Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

Even Good Moms Make Mistakes

Close Up - Puppy with a missing paw

Believe it or not, this puppy's mother is very gentle, but in an attempt to remove the placenta from the puppy she accidentally nipped off this dogs entire foot in one quick bite during birth. Image shows puppy at 4 weeks of age.

This was a 100% accident on the mother dog's part. She is a GREAT lovely mother that took her job of getting that sack off the puppy, the cord cut, and the placenta off to quickly. She is a first time mom and it happened very fast. There was no turning back. The mother is a laid back companion dog who is not aggressive in the least.

This makes you wonder what might be going on in the cases when you hear about a dam eating a puppy at birth. If a mother dog were to accidentally take a chunk out of a puppy's belly while attempting to bite off the umbilical cord and it would not stop bleeding, the mother might end up eating the whole puppy as instinct tells the dog to keep the whelping area clean. A wolf would eat the whole puppy in order to keep the den clean and keep flies from infesting the area. Humans have domesticated dogs and created different breeds and their instincts remain, but are sometimes not as strong. If you want a higher chance of having a healthy litter with a lower percentage of accidents you must supervise and help with the entire whelp. The days of a dog just having pups under the front porch on the farm is not a common occurrence anymore. Our dogs rely on us for so much more these days.

In this particular case the breeder was devastated. She contacted two different vet's offices asking for advice and hoping to get some antibiotics for the puppy. Both vets told her to put the puppy down. One vet suggested that drowning the puppy was the most humane thing to do. The breeder would not kill the puppy and saught out someone who she knew also would not have killed the pup. She contacted Bev Dorma from MistyTrails who often works as a puppy mid-woof saving puppies whenever she can. They searched the internet for advice, but could find nothing about how to help the puppy. Everyone was telling them to kill the puppy, but they refused and set their minds on saving it. The breeders did not know if they should cover it, leave it expose, let the dam lick it, keep it moist with antibiotic cream, or let it dry up like a umbilical cord. It was all trial and error as they figured out the best way to care for it. After many sleepless weeks they decided to share the story to help others who may find themselves in this type of difficult situation.

Close up - missing Paw

This picture shows the puppies foot at 2 weeks of age. For the first 2 weeks we were up EVERY 2 hours around the clock as he couldn't stay with her mom and littermates. They were separate with the mom in one area and the siblings in another. The injured pup was in her own clean incubator. Every 2 hours we put her on mom to eat along with her siblings. We let the mom potty the others and we pottied her. We didn't think it was wise for the mom to be licking other pups bottoms and then licking her foot right after, so all feedings had to be supervised.

The puppy couldn't stay with her siblings because they would suck on her foot stub like a nipple and the siblings couldn't stay with their mom because they would take all the milk leaving nothing for the injured puppy. The puppy was going to need mom's nourishment to help it heal. The dam had 4 pups total including this one and she had 9 nipples. On every feeding each pup got to drain 2 nipples and this pup got to drain 3. The calories from the extra food helped in the healing process and he thrived from it.

Puppy foot wrapped up

The foot was kept dry and open for the first two weeks, spraying daily with colloidal silver, but when he started to crawl around the constant irritation on his foot kept opening it up and no bandage would stay on. I was up all night pondering this, trying different wraps, cloth, vet wraps, and tape and nothing held. This image shows the pup at 1.5 - 2 weeks in a FAILED attempt to try to keep it covered. The bandages would stay on for about a minute before its mother would take it off.

box of Band-Aids

Finally we discovered that bandaides and / or good tape would stay on. We tried a few days of keeping it covered with antibiotic ointment. We removed the stuck hairs and shaved the leg clean, as the hair was growing into the flesh.

Band-Aid wrapped up on a tiled floor
band-Aid in the hands of a person
The missing paw area being wrapped up in a band-aid

This cover bought us extra sleep at night and we were able to sleep 4 hours at a time. The bandage also allowed us to leave the dam and pups all together.

Close Up - missing paw

At 3 weeks old we were able to feed every 3 hours. After finally figuring out a splint that would stay on, we were able to leave them all together all night. That is when things got a bit easier.

Once we discovered elastoplast and masking tape would not fall off of the fur we left it attached to the upper part of the leg allowing a place to attach a stub cover bandage. At this stage we would cover it when he was with his mother and siblings and uncovered it for alone time, rotating 50/50 as we did not know if we should cover it or leave it exposed. The covering definitely bought us some sleep and he could stay with his mother more often. We were finding it had to be covered when he was learning to walk so there was not the constant rubbing on the blankets.

Close Up - Missing Paw wrapped in bandage

At 4 weeks old this worked well. There was a permanent elastoplast around the leg, adheared, and then we would cover the bottom switching out the bandage. At this time we also started to use masking tape, as it worked just as well or better.

Close Up - Uncovered missing paw nub

At 4.5 weeks we have been leaving it uncovered most of the time. The stub is starting to harden and the rest of the litter is walking. Their eyes are open and they are not sucking on the pups stub of a foot now the way they would when their eyes were closed and they were routing.

At 8 weeks old the vet may have to amputate the leg a little further up so that the pup has some skin to cover the end of the stump.

Only a very dedicated breeder would drop everything else going on in their lives and spend the time to save this puppy. It is a HUGE commitment to be up every 2 hours around the clock for weeks. The breeder felt they brought the pup into this world and he was otherwise healthy and should be saved. If the pup were human every effort imaginable would be put into saving the baby and the same type of care should be given to the otherwise healthy puppy. Very often a breeder will just kill an injured puppy, sometimes by drowning it as they do not wish to put that type of commitment into their breeding, while other breeders like this one and the mid-woof who helped her did. If you decide to breed your dog and something goes wrong, are you going to be able to stay home to tend to your dam and litter? Would you drown the puppy? Toss it into a trashcan? It is something to think about.

Puppy with a Missing Paw walking on hardwood floor

At 5 weeks the puppy is doing great. His missing foot does not seem to phase him. He walks around just like his littermates.

Puppy sniffing its missing foot area

The puppy at 5 weeks old

Close Up - Missing Foot area

The puppy at 5 weeks old

Close Up - Missing Foot area not touching the ground

The puppy at 5 weeks old

Puppies eating out of a food bowl with the puppy that has a missing foot

The puppy is fully accepted by his littermates.

Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese - Mid-Woof

Whelping: Close-to-Textbook Case