Recently I have been working with a teenaged mother-to-be, helping her to have a healthy pregnancy in every way.
At “29”, Maggie is no youngster to be having her first. She and Rocky didn’t actually plan to have a family. They both live with her parents and she had already begun the process of planning surgical pregnancy-prevention when her parents noticed that she was a little “poochy” in the abdomen.
A relaxin hormone test confirmed that she was, in fact, pregnant, and I began to offer advice on diet and exercise.
Imaging of the abdomen confirmed that there were six or seven fetuses.
It didn’t look as if Maggie was going to be an octomom, but she would be close.
Those revelations came about just three weeks ago, and Maggie had a weekend delivery that took all of one day and much of the night. It turned out that she was an octomom, there was one fetus we couldn’t see while imaging. Sadly, the last one delivered died during the night.
Such problems are common with teenaged mothers because they lack experience in caring for their young. Instincts can do only so much.
Why am I calling 29-year-old Maggie a teen mother? She is 29 on the human-pet age analogy chart, but her chronological age is three.
You see, Maggie and Rocky are English Springer Spaniels.
Their parents had them for several years (Rocky is 5) before finally deciding that it was too much trouble to have puppies and they should just go ahead and have them both surgically altered. We had already performed Maggie’s preanesthesia laboratory testing in preparation for her ovariohysterectomy surgery, when the enlargement of her abdomen began.
Maggie has done well with the seven remaining puppies, though I have cautioned her owners that her lack of experience with maternity and the several years she has been a combination pet and hunting dog combine to make her more human-focused than dog-focused. In the worst cases such pets will actually leave a litter of puppies to spend time with their human family. They may have to be forced to stay long enough to nurse the puppies.
Maggie’s lack of practical experience as a mother probably contributed to her inability to adequately care for the puppy that was born during the night when she was alone. Repeated counts on her pre-delivery radiograph led us to believe there were no more than seven pups, so, when the seventh was delivered at 3 AM, two tired humans tucked Maggie and the puppies in and went to bed.
While we encourage everyone to spay and neuter their pets, accidents happen, and owners of valuable purebred dogs and cats will desire to maintain their bloodlines.
When you do, be sure to include your pet’s doctor in your plan for care.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.