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Ask the Veterinarian/My Old English Sheepdog sick 4 weeks postpartum


Hello, our family's Old English Sheepdog gave birth a little over four and a half weeks ago, on May 18, 2013. The pregnancy was unexpected as she is very young and only recently turned one year old. The father of the puppies is our other dog, a black and tan coonhound, whom ironically had a scheduled appointment to be neutered the same week she came into heat for the first time. Because of her fur and other factors, we did not notice she had come into heat until around her sixth day. We immediately separated the two, and he was neutered the very next day; however, at some point during one of the six days when we weren't looking, they must have had a "bonding" experience. Her pregnancy went unnoticed until about two weeks before she was due. Though we were nothing short of ecstatic hearing the news of puppies, we were concerned about our Old English Sheepdog and her age. We were told because of how large and healthy she was, that most likely there would be no complications but there was still some risk. She gave birth at home to ten puppies. Since my husband has had previous experience breeding dogs, the delivery was no problem. It was a concern of mine that she delivered her first pup early around 10:30 A.M. Saturday and did not deliver her Last one until 11:45 P.M. later that night. Was this normal? It also seemed odd to me that while most of the pups were born around 25 - 35 minutes apart, there were two that were born within about two minutes of each other, and were significantly different in size. The first one came out with no sac but weighed in at almost 2lbs and almost immediately the other puppy was delivered also without a sac but weighed less than a pound. The little one died within the first 24 hours, in addition to two other very small puppies as well. I was also curious as to why there was nearly a four and a half hour gap before the last pup was born and there was little to no after birth. Initially Our Sheepdog seemed to be doing very well but in the last week she has been vomiting food and a lot of bile. She also has severe diarrhea. Both seem to occur very late at night and early in the morning. Is there a reason this would be happening and what should we do about it? We have given her Pepto-Bismol and Gatorade. She is continuing to nurse her puppies. Can this be harmful to them in any way since she is sick? The puppies are all doing well and are very healthy. Thank you in advance for any advice you are able to provide.

If the pups are 4 1/2 weeks, then they can start eating solid food. It is normal for survival of litters to be around 80% so we always expect that in a large litter, one or two pups will be unthrifty and will die. If one of the pups was born without the placenta being delivered, it may still be retained in the uterus and that can cause your bitch to be ill.  Your vet will need to determine that.  Of course there are many reasons that she may have vomiting and diarrhea.

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Dr. Louis N. Gotthelf


Dermatology and ear diseases of dogs and cats


I am the author of "Small Animal Ear Diseases; An Illustrated Guide" published by W.B. Saunders. I have over 25 years of clinical experience with a special interest in dermatologic conditions and ear diseases.

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