Holistic Puppy Log - Birth through week 1

Dr. Sara

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I breed Naturally Reared Bernese Mountain Dogs. Natural Rearing means that we use minimal vaccination, raise the breeding dogs and puppies without toxic chemicals, feed raw, and use homeopathic and herbal medicine whenever possible. We also try to breed by natural service, and free whelp pups as long as it is safe to do so. As a vet with additional training in behaviour, I am dedicated to socialising all pups as well as possible, and matching pups' personalities to their new owners.

Maerzen is a minimally vaccinated, weaned to raw, almost 3 year old Berner girl. She is in excellent physical condition, and her pups were due 12 March. X-rays around day 58 showed 9 or 10 pups, all of a similar size. I didn’t x-ray my first two litters, and I had a bad surprise in the second litter when an oversize pup got stuck. This required an emergency C-section.

By taking x-rays late in pregnancy, we know how many pups are present, and if they are appropriately sized for free whelping, another name for normal vaginal delivery. Smaller litters are more likely to have oversize pups, as pups grow to fill the available space in the uterus. Berners, like many dogs with a small gene pool, tend to have smaller litters, often 4 to 6 pups.

Maerzen’s Birth Day marathon began Monday 11 March. Maerz was restless and tearing up bedding Sunday night. She ate breakfast normally, then vomited all of it, so I was pretty sure she was going to whelp that day. Restlessness for up to 12 hours before delivery is common, as is vomiting before starting whelping.

Obvious contractions started at 11.15, and the first pup arrived at 12.30. Maerzen had six pups between 12.30 and 3.57, nursing the pups that were already born between deliveries. During whelping, I feed yogurt and grilled cheese sandwich bites. These are full of energy, tidy to feed, and easy to clean up if mum were to vomit. My dogs do not get bread otherwise, but whelping is a special case! When we noticed purposeful contractions, we moved the pups to the warming box, so they would be safely out of the way while we helped Maerzen with the new arrival.

Maerz took a break after the first six. When we were approaching the two hour mark between pups with only mild contractions, I gave Caulophyllum 30 C. Caulophyllum works with the body to optimise uterine muscular function. Maerz had a few more contractions, but not effective ones. Some breeders use injectable oxytocin when contractions are ineffective. This is an unsafe practice. The oxytocin stimulates strong, sudden contractions, and if the pup is not in a good position, it could make a correctible problem into a dangerous situation. When a bitch is nursing pups, oxytocin is already being released in physiologic amounts, and a massive influx is not helpful.

The important thing was to figure out what was going on. Could we help Maerzen at home, or would we need surgical intervention like a C-section? I did a vaginal exam. The pup was in a breech presentation, with all legs pointed away from the vagina. The pup is too wide to pass in this position. I had three whelping team helpers, husband John, our eldest son Joe, and daughter in law Jackie. Joe lifted the front of Maerzen’s body up in a wheelbarrow position, and I gently pushed the pup forward several times until it moved into a normal caudal position - backwards SuperDog, with legs pointed out from its body front and back. That pup was born at 6.05, and the last three followed fairly smoothly, finishing at 8.49. I gave Arnica during delivery several times, as well as after whelping was complete, for the bruising of the vaginal tissues associated with multiple deliveries.

All of the pups were pink and wiggly, and none required resuscitation. When first born, they looked like slimy guinea pigs. They all were vigorously licked (by mum) and rubbed (by the team), and some needed a bit of fluid suctioned out of their mouth. They nursed well with minimal encouragement.

Maerzen was fabulous. You could tell this was work for her, but she stayed perky and cooperative. Once whelping started, she kept food down just fine during the birthing process. She went outside to eliminate a few times as well, and was eager to get back in with the babies. She looked tired afterwards, but so did the humans who weren’t pushing out pups!

After whelping, Maerzen developed bad diarrhea. It started in the early morning of the day after whelping, with spluttery liquid stool of normal colour and odour. She was able to hold it until she got outside. Maerzen was somewhat anxious during this time, not wanting to leave her pups: I had to pick her out of the box to get her to go outside. Motherhood is a new experience for her, and ten pups is jumping in at the deep end! Maerz had also eaten some of the placentas, and a lot of the fluid that was on the pups, and those can upset the intestines. I considered Podophyllum, Aloe, and Arsenicum, and chose Arsenicum alb, giving a 30 C dose after each diarrheic stool. The next stool was improved but still soft, and after two doses stools were back to normal.

Maerzen is an attentive mum, and keeps the gang clean and well fed. When the pups were four days old, she started leaving the box of her volition when it was time to eliminate. I feed meals in the whelping box if she doesn’t get out, but she comes out for most meals now. She is currently eating almost 5 lbs a day in five separate meals, up from 2 lbs a day before pregnancy, and 3.25 pounds at the end of pregnancy.
Maerzen is passing normal odorless red – brown lochia, which may continue for up to three weeks. Her eleven (6 left, five right) breasts are enlarged and soft; all good things!

When the pups were five days old Maerzen was willing to resume short sniff walks. We have to be extremely careful that all dogs in the family avoid contact with any other dogs. Herpes infection does not show signs in adult dogs, but if the puppies were to encounter it during the last three weeks of pregnancy (through mum) or before three weeks of age, it is often lethal.

There are six female and four male pups:
Female: Pink, Neon Green (Green), White, Red, Blue, Forest Green (Forest)
Male: Purple, Yellow, Orange, Brown (was Tan, which looked like white)
Birth weights were between 0.88 lb and 1.26 lb; good weights for Berner pups, and especially for a litter this size. We weigh the pups daily, and at one week of age they weigh 1.72 lb to 2.16 lb. All are close to doubling their weight, a desired benchmark by ten days of age.
All of the pups are plump, solid, shiny, sturdy, and active.

I trimmed the front nails of all pups at three days of age, to help prevent injury to Maerzen’s breasts. I trim pups’ nails at least once a week. The first few weeks I just trim the front nails; after that I do all of them.
We removed the pups’ hind dewclaws at four days of age. The pups keep their front dewclaws, as research has shown that front dewclaws help with balance during running, and help dogs hold things.

During the first few weeks, pups mostly eat, sleep, scoot about a bit, and make grunt / chirp / mew / whistle / chuckle noises. When hungry, they sound like a swarm of bees, or a revving motorcycle, and when they are vigorously nursing, it sounds like a distant pump.
We carry the pups around and hold one in our lap for a short time while we are in a room away from mum. They will grab hold of and vigorously suckle face parts. Even though I love to snuzzle them, I have to be careful, as they can bruise your face!
During the second week the eyes and ears will open.
For more about pup rearing, I would suggest that you look at the “97 Ways to Create Great Puppies” free e-book on the Avidog website. I love their ideas and incorporate them in my pup raising.
http://www.Avidog.com

I’ll keep the forum updated when I update the potential pup owners, noting things that might be of particular interest from an holistic viewpoint.

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Dr. Jeff

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Fantastic!

Beautiful pups!!

Thanks for sharing.
 

Dr. Jeff

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Oh, and regarding Avidog, they do indeed have great puppy socializing and training advice.

However, they are unfortunately pretty dogmatic and follow a strictly conventional medical path so please take their vet advice with a grain (or pound) of salt.
 

Dr. Jeff

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Hi Sara-

Are any of your pups still available?
 

heart500

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Thank you for sharing the story about Maerzen and her precious pups. Your picture made me smile. I appreciate the suggestion of “97 Ways to Create Great Puppies” - free e-book on the Avidog website and have taken advantage of the e-book. Looking forward to your future posts.
 

Dr. Sara

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Oh, and regarding Avidog, they do indeed have great puppy socializing and training advice.

However, they are unfortunately pretty dogmatic and follow a strictly conventional medical path so please take their vet advice with a grain (or pound) of salt.
Indeed Dr. Jeff! Avidog's forte is facilitating socialization and pup development.
The situation with The Whole Dog Journal is similar. Excellent advice for training and gear, and some useful health and food advice.
People need to be informed consumers and advocates for their animal family!
 

Dr. Sara

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Thank you for sharing the story about Maerzen and her precious pups. Your picture made me smile. I appreciate the suggestion of “97 Ways to Create Great Puppies” - free e-book on the Avidog website and have taken advantage of the e-book. Looking forward to your future posts.
I am glad you enjoyed the post; I enjoyed writing it!
 

Dr. Sara

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Hi Sara-

Are any of your pups still available?
Jeff, I do have one pup available; I never guessed that we would get ten! I have deposits for the four males and five of the females. I match the pups to the new families, based on what people tell me their family needs, and what the pup is like. If someone is interested in one of the pups, please contact me at: sfc.holistic@gmail.com
 

Dr. Jeff

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Great!

Boy or girl?
 

Dr. Jeff

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Indeed Dr. Sara!

In what was is WDJ's similar to Avidog's recommendations?
 

Dr. Sara

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Puppy Log - Week Two


The pups doubled their weight by day ten, right on schedule. Sunday evening weights were between 2.5 and 3 lbs.

This litter is so large that Maerzen hasn’t always been able to satisfy all the pups, even eating over six pounds of raw food a day. She is eating everything eagerly, including the 3 am meal, and I continue to increase portion size.

As anyone who has breast fed children knows, the milk comes in according to demand, but there is a lag time to ramp up the production. This is not a big deal with one human baby; you just let them eat more often. When a mama dog has ten pup-a-lups and a milk bar only effectively serving from nine spigots, mama needs a bit of help to keep those pups gaining weight.

We weigh the pups daily, so we know when some haven’t gotten as much milk as needed on a given day, because they don’t gain as expected. Those pups are offered mama’s nipples first, when the other pups are in the warming box during pen cleaning, and occasionally get an extra five or ten minutes when mama is lying outside the box. Those pups are also offered formula from a bottle after two or three of the daily nursing sessions. Breast is certainly best, and I would like to feed just breast milk. With a litter this size, mama’s breasts can not always keep up, and it is responsible to step in and help her out while she increases production.
We are using a commercial formula, supplemented with additional probiotics, bovine colostrum, and organic goats milk.

Their ears and eyes are opening; we can see little glints of eyes, or a bit more, on all the pups. The cells holding the lids closed and stopping up the ears are gradually shed, so this takes time. The first few days the eyes look squinty and cloudy, and this is completely normal. It is so sweet when they start looking directly at people!

The pups are walking like drunken baby elephants now. They were scooting along on their tummies. Now they are lifting their little bellies up and staggering a few steps. They sometimes spread out all over the box, and other times get in a few little piles or one big pile. When Maerzen gets in the box it is a mad rush to get to her. I am impressed with her grace in settling down in a mass of seething puppies. She will sometimes look over at me meaningfully while they are milling around her legs, so I will get in the box, and scoot some puppies out of the way

We give the pups temporary puppy names on a theme; it feels more friendly than calling them by a colour! Their new owners choose the registered name, but most people have chosen to keep the puppy name as part of the registered name. The registered name is a total of 36 characters, including spaces, and Bernvonrust is part of the registered name as the kennel name.
The temporary puppy names we are using this litter are birds that we have seen. The chosen bird name has a lot of the same colour as the neck band.
Females: Galah (pink), Dacnis (green), Ibis (white), Trogon (red), Parula (blue), Motmot (forest green)
Males: Martin (purple), Chat (yellow), Oriole (orange), Kestrel (brown)

We continue to give each pup some individual snuggle time on our laps every night. This is when their great grandmum Rubiy gets to lick them clean. Maerzen still does not want her mum (Rheswyn) or grandmum (Rubiy) in the kitchen near the whelping box, but it is OK if we let Rubiy lick the babies.

I trimmed all 180 toenails on Saturday, and will continue to do that twice a week while Maerzen is nursing. Once they start going outside, I usually only need to trim them once a week. Maerzen doesn’t have any nail scratches on her breasts, but she does have some bruises (pup hickeys) from where some pup grabbed the side of the breast instead of the nipple in their enthusiasm.

The pups can urinate and defecate without Maerzen licking them now. They move away from where they are sleeping to eliminate.
In the next week we will be introducing some toys to the box.
Once they are a bit more mobile, we will bring the x-pen in to set up to give them more space.
We are looking forward to increased mobility in this next week, and continuing development of the personalities.
They are a lot of work, but such fun, these baby dogs!

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Dr. Sara

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Indeed Dr. Sara!

In what was is WDJ's similar to Avidog's recommendations?
WDJ has a positive approach to socialisation and training, which is an excellent follow on from Avidog's early pup information.
 

Dr. Jeff

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Ah, got it!

It's fantastic to hear the great puppy details.

Thanks.
 

Dr. Sara

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Puppy Log - Week 3

The third week of life is a transition for the pups, Their eyes and ears are open, and they are able to walk rather than crawl, They start to lap and chew, and move purposefully toward their mum and people. They do what we call ‘seal fighting’ where they grab each other with their mouths with their heads in the air, and tussle. They are now able to learn, so we condition them to associate people with good things!

The Early Neurologic Stimulation and the Early Scent Introduction were completed early this week. None of the pups were excessively reactive and they were accepting of all handling. Scent wise, there were strong positive responses to: garlic, arborvitae, chicken feathers, green onions, wine cork, and spicebush. There were strong negative responses to garlic. Most other of the 14 items had mild positive, negative, or no response. ENS and ESI are intended to gently stimulate the developing nervous system to enhance learning later in life.

During this third week, we continued to handle and weigh the pups daily. With a litter this size, we need to keep an eye on weight gain. They are all doing well; 3 week old weights were 4 to 4.4 pounds. Most days someone got some supplemental feedings. Maerzen is eating over eight and a half pounds of raw a day, and she is still only having two normal sized stools, so that food is going into the pups. She nurses the pups in a sitting position much of the time. It provides pretty good access, though it doesn’t seem like it would be terribly comfortable. She got a few more breast bruises (hickeys) from eager and inaccurate pups, which resolved nicely with Bellis.

Great Grandmum Rubiy has been allowed to clean the pups (surreptitiously) since they were about a week old. When we are holding pups, we let her clean them, while Maerzen is in the next room. As Maerz seemed not to want Rheswyn (Maerz’s mum) too near the pups, we waited until this week to let Grandmum Rheswyn meet them. I hold the pup, and Maerzen is able to ask the other girls to go away if she wants. Maerzen is fine about this, and lets both of the Grandmums clean the pups.

These pups are active sleepers, which is normal. They go for runs, and sometimes woof, growl, or scream in their sleep. I slept in the next room until this Saturday night, so these occasional shrieks were exciting at night. Maerzen must understand what they are saying, because she ignores the sleeping screams, though she is alert to awake hungry screams

I put a boot tray with newspaper in the whelping box, and they use it about half the time for urination. Since moving them into the pen, I have been able to put a larger urine pad in the pen as well, so they have two choices for elimination. I still rarely see any stool, because Maerzen is (appropriately) quick to clean any up, often before it is out of the pup!

The pups are good cuddlers. They will climb up on us, and will fall asleep on any available body parts. It was warm in the house one day, and on that day, a few of the pups wanted to cuddle up to a frozen water bottle encased in a sock. I expect that there will be more of this as the pups get bigger and the weather gets warmer!

This week I have started putting different surfaces in the pen for them to experience, and putting them on and in different items for a short time. They aren’t doing much with the toys at this point, but Maerzen takes toys out of the box for herself!

There is a massive crate in the pen, and they are closed in this while I clean the pen. They yowp a bit, then settle down to sleep in a heap.

They went outside for about five minutes on the warm Saturday, in pairs. Some were ready to explore, others seemed a bit puzzled. They are quite young, and will get more interested over the next few weeks. After they are four weeks old, they will start solid food, and they can start to meet unfamiliar people.

Below, you can see the grandmums cleaning one of the pups, while he 'helps' me practice piano!

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Dr. Sara

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Puppy Log - Week 4
The puppies are looking forward to meeting many new friends beginning this week! It probably has been a while since you met pups this young, so there are a few special precautions that we take.

* If you want to be in the pen with the pups, you must be barefoot or in stocking feet. It is way too easy to permanently damage pups by stepping on them. I open the pen out to include most of the kitchen, so there is plenty of room. We sit on the floor to meet pups.
* Pups get to choose if they want to come to you. This is their first week meeting new people, so they may not want to come right up and say hello. As long as they are not stressed, I will put pups that you want to meet in your lap. It is essential that interactions with people are positive.
* I will try to ensure that they eat before you arrive, so they are not overly hungry. This means they may urinate or defecate on you, so wear clothes that are OK for this.
* Remember that these are YOUNG pups. Do not expect a lot of active play with you. That comes later. Their personalities are just beginning to develop, and they will change A LOT over the next few weeks.
* Though I would love to let you spend hours with the pups, it isn’t practical, as it will drive their mum nuts if she is away from them for too long. Maerzen will be in the back hall, and music will be playing in case a pup yowps, so she doesn’t get stressed and want to come save the world. Please plan for a half hour to 1 hour visit. When they are older, visits can be longer.

The pups’ personalities have started to blossom this week. They are playing with each other more, and will lick and tug on Maerzen as well. They still have little interest in toys, but when you have 9 interactive toys in your pen with you, perhaps the other kind aren’t so interesting! Some are more cuddly, others climb more; this will develop as well as they grow.

We have exposed them to different surfaces this week, including stone and grass outside. They also were carried in a crate in pairs, and some of them weren’t overly keen on that. Some are a bit more hesitant about new situations, but we will continue to gently encourage them. Their outing today was good fun, in their big outside x-pen.

The pups are lapping water from the bowl, and they can all drink supplement from a bowl. Some are tidier than others with their lapping. All four of the boys blow bubbles in the supplement and get it all over their faces before settling in and lapping. I think they are just so excited to be presented with such a big bowl of milk! Maerzen waits beside the pen while I feed them individually on top of the crate, and she cleans them up ever so nicely.

All of the pups have teeth now, and Maerzen is noticing that. She says that solid food can’t start soon enough for her!

Maerzen sometimes sits to nurse, which provides the best access. Sitting isn’t stable when ten pups are shoving into your belly, so she has to get up. Most of them can’t yet access her nipples when she is standing even though they do hang pretty low! Maerzen likes it best when I hold the pup-a-lups back so she can lie down, and then she likes me to stay with her.

Late this week, after they all had teeth, it was too painful for her nurse all of them at once, With all the jockeying for access, and hanging on, they were hurting her massive jugs. (The 10 that work range from A to C cup. If dogs had cup sizes.) I am bringing the pups out in groups of three or four to nurse, and giving them ten to fifteen minutes, which seems to be keeping everyone happy.

The pups all had their three week physical exam this week. All hearts and lungs are normal, all palates intact and normal. Eyes and ears are normal so far, though the ears are not completely open, and the eyes are still blue, as the corneas continue to develop. Their bites appear to be normal so far, but that can change as they grow. All umbilical areas healed with no hernias palpated at this time, all hind dewclaw removal sites are healed. Limbs sturdy and solid, and abdomens palpate normally, genitalia normal. All pups are over five pounds in weight.

The pups will have their first worming next week with Verm-X, an herbal wormer.
In the next week or so, I will bring up the Adventure Box and the tunnel.
When they are a bit more confident outside, I will set up the bottle pool, and when it is warm enough, we will have some water play.
Next week, I will discuss weaning pups to raw.

Here is the little Orange boy (Oriole) on his second visit outside!

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Dr. Sara

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Puppy Log - Week Five

There were two exciting developments for the pups this week. The first was the introduction to solid foods, the second was meeting new friends.

I started the introduction to solid food one day before they were four weeks old. Maerzen was unwilling to go into the piranha tank to nurse, and the pups were obviously interested when she ate her raw meals beside the pen. Late in the week I started feeding the pups milk replacer with added goats milk and raw yogurt from their bowls, to get them used to the idea of eating from bowls. I am still taking them out in shifts for Maerzen to feed the little ones, but that is not the same as mum coming in as needed. I can’t leave the pen open even if Maerzen did want to go in, as Ibis (White) and Galah (Pink) believe that climbing over the fourteen inch gate sill is great sport, and the others are figuring it out too!

All of my dogs have been raw fed since 1995, when I turned to it in desperation to help resolve my first Newf’s allergies. I took a brief hiatus from raw in 2006, when my terminally ill father was living with us, and I felt kibble (extruded dry food) would be safer with father's suppressed immune system. After my dad died, I didn’t immediately switch back to raw, as kibble was easier, and cheaper, and more convenient. Several months later my second Newfoundland torsed and died; kibble is THE major risk factor is gastric dilatation / volvulus. Since then, I will not feed kibble, and I encourage all my clients to feed more fresh food to their pets, if they can not manage to switch to a diet of excellent quality raw, cooked, canned, dehydrated, or slow baked food.

These pups were ready to eat raw! I started with a pound of ground turkey meat, mixed with 1,000 mg calcium carbonate to balance the calcium - phosphorus ratio. I made that into twenty balls. The first day, each pup had one ball. the second day, each had a meal of one ball, and the second meal was 1 oz of a complete and balanced ground raw diet. After that they ‘graduated' to K9 Kraving, a complete ground raw diets. The third day was three 1 oz meals. On subsequent days, meal size slowly increased. We don’t want to overwhelm the pups’ intestinal tract.

Pups are individually fed from a bowl either on the floor or atop the crate; the quantity is adjusted according to that pup’s intake and needs. Pups learn that they are chosen to eat when they sit, so this teaches them that when you sit, good things happen. Whining and climbing are ignored, pups are picked up for feeding when they sit nicely. Pups are smart, and I have ten little faces sitting and looking up at me pretty quickly. Individual feeding lets me know just what pup is eating, so I can adjust to their needs. Pups that are individually fed have a more relaxed attitude toward food, as they are not competing with other pups, so they can take their time eating. This is believed to help prevent food guarding and excessively rapid eating. I comb them and handle them all over while they are eating, giving these activities a strong positive association.

In between meaty meals, they had their ‘custom’ nursing sessions with mum, so she could clean them up, and ensure they had enough to eat. In addition, pups ingest valuable intestinal flora from contact with their mum and through nursing, and the flora will aid their digestion. They are currently each eating 3 oz three times daily; nursing has decreased from four - five times a day to two or three times a day. This weekend I slept through the night, instead of getting up at 3 am to feed Maerzen and let the pups nurse. On Friday they weighed 6.5 to 7 lbs, and they did fine through the night after a hearty dinner.

The first night after the introduction of meat, the stool volume increased markedly. This is to be expected, as the pups’ digestive enzyme production has to ramp up. The stools were slightly softer than they had been, but not diarrheic. I will watch weights, vitality, and energy level, to ensure that the new diet is agreeing. So far, so good, with turkey and chicken K9Kraving!

The pups enjoyed meeting new friends. It is optimal to limit visitors to two groups a day when possible, so that the pups don’t get overly tired, and the mothers don’t get overly concerned. I do remind people that they are seeing a tiny window into the pups’ lives. There is so much more that happens to them. You get a flavor of their personalities, but you can’t expect to understand the pups in such a short time.

This is a social bunch of pups - when they are awake! Just like babies, when pups are awake, they are AWAKE, and when they are done, it is as if a switch was flipped, and they go into snooze mode. Occasionally one or another will be overly fussy, and like babies, it can help to pick them up and rub their tummies or walk them a bit. I don’t do this unless they seem uncomfortable, as a certain amount of murmuring is perfectly normal as they settle down. We don’t want them to get the idea that whining is rewarded, but if a pup just can’t settle, I don’t want them in discomfort, either.

The pups had their first course of Verm-X, a highly effective herbal wormer. Their stool test, before the wormer, was negative. Verm-X is herbal and has beneficial effects on the intestinal tract to help animals eliminate worms. I give this to my adults once monthly. With a past litter I couldn't get Verm-X for the preceding six months, and all of the pups had worms, so I know it makes a massive difference. I have not had intestinal worms aside from that one litter.

Trips outside continue. These pups received their first doses of their Parvo nosode last week, and the first doses of Distemper nosode this week. The nosodes are homeopathic medicines that help the pup respond if they encounter the disease in their outdoor excursions. This is not likely, but possible, as wildlife do come in the yard. My dogs are not vaccinated for Distemper and Parvo. Blood titers have shown that my dogs have developed natural immunity to these viruses, with no signs of disease. Many people choose to vaccinate, and it is important to do it in a rational manner, with the fewest vaccinations to create immunity.

The pups had their first Adventure Box playtime, which was delightful. Some seemed to enjoy making noise, and none were afraid of it. On the second try, they were even more interactive. It’s a lot of fun to see how strong they are, yanking on the tubes and brushes.
They are playing more with their mum, Maerzen. Sometimes she will let them nurse, and other times she keeps moving until they give up. She will mouth tussle with them, roll them over with her nose, and even play bow. I let her decide what she wants to do, as it’s her body, and they are staying nice and sturdy. Playing with mum is an important part of learning how to be a dog and interact with other dogs.
Next week we will introduce the tunnel, and collars, and solo walks in the yard. They will get to be loose in the room with Great Grandmum Rubiy, as she adores puppies.

Some of you have asked for a bit more information about why I won’t feed kibble / extruded food, so this postscript is for you!
The problem with extruded food
My personal and professional experience has shown me time and again that animals, like people, have dramatically improved health when they are eating a less processed diet. Think of all the foods that people eat that are extruded like kibble - processed with high temperature and pressure. If you could think of anything other than some breakfast cereals, I would be surprised. The extrusion process not only damages nutrients, but it increases free radicals (inflammatory products) in the food. Nutrients are sprayed back on the food, but the free radicals remain. Free radicals cause changes on the cellular level, including damage to the immune system. A healthy immune system is essential for the body to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Many of my patients in practice suffer from chronic disease. Most of them have been on a kibble diet their entire life. The first thing we do is improve the diet, and this alone improves the health of my patients. Food is the most important contributor to health in all animals and people. A high quality extruded kibble diet can not compare to a fresh food or more gently treated diet. People may feel that their dogs “do just fine” on kibble, and it is true many dogs will appear to be healthy for a long time, just like some people eat fast food and appear to be healthy. Bernese Mountain Dogs are a cancer prone breed, and if I can do something as simple as feed good food to decrease that risk, I will do it. Besides, my dogs look fabulous, and are full of energy! That is why I will only send my puppies to homes that are willing to continue feeding an excellent quality, non-kibble diet. I know there are concerns about bacterial contamination of raw, and if that worries you, there are alternatives such as cooked, dehydrated, freeze-dried, canned, and slow baked.
 
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