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Caring for Sick Puppies

Puppies which are doing well with the bitch are not hard to tell; they will be plump and have a well-fed look about them. But this is not always the case. After two or three days it may be noticed that they are not progressing, and that they are doing a lot of crying. They give off a sour smell, and are moist when touched. When this happens, look for sour milk. If blue litmus paper turns pink when a drop of the dam's milk is placed on it, the diagnosis is confirmed and immediate treatment must be undertaken.

Take the puppies from the dam at once, put them in a warm box, and arrange for a foster mother. Bottle feeding must be done meanwhile.

The treatment for the bitch is designed to alkalize her system. Draw off all her milk with a small breast syringe. Then give her a dose consisting of one-half teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda in three ounces of water. If the bitch is a toy, half this amount is enough. The easiest way to administer is by using a rubber ear syringe, placing the tip between the lips, well back, and holding the mouth closed. Repeat this procedure every three hours for the first day and three times daily for the rest of the week. Draw the milk away from the bitch three or four times in the first twelve hours following discovery of her condition.

Some breeders claim that the puppies may now be put back with the mother. If this is done, a close watch should be kept, and if any are seen to be suffering from colic, they must be kept warm, and a drop of laudanum given for each week of their age, three times a day. In the case of toys, half this dose is sufficient.

The best treatment for this condition is prevention. A small amount of bicarbonate of soda in the drinking water during pregnancy is all that is necessary.
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