special needs puppy vent

Owlet

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Oct 27, 2016
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Lincoln (Eclectus), Apollo (Cockatiel), Aster (GCC)
So, a little under 3 weeks ago at my work we had a litter of 7 born. Very quickly we noticed that Blue, the first born, had one ear about half the size of the other. We weren't too concerned at first and just hoped it would grow with the rest of him. We checked him over for anymore visual defects and found nothing. He was a strong nurser so we weren't too worried and juet made sure to keep an eye on him going forward. Then we ran into some more problems, he has a pretty severe head tilt to the side his bad ear is on. it makes him very wobbly and he tends to roll in circles a bunch. (Hes gotten better with this though and is better at crawling around the whelping box without rolling) Ontop of that he seems to be knocked off the nipple a lot and/or struggles to get the nipple on his own so he is significantly smaller than his siblings (he is 1.1lbs and the rest are in the 3 pound range) and even if we are persistent with getting him in the nipple he just seems to grow a lot slower than the others, but he IS growing and gaining weight so that's a good thing.
Now they're 3 weeks old and learning to walk. His siblings can sit up and wobble around fairly well and he just, can't. It looks like hes TRYING but isnt getting anywhere. Now, if he cant learn to walk theres a very real possibility we will have to put him down which is the LAST thing I want. I'm hoping hes just behind because hes small and that he will catch up and be able to walk just fine but I also have to be honest with myself, it's not looking good. I try to help him by holding him up so he can walk with some support but then he just wants to roll instead of be on his feet. It breaks my heart, I want what's best for him but I dont know how to help. The vets cant do anything either, if we took him they would just recommend we put him down. all we can really do is hope and pray hes able to walk. Now we've never had issues with this mother in the past, but the sire of this litter is new, this was his first litter. So I dont know if its genetic or just a fluke... I just hope he can walk.

Here are pictures if him;

Just born:
Screenshot_20210911-134155_Gallery.jpg

Day 2:
Screenshot_20210911-134019_Drive.jpg


Week 1:
Screenshot_20210911-134044_Drive.jpg

Week 2:
Screenshot_20210911-134104_Drive.jpg
 

chris-md

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Feb 6, 2010
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Has he been to a vet?

armchair diagnosis - worth every penny you’ve paid for it but I thoroughly enjoy playing these games: perhaps it is genetic, an underdevelopment of the inner ear, likely even deaf. best case scenario he’ll be ok, but needs extra time to learn to adapt to using just the one good ear for balance and hearing.

Edit: I just came across a condition called Closed Ear Canal, seems common in hairless breeds most particularly. Does this resemble what you might be experiencing?
 

Kitekeeper

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Jun 19, 2021
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Budgerigar (Bud), Pacific Parrotlet (Sam), Roseicollis lovebird (BJ and Turq), Linneolated parakeet (Charlie and Emma)
I am sorry Owlet, it is a beautiful puppy!

Yes it is quite possible that a closed ear channel, or the lack of some little ear bones deep inside the ear as result of a embryonic malformation can cause unbalance. At this point in its life the brain is still developing and may need stimulus to fully develop.

Some child may experience problems to develop many functions as the brain need to trigger all its early phases to move on to the next ones. Those kids can gain substantial life quality after some sessions of Equine-assisted psychotherapy. My daughter was able to crawl and later to walk, only after such sessions. It was explained to me that putting her on the back of a horse imitated the human walk which was necessary to develop several parts of the brain at that stage of her life. It worked incredibly well for her.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but dogs are not that different than us and maybe putting the puppy strapped on the back of a very calm and gentle dog that could take smooth walks like this, could help. I would give it a try. It might be just the stimulus its brain need to make him stand on its feet.
 
OP
Owlet

Owlet

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Lincoln (Eclectus), Apollo (Cockatiel), Aster (GCC)
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Has he been to a vet?

armchair diagnosis - worth every penny you’ve paid for it but I thoroughly enjoy playing these games: perhaps it is genetic, an underdevelopment of the inner ear, likely even deaf. best case scenario he’ll be ok, but needs extra time to learn to adapt to using just the one good ear for balance and hearing.

Edit: I just came across a condition called Closed Ear Canal, seems common in hairless breeds most particularly. Does this resemble what you might be experiencing?
He hasnt been to the vet physically as we aren't very comfortable with bringing such young puppies to the vet where there can be all sorts of germs. We talked with a vet and another breeder who experienced something similar and both said just to wait until ears/eyes are fully open and hes walking. So we have been waiting for that before we take him to the vet. Right now hes had a couple rounds of deworming that we normally do with our pups at 2-3 weeks, he wont get his first vaccine until 4 weeks though and that's a neopar so we are hesitant to bring to the vet since he has no immunity other than antibodies hes gotten from his mom.

I'm not familiar with that condition and would have to look into it but anything is possible at this point. To me that ear (and canal) just look very underdeveloped compared to what a normal ear looks like. Hes at that age where his ears are just starting to open (their eyes opened earlier this week) so it's hard to tell if it's closed canal or not but I will definitely be keeping an eye on it.

I've also seen cases of dogs with balance issues and head tilts mature to still have those conditions but be able to work around them so I'm hopeful but I also dont wanna get my hopes up in the case he doesnt get as good of an ending.

I am sorry Owlet, it is a beautiful puppy!

Yes it is quite possible that a closed ear channel, or the lack of some little ear bones deep inside the ear as result of a embryonic malformation can cause unbalance. At this point in its life the brain is still developing and may need stimulus to fully develop.

Some child may experience problems to develop many functions as the brain need to trigger all its early phases to move on to the next ones. Those kids can gain substantial life quality after some sessions of Equine-assisted psychotherapy. My daughter was able to crawl and later to walk, only after such sessions. It was explained to me that putting her on the back of a horse imitated the human walk which was necessary to develop several parts of the brain at that stage of her life. It worked incredibly well for her.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but dogs are not that different than us and maybe putting the puppy strapped on the back of a very calm and gentle dog that could take smooth walks like this, could help. I would give it a try. It might be just the stimulus its brain need to make him stand on its feet.
I dont think we have a dog we could try that with, we work with poodle types and they tend to be very... bouncy. I was hoping I could stimulate him to try walking more by giving him support and I think I'll continue trying that, help build his muscles more because he is still really small and physically behind is siblings. The only other situation I can relate this too though is when we had a prematurely born litter and while 2 of the pups grew up to be just fine one was severely stunted. He started walking BEFORE his siblings though. So it makes me nervous that this guy hasnt had as much luck even though he has a different condition making balance difficult.
 
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Owlet

Owlet

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Good news, he seems to be getting up on his feet. hes still very wobbly and its not perfect but it's a start!
 
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Owlet

Owlet

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Here's some other pictures:
Cuddling with siblings:
20210914_134138.jpg

Their new set up since they've outgrown the whelping box: They're still a little too young for the swing and slide but we like to offer it so they can at least try.
20210914_131714.jpg
And his 3 weeks old photo:
unknown.png
 

Kitekeeper

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Jun 19, 2021
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Budgerigar (Bud), Pacific Parrotlet (Sam), Roseicollis lovebird (BJ and Turq), Linneolated parakeet (Charlie and Emma)
Good news, he seems to be getting up on his feet. hes still very wobbly and its not perfect but it's a start!
Excellent!!! Thanks for the update, indeed it´s a huge start!!!!
 
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Owlet

Owlet

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Was his ear ever diagnosed? Thank you for giving him a chance
no hes only 3 weeks old and doesnt have a strong enough immune system for a vet visit. We talked to a vet and were essentially just told to wait and see what happens
 
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Owlet

Owlet

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Yesterday we started giving him 2-3 meals on top of what he gets from mom. We use freeze dried raw meat and weaning formula to make a goop for him. Its messy as heck and I have to hold him up so he can eat without attempting to roll in it but he seems to really like it and i hope it helps him pack on weight.
 
OP
Owlet

Owlet

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Here's a week 5 update:
He's doing better. His head tilt has improved considerably and he's gotten to the point where he can hold himself up to eat. Still really messy when eating though.
Here's his bad ear:
unknown.png

Good Ear:
unknown.png


And a sibling for comparison since he's so small.
unknown.png


Also the litter got their first bath today, and even though we blow dry them they all huddle together as if they're freezing and it's cute. There's 7 puppies in this picture.
20210924_134051.jpg
 
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Owlet

Owlet

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20211001_130944.jpg

6 week update;
Unfortunately it's not all good news this time. Recently hes become very sniffley and snotty and we arent sure why. It seems to happen most after he eats and we have a couple different guesses:
A) Hes having an allergic reaction to something. Solution to this is to go back to what he was eating before and doing fine with. It's not uncommon for poodle types to acquire allergies, usually we can avoid this by introducing them to all sorts of foods at a young age which is what we do with all our puppies. None of his siblings are having any issues.
B) He has a small cleft palette that isnt visible to us. We think maybe this because a lot of his symptoms are similar to what we experienced with a puppy that did end up having a cleft palette. Even with this puppy us and 3 vets didn't see a cleft until he was ~5 months old. So even if we cant see it now, it's not impossible. However what makes us think this ISNT the case is he is able to nurse. The confirmed cleft palette puppy was not able to nurse and needed tube feeding.
C) Something relating to his messed up ear is affecting him internally. The ear and sinuses and all of that are connected so it is possible the ear issues goes in further and affects his esophagus in some way.

Theres not a whole lot we can do to resolve this issue. Starting today we began giving him some meds for the congestion as well as some health guard and raw k9 honey that is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. We intend to step back on what we have been feeding him and just feed what he consumed earlier in life to see if that helps any.
 
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Owlet

Owlet

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20211007_134301.jpg

This will probably be one of the last if not the last post I make on this guy. The congestion issue seems to have cleared up on it's own, we arent sure what was the cause of it but we think he might have just been sniffing up food while he ate since he eats funny. He gets better everyday and he plays really well with his siblings.

We had his first vet appointment today and not much came out if it. Couldnt see past his tongue so they couldnt investigate the esophagus, couldnt get the scope into his bad ear since it was so tiny so couldnt see what is and isnt intact in there. So if we want to investigate further he would need a sedated exam and a possible MRI. Since he is doing okay and continously thriving we arent going to worry about it. The vet did warn us that he might have to have that ear canal removed in the future if it stays small as earwax would build up and possibly cause it to rupture. Theres a lot that we cant really know until he gets older and see how he does but if he continues to go at the rate he is going I dont believe he will have an issue. We are currently talking to some people that would be willing to take them but we wanted to wait until the vet gave us more possible details so we could know more and give the future owner the most information we can.
 

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