Pomeranian Health

The following articles on Pomeranian Care were written by Annette Davis for the "Ask Us Anything" Column in the Pom Review. Contact Information: Annette Davis, Avalon Pomeranians, Pocatello, ID. Email: davis@avalonpom.com

1) Aromatherapy

2) Bait training

3) Bladder stones

4) Breeding/Estrus

5) Brucellosis

6) Buying a Pom puppy

7) Campy

8) Car sickness

9) Coat

10) Coccidiosis

11) Collapsing trachea

12) Dry Skin

13) Eclampsia

14) Fading puppy syndrome

15) Head Tilt

16) Hypoglycemia

17) Hand raising puppies/puppy formula

18) Increasing survival rate of pom puppies

19) Lactation

20) Lead Training

21) Male or female for pet

22) Neuter/spay

23) Picky eaters

24) Potty training

25) Probiotics

26) Puppy care sheet

27) Pyometra

28) Tapeworm

29) Tooth care

30) Treats

31) Vaccinating your dog

32) Vaccinations, allergic reactions

33) Worming your dog

1) Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy for Dogs?! - I'm sure many of you looked at the title to this article, raised your eyebrow and said "Aroma what, boy Dudley is sure desperate for articles in this issue!" I don't blame you. That's what most people think when they first hear about Aromatherapy. Because I use Aromatherapy however, I don't have to use chemical insecticides, chemical flea shampoos, or "bug bombs." My Poms rarely get car sick on the way to shows. I can calm down visiting females as soon as they arrive. I rarely have problems with dry coats and skin. Those who visit my house frequently comment about how sweet my dogs smell, how nice their coats look, and are pleased that there isn't a single flea or tick to be found. Hopefully your interest is peaked enough to continue reading?

Aromatherapy is the use of therapeutic essential oils. - It is part of a larger field called Phytotherapy (plant therapy). Essential oils are the volatile essences steam distilled from medicinal plants. They are extremely concentrated. Depending on the plant, it takes one ton or more of plant matter to yield just 32 ounces of essential oil. The use of aromatic oils and other plant matter for medicinal purposes dates back to the very dawn of recorded time. Essential oils were used in ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. The Bible tells us that Frankincense and Myrrh were among the wisemen's precious gifts to the Christ Child.

Knowledge of distillation and essential oils was brought into Europe in the tenth century and came into general use as a medical practice in the sixteenth century. The most advanced work in Phytotherapy & Aromatherapy has been conducted in France. After French physicians complete medical school, they have the option to complete several more years of training so that they may use Phytotherapy in their practice. Dr. Jean Claude Lapraz is an eminent French physician who successfully uses Aromatherapy in his practice. He has given several seminars in the U.S. for doctors and health professionals in conjunction with the laboratory that I work for.

Aromatherapy is very popular in France, England and many other countries. As frustrated Americans search for alternatives to chemical products, holistic practices like Aromatherapy are quickly gaining popularity in the U.S. as well. Many dogs (and their owners) are sensitive or allergic to chemical products such as chemical insecticides and synthetic perfumes. Insecticides, antibiotics and other drugs are also very damaging to the immune system. A damaged immune system often leads to skin problems, metabolic disorders, and a general lack of good health. A suitable essential oil can often replace the damaging chemical agent. Allergies to natural essential oils rarely exist, however you must obtain your essential oils only from a reputable source that guarantees that they are not chemically altered or adulterated. Essential oils are a big business world wide, and it is a common practice to adulterate them.

Enough said on the history, now let's talk practical. After all, what good is a lengthy dissertation on how great alternative practices are if you can't use them at home? There are dozens of simple essential oil "recipes" that you can easily make at home. I will profile several of my favorite essential oils and give you a few "recipes" which I use daily on my Poms. (I also incorporate nutritional therapy, but that will have to be the subject of another article).

Hundreds of essential oils are available for use. One that some of you are probably familiar with is Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). It is steam distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree that grows in Australia. It has been used as a medicinal agent in Australia for centuries. It is extremely useful as a broad spectrum antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent. It is soothing to skin irritations such as insect bites and itching eczemas. During war time, Tea Tree was standard issue in Australian soldier's medicine kits. It's production was considered to be so important that workers involved with harvesting and producing the oil were exempt from military service. It can be applied directly to cuts, burns, stings, and fungal infections, or diluted for use over large areas of the body. It has become a popular addition to natural pet care products. Several companies offer shampoos and coat sprays that contain Tea Tree.

Another extremely useful and versatile oil is Lavender. It is steam distilled from the flowers of Lavandula officinalis. In addition to being extremely useful medicinally, Lavender has a delicate and beautiful fragrance. It is calming, anti-depressive, anti-inflammatory, and helpful for treating burns. It is extremely useful as a fungicide and germicide. It can be applied directly to the skin, incorporated into sprays and shampoos, and is wonderful diluted in distilled water and alcohol for use as a room freshener. To calm down nervous or hyperactive dogs, place a few drops on the dog's crate pad or papers. Also, rub a little on the foot pads. (For car sickness treatment, see peppermint).

One of the most widely used essential oils is Eucalyptus. It is steam distilled from the leaves of the Eucalyptus tree. There are several hundred varieties of Eucalyptus. I prefer to use Eucalyptus globulus for most purposes. Eucalyptus is bactericidal, antifungal, and an extremely useful inhalant for respiratory complaints. Used in a diffusor (a special machine that vaporizes essential oils), it inhibits the spread of contagious disease and discourages insects. Eucalyptus works exceptionally well combined with Citronella Oil, Cedarwood Oil, & Peppermint Oil to keep insects away.

Peppermint is an oil that I always keep on hand. It is steam distilled from the leaves and flower tops of the Mentha piperita plant. It is extremely useful to prevent motion sickness and nausea, and very effective in discouraging insects. It's smell is wonderfully cool and refreshing. To prevent car sickness, place a few drops of Peppermint and Lavender on your dog's crate pad or papers. For your use, Peppermint and Lavender are extremely effective to relieve headaches. Place a small amount on your wrists, temples (don't get into eyes), and under your tongue. For those who have trouble sleeping, Peppermint should only be used during the day. It can keep you awake if used at night.

* Moisturizing Insect Spray - This useful spray repels fleas, ticks & mosquitoes, as well as keeps the coat in good condition.

  • 2 cc - Eucalyptus globulus Oil
  • 1 cc - Citronella Oil
  • 1 cc - Cedarwood Oil
  • 10 drops - Peppermint Oil
  • 1 cc - Coconut Emulsifier (available from Time Laboratories) OR other natural emulsifier.
  • 4 oz. Sea Dew Tangle Tamer (by Time Laboratories) OR other moisturizing spray without artificial fragrance.

Blend the essential oils and coconut emulsifier in a glass cup. Add moisture spray. Stir well. Return to spray bottle. An injectable syringe with the needle twisted off is useful to measure the oils. If fleas or ticks are a problem, use this blend daily to mist your dog's coats. It is also very useful to place a drop of pure Eucalyptus, Cedarwood & Citronella Oil on your dog's bedding each day. Add some pure of the pure oils to your cleaner as well. When insects are not a problem, use Sea Dew Tangle Tamer without the additional essential oils to mist your dog's coat. * Added note, Time Laboratories now offers a ready product called Aromatic-Pest Away Mist.

Soothing Spray - Use this spray to sooth dry skin, eczemas and itching (i.e. flea bite allergies).

  • Tea Tree Oil - 3 cc
  • Lavender Oil - 3 cc
  • 1 cc - Coconut Emulsifier (available from Time Laboratories) OR other natural emulsifier
  • 4 oz. Sea Dew Tangle Tamer (by Time Laboratories) OR other moisture spray without artificial fragrance.

Blend the essential oils and coconut emulsifier in a glass cup. Add moisture spray. Stir well. Return to spray bottle. Spray over dog's body twice a day (avoid eye area). Pure Tea Tree Oil can be applied directly to "hot spots." Also give a source of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids internally. Good sources of Omega fatty acids = Bioderma (by Innova), give according to directions; Cod Liver Oil, 1 cc per five pounds daily; Primrose Oil, 1 cc per five pounds daily. If your dog has been on antibiotics, give Acidophilus Powder 3 times per day. This will help restore the beneficial bacteria destroyed by the antibiotics. Maintaining good intestinal flora is essential to healthy skin. When the skin improves, use the moisture spray without the added essential oils to maintain coat condition.

Therapeutic Lotion - Use a good quality, unscented natural lotion. Add a drop of Tea Tree Oil & a drop of Lavender Oil to a squirt of lotion. Apply to irritated areas.

2) Bait training

What is the best way to bait train a Pom?

The best way to ensure success with bait training is to start early. I always keep a freezer baggie full of liver or beef heart bits in my freezer. (If you can't stand to cook organ meats, skinless chicken thigh will work almost as well). Before freezing, prepare the meat by cooking it thoroughly (boiling or baking). After the meat has cooled, cut it into tiny bits. To make the bits easier to separate, freeze the bits on a cookie sheet for a few hours and then transfer to a freezer baggie. As soon as my puppies will take treats from my hand (at around 6 weeks), I start bringing them a piece of bait 2 or more times a day. I do not give it until they are standing on all fours, with their tails up and are looking up at me. They quickly understand what is required to get the bait. Of course, some puppies are more stubborn than others and will consistently try to jump up after the treat, but eventually they "get it" and stand properly for their treat. Some trainers prefer to use a squeaky or clicker instead of food bait. I have not tried this method as food bait works well for me, but some trainers do claim this is a very good method as well.

A word of caution: Never let anyone drop treats or bait on the ground for your puppy! This will get him into the bad habit of searching the floor for a treat instead of looking up at you as is required in the confirmation ring.

3) Bladder stones

My Pom has been diagnosed with bladder stones? Is there anything that can be done besides surgery to help her?

Bladder stones (urolithiasis or cystic calculi) are fairly common in some breeds such as dalmatians and miniature schnauzers. Although not very common, they can also occur in Pomeranians. Symptoms are frequent urination, straining, and possible blood in the urine.

There are several factors that can make your dog prone to bladder stones:

  1. Urine that is saturated with excesses of minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. Your dog's diet and drinking water can be a factor in this case.
  2. Bacteria in the urine. Urine is normally sterile. When an infection causes bacteria in the urine, minerals may be attracted to the bacteria and begin to form stones. Dogs who experience chronic urinary tract infections are much more prone to bladder stones.
  3. Medications which increase calcium or alter the pH of the urine (i.e. tetracycline antibiotics, sulfa drugs, and cortisone).
  4. Overuse of certain dietary supplements such as vitamin C.
  5. Diseases such as liver shunt.

Treatment/Prevention Options

  1. Surgery. Stone removal is a major surgery but is the quickest way to relieve the problem.
  2. Antibiotics if an infection is present.
  3. Offer distilled or reverse osmosis purified water. The addition of a small amount of apple cider vinegar may be helpful in some cases. Be sure your pet has a clean supply of water available at all times and seems to be drinking enough. Change the water and wash the water bowl regularly.
  4. Allow your pet to relieve herself often. Holding urine for extended periods may contribute to stone formation.
  5. Prescription diet. Your vet can prescribe special food which acidifies the urine. Acidifying the urine will dissolve some, but not all types of stones.
  6. Limit stresses (i.e. prolonged exposure to cold weather) which can lower your dog's resistance and leave him prone to an infection.
  7. Support the overall health of your dog with a high quality diet, appropriate dietary supplements (do not exceed the recommended dosages), exercise, moderate amounts of fresh air & sunshine, clean living quarters, and good grooming habits.

4) Breeding/Estrus

How can you tell which is the best day to breed a bitch in season? - The following answer was sent in by Ken Griffith: "I used to start breeding on the 10th day of color and rarely had a miss. However, it seems that in recent years I need to start breeding earlier and take it longer. I now start attempting a breeding around the 8th day of color and continue to breed every two days until the bitch will no longer accept a stud."

Jackie Rayner submitted the following: "I generally breed on the 10th & 12th day. If a bitch has had problems conceiving, I start as early as she will accept a stud and take it longer. Oddly, my German Shepherds come in every 4 months, but only ovulate every other time. So, it is not unusual for your bitch to miss if she is having an odd heat cycle. An additional note: I have found that often when a stud refuses to breed a bitch it is because she either has an infection or is not ovulating (thus the smell is not right to him). If you have a good stud that you can learn to read, he can be a big help to you in your breeding program."

Bitches typically have their first estrus (also called "heat" or "season") between six and nine months of age. Because a bitch is immature at this age, it is not considered a good practice to breed her until her second season. The bitch's season is divided into four periods. The first period is called "Proestrus." The start of Proestrus is marked by a bloody discharge, followed by swelling of the vulva. This period generally lasts for 9 days. Ordinarily, the bitch will not accept a stud during Proestrus. The second period is called "Estrus" and also lasts for 9 days. A surge of LH (Lutenizing hormone) usually triggers ovulation within 48 hours of the onset of Estrus. However, the time that ovulation occurs can vary widely and explains the need for more than one breeding to take place. It is during Estrus that a bitch will accept a stud and fertilization can take place. If a mating occurs at the right time, pregnancy will result. Regardless of whether or not the bitch is pregnant, the 3rd period "Diestrus" follows and lasts for 60-90 days. The 4th period, "Anestrus" follows and lasts 3 or more months until the cycle begins again.

There are differing views on the viability of sperm and ovum, but most agree that sperm from a young, healthy stud are viable for at least 48 hours in the vaginal tract and that ovum are viable for approximately 72 hours. Only bitches and studs in good health, that are good representatives of the breed should be used for breeding.

Sometimes when the puppies are whelped, there will be a puppy that is considerable smaller than the others. For many years it was believed that was because some puppies in the litter are more "premature" than the others. It is now known that this is not the case. The reason that you get small pups in some litters is because they have disadvantageous placenta placement or faulty placentas, not because they are more premature than the rest of the litter. When the surge of LH (lutenizing hormone) stimulates the bitch's eggs to be released, they are all released within a short period of time. (There is only one surge of LH per heat cycle). The reason that more than one breeding ensures a larger litter is because you are keeping a supply of fresh, viable sperm ready for the time that the eggs are released. If the sperm is too old when the eggs are released, it is not as viable and some or all of the eggs may miss fertilization. (Sperm can live for 2-3 days.) If numerous puppies implant in the same uterine horn, there may not be enough room for good placenta placement for all - thus some will receive more nourishment and be larger than others. Faulty nutrition or hormonal deficiency (mainly lack of progesterone) can also cause poor placentas for the entire litter and result in tiny or weak puppies. The best thing I have found for tinies (that are otherwise nursing fine) is to supplement a few drops of Dyne several times each day to build strength and give extra calories.

Pomeranian puppy

Tinies often fail to thrive because they are pushed out by their larger littermates. The large littermates empty the teats and when they finally crawl off to sleep and let the small pup nurse, he is nursing on a nearly empty teat and tiring himself out. Another good thing to do is put the larger pups aside several times a day and place the tiny pup on a full teat to nurse. Once he has nursed, then let the others take their fill. Of course a pup may also be tiny due to a health defect (heart, lungs etc.) and in that case there is nothing that can be done to save him. Since it is almost always impossible to tell if a pup is tiny due to lack of nourishment or health defect, I always try to help them until it's clear that there is no hope for the pup. Please see the "Fading Puppies" and "Hand Raising Puppies" articles for more information.

5) Brucellosis

What is brucellosis and why should I require this test before I accept bitches for breeding? - By Linda March Information Specialist, University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine (Re-printed with permission)

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that is well known by food animal producers. It causes abortions, infertility and decreased milk yield in cattle. According to Dr. Allan Paul, small animal Extension veterinarian at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at Urbana, "Brucellosis can infect cattle, sheep, goats, dogs and humans as well as pigs. Cats, however, seem to be somewhat resistant to the bacteria."

The major route of brucellosis transmission in dogs is through direct contact of an infected, aborted fetus, or uterine discharge. They may also become infected by eating contaminated meat, fetal membranes, aborted fetuses of livestock or drinking contaminated, unpasteurized milk. The bacteria can also be shed in dog feces and be cultured from lymph nodes of an infected animal.

Signs of infection in dogs may include abortion, infertility, infected reproductive organs, arthritis, disc disease, fever, hind limb weakness, lethargy, and/or general lymph node swelling. Since these may be signs of many diseases, take your pet to your veterinarian if it shows any of them. He or she will need to draw a blood sample to determine if the problem is brucellosis.

Brucellosis is difficult to treat. It may take a long period of antibiotic therapy to fully rid the dog of the bacteria. Since blood samples need to be taken to monitor the progress of the drug treatment, it may also become somewhat expensive. It is also possible for humans to become infected with canine brucellosis, although transmission from dogs to people seems to be uncommon.

Since this disease is sexually transmitted, it is important for breeders to make sure all of the dogs in their kennel test negative for the bacteria. If they are not, they should not be bred. The dog may show no clinical signs, but still transmit the bacteria in semen or vaginal fluid. Female dogs should be tested a few weeks before they come into heat and males should be tested twice a year. Any new animal brought into the kennel should be isolated until it tests negative twice. The second test should be done one month after the first one.

"The bacteria is relatively easy to kill with common disinfectants, such as diluted bleach water solution," notes Dr. Paul.

There is no vaccine available for canine brucellosis at this time. Eliminating the positive animals from breeding stock is one way to help control the disease. Proper disposal of waste and wearing gloves to handle any fetal membranes or aborted fetuses, followed by thorough disinfection of the area will also help. If you have any questions about canine brucellosis, see your veterinarian.

6) Buying a Pom puppy

I am looking for a Pom puppy. Is there anything I can do to make sure I buy it from a reputable breeder and not from a puppy mill? - I appreciate all of the suggestions that were sent in response to this very important question. Since there is so much controversy on exactly what constitutes a puppy mill, I will not attempt to focus on the puppy mill aspect of this question. Rather, I will try to offer some suggestions to help you select a puppy that has had a good beginning under its breeder's care and will therefore be more likely to make a good companion for you.

  1. A good place to begin your search is in the Pomeranian Review, on the APC web site, or by calling the APC Breeder Referral Contact: Jane Lehtinen: 218-741-2117. While buying from an APC member is obviously not a 100% guarantee, you can at least have the confidence of knowing that all APC members have gone through a screening process. All APC applicants must be sponsored by 2 APC members who have been APC members for at least 2 years and who have known the applicant for at least 2 years. The applicant's name is published in the Pom Review for so that members may send in comments. The APC Board then reviews the comments and votes on the applicant's name.
  2. Once you have found a breeder with a puppy available that suits your needs, be prepared to answer questions. A breeder invests many hours of love and care into raising his/her puppies and will likely want to know enough about you so that he/she can feel comfortable about placing a puppy with you. You will probably need to be on a waiting list if you would like a puppy from show lines.
  3. Be prepared to ask questions of the breeder. As long as you are a serious buyer and your questions are polite, the breeder should not mind answering questions about the puppy, its parents, and the conditions in which their dogs are kept and raised. The breeder should be willing to send you a photo of your puppy before shipment and apply your deposit toward another puppy if that particular puppy is not what you were expecting. The breeder should also make a puppy care sheet available to you that describes proper feeding and care instructions.
  4. If you buy an older puppy or adult, be sure that the breeder has given the puppy proper socialization and house training. Older dogs which are raised in a kennel can be very difficult to socialize and house train.
  5. Be sure to buy from a breeder who offers a written contract/guarantee. The contract should allow you a period of time (usually 72 hours) to have the puppy examined by your veterinarian. If a health problem is detected, the contract should guarantee a refund or replacement puppy. If you are buying a pet, the contract should require you to have the puppy neutered or spayed. If you are buying a show puppy, the contact should guarantee that if your puppy has a major fault for show, a refund or replacement will be offered. Most breeders do require that shipping/health certificate costs to return a puppy are at the owner's expense and the original shipping/health certificate costs are generally not refundable. Some breeders offer a satisfaction guarantee that allows you to return the puppy (in good condition) for any reason, at your expense during a certain length of time for a refund or replacement. This can be an important consideration.

7) Campy

What is campy and is there a treatment for it? - Campylobacter bacteria are found in the alimentary canal of dogs, cats, poultry, cattle, swine and wild game animals. The first confirmed outbreak of human illness due to milk tainted with Campylobacter was documented in 1940. The word campylobacter comes from the Greek word "campily" meaning curved and "bacter" meaning rod. Symptoms occur within 10 days after ingesting the bacteria. Common symptoms of infection are diarrhea, malaise, fever, and abdominal pain. Fever, headache and malaise sometimes precede the intestinal symptoms. In severe infections, the stools may be foul smelling, profuse, slimy and bloody. The infection resolves itself within 10 days. Complications can include meningitis and urinary tract infections. Dogs and people with impaired immune systems are more likely to suffer serious complications from the disease. In many cases the disease will recur.

Foods which are major sources of infection are raw hamburger, poultry and other undercooked meets, eggs, unpasteurized milk and contaminated water. Fecal matter of infected animals is also a major route of contamination. The incidence of infections is higher in the spring and fall. There is little information available on treatment of the bacteria in a kennel situation. It is noted that erythromycin and ciprofloxacin are helpful in treating campy. The survival of campy in food is poor. Cooking and preserving methods readily destroy it. Therefore it is important that you do not feed your dogs raw or undercooked meat. Clean all fecal matter promptly and disinfect all kennel surfaces daily. Do not use plastic food or water dishes. Bacteria can stay in the crevices. Use stainless steel, crock style, or glass food and water dishes. Change drinking water often and clean the food/water dishes with a mild chlorox solution regularly.

It is imperative that you do not allow the infected animal to become dehydrated. Supportive care and oral electrolytes solutions are a must. Young puppies or severely infected dogs may require intravenous fluids. Supportive nutritional therapy can be of great help in disease situations. Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids (200 mg. per day for a 5 pound dog), B Vitamins, and Zinc will help stimulate the immune system and speed recovery. Ribes nigrum (Black Current) is an excellent herb to stimulate adrenal and immune function. Make a tea with the leaves and then give it in your dog's water. In all intestinal diseases, beneficial microbial powders are also helpful. I use an excellent product called Pet Top Dress (by Performance Products) which contains highly concentrated microbials such as acidophilus in addition to digestive enzymes.

8) Car sickness

My Pom gets car sick a lot. What can I do to help? - For severe motion sickness problems, your veterinarian may prescribe a drug that can help. These drugs are highly concentrated and must be used with extreme caution on toy dogs. I feel that using natural herbs to treat car sickness is a much safer route, and have been very successful doing so. Fifteen minutes before traveling, I give a small slice of fresh peeled ginger root wrapped in canned food, meat, or cheese. Choose a treat that your dog particularly likes to hide the taste of the ginger root. Do limit the amount of food given in case your dog vomits during travel. A pinch of powdered ginger can be used if fresh ginger cannot be obtained, however fresh ginger works better. Most grocery stores carry ginger root in the produce section. Fresh ginger will stay good in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator for weeks. I also place 2 or 3 drops of essential oil of Peppermint and Lavender on a paper under my dog's crate pad. Placing the crate in a front seat and making sure plenty of fresh air is available may also help. If you have a front seat air bag, you will probably want to use the back seat instead.

9) Coat

Is there anything that will help my Pom grow a better coat? - Certainly genetics play a leading role in determining what type of coat your dog will have. If you want a puppy that will have a gorgeous show coat as an adult, it is important to choose a puppy whose ancestors had proper coats. In addition to genetic predisposition, certain disease trends such as underactive thyroid, or allergy can cause poor hair growth and quality. Ecto parasites such as fleas and mites, can cause hair loss and adversely affect the coat quality. Dermal viral, bacterial, and fungal infections can also cause skin and coat problems.

While you cannot overcome genetics, there are a number if things you can do to improve the quality of your dog's coat:

  1. Diet. It is extremely important that you feed your dog a premium quality food. While premium dry foods can be a good staple, they should not be the exclusive source of your dog's nutrition. Supplementing the diet with healthy food items such as vegetables, cottage cheese, freshly cooked poultry and fish etc. will lead to a better state of health. Avoid "junk food" at all costs.
  2. Vitamin/Mineral Supplements. A multi-vitamin/mineral supplement with Zinc, Biotin, Vitamin C, B Vitamins etc. will help your dog to maintain a healthy coat. (Do not overdose.)
  3. Essential Fatty Acids. Many canine diets are lacking in essential fatty acids. Adding them to the diet will increase the gloss and sheen of the coat.
  4. Enzyme/Probiotic Supplements. When food is cooked and processed, important enzymes essential for digestion and assimilation are lost. Adding an enzyme supplement will help coat condition by assisting in the proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients in your dog's food. Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) also assist with digestion and help keep pathogens such as bacteria and yeast in check.
  5. Proper grooming. Use a good quality shampoo once a month or as needed. Thoroughly brush the coat with quality grooming tools before bathing or severe matting may occur. In between baths, brush all the way to the skin once a week. Do not yank or pull too hard causing coat damage.
  6. Control parasites. Both ecto and endo parasites can create ill health leading to poor coat quality. Worm your dog when needed and control ticks, fleas, mites and other parasites in your dog's environment. There are good shampoos available that contain natural insecticides such as rotenone and pyrethrin. You veterinarian can help you determine the proper worming schedule for your dog.
  7. Maintain proper body weight. You should be able to feel your dog's ribs when you rub his underside. If you can't, he is too fat. Give your dog more exercise, increase nutritious lower calorie foods, and decrease high calorie foods in your dog's diet.

10) Coccidiosis

What is coccidiosis? - As long as you feed a premium food, normal Pomeranian stools are small, firm, and without foul odor. A change in normal stools is a red flag that something is amiss. A common intestinal disease among dogs in coccidiosis. Coccidia are parasitic protozoans (single celled organisms) found in the intestinal tract of many animals, including dogs. Coccidiosis causes severe losses of agricultural animals each year, especially calves and foul. It is highly contagious and extremely difficult to eradicate. In dogs, the first symptoms are soft stools that contain yellowish mucous and have a characteristic sweet odor similar to freshly cut alfalfa.

The infected animal's eyes are often watery and the coat becomes dull and rough. As damage to the mucous lining of the intestines progresses, a secondary bacterial infection sets in and the stools begin to smell foul and often contain large amounts of mucous and blood. Infected dogs often eat each other's stools.

Symptoms are similar to the protozoan infection giardia, except that in giardia infections, the stools are light colored and have a "greasy" consistency. It is not uncommon for more than one species of parasitic protozoan to occur at the same time. Because cysts are shed intermittently, it can be very difficult to confirm protozoan infections by fecal examination.

Coccidiosis is spread when an animal ingests infective cysts that are passed in the stools. Cysts may be passed by animals with an active infection as well as carriers that show no clinical signs but continue to harbor infection. There is a common misconception that coccidiosis is only a problem in filthy and crowded kennels. This is simply not the case. Certainly filth and overcrowding will accentuate any disease, but coccidiosis can become a problem in even the cleanest of kennels. It is best treated with the drug sulfadimethoxine (brand name Albon) prescribed by your veterinarian. Give Albon liquid suspension - 1/4 cc per pound (double the dose for the first day only) for 21-30 days. The label directions suggest a shorter treatment time, however one of the veterinarians at the clinic I use (who has a lot of experience treating coccidiosis in farm animals) advised me that because coccidia run a 21 day cycle, best results are achieved by using a longer treatment period. If Giardia is confirmed, many breeders have had good success treating it with *fenbendazole (trade name Panacur) 50 mg./kg. given for three days in a row and then repeated at one week intervals until the infection clears (generally 3-4 weeks). Instead of repeating the weekly 3 day treatment, some breeders have had very good success running Panacur treatments for 7+ days in a row for severe cases of Giardia. *Please note: Although University studies have shown that fenbendazole is an effective treatment for Giardia, it is currently licenced for the treatment of worms only.

It is important to clean all fecal matter promptly and disinfect all kennel surfaces, bedding, and toys daily. Coccidia are not destroyed by Chlorox and many other disinfectants. It has been shown that they are readily destroyed by Ammonia and ‘old fashioned' Lysol Concentrate (1 part Ammonia or Lysol to 10 parts water). Do not use plastic food or water dishes. Coccidia can stay in the crevices. Use stainless steel, crock style, or glass food and water dishes.

Change drinking water often and clean the food/water dishes with a mild Ammonia solution regularly. Separate all infected dogs as much as possible. It is imperative that you do not allow the infected animal to become dehydrated. Supportive care and oral electrolyte solutions are helpful. Keep the animal warm and away from drafts. B Vitamins may not be given during the Albon treatment. Albon works by inhibiting folic acid, therefore B Vitamin supplements with folic acid will negate its action. Zinc and Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids may be given during treatment.

One of the negative side effects of Albon is that it destroys beneficial intestinal bacteria leaving the animal more susceptible to pathogens. During and after treatment with Albon, it is important to give a high potency Probiotic (beneficial microbial) supplement. After Albon treatment has finished, continue the Probiotic and give B Vitamins, Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids, and Zinc. To avoid future outbreaks, keep your dog in excellent health, free of worms and maintain scrupulous cleanliness. Immediately separate any dog that shows signs of the disease and treat accordingly.

11) Collapsing trachea

What is collapsing trachea? - The trachea or windpipe is comprised of cartilage rings joined by muscles and ligaments. The cartilage rings make the trachea rigid so that air can freely pass to the lungs. Sometimes the rigid cartilage rings become soft or thin. When your dog inhales air, the rings collapse causing breathing difficulties. In severe cases, death may result.

Symptoms: Chronic sporadic coughing or coughing with a "goose honking" type sound, breathing difficulties.

Causes: No ones knows for sure what causes collapsing trachea although most Veterinarians agree that chronic bronchitis, obesity, and tracheal injury contribute significantly to the disease. When it occurs in very young dogs, it may be the result of a congenital defect.

Treatment: Minor cases of collapsing trachea may respond to appropriate medication. Other cases may respond to surgery where a plastic device is implanted to prevent collapse. Consult your Veterinarian to find out the proper course of action in your dog's case.

Prevention: Make sure your dog has the proper nutrition to keep his immune system strong and avoid stresses (i.e. severe weather) which lead to chronic bronchitis. Make sure your dog maintains proper body weight. If you can't feel his ribs, your dog is too fat! Avoid tracheal injury. Do not yank or pull too hard on your dog's lead. Do not use a string lead unless you are experienced. When possible, use a harness instead of a collar or string lead.

12) Dry Skin

My Pom has very dry skin. What can I do?

  1. Are you feeding a premium food? "Grocery store" dog foods generally do not have enough fatty acids and high quality protein for toy dogs.
  2. Is your dog drinking enough? You should have a bowl of fresh water available throughout the day (not necessary at night).
  3. How often are you bathing your dog and what products are you using? Dog hair and skin should not be washed with harsh soaps and you don't need to bath as often as you might think. Use a gentle good quality dog shampoo once a month (or as needed when he is dirty or smelly or needs treatment for external parasites). Minimize alcohol based sprays and gels. Use a dog hair dryer or set your human dryer on low heat. Dog hair/skin cannot take the high heat of human dryers.
  4. External parasites such as mites, fleas , and lice can cause dry skin. Goodwinol shampoo with the natural insecticide rotenone and dips with natural insecticides such as rotenone or pyrthrin are good to help prevent and treat external parasites. Essential oils such as eucalyptus, cedarwood, tea tree, lavender, peppermint and citronella are also good at deterring insects and external parasites.
  5. Intestinal parasites rob your Pom of nutrients which can also lead to dry skin. If you suspect that your Pom has parasites, he should be examined by your veterinarian and treated.
  6. Your Pom may not be digesting his food properly. Failure to digest properly can be caused by an intestinal flora disturbance due to antiobiotics or stress. Additionally, some dogs chronically do not produce enough digestive enzymes. Good quality enzyme and probiotic supplements will help in the case of digestion problems.
  7. Your Pom may need a coat supplement with fatty acids, biotin, and zinc. Weigh your Pom and follow the directions carefully so you do not overdose coat supplements.

13) Eclampsia

What is eclampsia and how can it be prevented? - Eclampsia (puerperal tetany) is caused by a low serum level of calcium (hypocalcemia). It is caused by a malfunction of the pituitary gland. It is a very serious condition that all toy breeders should be familiar with as it can lead to the death of your bitch and her litter. It is felt by many that giving a calcium and vitamin D supplement starting the last two weeks of gestation and continuing through weaning time will prevent it. However, overdosing of calcium can be harmful. Therefore it is advisable to consult your veterinarian before initiating calcium supplementation.

Following is additional information provided by Julie Moreno:

Symptoms: The nursing bitch may have rapid breathing, restlessness, nervousness and some whining. She may stagger and develop stiff legs and elevated body temperature. She may be unable to rise and lie there with extended legs, salivating and sounding congested. If untreated, it can lead to convulsions and death. It is most common during the first few weeks of lactation, but can occur up to six weeks after delivery.

Treatment: Emergency treatment is necessary. Your veterinarian will give an intravenous calcium solution. Caution must be used with intravenous calcium as it has a profound affect on the heart muscle. No more than 10% solution should be used and it must be administered slowly. An overdose can cause heart arrhythmia and death. Pups must be removed and bottle fed or tube fed so the bitch can retain calcium. In some cases, the pups can nurse once in each 24 hour period if recovery has been rapid. Do not leave the pups with her as they will nurse every few hours and deplete her calcium.

Prevention: Give a calcium tablet with vitamin D after whelping until weaning time or calcium injection as recommended by your vet. Neo-Calglucon syrup by Sandoz, available at most drug stores can be given during whelping to help with the delivery. It is fine prevention for calcium deficiency, especially in toy breeds. Your bitches diet should include foods that have the correct canine calcium/phosphorus ratio of 1/1 - 1/0. Some bitches have poor dietary calcium utilization which can present problems if supplemental calcium is not given. Again, consult your veterinarian before beginning calcium supplementation.

If your bitch has experienced eclampsia it is advisable to discuss with your vet if she should be bred again or not.

14) Fading puppy syndrome

Is there anything that can be done for fading puppy syndrome? - Fading puppies are one of the biggest mysteries and certainly one of the saddest heartbreaks that toy breeders can experience. Some puppies have problems thriving from birth and some begin to decline at several weeks old. For the purposes of this article, I will include suggestions for all puppies that are failing to thrive, whether it be from birth or at several weeks old. When autopsies are performed on fading puppies that have died, more often than not, no apparent cause for death can be found. Occasionally causative factors such as a cleft pallet, congenital heart defect, liver disease, or infection can be pinpointed as the cause for death.

In cases such as congenial heart defect, there is obviously nothing that could have been done to save the puppy. On the other hand, if the puppy was simply lacking nutrition then action could have been taken in an attempt to save the puppy. For some reason, fading puppies often seem to lack the vigor to nurse properly and die of malnutrition. In our own breeding program, I have been successful about half of the time by supplementing nutrition and electrolytes to fading puppies. Yes, these are not great odds, but for the puppies that do make it, I feel that the effort is well worth it. I also keep the puppies on light heat and keep the humidity levels up in the room where they are located.

I have observed that puppies that are failing to thrive do not digest formula well. Every time I've tried to supplement formula to a weak or failing puppy, I have lost that puppy. The formula apparently places added strain on the puppy's already weakened system. I have used formula quite successfully on strong puppies whose mothers simply don't have enough milk for them. This is a different situation than supplementing a puppy whose system is not working properly. I have been quite successful using a mixture of "Dyne" and unflavored "Pedialyte." Dyne is available from most veterinary supply catalogues. I would never want to whelp a litter of Poms without having it on hand. Pedialyte can be purchased from any grocery store. I use 1 part Dyne to 2 parts Pedialyte. Mix this together and it will form a milky looking emulsion. ("Resorb" can be substituted for Pedialyte.

This is handy to store because it comes in small packets of powder that you can mix with water as you need it.) Warm the portion of the Dyne/Pedialyte mixture that you will be feeding to wrist temperature and then add a tiny pinch of acidophillus powder. Refrigerate the balance. Feed 1 cc every 2 hours for a 3 - 4 oz puppy.

I generally tube feed this mixture. When the puppy begins to gain weight and strength, you can skip the middle of the night feeding. After a few days, the puppy will often begin to improve dramatically and begin to nurse once again on its dam. If the dam has no milk, then you can gradually phase back in your selected formula (I prefer fresh, clean goat's milk to formula when available). Watch the stools closely to be sure that the formula is being digested. If the stool has a lot of curds in it, then you will need to go back to the Dyne mixture until the digestive system is able to cope with the formula.

I do not like to give antibiotics, but sometimes they are the only option in a life threatening situation. If a bacterial infection is suspected, then I also give amoxicillin to the puppy twice a day for seven days. Amoxicillin will damage the beneficial intestinal flora, so it is important to give a Probiotic supplement to the puppy. If you think that your puppy would benefit from antibiotic therapy, consult your veterinarian. Do not overdose the antibiotics. For a tiny puppy, only one drop per dose is required.

If your puppy reaches 4 weeks old and still needs additional nutrition, you may be able to feed it from a dish. By 5 weeks, almost all puppies can eat from a dish. If the puppy is digesting well, I prepare the following mixture and feed it from a dish several times a day:

  • 1 Tablespoon Powdered Premium Puppy food (you can powder the kibble in a blender) or Gerber Baby Rice Cereal if the pup is not yet ready for food
  • 1 teaspoon liver puree
  • 1 Tablespoon Goat's Milk or Yogurt
  • 1 cc Dyne
  • a pinch of Probiotic powder
  • enough water to make a gruel that your puppy can easily eat.

If the puppy is not digesting well, give the Dyne/Pedialyte mixture only for a day or two and then gradually phase food back in as it is tolerated. As the puppy gets older, cut back this mixture and phase in the puppy food of your choice. If you lose your puppy, try not to be too heartbroken. (I know, easier said than done!) It's heart wrenching to lose puppies that you have tried to save. Feel some comfort in knowing that you tried your best. Some puppies just seem "not meant to be" or have a serious health problem that could not have been helped no matter what efforts were made to save them.

15) Head tilt

Is there anything that can be done to help chronic head tilt syndrome? - Chronic held tilt syndrome can be caused by a number of factors. Some of these have viable treatment options, but unfortunately some do not.

A combination of treatable factors may be responsible for chronic head tilt. One or more of the following may contribute to the condition: Ear mites, ear wax buildup, ear pressure, fungal infection, bacterial infection, or tooth pain. A suggested treatment regimen that will, with patience eliminate all possible treatable factors without harmful side effects follows:

  1. Have a veterinarian examine your dog's teeth and perform any necessary dental procedures.
  2. Treat for eat mites with a good ear mite medication.
  3. Clean the ears thoroughly to remove all wax buildup. Your veterinarian may need to assist you with this cleaning.
  4. Add a probiotic (beneficial bacterial) supplement to the diet to restore beneficial intestinal flora. This will help keep yeast under control.
  5. Make the following ear drop solution and instill it into the ears twice a day for 30 days. This solution will help dissolve ear wax and control both yeast and fungal infections.
Ear Drop Solution (Makes 1 fl oz)
  • 1 cc Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) Essential Oil
  • 1 cc Geranium (Pelargonium odoratissimum) Essential Oil
  • 1 cc Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) Essential Oil
  • 26 cc Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If a neurological disorder is causing head tilt, there is unfortunately nothing that can be done. However, many times the above treatment regimen will assist head tilt suggesting that a neurological disorder was not actually at fault.

Please also note that temporary head tilt can be caused by air travel in some dogs. If you are flying to a show and your dog has head tilt in response to air travel, it is best to arrive at your destination a day or two in advance if possible. You may also wish to consult your veterinarian about prescribing an antihistamine to be used before flights.

Please click here for more information on Aromatherapy For Dogs .

16) Hypoglycemia

What is hypoglycemia? - Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is a possible problem with all toy breed puppies. Veterinarians unfamiliar with toys often mis-diagnose the condition as viral hepatitis or encephalitis. As a toy breeder or pet owner, it is important to recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia and know how to treat it. Hypoglycemia is easily treatable in the early stages, but fatal if allowed to progress. Many puppies are lost needlessly to hypoglycemia because of ignorance on the part of their owner or veterinarian.

The first sign of hypoglycemia is the puppy slowing down and then acting listless. The puppy will then begin to tremble or shiver. This is a reaction caused as the brain is starved for glucose. The trembling is followed by a blank stare and the puppy lying on his side. He may also experience convulsions. After a time, the puppy will become comatose. His body will be limp, lifeless, and the tongue and gums will be a grayish/blue color. The body temperature will be subnormal. The puppy may even appear to be dead.

If caught in the early stages, treatment is simple. Rub Nutri-Cal (Karo syrup will do if you have no Nutri-Cal) on the puppy's gums, under the tongue, and on the roof of the mouth (caution: do not use honey). Get a heating pad or heating blanket and slowly warm the puppy to proper body temperature. If the puppy responds, all is well. Feed a quality canned food right away (you may want to mix it with egg yolk), and dropper feed some Pedialyte or Gatorade. Monitor the puppy to be sure that the condition does not recur. Be sure to eliminate the stress that caused the episode if at all possible.

If caught in the more advanced stages, treatment is more complicated. Always assume that the puppy is alive. Rub Nutri-Cal or Karo in the mouth, and carefully insert a small amount in the rectum. Slowly warm the puppy to normal body temperature (101-102 degrees F) and keep him warm continuously with light heat. If the puppy still does not respond, carefully eye dropper Pedialyte, Gatorade, dextrose solution or Karo water into the mouth, a little at a time.

Call your veterinarian and inform him that you have a hypoglycemic puppy. He will prepare a warmed dextrose solution to inject subcutaneously and may put your puppy on an IV drip. Request a fecal exam. Your puppy may have intestinal parasites such as worms, coccidia, or giardia that need to be eliminated immediately.

A bacterial or viral infection may also be present and antibiotic treatment necessary. If your puppy has been given glucose injections, it is probably a good idea to treat him with antibiotics so that infection does not occur. Your vet will likely recommend a prescription canned food such as a/d to give as your puppy recovers. You can finger feed the a/d "as is" from the can and add Pedialyte to the drinking water. You must also keep the puppy warm at all times. Of course use prudence, and do not overheat or dehydration will occur. In severe cases you may need to force feed a/d for a time and give Pedialyte with a dropper. Give B vitamins to stimulate appetite. As your puppy improves he will begin to eat in his own and then you can gradually phase back in his regular food.

It is important to understand that just because a puppy has an episode of hypoglycemia, it does not mean that the puppy is truly "hypoglycemic." True hypoglycemia is a chronic condition caused by overproduction of insulin by the pancreas. Even though the pancreas may normally function properly, toy puppies can still have an isolated hypoglycemic incident in reaction to stress. Hypoglycemic incidents are almost always preceded by a stress of some kind. Some examples of common stresses include: weaning, teething, vaccinations, a change in environment, shipping, over-handling, cold temperatures, intestinal parasites, infections, anorexia, etc.

Many puppies simply play too hard and stress their system or forget to eat. I have heard of young males experiencing hypoglycemia when a female in heat is around. They become so worked up over the female that they do not eat and their blood sugar drops.

Tiny dogs often do not have the fat reserves to supply adequate glucose in times of stress or when they do not eat regularly. Hypoglycemia most often occurs when the puppy has not eaten for several hours. This is not always the case, however. A puppy can have eaten recently and still show sings of hypoglycemia if his system is stressed and the food has not been digested and assimilated. It is important to "free feed" toy puppies a high quality food. Toy puppies simply have too high of an energy level to be restricted to scheduled feedings.

Most do fine if switched to scheduled feedings when they reach adulthood, but they must have access to food and water at all times when they are puppies. If you like to give your puppy canned food, you can schedule the feeding of the canned, but allow access to kibble at all times.

A summary of important reminders is as follows:

  1. Always keep Nutri-Cal or Karo (Corn Syrup) and Pedialyte or Gatorade (the clear kind without artificial color is preferred) on hand. This is the quickest way to revive a hypoglycemic puppy.
  2. If you ever see your puppy becoming listless, or laying on his side and acting unresponsive IMMEDIATELY rub Nutri-Cal or Karo on his gums, under his tongue, and on the roof of the mouth. Slowly warm him to normal body temperature with a heating pad. Feed him and dropper Pedialyte or Gatorade into his mouth as soon as he responds. Call your veterinarian if the puppy does not quickly respond.
  3. Keep your puppy from chilling, free of parasites, and minimize stress.
  4. See that your puppy eats often and maintains a proper body weight.
  5. Do not over-handle your puppy. Be sure to allow him rest time and alone time. Like all babies, puppies need to have a regular schedule of rest, meals, play and potty.

17) Hand raising puppies/puppy formula

Can you recommend a good toy puppy formula and some suggestions for feeding puppies that need supplementation? - I have used many formulas over the years and have decided that goat's milk has the best result. If you have a supply of fresh, clean goat's milk available, use that. Fresh goat's milk can be frozen in ice cube trays and then transferred to freezer baggies so you can thaw small portions as needed. Do not use a microwave to thaw fresh milk. It will kill the beneficial enzymes. If you cannot obtain fresh milk, several goat's milk based formulas are now commercially available. Most health food stores and some grocery stores also stock packaged goat's milk.

Julie Moreno suggested the following puppy formula:

  • 1 Can Condensed Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise (Best Foods brand only, not low fat)
  • 4 oz. Plain Yogurt (not low fat, Mountain High brand is good)
  • 4 egg yolks

Blend well. (Remove white membranes from the yolks so they don't clog your feeding tube.) Refrigerate (stays good 5 days in refrigerator). Warm to wrist temperature before feeding. For a 3-4 oz. pup, feed 1 cc every 2 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night (If the pup is nursing on its dam but needs supplementation, feed 1 cc every 4 hours until strength improves enough to nurse exclusively.) Diaper pups after each feeding unless dam is doing so. If pups are dehydrated or chilled, give 1 cc pedialyte every 2 hours instead of formula. (1 part corn syrup to 7 parts boiled water can be used in a pinch until pedialyte can be obtained.)

When hydration or body temperature improves, phase back in formula. Increase formula amount as weight increases. Important: Do not increase too quickly or overfeed as colic and gastric upset will occur. If a feeding tube needs to be used, use a #5 French. Pups should be able to lap formula from a bowl by 3-4 weeks old.

Suggestions on raising orphans by Lois (Ciliberto) Rinehart

Raising Orphans With an Adoptive Dam

If there is a bitch around who has a great disposition and can adjust to simply loving the pups, curling around them to keep warm and licking them, then I would give that the best try I could. Remember, adoptive dams need not be nursing moms. If you can supply the food, a non-nursing adoptive dam can take care of the rest of the burden for you. I have seen some who insisted taking over, others who warmed to the idea slowly, and yet others who would kill the pups sooner than blink an eye. First, know your adoptive mom, second rub a tiny bit of vanilla into pups to change their scent, then put butter on their rears, vaginal area and under chin. Avoid umbilical area so adoptive mom does not get too anxious and chew on that area.

Slowly, holding a pup in hand, fingers curled around pup, back of hand up toward adoptive dam in case she snaps (better your hand than the pup) - see if the bitch has any sniffing interest. This can take time. It's all new to her, and patience is the guide. If she expresses curiosity, go one step further and let her really smell the pup's rear. Let her lick at the butter, but be ready to pull hand back and say no like you really mean it if necessary. If this works, let her lick the butter under the chin, being ready with your free hand every minute to interfere if there is animosity from the bitch.

If the bitch is interested, you will be able to tell. Do not give the pup to her yet. Put all pups in a cardboard box near bitch who I will assume is in some kind of confining pen. My dams always shredded papers for their pups. If your bitch has shredded papers with pups before, use this system now. If she hasn't, use whatever system she had when she raised pups. (We are assuming you are only trying this with an experienced mom!) Put some bedding in with the hopefully adoptive mom. See if she attempts to make a bed. Give her some time. Fondle pups to make them squeal a bit while this is going on so she can hear the pups, but can't really get to them. You can see by her head cocking more or less how interested she is. In many cases the bitch will be so encouraged, she will shred paper and dig into bedding trying to make a nest, stopping to listen to the pups every so often. If she establishes interest by this type of nesting behavior, the battle is half won. Don't get discouraged if the bitch does not nest at first. As long as she has interest and is not growling or squirming to get away, you have a foot hold. If this interest is expressed, keep those pups squealing a bit. It isn't going to hurt them to squeal a little and crawl about.

Assuming you have a potential adoptive dam who is interested, proceed with some risk, exercising caution too, but the risk must be taken. Try the next pups the same way as the first one and see what the bitch thinks of them. She will know they are different pups. Then put butter on all pups and gingerly lay one down in the pen with the bitch - being ready to spring and cover the pup if the bitch gets upset. Not it is a wait/see/pray/be ready to spring to protect pup/game.

If the bitch seems to want to help the pup, give her a little trust and encouragement, petting her with one hand, being ready to cover the pup with the other hand. If the bitch takes to the puppy and you can see that she has no intention of harming it, then give her a little slack and see what she will do with the puppy. She may go away from it for a bit an return, and may look anxious - after all she has not had proper time to prepare a nest and so on. This sounds atrocious, but I always led with the scrawniest or weakest of the pups. If something was going to happen and the bitch was going to harm it before I could stop her, better to be with nature and go for the one best able to be sacrificed.

If all goes well, do not wait too long to introduce the rest of the pups. Hang around as close as possible for half an hour to see what the bitch will do. Once she settles in and is warming and licking the pups, let her be, but also give her some latitude. If she likes her bed at the other end of the pen, let her have it here. I always say that mother knows best.

With an adoptive dam, I always fed the dam away from her pups so there would be no lurking jealousy over the food - at least until I saw what the dam was like in that situation. For the first few days, keep butter on the pup's rears to assure licking stimulation. After that, it's home free (except for feedings if your adoptive dam is not in milk). I have seen so many non-nursing substitute moms take pups, that it is well worth the effort to try it. The pups are happier, and you get more rest. But if you try, and they die anyway, don't feel guilty. In all probability, they would have died anyway as it is difficult to hand rear them successfully.

Hand Raising Orphans With No Adoptive Dam - I used a cardboard box on the kitchen table, with a heating pad under the outside of the box, not in it. Too much heat kills as fast as too little. Place a towel in the bottom of the box and keep adjusting the heat until it is barely warm. I always kept a large paper towel section to toss over the pups as it gave them coverage and allowed air in. Do not tuck it down and it will move about somewhat as they do. Crying does not hurt pups. I always worry more when there is no noise. Dead quiet pups are about to be dead is my motto. Continual crying, of course, means dissatisfaction - usually not enough to eat which you can gauge by looking at the tummy. The pup may also need stimulated to have a bowel movement or urinate or be instinctively searching for the warm comfort of a mom. When she isn't around, they are going to cry a bit more than normal. When they draw their legs to their tummy, it is colic or worse.

I also placed the old time honored method - a ticking clock under the towel in one corner as it does make the pups gravitate toward it and they will kind of curl up on it slightly elevating their heads as they do when sleeping on their dam. This helps the natural flow of blood and food. I never used a lamp of any sort, and when it came to nighttime, I kept overhead lights to a minimum so I could just see when I fed and pottied them. They need to instinctively know time, just as they would in the wild.

In the daytime I fed 2-3 hours apart depending on how much they took at a sitting. Julie's formula is the best for feeding. At night, every 4 hours is fine. I sometimes even missed the 4:00 A.M. feeding and never lost a pup because of it. A little sleep doesn't hurt the surrogate mom every now and then! After every feeding, use a Kleenex - slightly wet with warm tap water to stimulate urination and bowel movements. A bit of butter on the rear and vagina now and then does not hurt. If they are doing well, weighing them is silly. It only keeps you stressed out and accomplishes nothing. You can feel full tummies and normal, undehydrated pups by hand. A once a week weigh in is sufficient. If no gain, and they are otherwise eating and not in agony or cold and dying, everything will be fine. You can't possibly expect an orphan pup who is not getting dam's milk and normal dam attention to gain as much as one who is getting that benefit. Be happy they are alive, and weight gain can come later.

Tube feeding is fine, and many practice it. I have used it, but it was never my cup of tea. Bernie patented a method that was great and it enabled one to know if the pup was really wanting to eat and thereby had the strength and will to live. A lot of times by tube feeding, we are going against nature and just keeping something alive that wants to die or that nature has decreed is going to die. If you wish to tube feed, use a #5 French tube and ask your veterinarian to show you how to do it. However, if you can get the hang of this other method, you'll love it. You need a regular clean syringe with no needle. It must be kept moist so it doesn't dry up. Bernie kept it in the formula glass in the refrigerator. Warm the formula just to wrist temperature, then suck up the cc amount you have determined. Place the pup on a towel, belly down. Gently lift head between your fingers, put filled syringe into mouth. Tap slightly between roof of mouth and tongue and maybe squeeze very gently on syringe end so that a dab of milk comes out and the pup gets a taste. The pup's little tongue will wrap around the end of the syringe. You just hold the syringe with your thumb on the end that injects - but not actually pushing down. Syringe plunge end down, not up! If they suck, the end goes down as they nurse with your every so slight pressure helping. I have never chocked one with this method. Once they do it and you do it, you'll never want to use another method.

They suck like little pros, and you can measure exactly what they took in by looking at the cc on the syringe. They have to suck to get the food, but not so hard to tire them. Many pups wither from tube feeding as they do not have the sucking exercise. I have never seen a baby bottle worth its salt. This method is a charm and kept many a Crescendo orphan alive and well. The syringe can be rinsed in warm soapy water, rinsed well, and easily re-used. Forgot all of the sterilization nonsense. As with human babies, a little natural exposure to a few germs in not going to kill them. We did have to change syringes a lot as they wear our when the rubber part gets too stiff to work, but that is nothing. Good luck! You are certainly in for it hand raising a litter of orphans, and deaths can be experienced. You can drive yourself to the point of weariness and insanity, but there is also a great reward in the pups that do make it!

18) Increasing the survival rate of Pom puppies

What can I do to increase the survival rate of my Pom puppies? - Pom puppies can be very fragile. There are a number of things you can do to help increase their survival odds:

  1. Move the dam (Mother) to her intended whelping area at least 10 days before she is due. This allows her time to become comfortable with her surroundings. Additionally, in the event that you have miscalculated her due date or she whelps prematurely, she will be safely in her own area.
  2. Before whelping, brush Mom gently but thoroughly to remove loose hair that the pups may get in their mouths causing choking or intestinal impaction. Shave her tummy a few days before she is due so that the pups can easily latch onto her teats. Trimming long hair is a good idea as well since pups can become tangled in long hair.
  3. When the dam is within a few days of whelping, take her temperature morning and evening (rectally with a digital thermometer works best). Once her temperature drops below 99 degrees, you will know she is very close to whelping and can keep an especially close eye on her.
  4. Make sure each Mom has her own space for whelping (Rover Pen, X-Pen or whatever you like). If the dam is excitable and barks at other dogs from a distance (and neglects or steps on her puppies because of this), her pen needs to be in a separate room from all other dogs.
  5. Inside the dam's enclosure, place a whelping box that she can easily jump into but the puppies can't crawl out of. Once the pups are 3 weeks old or so, they can have a whelping box or cozy that they can crawl in and out of. Tiny pups can get wrapped up in their bedding so I like to wrap a soft towel around a piece of cardboard that is cut slightly smaller than the whelping box and place this in the bottom of the box. For Moms that aggressively dig at the towel causing it to come loose, it works better to place the cardboard inside a flannel pillowcase. Place a small wash cloth in the box so Mom feels like she has something to nest with but the pups can't get rolled up in it. Wash the bedding as it becomes soiled.
  6. Keep the pups on light heat for the first few weeks. A heating blanket set on a barely warm setting placed under the whelping box works well. Gradually reduce the heat as the pups get older and can maintain body temperature easily. For wintertime pups, it doesn't hurt to leave a light heat source with them until 8 weeks. Gradually acclimate the pups to cooler temperatures so they don't catch cold when suddenly exposed to cool weather.
  7. If the pups have raspy breathing or trouble with their lungs for any reason, run a humidifier in their room (the ultrasonic kind works the best). If you have an essential oil diffusor, it also really helps to run a respiratory blend (i.e. lemon and tea tree, eucalyptus, pine, etc.)
  8. Make sure Mom drinks enough. In addition to water, I like to give my Moms 1/2 C of goat's milk each day while nursing pups. Moms who don't drink enough do not produce enough milk.
  9. Weigh the pups daily to make sure they are gaining weight. A 5 pound digital postage scale that will weigh to the 10th of an ounce is well worth the investment so you can accurately weigh pups. A small weight drop after birth is normal. If you see a weight drop after the first day, something is wrong and the pups may need supplementation.
  10. Bitch milk is best to supplement pups, however it is not always possible to milk the dam. I have used many formulas over the years and have decided that goat's milk works the best (less colic, better weight gain, etc.) If you have access to fresh, clean goat's milk, you can keep a supply in your freezer for emergencies. If you cannot get fresh goat's milk, most health food stores carry packaged goat's milk. A few goat's milk based puppy formulas are now available commercially as well. Tube feeding works well if your veterinarian or an experienced breeder can show you how. If possible, always hold the pup on a teat to suck after tube feeding as the sucking action stimulates digestion. Unfortunately pups who will not attempt to suck rarely live.
  11. Newborn pups cannot eliminate on their own. If the dam is not cleaning the pups regularly, you will need to diaper them yourself after each feeding. Diapering pups means softly wiping the genital area with a moist cloth or cotton ball until they eliminate. Human baby wipes work really well for this purpose.
  12. For Moms that have low birth weight or premature puppies, it is helpful to give her Red Raspberry Leaf (tincture or tea) mixed with goat's milk each day throughout her pregnancy (see also "Lacation" below).

19) Lactation

I have a bitch who never has quite enough milk for her litter. Is there anything I can do to help increase her milk production? - Inadequate milk production is a fairly common problem for toy bitches. Most of the time, I have been able to correct this problem through diet and supplementation. Occasionally, however, there is a bitch who seems to have such a severe hormone deficiency that no amount of supplementation will help. In that case, it's best to spay her and place her in a pet home rather than have future litters suffer.

Insuring adequate milk production begins before conception ever occurs. Your bitch should be in excellent health before breeding. You should also feed her a diet which will adequately supply all of the nutrients necessary to support her litter and insure milk supply once the litter is whelped. For bitches who are known to have had adequate milk in the past, premium food along with a daily prenatal vitamin is adequate. I also give a probiotic/enzyme supplement to all of my dogs daily to help them utilize the nutrients in their food.

For a bitch who has been known to have milk supply problems in the past, I begin to supplement additional items to her diet starting two weeks before whelping and continue through weaning. Daily, I mix up a serving of the following (also leave a bowl of dry food for her where she can nibble on it at will):

  • 2 heaping Tablespoons Premium Canned Food
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon Cottage Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Probiotic/Enzyme Powder
  • 200 mg standardized Milk Thistle extract - (½ of a 400 mg capsule)
  • 1/2 Cup Goat's Milk, Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, or Water
  • 1/2 of a Pet Tabs Plus or other good prenatal vitamin
  • 1 teaspoon Spirulina powder (or Spirulina tablets) is an excellent addition. Spirulina supplies high quality amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and valuable phyto-nutrients which encourage milk supply and overall good health. Make sure to buy American (mainland or Hawaiian) spirulina. Imported material is often contaminated with other algae species. If you add Spirulina, it is not necessary to give the prenatal vitamin.

Adequate water intake is a must for producing milk, so adding water to the supplement will help increase fluid intake. Keep a full bowl of fresh water available to her at all times. If your bitch already has a litter and not enough milk for it, supplement the above mixture twice a day until her milk increases and supplement the puppies with pedialyte to keep them hydrated. Of course if the bitch has no milk at all, you will have to supplement the puppies with formula every 2 hours until her milk comes in. Once the milk supply seems to have leveled off to an acceptable level, you can cut back to giving the supplement once a day through weaning.

20) Lead training

What is the best way to lead train a Pom puppy? - I remember some years ago, I was talking to a Pom friend on the phone. She suddenly said, "My goodness, I've lost track of time! I have to be at a show in 2 hours. I better run so I can go lead train Rover who is entered in puppy class" (fictitious dog name used to protect the guilty). I thought to myself that I must be doing something terribly wrong or had especially stubborn puppies because I could never dream of lead training a puppy for the ring in such a short time. My friend obviously has some magic she uses with her dogs! Maybe some day she'll let us in on her secret. Until then, I guess the best I can do is provide a few suggestion on how to do it the "long way."

The best way I have found to lead train is slowly and with patience. The first step is getting the puppy used to having something around his neck. Some puppies become accustomed to this immediately and without resistance - others are stubborn, fight the idea and need extra work and patience. In the beginning, I like to use a soft cat collar. Once my puppy has worn the cat collar for a few days and doesn't seem to resist the idea, I allow him to drag a lead under supervision several times a day. (Use caution with both collars and leads as they can lead to strangulation if you do not supervise your puppy). At this point, I have a helper walk ahead of my puppy with a treat to encourage the puppy to walk forward while I hold the lead with gentle pressure. Gradually the puppy understands that if he will follow the gentle pressure, the lead poses no threat and he'll earn a treat for walking nicely. Once the puppy walks well with a collar and lead, I move to a "string lead" which is the type used for the show ring.

Again, some will fight the string lead and others take right to it. You might have to have someone walk ahead with a treat again until your puppy becomes accustomed to the string lead. Be sure to bunch the excess lead in your hand as a trailing lead is one of the first things to scream "novice" in the ring.

If your Pom is a pet, and you don't need to worry about lead training for show, a harness is a wonderful alternative to a collar. Most puppies take more readily to a harness and it does not pose the choking threat that a collar might.

21) Male or female for a pet?

Does a male or female Pom make a better pet? - As long as you neuter your male by six months of age, it makes little difference if you choose a male or female for a pet. Well-bred Poms of both sexes are generally happy, loving little dogs with wonderful temperaments. Both males and females make excellent pets. There are, however, some points to consider other than temperament when choosing your pet.

Reasons to purchase a male for a pet:

  1. In the last issue we talked about the importance of neutering your pet. A neuter is a less invasive surgery than a spay and costs less. In other words, it is safer and less expensive "to fix" your male pet. Make sure your pet is neutered before he starts lifting his leg (around 6 months of age). If you neuter before leg lifting begins, your male will almost always continue to squat like a female to urinate. This makes house training much easier.
  2. Females are often in higher demand to breeders than males so you can generally find a better quality pet male for less money than a pet female.
  3. Males tend to have thicker, more beautiful coats than females. (This is not always the case.)

Reasons to purchase a female for a pet:

  1. If you plan to purchase or rescue an adult or adolescent Pom who has not been neutered or spayed, a female may be the better choice. An intact adult male can be difficult to break of leg lifting behavior. Of course, any adult, male or female can usually be trained with patience. Belly bands are excellent to use for males who cannot be broken of leg lifting.
  2. If you plan to breed your pet (not recommended unless you are willing to devote a lot of time and research into responsible breeding), a female is definitely the better choice. Stud males are next to impossible to house train. They may exhibit less than desirable "studly" behavior in other areas as well (i.e. dominating other pets, running away in search of females, aggression toward other males, etc.)
  3. You are plain set on having a "little girl." Be sure you have a vet who specializes in toy dogs spay her. It may cost more, but it will be worth the expert care she will receive.

22) Neuter/spay

Why should I neuter or spay my Pom pet? - There are a number of very good reasons why you should neuter or spay your Pom pet:

  1. The health of your pet. Research has shown that pets who are neutered or spayed have a lower risk of certain types of cancers.
  2. Ease in house training. It is much easier to house train your pet when he does not have the instinct to mark his territory. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just males who are inclined to mark their territory with urine. Females who are in season or who are trying to establish a pecking order may also mark their territory with urine. Males who are neutered by 6 months of age, do not generally develop leg lifting behavior.
  3. A pet that is easier to live with. Neutered dogs are less aggressive and you will not have the embarrassing problem of them mounting everything in sight (your visitor's leg, other pets, toys, etc.) Males who have "only one thing on their mind" do not make very affectionate pets. Spayed females are generally more affectionate toward people and other pets, and are less likely to aggressively defend their place in the household pecking order.
  4. The safety of your pet. Males who are not neutered often become obsessed with finding females. Obsessed males try to run away at every chance and make irrational choices such as darting into the road, challenging a larger male, jumping from high places, etc.
  5. It's the right thing to do! Millions of unwanted pets end up in animal shelters each year. 4 to 6 million animals are euthanized (killed) because homes cannot be found for them. Please do your part to help control the numbers of animal shelter causalities.

23) Picky eaters

My Pom is very picky and it's hard to get him to eat enough. I am afraid of hypoglycemia. What can I do? - The first thing to consider is the overall health of your Pom. Intestinal infections or other physical ailments can cause a lack of appetite. A physical exam and fecal exam by your veterinarian is a good place to start.

Other suggestions to stimulate appetite are as follows:

  1. Try several different foods to see if there is one your Pom likes better than others.
  2. Supplement B Vitamins as they stimulate appetite. Human infant vitamin drops (without iron) work well for this purpose.
  3. Disturbances in the intestinal flora can cause a lack of appetite. Add a probiotic supplement or plain yogurt to the diet.
  4. Mix some freshly cooked meat into your Pom's regular food.
  5. Add some greens to your Pom's diet. Spirulina* or Missing Link work well for this purpose. (Spirulina is especially effective to regulate the appetite in cases of anorexia or obesity.)

In serious cases where your Pom is regularly experiencing hypoglycemia:

  1. Keep your Pom comfortably warm at all times and avoid stress.
  2. Use Nutri-Cal and a heat pad in emergencies. See your vet if you cannot quickly revive your Pom.
  3. Treat any parasites or infections that may be present.
  4. Add finely chopped freshly cooked meat to goat's milk and offer it several times a day. Gradually mix in your dog's regular food. Make sure you see your Pom consume his meal at breakfast and dinner time. If your Pom refuses the meat and goat's milk, offer a mix of the following A.M. & P.M. (use a syringe to slowly dropper it into your dog's mouth):
  • 1 teaspoon Dyne or Nutri-Cal
  • 1 teaspoon plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Pedialyte or Gatorade (use the clear kind without artificial color)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spirulina* powder

If your Pom is eating nothing except this mixture, you will need to feed it 3 times per day. If he is not drinking or appears to be dehydrated, in addition to the above mixture dropper plain Pedialyte or Gatorade into his mouth every couple of hours. Continue to encourage your Pom to eat regular food and drink water. Once his health and appetite improve, you will want to wean him from the Dyne or Nutri-Cal as soon as possible.

*A note on Spirulina: Use USA Mainland or Hawaiian Spirulina only. Imported Spirulina can contain contaminants which may be harmful. Earthrise is a very good brand of Spirulina.

24) Potty training

What is the best way to potty train my Pom? -

  1. If you are having trouble house training, have a physical exam, fecal, and urine sample checked by your veterinarian. Parasites, urinary tract infections, and other health problems are a leading cause of house training problems.
  2. Feed only premium food. Avoid sudden changes in your Pom's diet.
  3. Until he is reliably house trained, never allow your Pom to wander the house unattended. Use a crate or play pen when you cannot personally supervise your dog. Immediately take him for potty when you let him out of his crate. No, this is not cruel unless overused. Your Pom will come to think of his crate as his den and will appreciate having a place of his own.
  4. Schedule feedings to 2 or 3 times per day. Remove any leftovers after 30 minutes. (Because toy puppies are prone to hypoglycemia, scheduled feeding are not advisable until your puppy is at least 6 months old.)
  5. Take your puppy outside for potty often - especially first thing in the morning, after meals, and after naps.
  6. Decide on a verbal cue such as "potty" to use each time you take your dog outside. Say his name first and then "POTTY." Reward him with lavish praise, a small treat, petting, etc. as soon as he "goes."
  7. If your dog has an accident inside, tell him firmly "NO" and then take him outside. Yelling at or hitting your dog is counter productive and not advised! Clean the accident area with an enzyme cleanser so he will not be attracted to it again.
  8. If your dog is a pet, have him neutered (or her spayed). A neutered pet is much easier to house train. Male puppies neutered before 6 months of age generally do not lift their legs at all. (Older males often continue to leg lift even after they are neutered.)
  9. If you cannot take your dog outside, you can train to puppy pads or newspaper. If you train to newspaper, do not leave your "good" newspaper laying around or you may find little surprises on it. Litter box training is not recommended as the litter can be dangerous if ingested.

25) Probiotics

What are probiotics and can they be of benefit to my dog? - Billions of bacteria and other microorganisms live in the intestinal tract. Some of these microorganisms are beneficial while others are pathogenic (harmful). In a healthy person or animal, the numbers of beneficial microorganisms outnumber the pathogenic ones thus creating a state of intestinal balance. The beneficial bacteria also manufacture B Vitamins, assist with the digestion of food by producing enzymes such as lactase, and produce antibacterial/antifungal substances. A number of things such as stress, disease, poor diets, administration of antibiotics or cortisone, colonic pH levels which are too alkaline etc. can cause the numbers of beneficial microorganisms to decrease. When there are not sufficient numbers of beneficial microorganisms to hold the pathogenic microorganisms in check, they multiply rapidly causing intestinal disease. Intestinal disease is a major problem for animals and people worldwide.

A healthy digestive tract is a major factor in maintaining overall health. Digestion breaks food down into useable energy and processes the necessary elements which support all of the body's systems. The digestive process also eliminates toxins and undesirable elements from the body. An unhealthy digestive system can cause a good number of undesirable things to happen: stomach ache, heartburn, gas, intestinal perforation which allows partially undigested food to enter the blood stream leading to allergic reactions, overgrowth of yeast and fungus, non-production of B Vitamins, poor assimilation of vitamins and minerals leading to nutritional deficiencies, toxin build up, stress on the kidneys and liver, underactive adrenal function which leads to fatigue, arthritis, premature ageing, skin disease, and so on.

The term Probiotics refers to a live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance. Elie Metchnik, a Russian zoologist who lived from 1845-1916, is believed to be the first person to document the benefits of probiotics. He observed that people who regularly ate yogurt tended to live longer.

This discovery lead to further research which has shown that the administration of live beneficial bacteria can help restore the intestinal balance leading to better overall health. Controlled clinical trails particularly including the probiotic strains of acidophilus and bifidobacterium have shown that the regular administration of probiotics helps to keep pathogenic microorganisms in check, limits allergies, helps to control bacterial, yeast, and fungal infections, and leads to a better state of overall health.

There are a number of products on the market which contain probiotics. Just be sure that the product you purchase guarantees the number of cfu (colony forming units) on the label. A Billion or more cfu per serving is desirable. Some of the probiotic supplements do not contain enough cfu to be of much benefit. The more cfu per serving, the more effective the product will be. You should store your product under refrigeration to increase the shelf life. You must keep it out of contact with moisture, oxygen, direct light, and heat as these things cause the beneficial bacteria to die more quickly. Most products should be discarded after one year as few viable cfu will remain after that time. Freeze dried products kept under ideal conditions can remain viable for longer periods of time. Digestive enzymes will further increase the effectiveness of your probiotic supplement. If you can find a product which includes digestive enzymes (amylase, protease, and lipase) you will get more for your money.

26) Puppy care sheet

Congratulations on the purchase of your Pomeranian puppy! Pomeranians make loving, enduring companions. They are beautiful, intelligent, and love to please. With the proper care, they can live for up to eighteen years. Please read this sheet completely.

Some cautions and suggestions are as follows:

  1. Shortly after receiving your new puppy, it is a good idea to feed him some natural canned food and dropper 3-5 cc of Pedialyte or Gatorade (the clear kind without artificial color is preferred) into his mouth. This will help prevent hypoglycemia by compensating for any stress he may have been subjected to during shipment. Please see information on hypoglycemia below for more details.
  2. Be sure that your puppy has clean, fresh water and a food supply at all times during the day. As he/she gets older, you may switch to scheduled feedings to aid in housebreaking.
  3. Be sure to feed your puppy a high quality food without artificial preservatives and colorings. A natural, premium dry puppy food is fine as a staple, however, I like to offer other nutritious foods such as such as freshly cooked, unprocessed chicken (remove the skin), turkey, scrambled eggs, and veggies such as carrots and peas several times per week. Choose organic foods whenever possible. I also sprinkle a teaspoon of Spirulina on top of each dog's food daily (see www.earthrise.com for information on the health benefits of Sprirulina). Never spice or salt food that you prepare for your dogs. If you would like to give some canned food for treats, choose a high quality premium food without sugar or artificial preservatives. Chew sticks/toys are recommended to help clean your puppy's teeth, and will help save your furniture.
  4. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT feed your puppy table scraps. Small dogs like poms are especially sensitive. If fed table scraps, your puppy will be doomed to tooth problems, health problems and will likely become overweight. Spicy foods like sausage can make a Pom puppy very ill and can even kill him. If you'd like to give a reward, a bit of liver, cheese or occasional healthy dog biscuit is O.K., but don't overdo. A very good way to make good doggie treats is to boil liver, cut it into small bite size pieces and then keep it frozen in a zip lock freezer baggie. This makes a wonderful healthy treat or training reward. Natural canned food is fine for puppies, but not recommended for adult dogs. Your dog's teeth will be healthier with dry food. Again, give chew sticks/toys often. Do not give cow's milk. If you decide to switch food, introduce the new food gradually mixing it with the old food. Quick diet changes can cause diarrhea. Persistent diarrhea, a pot belly, or thinness can be a sign of worms. Take your puppy to the vet or worm with Nemex II. (Take your puppy to the vet for a fecal if symptoms do not improve after worming with Nemex).
  5. Your puppy may whine or cry at night at first. He has been separated from his mother & litter mates, and will be lonely. Unless the cries are sharp indicating pain or illness, do not pick up the puppy. If you do, he will continue to cry every night. Place the puppy in his crate, and then go and reassure him periodically. He will soon learn that nighttime is for sleeping, not crying. I also suggest giving your puppy a small stuffed toy right away. It will comfort your puppy when you are away. Be sure that the toy has no pieces that could be chewed off and choked on. Avoid yelling at your puppy. A sharp "no" is all that is needed when he does something wrong. Yelling at or hitting your puppy will give him a low self esteem, and he will not obtain his full potential.
  6. Be sure to give your puppy plenty of attention and love. Poms adore their masters and need to receive petting and attention as reassurance every day. Avoid leaving him/her alone for extended periods of time. Make sure to allow him plenty of exercise. Check that there are no small objects around your home that can be choked on or electrical cords that can be chewed. Also make sure that any puppy pens or fencing have small enough bar spacing so that your puppy cannot get his head through and strangle himself. CAUTION: Poms are easily hit by cars. Walk your dog only on a lead. Do not allow him to play where there is traffic or where he can dart into the street. Poms tend to panic when they see an oncoming car, and usually do not move out of the way. Use good sense to avoid the tragedy of your pet being killed. Also, watch large dogs. Poms can be killed by large dogs. Be careful not to drop your puppy or allow small children to carry him around. Poms sustain internal injuries easily.
  7. Practice good grooming. A Pom is easy to groom and only needs brushing every few days. Use a pin brush or rolling comb for long hair and a small slicker for behind the ears. Brush in sections, against the grain (from tail to head) so that the coat will not lay flat. To avoid mats, brush all the way to the skin carefully removing all loose undercoat. Clip nails once a month. Clip carefully to avoid cutting the quick. Bathe with a good quality shampoo once a month or as needed. CAUTION: Brush your Pom thoroughly BEFORE bathing. If your dog is blowing undercoat, and you do not brush it out before bathing, the water and shampoo will cause your dog to mat severely. In cool weather, dry your dog completely so he will not chill. After bathing, carefully clip the hair between the toe pads for sanitary reasons and tidiness. Clip up to the first joint of the leg and around the edges of the feet so that they look like tidy "cat's feet." Clip the unruly hair from the top of the ears by protecting the ear leather with two fingers and cutting straight across the top of the ear with the other hand. Use caution until you are experienced with this or you may cut the ear leather. Also for sanitary reasons, clip a small circle around the anus regularly. Check the anus regularly for fecal matter that may have become hardened. A blocked bowel will cause infection and death within a couple of days. Around 10-12 weeks old, most Poms begin a stage called "puppy uglies." As the baby coat begins to transition over to adult coat, your puppy will look rather scruffy and gangly. Depending on the puppy, he will begin to coat up and his features soften again at 6-9 months. During this stage it is important to keep your puppy well groomed, particularly exercising care to brush out all loose undercoat to avoid matting.
  8. Be sure to keep your puppy's vaccinations current. Common dog illnesses are easy to prevent, but very hard to cure. Your puppy will have been wormed and had its first combo shot without lepto. In two-three weeks he should be taken for his second shot, and the stools checked for worms. A final combo should be given after 16 weeks of age and an annual booster given thereafter. If your puppy is listless or refuses food for more than 24 hours, take him/her to a veterinarian immediately. If your puppy has a sharp, persistent whine indicating pain, experiences a drastic weight loss, exhibits signs of dehydration, has diarrhea for more than 48 hours, or is injured, please consult your veterinarian. (Please see special page on hypoglycemia and intestinal infections).
  9. House training. Poms are very smart and easy to house train if you are strict and persistent in your method. Do not allow the puppy to wander the house unless someone is watching him every second. When he cannot be watched, place him in his crate. No, this is not cruel. Dogs do not resent being in a crate for the night and for limited times during the day. In time, your puppy will actually enjoy his crate as his den. Take him outside in the morning, after meals, and after naps. Praise him when he eliminates correctly. If you see him squatting or hunching his back to eliminate in the house, tell him loudly and sharply, "NO!" Take him outside and praise him when he eliminates correctly. If he does manage to eliminate in the house, clean the spot with an enzyme cleaner or he will be attracted to it again. See potty training information for further details.
  10. Breeding. It is not recommended that you breed your dog unless you intend to devote a lot of time and research to this endeavor. A litter is time consuming, and can be very costly if something goes wrong. Pomeranians often have trouble in whelping. Inexperience on the part of the "breeder" can result in loss of the litter, mother, or both. Once a litter is whelped, it should not be left for more than a few hours at a time. A healthy puppy can suddenly experience hypoglycemia, have a blocked bowel, or be injured. Constant attention is required. The mother will also shed her nice coat after a litter and will not look as attractive. Your male dog will make a much better pet if he is not allowed to breed. Male dogs that are used for breeding are very difficult to house train because they have the natural instinct to mark their territory with urine. They will also wander more often. Having a healthy litter can be very rewarding, but can also be tragic if the proper precautions are not taken. It is recommended that pet dogs be spayed or neutered.
  11. Companionship. Although it is not necessary, Poms do enjoy having another Pomeranian around for company. It is better to obtain the companion while your dog is still young. (Although a Pom of any age will usually accept a new puppy, as long as the original pet still gets attention). Yes, dogs can be quite jealous. Introduce the new dog while you are petting your original dog. While still petting the original dog, let him/her smell and get to know the new dog. Usually this works quite well and your pet will accept the newcomer without a problem. Adult females that have not been spayed will not always accept another adult female for company. Likewise adult males that are not neutered will sometimes fight a new male. Buy your new Pom from a reputable breeder who gives the puppies plenty of attention and socialization. Be cautious of "good deals." They may leave you with an unhealthy, neglected, or genetically defective dog. Avoid pet stores for a new puppy. Pet store puppies often come from puppy mills, and have problems with temperament and health.
  12. Above all, ENJOY YOUR PUPPY! He wants to please you and will learn quickly how to do so if you give him the chance. If you plan to show your puppy, start his training early. Give him plenty of attention so that he will have a good self esteem. Good luck!

Important: Please also see information on hypoglycemia below.

27) Pyometra

What is pyometra? - Pyometra is a disease of the endometrial lining of the uterus. It is a potentially life threatening condition that primarily affects bitches over five years old. It is caused by an abnormal response to the hormone Progesterone in combination with bacterial infection. During estrus, Progesterone is responsible for thickening the endometrium (lining of the uterus) in preparation for the fertilized eggs. It also has other functions such as closing the cervix and maintaining pregnancy. In the case of pyometra, the endometrium thickens more than usual. This in combination with the closed cervix creates the ideal breeding ground for bacteria to grow. It is possible for pyometra to occur with an open cervix as well. Closed cervix pyometra is more serious because drainage of the infection is not possible.

The most common symptoms of pyometra include: loss of appetite, depression, vomiting, increased water consumption and urination, and development of a pendulous (downward hanging) abdomen. If the cervix is open, discharge will be present. A fever may or may not be present. White blood cell counts are significantly elevated in almost all cases of closed cervix pyometra.

The best treatment for pyometra is supportive care, antibiotic therapy, and ovariohysterectomy (spaying). If the bitch is to be used for breeding, other therapies such as prostaglandins and antibiotics may be tried. There are serious side affects to this type of therapy so it should be used with caution. Hospitalization will be necessary. If pyometra occurs after whelping, the bitch is generally given supportive care, oxytocin injections to stimulate expulsion of pus, and antibiotic therapy. As with any disease/stress situation, supportive care with electrolyte solutions is very helpful. Chilling and drafts are to be avoided. The diet offered to your bitch must be excellent nutritionally. Other things that can help speed recovery include multi-vitamin supplements with Zinc, Vitamin C and B Vitamins, herbal immune support such as Echinacea, and Probiotic (beneficial bacteria) supplements to restore the beneficial intestinal flora destroyed by antibiotic use.

28) Tapeworm

How is the tapeworm transmitted to the dog from the flea? - Several readers thought that the tapeworms come from ingesting fleas, others maintain that they are passed by flea bites.

The following answer was sent in by Julie Moreno: "The Flea has to be ingested by mouth into the dog to grow and attach its head inside to then pass segments out."

This answer is correct. Fleas are holometabolous (complete metamorphosis) insects. They have an egg, larval, pupal, and adult stage. Adult fleas feed on the blood of your pet. The adult flea's feces contain partially digested blood which serves as food for their larvae. As part of the feeding process, the larvae also ingest eggs deposited as tapeworms crawl out of the anus of infected animals. Thus the flea larva becomes the intermediate host for the tapeworm. While grooming himself, your pet may swallow a flea that has ingested tapeworm eggs. He then serves as the primary host for the complete development of the tapeworm.

To prevent tapeworm infestations in your dogs, it is important to control fleas in their environment as well as worm any suspected carrier dogs. A very safe worming medication effective against many types of worms including tapeworms is fenbezdazole (trade name Panacur) 50 mg/kg given for three days in a row.

29) Tooth care

How can I help keep my Pom's teeth clean? - It is extremely important to keep your dog's teeth clean. Dirty and decaying teeth cause a number of health concerns such as heart and kidney problems, bacterial toxicities, and extremely bad breath. However, with toy dogs like Poms, this is often easier said than done. Toys have a propensity for bad teeth, and extreme care must be taken to prevent serious decay.

Following are some suggestions to help:

  1. Give puppies toys early. If they get in the habit of chewing on toys, they will keep their teeth much cleaner. Make sure any toys given do not have small pieces that could be chewed off and choked on.
  2. Feed a premium dry food as much as possible. Canned food, low quality foods that contain sugar, and many commercially prepared "doggie treats" promote tooth decay. If you want to give treats, you can boil liver or beef heart, cut it into small pieces and keep it in a zip lock baggie in the freezer. Your liver or beef heart will last several months in a freezer baggie. You can also give small bits of cheese as treats.
  3. Give marrow bones often. (Beef femur cut into 1" slices at the butcher.) Be sure there are no sharp edges & boil to eliminate germs before giving. You can also offer things like chew toys, chew hooves, rawhide chews, and pig ears (watch pig ears, they give some dogs diarrhea). Julie Moreno suggests boiling your marrow bones and then keeping them in a plastic bag in the freezer for 24-48 hours before giving them to your dog. This cuts down on the greasiness and makes them last longer. For puppies, she interlocks one or two plastic colored shower rings through the bones to make excellent chew toys.
  4. Appropriate supplements. Wild dogs who have access to a healthy diet including fresh meat, bones, and greens rarely experience tooth problems because their diet is conducive to the beneficial bacteria and enzymes which naturally keep teeth clean. Due to the dangers of pathogens which may be present in raw meat, this ideal diet would difficult at best to safely provide. The next best thing is to give probiotic and "green" supplements (such as Spirulina) to encourage a healthy flora and clean teeth.
  5. If your Pom's teeth are very dirty, the only way get them completely clean is to have them professionally cleaned at your veterinarian. After a professional cleaning, you can scale them yourself every month or so to keep them clean. Some people like to use a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste to clean their dog's teeth each day. Other alternatives to a toothbrush are gauze or a "finger brush." Dental instruments for scaling, and dog toothbrushes/toothpaste are available from most pet supply catalogues.

30) Treats

What treats are O.K. to give to my Pom? - Giving your Pom unhealthy treats is a big mistake that can lead to obesity and ill health. (Most commercially available dog treats fall into the "unhealthy" category).You should avoid all treats with sugar, artificial colors, artificial preservatives and refined flour. Look for treats with wholesome ingredients like meat and whole grains or better yet, make your own. Here are a few very good treat recipes:

  1. Frozen liver, beef heart, or other meat bits (these make excellent treats or bait) Cook or boil liver or fresh meat. Cut into small bits and freeze on a cookie sheet. Transfer to a freezer baggie after they are completely frozen. There is no need to thaw the bits before giving. If you need to take them with you, keep them in a small cooler with ice.
  2. Marrow bones Ask your butcher to cut beef femur into 1" slices. Make sure there are no sharp edges and then bake to kill bacteria before offering to your Pom. If you have hunters in the family, wild game femur such as deer and elk make excellent marrow bones. Remember to avoid chicken, pork and turkey bones for all dogs. They are too soft and may splinter causing intestinal damage or death.
  3. Doggie "cookies"
    • 2 Cups pureed liver or beef heart
    • 1 Egg
    • 1 Cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 Cup Oat Meal (make into flour in the blender or food processor)
    • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or 1 clove minced garlic Spread onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (20-30 minutes). Cut into bite size pieces and freeze. Transfer to a freezer baggie after they are completely frozen. As long as you cut them small enough, there is no need to thaw before giving. If you need to take them with you, keep them in a small cooler with ice.
  4. Raw carrots Many dogs love to chew on raw carrots. They are healthy and also help clean teeth.

31) Vaccinating your dog

What is the best vaccination schedule for Pom puppies? - I received quite a few responses on this subject. Nearly everyone has their own vaccination schedule that works for them. We have compiled the responses coupled with our own experience in recommending the following vaccination schedule for Pom puppies:

  • 6 weeks: Parvo*
  • 11 Weeks: DA2P+Pv
  • 14 Weeks: DA2P+Pv
  • 17 Weeks: DA2P+Pv
  • 6 Months: Bordetella, Rabies
  • Annual booster: DA2P+Pv, Bordetella

*It is best for puppies to be weaned from their dams for 2 weeks prior to giving vaccinations or the protective immunity from the dam will interfere with the vaccination. You should only give this early vaccine if Parvo is a problem in your area, or if you have visiting dogs going in and out of your home or kennel. Many Pom breeders including myself do not give Lepto or Corona to Poms unless they are going to be shown in areas where these diseases might be a problem. These are extremely rare diseases and the vaccinations can cause reactions in toy dogs. If your veterinarian insists on giving a vaccine for these diseases, it is best to give them separately over the course of several days rather than in combination with other vaccines. I monitor all my puppies closely after vaccinations and give a product called "Dyne" (available from most veterinary supply catalogues) to them for several days after vaccinations. 2 cc twice a day for Pom puppies usually works well. Severe reactions to vaccines are rare, but can occur. If a severe reaction occurs, rush your puppy to your veterinarian for epinephrine treatment. Mild stress reactions such as diarrhea are fairly common and if unchecked can lead to hypoglycemia. Following vaccines, keep your puppy warm, out of drafts and make sure he eats normally.

32) Vaccinations, allergic reaction

Is there anything I can give before vaccinations to limit the possibility of an allergic reaction? - Until recently, I never gave anything to my puppies before giving a vaccination and have never had an allergic reaction to a vaccine. Of course I always monitor my puppies carefully because I know the possibility does exist. I have observed stress reactions in my puppies such as diarrhea or a lowered appetite after vaccinations so I also always watch for that and make sure the pups are eating well and appear active after the vaccination.

Because I have been having so many toy dog owners reporting allergic reactions in recent months and asking what they could do, I questioned my veterinarian to find out if she thought it is a good idea to take preventive measures to prevent a possible allergic reaction. She said that a very safe preventive measure is to give Benadryl Liquid 30 minutes before the vaccination. The recommended dosage is 0.5 - 1 mg (0.2 - 0.4 cc) per pound. I have tried this on my last couple of litters and have not noticed any adverse effects. I also checked with a number of Pom breeders who give a preventive dose of Benadryl before vaccinations, and they report very positive results from it.

33) Worming your dog

How often should I worm my Pom and with what? - For the good health of your Pom, it is very important to keep him parasite free. Parasites such as worms rob nutrients from your dog's body and make him more susceptible to disease. Take a stool sample to your veterinarian. If worms are present, then you will need to follow a worming program for your Pom.

There are many safe and effective worming products available. A favorite with toy breeders is called Nemex II (pyrantel pamoate). Nemex is available from most pet supply catalogues. It is best to worm puppies at 4, 6, and 8 weeks and then quarterly thereafter. Nemex is active against common worms such as roundworms and hookworms, but will not affect tape worms. If tape worms are a problem, it will be necessary to obtain a prescription medication from your veterinarian. Another wormer that I especially like is called Panacur (fenbendazole). Panacur is safe and effective against most worms including some tape worms. Panacur for canines is only available by prescription. Panacur is available over the counter in preparations labeled for horses and cows. A good source for worming medications is KV Vet Supply 800-423-8211.

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