Puppy Raising: Hormones Are a Bitch - Part 2

Posted July 31, 2020 by growingupguidepup

For more details on our products and services, please feel free to visit us at: psychiatric service dog, veteran dog, medical alert dog, puppy, puppies.

We worked out a plan that the nights the doctor and I were both scheduled to work I would bring Penny with me. If we had time to fit her in we would, and if not she would get pushed back to the next possible evening. Well, we managed to get her done on the second night we tried. I worked my normal shift from 4:00 pm until midnight, and then we started prepping Penny for surgery. Lucky for Penny, my coworker Angela was also on. Penny absolutely loves her and is very comfortable with her. This made getting Penny prepped a lot easier on her.
When we realized that we would have time to do Penny’s surgery I slipped her an oral anti-anxiety medication to help her relax. It was enough to keep Penny relaxed enough for me to give her an injectable sedative and pain medication combo—we do this with all of our patients before surgery. It allows us to keep the level of the gas anesthesia lower during the surgery. It also made it a lot easier for us to draw a blood sample to run and place an IV line and in Penny.
Penny under the influence of a sedative before surgery.
That night I also weighed her, a needed step to be able to calculate appropriate drug doses for her. She was six pounds less than the last time I weighed her. The weight loss made sense, since she had missed a few meals or didn’t finish eating all her food offered in the last few weeks. But it was a little concerning that a still-growing puppy had lost that much weight. It was also another sign that Penny was dealing with more than just teenage rebellion and testing me.
Once her IV was going and we ran a quick blood panel on her we induced her with an injectable anesthetic, placed a breathing tube in her, and maintained her on gas anesthesia. We shaved her belly, scrubbed her, and moved her into our surgery suite.
Penny did really well in surgery and we were able to not only spay her but do a stomach pexy. This pexy is a procedure done to keep her stomach from flipping if she were ever to bloat in the future; if that happened she would need emergency lifesaving surgery. Being a very large breed dog increases the possibility of this condition happening to her. It is still a serious condition, but the treatment for it will not be as invasive, her recovery will be a lot faster, and a lot less expensive. She also had her rear dew claws removed. Not every dog is born with rear dew claws, and unlike front dew claws the rear ones are often not fully attached by bone, but by mostly cartilage. Because of this they tend to be “floppy” and can easily get caught on things and torn. It is a very easy procedure to remove them and many dogs get them removed when they are spayed or neutered. I also took the opportunity while Penny was under anesthesia to X-ray her hips and elbows, just to check for any signs of dysplasia. If Penny is going to be a working service dog, she needs to be clear of any dysplasia. Having German Shepherd in her genes it was a good idea to do a preliminary check, since that breed is prone to both hip and elbow dysplasia. So far Penny is looking clear of both. She will need X-rays again at around two years old to be positive.
Penny on the surgery table as Amie assists the doctor.
Upon removing her uterus, it was discovered that it was slightly enlarged, either still from the false pregnancy or possibly preparing for another heat cycle. Just another indicator of why her behavior was still off and possibly hormone related.
It took about two hours to complete all of Penny’s treatments. She woke up from everything really calmly and she soon went back to sleep comfortably. We kept her on some strong pain medication and I even placed a pain patch that would keep a constant level of pain medication to keep her comfortable for the first few days after surgery. I stayed right next to her, and even took a short nap with her until she was awake enough to realize where she was.
Amie resting next to Penny as she wakes up from her surgery.
A little after 7:00 am I left the clinic to go home and sleep for a few hours as I was scheduled to work again at 3:00 pm. At this point I had been up for almost 24 hours and was getting really tired. I left Penny at the clinic as she was not quite ready to go home with me. She was not really wanting to walk and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her unsupervised while I slept.
When I arrived back for my shift Penny was very happy to see me. She had been a good girl for the day staff. I was very happy to hear that she wasn’t afraid of them and was very cooperative.
During her surgery recovery we did keep her on a mild anti-anxiety medication to help keep her calm. She needed to stay quiet: no running, jumping, or hard playing, just out to potty only for ten days. This was a little hard for her, but she managed okay. I didn’t trust her not to chew her skin staples out when not directly supervised. The first night home, I put a collar on her to prevent her from getting to her staples and the bandages that were on her back feet. She was terrified by the collar. She sat on her bed frozen and trembling for almost 30 minutes before she would lay down and go to sleep. She did adjust, but she hated the collar. I was able to find her a post-operative suit that would completely cover her spay incision so she couldn’t lick or chew at it. And as long as I kept her rear feet bandaged she left those alone as well. She was a very good patient and allowed me to change her bandages and check her belly daily. She even allowed me to remove all the skin staples by myself when it came time to do so.
When Penny was healed up enough to do short outings and exercise, she was very excited. She was so happy to be able to run and play again. She even seemed excited to go to the store with me again, but she was still constantly looking over her shoulder and uncomfortable with certain people passing us. She still wasn’t herself yet.
Now, it can take multiple weeks and up to multiple months for certain hormones to fully leave the body, so it wasn’t surprising that Penny didn’t go back to her normal self right away. She still seemed a little lost. She was still nervous out in public and refusing to take treats at times. She was still struggling to walk without pulling and being easily distracted.
It was time to see if we could help Penny return to herself again. I decided to try an alternative approach and set Penny up with an appointment with a holistic veterinarian. We met with the new vet and started some herbal supplements to help hormone imbalance and we gave acupuncture a try. But once again she was weighed and she had lost another two pounds in the two and a half weeks since her spay surgery. She had been eating well, but evidently not enough.
We started seeing positive results the day after her first treatment. She started to regain her focus on walks again. She was still easily distracted but able to refocus for the first time in weeks. Along with this treatment plan we did our best to decrease her stress level as well.
Penny relaxing during her acupuncture treatment.
We had plans to travel to the Vancouver Webfest, but Penny wasn’t ready to do a trip like that so we stayed home. I still had the time off work so I took this opportunity to spend it with Penny and see if we could make progress together. This time was well spent. We took short outings every day to different places like malls, different stores, and walks by herself. Each day I saw a little improvement. She was eager to go out, excited to earn food rewards, even looking to do short training sessions, eating all the food offered to her at meal times, refocused, and a lot calmer. I even stopped by my work and my coworkers noticed a difference in her.
We finished Penny’s second acupuncture treatment just before I started writing this blog. She has gained back four of the eight pounds she had lost and is eating great every day. She is still nervous and not trusting of certain people, but it is variable. Some people she will walk right up to and others she will back away from and look over her shoulder until she is sure that they are not following us. This is still a work in progress and we will continue to watch her on this. We have had several very successful outings with Penny so I feel like we are making progress in the right direction with her.
However her future as a service dog is still up in the air as some of her recent behavior has not exactly been service dog caliber. I have always said that puppy raising is a bit of a roller coaster ride with ups and downs. Penny has regressed a lot over the last few months, but sometimes you need to take a few steps backwards to move forward. Going through a heat cycle, false pregnancy, major surgery, and possibly getting ready to go back into a heat cycle has taken its toll on Penny. It’s a lot for any puppy to go through, especially a such a sensitive one like Penny. We are taking things slowly with Penny at the moment and doing everything we can think of to see if we can get her back to the puppy she was before all the changes in her life. Only time will tell if these behavioral changes were caused by the hormone change or if this is the dog she is maturing into or maybe a little of both. We are paying very close attention to what Penny is doing and saying to us and will be working with Brigadoon on making decisions on what is best for her.
For more details on our products and services, please feel free to visit us at: psychiatric service dog, veteran dog, medical alert dog, puppy, puppies.
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Issued By growingupguidepup
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Last Updated July 31, 2020