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Day 10 - Featuring Trinity

posted 16 Apr 2010, 22:12 by Carole McNie   [ updated 17 Apr 2010, 01:16 ]
Today we feature a special girl who has had a bit of a rough 48 hours, Trinity. The drama started for us yesterday when we realised that something was wrong, but in fact we had noticed something not quite right on Thursday but just didn't recognise it for what it was. Sometimes on Thursday, when we came in to see the puppies, we were aware of a bit of a raspy breathing noise. This is not unusual because puppies often lay on top of each other and have to come up for breath or get too much milk in one go and can make a bit of noise drinking that down. So we didn't really register that this was the same puppy making the noise all the time on Thursday.

Friday morning came and I realised that someone was definitely having problems breathing. Trinity was identified as the one and we watched her trying to suck in air. It looked an effort and she was always noisy. For every big breath that she was struggling to suck in, the other puppies were taking two smaller normal breaths. We also noticed that she wasn't able to hold on for feeding very strongly and would easily get pushed off by the other puppies. So I did two things: booked an appointment with the vet for later in the afternoon and started to take four puppies out every time she was wanting a feed, so that she only had two others with her. That way, I could let her feed until the milk flow came and then once that was over and I knew she had had a good amount of milk would I put the other puppies in.

We kept watch over her and held her a bit as she seemed to be better if she was upright. It seemed easier for her to breathe that way. We watched and waited until the appointment with the vet. We took Maximus and Xerces to keep her company and warm and I am so glad that we took her when we did. The vet gave her a good check over and found that her neck was swollen. He thought that she probably had a respiratory problem and that the glands were up in her neck. He took her temperature and that was fine which was good. She wasn't totally lifeless because the vet decided to give her an antibiotic injection. She objected to this very vocally! The infection was thought to probably be viral but could have a bacterial element to it so the antibiotics would take care of that side of it while her body was fighting the viral infection. The bad news was that this could possibly pass to the other puppies in the litter and so we needed to keep an eye on them to see if any showed any signs.

You can imagine that I was wondering what I had done wrong. But apparently infections can be passed on from the mum who might be a carrier, or another dog. We brought Trinity home truly glad that we had got a vet appointment for her that day. The hope was that she would improve overnight.

(Click on photos to enlarge)
At this point I would like to note that when we were down the vet and Trinity was on the table getting checked out, she had her eyes open. This was the first puppy we had seen with eyes so open (might have had something to do with having her temperature taken!) but she seemed to be wanting to see everything that was happening.

We watched her during the evening, making sure that she was getting plenty of feed without the others pushing her off and in fact she seemed to be improving. She became a bit stronger and was starting to kneed Shadow while she was feeding, which she wasn't doing in the afternoon. So we began to feel that all was on the mend.

Last thing last night I came in to make sure that she had a good feed before I went to bed and she did in fact get a milk flow from Shadow, but sh
e couldn't swallow it all down and it ended up coming out of her nose and I had to get her off and hold her upside down for a moment so she could breathe again. I went to bed prepared to be getting up several times in the night. However, a nice surprise, I didn't wake up until after 5am and had heard nothing. I came to have a look and here she was, fast asleep with her litter mates looking as if she had had plenty to eat in the night. Just goes to show you that you can't tell, the night before Shadow had me out of bed three times in the night because she wanted to go outside - and I thought that was going to be a good night!

Anyway, relief that she had made it through the night. She definitely seemed to be a bit better and breathing didn't always seem to be such a struggle, although there were times when it still was, depending on how she was laying. We had another appointment with the vet at 11.30am to check on her progress. So she went back there with Flotsam and Tiny this time - Flotsam, who I must say did nothing but fuss in the surgery, even though it wasn't her that was being checked out.

Well, we were caught by surprise because the vet felt around her neck again and thought that the lump in her neck that he had felt was hard yesterday, was now soft. He took her temperature (eyes open wide again!) and decided that he wanted to find out whether the lump could possibly be a cyst because he was suspicious that it was soft. So dear little Trinity had a bit of her neck fur shaved off and then as quick as a flash a needle was put into it and pulled out again. And lo and behold, the syringe was full of pus! In some ways this was good news from the point of view that it wasn't a viral infection that all the other puppies were possibly going to catch.

So, what we think has actually happened is that for some reason Trinity has a cyst on her neck, just under the skin, but not actually in her throat. The problem with the breathing is thought to be just the fact that her throat is swollen and constricted. Poor little baby! No wonder she had trouble breathing.

The antibiotics that she was given the day before were perfect for this problem but the vet wanted to make sure that all the pus was taken out of the cyst and so he said he would keep her for a bit and anaesthetise her and clean it out. I can't tell you how awful I felt going there with three puppies and coming back with two. I was worried that Trinity would be hungry but I knew the problem had to be sorted out.

It was only an hour before I got a call from the vet saying that all had gone well. We raced down there to pick her up. He hadn't got much more pus out, most of it was in that first syringe, but he had cleaned it out and made a little cross cut in her neck so that it could drain if necessary. He had thought he would have to put a drain in but didn't in the end. She was quite lively when we picked her up and clearly quite hungry. She had another injection of antibiotics and we took some antibiotic drops home to give her tomorrow.
Trinity's battle scar (left). Trinity surrounded by her litter mates to keep her warm (right).

The prognosis is pretty good, although I guess we are not quite out of the woods yet. Her neck/throat is still swollen as there is obviously still reaction to the infection there, and I presume that will take a few days to go down. She is still a bit laboured in her breathing although she seems to be quite strong, moving around the whelping box quite happily and feeding well. She is feeding with all the others sometimes and doesn't get pushed off, although I am still giving her feeding time with just a couple of others to give her plenty of catch up feeding. She had actually put on 80g when the vet weighed her this morning, and that was less than 24 hours ago that she was weighed.

So, that is where we are with Trinity. She is a fighter and currently is behind me in the whelping box dreaming of something quite strenuous because all four legs are going and the ears etc. We keep our fingers crossed for her and have another appointment with the vet first thing on Monday to check that no more pus has formed.

The vet's opinion of this is that a cyst is usually caused by some kind of trauma. So in a bigger dog you might find that they had been bitten or knocked. How Trinity ended up with a cyst in her neck is a mystery. A puppy so young should not have had any traumas and the vet can't think of anything other than a bit of bad luck that would have caused this. Perhaps a scratch from another puppy or something like that. We will probably never know. She was the one born in the garden in the dark with just me and Shadow at nearly midnight, but I promise that I didn't do anything that would have caused this!

Shadow is a lovely, caring mum. When Trinity returned from the vet you wouldn't believe how carefully that comparatively big mouth/tongue licked the wound clean. Shadow, you are beautiful!

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