is always 63 days from that day. If she ovulated on a Wednesday, her due date is also on a Wednesday (just 9 weeks later).
Today's tip is meant to help in those cases where ovulation dates are NOT known. Bitches will typically go OUT of heat almost exactly 1 week after ovulation, so that gives us another way to guesstimate a bitch's due date: she will quite predictably whelp 8 WEEKS after she goes out of heat and the male loses interest.
So when all else fails (no ovulation timing information available, just multiple breedings over a long period of time), remember - counting 8 weeks from the day she went OUT of heat is your best bet for identifying her due date! HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!
Friday's REPRO TIP - How to help a nursing mama produce more milk? Low milk production can be a HUGE problem, especially with large litters. We have found that the best responses come from the use of DOMPERIDONE (no, no, not Dom Perignon - a drug that increases milk production by indirectly increasing production of the hormone Prolactin (which stimulates the mammary gland cells to produce milk).
We have found it to be the most effective option and we use it quite regularly with good results. There really is nothing better than the dam's own milk for her puppies and the use of Domperidone is a great way to maximize its supply. We just threw in a picture of the Dom Perignon because although it probably won't increase the production of milk, you may just need it to celebrate the arrival of that new litter!!! And help you through the first sleepless nights....