Living With Senior Dogs

It’s not easy watching your dog grow old. Their steps become slower. Their joints get stiff or fail them. Their eyes fail them. Their hearing fails them. All age related issues you see in geriatric humans, you’ll see in your canine family member. You become acutely aware that your time together is shortening, and you deny to yourself that they’re a step closer to their final days, but you celebrate their age. she’s no longer 11, she’s “11 1/2”, she’s just “two months from 13”. Half-birthdays and extra months are celebratory events.

Rumble *13 in two months*, has never had an accident in the house, but did this past Saturday – Two times, within 5 minutes, then immediately went again outside. These were full-stream events. The next night, she peed and vomited in her crate during the night. Soooo…. That’s somewhat textbook for a urinary tract infection. Her urine was collected. How do we do that? Well, Rumble is a LOW squatter, so getting any urine from under her is impossible. We crated her, we lined her kennel with new clear plastic used to protect the floors for painting, or for covering plants, let her out after a hour in the crate, and into her plastic lined run, she goes, and we suck it up into a syringe. It helps us to get a clean (althought not sterile) urine catch. Off to the vet we go…

No, she’s not off her food [Rumble will eat up to the last minute of her life, I’m sure], and her behavior is normal. She has slowed down over the last month, and for the first time a few weeks ago, declined to chase a ball gently rolled for her to fetch. Her eyes are covered with old age cataracts. Her hearing is pretty good. She can absolutely hear the food bowls being readied. She does have some selective hearing – she loves to wander outside of the yard, and declines to hear me when I call her back. She’s a bit gimpy on one rear leg, following the gift of a body-slam from her granddaughter, and the subsequent CCL rupture, which we had repaired with a traditional ‘tight-rope’ sort of repair, using suture to create a make-do ligament. I would not put a nearly 12 year old through a TPLO, as the recovery is notable.

The vet checked the urine, which was amber colored and clear, only to find her urine tested clear of red blood cells, or leukocytes. A urinary analysis. checks for:

  • color
  • appearance (whether it is clear or cloudy)
  • odor
  • pH level (acidity)
  • substances that are not normally in urine, such as blood, too much protein, glucose, ketones, and bilirubin
  • cells, crystals, and casts (tube-shaped proteins)
  • bacteria or other germs

Her U.A. showed nothing that indicated urinary tract infection. We agreed to send it in for a culture and sensitivity regardless, just in case we caught it very early, and a culture would allow bacteria that was not detected, to grow. Well, that was a surprise. We were pretty sure she’d have a urinary tract infection.

On to check the other organs! Her blood was drawn for a “senior panel”
Complete blood count (CBC) checks for

  • total number of red blood cells (the RBC count)
  • total amount of hemoglobin in the blood
  • percentage of blood made up of red blood cells (the hematocrit)
  • average red blood cell size (the mean corpuscular volume)
  • average weight of hemoglobin per red blood cell (the mean corpuscular hemoglobin)
  • average amount of hemoglobin per red blood cell (the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration)
  • total number of white blood cells
  • number of each type of white blood cell (the WBC differential), including neutrophils (the absolute neutrophil count, or ANC)
  • number of platelets (the platelet count)

Biochemistry profile:

albumin, total protein, alkaline phosphatase, SGOT, SGPT, blood Urea, creatinine, bicarbonate (HCO3 ), chloride, sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, cholesterol, glucose, lactate dehydrogenaseric acid.

A chemistry profile of various organs:

Liver Disease Markers For Liver Cell Injury Or Congenital Liver Disease:

Total Bilirubin., Alkaline phosphatase, SGOT and SGPT, Total protein, Albumin, LDH

Kidney Function Panel For Kidney Diseases:

Urea (Blood urea nitrogen), Creatinine, Electrolytes

Electrolyte Panel For The Status Of The Hydration Of The Body:

Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, CO2, and pH.

Thyroid hormone testing for Hypo Or Hyperthyroidism

Rumble’s Senior panel was perfectly normal. Her heart and lungs were normal. What are we left guessing if that culture and sensitivity come back normal? Probably canine senility, or cognative disorder, which is often demonstrated by a normally housetrained dog who suddenly starts having “accidents”; they signal less to go outside and may urinate or defecate indoors soon after being outside. This can progress to disorientation or confusion, disturbances of the sleep-wake cycle, decreased activity level, and sometimes less interaction/recognition of housemembers. She likely was aware that she had urinated in her crate that night, and this was stressful enough for her to cause her to vomit.

We’ll place Rumble on “Bright Mind” dog food, which, in our experience supports canine senior related cognative issues very well, and helps them with arthritic issues. We saw dramatic changes with Tank and Lucas. Hopefully this will help Rumble have a great quality of life. She’s still bright, healthy, and happy. That’s all we care about. Hopefully this diet will support the continuance of a happy life. We are likely just seeing the effects of age, which is a normal part of life. We’ll also have to pay more attention to her in the house, and get her out more regularly. She’ll likely need more baths if she has accidents in her crate, and beyond that, she’ll just live out her life as a well-loved old lady canine.

Always remember your state of dress

In a time far-far away (probably 20 years ago), I had just whelped a new litter. I stay up with my new moms for about a week, trading short sleep shifts with my husband, keep a baby monitor on my puppies, to hear them no matter where I am, in the event mom rolls on one, which is rather silly, because when a bitch rolls on a puppy, it is silent and quick. I’ve had it happen only three times in 40 years. It has always been the result of a tactical error on the bitches part, and never behind her, but rather, under her. The bitch stretches way forward to clean another puppy in front of her, as one crawls behind her, and up to her now exposed underside, then the exhausted mom rolls back to lie down, and rolls onto said puppy, ignoring the lump directly under her. Said puppy hasn’t got a chance if not found. We Lost one that way, saved one in exactly the same spot when my young son did a nose count and came up short (saved that puppy with nose to mouth breathing), and a stranger saved the third… thus the story:

I stay up with them and we do shifts, as mentioned, above. This particular girl was an experienced mom, and wrangled puppies with finesse. Sometime at the end of week one, my presence seemed moot, and I was totally exhausted, as we all are at that stage. Not only are they on an audio baby monitor, which I carry, this was the first time I had put them on a webcam. In those days I was a member of a group I had started called “whelp-watch”. The concept was wonderful, and in truth, I would like to start that up again. People opened their whelping’s, setting cameras up for viewing (no location mentioned), and people were free to watch the whelping process. The agreement was, that if a viewer saw anything (bitch acting as if in labor and no human visible on camera, puppy in danger, anything untoward), that they would call a number provided by the litter owner, and notify them,

So, here we were, a week out from delivery, and I suggested my husband and I go and enjoy a glass of wine in the jacuzzi, look at the stars, and just relax after a long week. That is exactly what we did! What I fail to mention here, is that we do so sans bathing suits, as suits add soap to a jacuzzi, and we indulge as God made us. Our jacuzzi area was beyond the view of others (acres away) and we went in when it was dark.

There we were… wine, a hot jacuzzi, the baby monitor, telephone, a clear warm night, the stars, and just sitting back, finally relaxing after our week, sinking down into the water, feeling every muscle relax. The phone rang and pierced the silence. “Ma’am, you don’t know me, but I live in North Carolina (thousands of miles away), and I was just watching your camera, and thought you should know a puppy crawled behind your girl, and she rolled back on it!”. FEAR gripped me! I jumped out of the jacuzzi, ran through my bedroom, into the hall, into the living room, right to the room my mom and puppies were in, and God (thankfully) put three thoughts in my head – JACUZZI – ROBE – CAMERA! I had just left the Jacuzzi, I had NO robe, and the camera was ON (to the world!). Holy cow, I was about to dart into a box as God made me! I ran back, snatched my robe, put it on while running back, and tied it on as I arrived inside the box. I lifted my bitch up just in time to save a puppy gasping it’s last futile attempts at getting oxygen, and it took a deep breath, and was fine. I gave a thumbs-up to the camera, and snuggled my little one, on camera… in my robe. It could have been so much different had I not had that camera on the puppy, had that man never had the courage to call, and had God not put three thoughts in my head!

Body Slams Happen!

We’re at the Vet with Rumble. Her CCL got nuked: it’s not often you get a photo of the very second before the injury (lateral body slam), 8 days ago. We’re weighing the surgery options. Hip x-rays right now to see if her hips can support the knee fix (if we do one). At 11, weighing the risks of surgery vs the deterioration of the knee and pain, is hard.

UPDATE: Hips look good. She’s a good candidate for surgery. Surgery scheduled for 12/11/20.

We discussed many approaches.

He does not feel the splints are useful. To be effective in keeping the knee stable, they’d have to be very tight. We’d end up with muscle atrophy and possible skin wear.

We both agree that a TPLO is way too much for an old girl. I won’t consider that.

We both agree the lateral suture technique is best suited for this girl (for young and middle-age dogs, TPLO IS 100% my fix of choice) but I need to thin her down a bit (weight reduction commencing now!) for a lateral suture technique!

He favors a “wait and see in two months” approach to see if scar tissue develops sufficiently to stabilize the knee, and go from there, but agrees that two months in the life of an 11 1/2 year old is a lot (my argument).

My thinking:

  • Dan is recovering from neck surgery, and will be very limited until at least Feb. having two in recovery is better than one at a time.
  • Two months puts her even closer to 12. Age is a enemy to surgical healing.
  • waiting two months allows for two months of scar tissue to develop, and scar tissue just builds on itself. Might as well minimize that as much as possible to make the surgery easier.
  • I hate for her to be in pain. The sooner she is out of pain, the better.
  • she just had a geriatric panel a couple of months ago. It looked great. We’ll do another the day of surgery, but we have the knowledge that she is in good shape now.
  • She’s on a anti-inflammatory now, so her pain will be controlled, and inflammation reduced. I think there is no reason to wait.
one second before Lili delivered an epic body slam

Those Pesky Records

The AKC requires that a breeder keeps records on everything. I am great at collecting and keeping documents in one place, but I was literally piling paperwork into a notebook (not neatly, not in the rings, just in it!). I had this bulging 4” ring binder stuffed with loose papers.

I got up this morning, and spent the day organizing records that have not been organized in about 5 years! It took me 10 hours, but I now have organized/spotless records, and have reduced the current dog notebook to a tidy book that is more empty than I have ever had (we only have 5 dogs here now!)

After 40 years, I have six 3 & 4” notebooks fully filled with the records of dogs that are gone (died or placed), and one for the five dogs I have. Some of you would be jealous of the pedigrees and photos I have in some of those old notebooks! I have really old pedigrees. I talked to one of my daughters today, and told her to make sure that one day in the future, when they are looking at notebooks full of dog records, that before she burns them, to offer the old pedigrees and pics to some Lab-owning pack-rat (One friend immediately came to mind).

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in a 9 week old puppy – and 1 year later update (2/20/20)

By definition from the American College of Veterinary Surgeons .Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is a rapidly progressive life-threatening condition of dogs. The condition is commonly associated with large meals and causes the stomach to dilate, because of food and gas, and may get to a point where neither may be expelled. As the stomach begins to dilate and expand, the pressure in the stomach begins to increase. The increased pressure and size of the stomach may have several severe consequences, including:
  • prevention of adequate blood return to the heart from the abdomen
  • loss of blood flow to the lining of the stomach
  • rupture of the stomach wall
  • pressure on the diaphragm preventing the lungs from adequately expanding leading to decreased ability to maintain normal breathing
The stomach can become dilated enough to rotate in the abdomen, a condition called volvulus. The rotation can lead to blockage in the blood supply to the spleen and the stomach. Most pets are in shock due to the effects on their entire body. The treatment of this condition involves stabilization of your pet, decompression of the stomach, and surgery to return the stomach to the normal position permanently (gastropexy). This is a fast-moving, immediately life threatening emergency.  It has been called “the mother of all emergencies”. This is just one GDV story, but unlike most, this has one very unusual twist… the victim is a 9 week old puppy, and the puppy survived!   Katie Bell ate her dinner. Went outside and was found eating food left by one of our older dogs who, unknown to us, had not finished her food. She then tried to drink a lot of water.  We stopped her, because she looked extremely full.  We put her up to rest with her sister, and within 30 minutes, heard a sound that can only be described as a very loud exaggerated belch.  It was a sound that made four adults jump.  I went to check on the puppies.  Katie Bell was trying to vomit, trying to get comfortable and crying. She could not vomit. She was in notable distress, and her greatly expanding abdomen was alarming.  We were visiting our daughter, so she called her Vet for an emergency-vet referral and I videotaped Katie Bell, so that the Vet could see the onset symptoms.  We initially thought it might be just “food bloat”, but I strongly sensed she was in a life-threatening situation, and after several attempts we tried to contact any close Emergency Vet (E-Vet).   One was closed because of snow (the vet could not get in).  The second was a known to give sub-par care.  The last was called “Pets R Us“, which terrified me (they REALLY need to consider a name change), but was about 5 minutes away, and this girl needed immediate attention. We left, praying Katie Bell would survive.  This is the video I took as she called her Vet: We arrived at the clinic in less than five minutes of leaving the house, and were brought straight back.  He took x-rays and sent them to the radiologist for an “official” reading, and at the same time, prepped Katie Bell for surgery.  I credit Dr. Habeeb for his quick decisions.  He had to wait for the Radiologist report because of clinic policy, but he wasn’t fooling around while he waited. He started a IV catheter and begin shock management which included rapid administration of intravenous fluids, and pain medications. Blood work was done to assess internal status, placed on a cardiac monitor, and antibiotics given.   She was completely prepped and hydrated by the time the result came back.  Note how her stomach is not in the proper position and is very bloated: This is the radiologist’s review: The Dr. told us to go home, and that he would call us the moment he finished the surgery.  Reluctantly, we left our precious baby in his care, and prayed.  We knew all the risks of this condition, and being a retired ER Nurse, I knew too much, which led me to believe I would never see Katie Bell alive again.  When the stomach twists, it immediately cuts off all circulation to the stomach and the bowels.  The spleen is often involved in the torsion as well.  Hemorrhage is a real risk when the spleen is damaged, and because the torsion has effects on the whole body, including the heart, the surgery and post-op period are gravely complicated.  The risk of death is absolute in an adult dog (about 50% depending on the amount of time from torsion to surgery), and we were dealing with a baby.  No veterinarian I have spoken to since, has ever seen GDV in a puppy, although literature states it can happen, and none would expect a puppy to survive.   Katie Bell was in the skilled hands of Dr. Habeeb, and absolutely was in the hands of God.    The Dr. rotated her stomach back into position (yes, it was in full torsion), and her spleen and stomach were checked for damage. Her stomach was intact (no rupture), and as it re-profused, it looked like the tissue was going to be okay.  Her spleen had a small amount of discoloration at the tip, but showed signs of re-profusion immediately.  A tube was passed down the esophagus and into her stomach, to decompress the stomach, which was full of gas, fluid, and food.  He did not surgically enter the stomach.  A gastropexy was performed whereby the stomach is tacked to the body wall behind the rib cage down low, so that it could not twist again out of position, however, due to the delicate nature of her tissues, he was not confident that the gastropexy would hold.  She did suffer some cardiac dysrhythmia related to decreased coronary perfusion and re-perfusion injury during the surgery.   A few hours later we got the call that she wasn’t just doing well, she was wagging her tail.  He stated she was fully awake within 15 minutes of the surgery.  Sedated, she would now sleep, and so could we.  The next few days could bring heartache, as complications often happen within days of this surgery.  Sometimes, the necrosis (death of tissue) is not fully realized when the surgery is complete, and death of stomach, bowel, heart, lung and spleen tissues could advance well after the surgery is complete.  Three days later, Katie Bell was released from the hospital.  A good Veterinarian friend suggested human baby onesies, rather than make this baby wear a cone, as long as she did not fuss with the outfit.  This was a precious tip!  Not only was it effective, it was clean, and we bought several, so that they could be changed frequently, and darn it… they were darling.   We stayed with our daughter (in California) for a few more days, to be sure she would not suffer any complications, and because Katie Bell was on so many medications (about six), we wanted to make sure our trip home to Idaho was as risk-free as possible. I am very fortunate to have a number of friends who are Veterinarians, and breeder friends who have trusted vets, that we had the names of several who would see her at a moment’s notice, night or day, on our two day trip home. At least we thought it would be a two day trip home. We were wrong. A snow storm hit us when we reached Klamath Falls Oregon, and by the time we got to Bend Oregon, we knew we had to stay put. None of the Veterinarians we had lined up were in Bend. We took her to Central Oregon Animal Hospital and had her rechecked for safety by Dr. Douglas, wanting him to see her stable in the event she suffered any change in condition. What a kind and thoughtful Dr.!! She was in great condition (for a puppy who should have died), and we were much more comfortable knowing she had been rechecked. This was the second Veterinarian we had seen with her that was not familiar to us, which is scary when you have come to trust your pet to the care of well-vetted doctors. We were snowed in for three days. We had her rechecked by her own vet the day after we got home. Needless to say, like the others, he just shook his head that this puppy was alive, and acting perfectly normal. Katie is a *very* rapid eater, and immediately after surgery we realized the need for special bowls to slow her down.
It had been our intention to keep Katie Bell for showing purposes, but we decided that she’d had enough in her short life. She needed a family of her own, to just be a pet. However, the risk of GDV recurrence is great without a gastropexy, and we weren’t sure if hers would hold. Then our daughter and her family came forward, asking for her. Our daughter is a P.A. in the Army, and fully understood the dangers, risks, and necessary precautions that need to be done, up to and including checking and possibly re-doing the gastropexy at a later date. Dogs who have had GDV and do not have a functioning gastropexy have a 85% chance of re-torsion at a later date. A functioning gastropexy reduces the risk to 4%. Katie Bell has since had two occurrences that indicate that her gastropexy may have held afterall. She became mildly distressed and bloated, then belched and was fine in a very short period of time. We believe she suffered from mild gastric dilation, and belched up the gas.  Today, Katie Bell is growing up and is a very well-behaved puppy.  She is quite the little rock-star, gaining attention everywhere she goes.  She’s a little walking miracle.  We owe such a debt of gratitude to Dr. Habeeb and his staff, to Dr. Douglas, and of course our own Dr. Mihlfried, but mostly, we are grateful to God for this precious little life.   How much did her care cost us?  That was the least of our concern, but about $5,000.00 when all was said and done (surgery, meds, rechecks, etc.).  She’s worth every penny! This is Katie Bell during her recovery, and meeting her new family – our daughter, her husband, and our grandchildren – (click on thumbnails for larger images:):


One year later, Katie Bell is living a normal life with her family.  We did have some dicey moments when she was spayed.  There was no way to know that her abdomen had developed a massive amount of adhesions (bands of scar-like tissue). Normally, internal tissues and organs have slippery surfaces so they can shift easily as the body moves. Adhesions cause tissues and organs to stick together. They can connect the loops of the intestines to each other, to nearby organs, or to the wall of the abdomen. They can pull sections of the intestines out of place. This may block food from passing through the intestine.  Katie’s adhesions have done most of the above.  Her bowel was firmly adhered to her abdominal wall, her organs and intestines are glued together.  Her family is aware this could cause loops of intestine to twist in the future.  When the veterinarian made his first incision, the adhesions gluing the intestine to the abdominal wall put the intestine right under his scalpel.  A small amount of bowel was nicked.  This resulted in her losing four inches of bowel.  It turned a “normal” spay (there will never be a normal surgery where Katie Bell is involved) into a three day stay in the hospital.   In usual Katie Bell style, she bounded out of the hospital as if nothing had happened.   This is Katie Bell today, on her “I’m alive” re-birthday: katie_bell

Whose bright idea was that?


If Wally Conron had known what was going to become of the labradoodle, he wouldn’t have bred the dog in the first place. It was 22 years ago and Conron, now 81, was working as the breeding and puppy-walking manager for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia when his boss set him a tough task. A blind woman from Hawaii had written asking if it they could provide a guide dog that would not shed hair, because her husband was allergic to it. “I said, ‘Oh yes, this will be a piece of cake. The standard poodle is a working dog, it doesn’t shed hair, it’ll be great.’ I tried 33 in the course of three years and they all failed. They just didn’t make a guide dog. Meanwhile, the woman in Hawaii was getting older and the boss was getting on my back.”

Conron decided there was one possibility left – take his best labrador bitch and mate it with a standard poodle. They created three crossbreed puppies that needed to be boarded out to be trained and socialized, but nobody would take them – everyone wanted a purebred. And that’s when Conron came up with the name labradoodle. “I went to our PR team and said, ‘Go to the press and tell them we’ve invented a new dog, the labradoodle.’ It was a gimmick, and it went worldwide. No one wanted a crossbreed, but the following day we had hundreds of calls from people wanting these master dogs.”

The labradoodle proved to be a brilliant dog for the blind, and the woman in Hawaii was happy. Job done. So what was the problem? Ah, says Conron, it’s how the dog has been used and abused, and sold under false pretenses. “This is what gets up my nose, if you’ll pardon the expression. When the pups were five months old, we sent clippings and saliva over to Hawaii to be tested with this woman’s husband. Of the three pups, he was not allergic to one of them. In the next litter I had there were 10 pups, but only three had non-allergenic coats. Now, people are breeding these dogs and selling them as non-allergenic, and they’re not even testing them.”


Cabbage Leaves and Mastitis

I have had several new canine mothers with mastitis.  For many years, the only thing I could do was apply ice packs or heat packs to give her relief, waiting for antibiotics to work.  One day, I found another source of help…

Seven years ago my youngest daughter had her first baby.  A few days later she had so much breast engorged that she was in agony.   We’re talking skin splitting hard and swollen.  She had a reasonable amount if redness.  I was worried she was quickly progressing to mastitis.  She was pale and crying.  We had tried warm compresses and cool.  Nothing helped.  Her daughter could hardly latch, let alone nurse well, because of the intense engorgement.  I couldn’t convince her to seek medical help, her husband felt helpless too.  She was in so much pain, we *all* felt helpless.   She wanted to wait until the next day to seek medical attention.

I had read that cabbage leaves help with engorgement and early mastitis.  Now, I am an old ER Nurse, and I am mighty fond of traditional medicine, and skeptical of various home remedies, and respectfully cautious of others.  Some is pure bunk, and some work, even to a dangerous degree if a patient doesn’t disclose that they’re using them.  So, I was skeptical at best.  BUT, I suggested her husband go buy a cabbage.  I challenged her (as a Physician’s Assistant, she was more than skeptical too), saying it surely couldn’t hurt anything, and figured it would give us a good laugh later for having tried.  She dutifully packed some in her bra and went upstairs in tears of agony (literally) to lie down.  One hour later, she nearly skipped into the room!  “I’m SO much better!!”.  Her previously pale complexion was pink, and that look of agony gone from her face!  Her tissue was far more relaxed, no longer red, and the baby was finally able to nurse.  I was astounded, as was everyone else.  No placebo affect here, as nobody thought it would help at all.

So, medical opinion is mixed, as to it’s anti-inflammatory properties.   Some Dr’s advise it.  Some say it is bunk.  An extract of cabbage in ointment form was tested, and had no positive effects.  It seems to only work in leaf form.  Cold, room temp or cooked doesn’t seem to make a difference (but I am sure cool feels good on that painful area).  Some sources caution that it should only be applied 20 min/3 times per day, or milk production is affected.

So, when I had a litter following the episode with my daughter, and my girl got an early mastitis, I quickly turned to cabbage, and kept puppies working at keeping the milk flowing (thinking the next morning I would have her at the vet for antibiotics).  She had a slight temp, was swollen, red, restless (pain) and very engorged.  The next morning, she was resolved.  Now, maybe she would have been regardless, but I can only report what happened.   I will say, that no home treatment should ever replace proper medical treatment  As I said, my bitch was scheduled to go the the vet the next morning, however, she completely resolved.

My daughter (a PA in the Army) Responds:
“Trust me… this is something you should absolutely believe without hesitance.  I had frozen a wet towel and stuffed that in my bra… it did nothing but wet my shirt and bra and heat up VERY quickly.  The leaves had an IMMEDIATE effect.  The first thing I noticed was the intense cool and an almost immediate decrease in the pulling of my skin.  I was so uncomfortable, I’d been pulling my shoulders up to my ears and I was finally able to relax them (along with the rest of me).  It didn’t take long to warm up the chilled cabbage leaves, but they still felt amazing. 

Just try it when you have a bitch (or woman) who needs it. Some women say it doesn’t work for them, but I’m telling you, NOTHING else worked for me and it was more miserable than the birth itself. At least I thought so at the time. This was the ONLY thing that gave me any relief.”


Preventing and recognizing mastitis in dogs

Check her mammary glands twice daily:


  • Trim puppy nails frequently.  Sharp nails cause breaks in the skin. Clean scratches with a mild soap and water, and be sure to rinse well and dry the area.
  • Observe that your bitch does not have a preferred side to lay on.  This causes inconsistent use of each teat.  Rotate her in the box to be sure she’s swapping sides she lies on.
  • Close observation of her mammary glands.
  • Keep fur around mammary glands trimmed in long-hair breeds.
  • Take a rectal temperature morning and evening.
  • Seek veterinary care for any signs of mastitis.  These infections get worse very rapidly.

Observe for the following (remember, mastitis is a bacterial infection):

  • Mammary glands lumpy
  • Mammary glands painful to touch
  • Mammary glands that are unusually warm or hot to the touch
  • Mammary glands with red, bruised, or purplish-blue areas
  • Reluctant to nurse puppies
  • Discolored milk or blood in the milk
  • Restlessness
  • Fever
  • Lethargy