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“He is a survivor”

If you have bred a litter you know that umbilical cords can be an issue. Should you cut the cord or let the bitch bite it? Some bitches always seem to get it right but sometimes a bitch can tug too hard and a puppy can end up with an umbilical hernia. Sometimes a bitch will bite too close and she can tear the puppy's stomach open. In these cases many puppies will go into shock and bleed to death unless a veterinarian is close at hand.

English Setter breeder Melissa Newman and her friend, Cavalier breeder Becky Smith, share the following recent experience in the hope that it might save the lives of some newborn puppies in the future. Melissa tells the story.

It was an eventful night. Terah did a wonderful job with her puppies. They whelped great. However, with the very last puppy she pulled too hard on the umbilical cord as he was coming out of the sack and his intestines started falling out of his abdomen.

Of course, it was 3:20 AM. He was shocking and there wasn't time to get a vet out of bed, to the clinic, and into surgery. He would have died. So I called my good friend Becky Smith and got her out of bed. She was at my house within a few minutes.

Becky held the puppy with a heating pad under him to keep him warm, had oxygen going into him, and away we went into surgery. The sutures and needle were way too big for his little body and thin skin so, thanks to Becky bringing her sewing supplies, I decided it would be better to sew him up with a needle and thread.

He wasn't losing blood until I rinsed the intestines with saline and gently pushed them back in. Then the blood started to flow everywhere. We looked at each other and I said, “I think he needs to be put to sleep. He is losing so much blood.”

He definitely wouldn't have made it to the vet as all of the blood was coming from the abdomen where the umbilical cord was pulled through the wall. We didn't know how much blood he was losing the first few minutes because the blood was being blocked by the intestines and flowing back into the abdominal cavity.

But he wasn't crying and the warmth of the heating pad was keeping him from being so shocked; and the oxygen was keeping him breathing. So we decided to go ahead with the surgery as long as he was calm and breathing steadily. It only took a few sutures since he was so tiny. Then I tied them off tightly to try to stop the bleeding. We had him on oxygen, gave him sub q fluids, and antibiotics. Now we had to wait to see if he was possibly bleeding internally and if he had any damage to his intestines.

Amazingly he was strong and was able to nurse within an hour of surgery. He didn't have to be tube fed. We are happy to say that he is alive and well and a very happy boy. He likes to have a big full tummy. He has no problem fending for himself. He is a survivor.

At the time of this writing little Radar is seven weeks old and you can't tell he ever had such a rough start in life. Melissa and Becky are experienced and they had some supplies that not every breeder has on hand, but it's great to know that puppies like this can be saved in an emergency.

 
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