Mojo spitting up....
(Mount Prospect, IL)
After 3 weeks of smooth sailing and gaining weight steadily, Mojo is giving me a bit of trouble.
Monday he started spitting up milk. This, of course, is a major concern for him, as it gets into his nose and then he gasps for air and possibly gets spit-up into his lungs. At the same time, he started fighting me at some of his feedings. He is really good at using his tongue to push the tube back out and I'm always afraid of either hurting him or getting milk down the wrong tube.
As he was perfectly fine with the tube feeding so far, which he actually sucked down every 2 hours up to then, I am curious as to what changed. He used to smell my hand and get excited knowing he was getting fed.
I'm trying to put my finger on changes. The formula mix is the same. At every 1 oz of weight increase, I would increase his feeding by 1ml. He was up to 14ml on Monday. I thought that might be the problem and went back down to the last known amount to have worked - 13ml. Then he started actively teething on Monday - he's been chewing and the bumps on his gums are quite noticeable. Those teeth are pretty close. Can this be the trouble? Another change was that my husband, who has been an active part of Mojo's feeding ritual since day one, left on a business trip. Would a tiny puppy like this even be able to tell that he's gone? Or react to the change? Hubby won't be back until tonight.
We were at the vet's yesterday and he received a thumbs up on his condition. He isn't underweight, his lungs are clear, he has no temperature to indicate any infection and he actually just tipped the scale at 1 lb. He is reactive, interested in his environment and overall seems content.
It's just this feeding thing that has me baffled. He's down .3 oz since yesterday - not a lot in our eyes, but for him... He does actively try to nurse from mom, so he is showing signs of wanting to eat. Could he be getting some of her milk? It doesn't look like he ever latches on very well, but I'm also not in there 24 hours watching him every time. If he's getting milk, then I can understand why he is spitting up 2 hours after tubing or why he's not so eager to feed. BUT, then he should be gaining steadily, rather than holding ground. It would also explain the milk bubble in his nose at times - other than from spit up.
I may try a goats milk formula, to see if that helps his digestion. Maybe he's developed a stomach issue? Maybe he doesn't tolerate the formula anymore? Who knows - I just feel so tired and stressed and worried. I look at him and wonder if he thinks it's all worth it, and then I see him playing with Chloe and biting mom on the ear, just doing what pups do best.
What to do to make it all better? Surgery has to wait until he's at least 8 weeks old. 4 weeks of fighting to feed or gasping for air after spitting up is a LONG time. I don't want him to be stressed. He's such a sweet little man. :)
I'm up for all possible suggestions/solutions.
I wish I was a veterinarian and could give you more help on this, but my experience in this area is limited as I've never had to feed a pup with palate issues. I think your vet is in the best position to advise you but I'll put in my '2 cents worth' in the hope that you can get something out of it :o)
But first off, I want to tell you that I think you're doing an AWESOME job of rearing Mojo, in spite of this little 'glitch' it sounds as though he's doing incredibly well and is a normal little puppy in every other way. And that's all down to you. Try not to second-guess yourself, you're doing everything you can (and more!) for this little guy and the fact that he's here at all is all because of the effort you've put in.
Now, onto to the problem at hand.... it's certainly possible that Mojo is getting some milk from his momma as he's now big enough and strong enough to make a good attempt at nursing. I'm not sure if this is okay for him or not, given his palate issues, but if your vet doesn't think it's a problem then it should be good for him in lots of other ways.
Secondly, he's three weeks old now, and this is around the time that pups normally begin to get weaned, and he may be physiologically ready to move on to some 'real food'... even if just a tiny bit. But again, because of his health issues I don't know if this is something that he will be able to do without risk to his health. Either with milk from momma, or with soft food, I would imagine there is a risk of him inhaling it and getting it into his lungs. As you know, this can cause pneumonia which is very serious.
It's also possible that the teething is causing him some pain/discomfort and it's not unusual for pups to be a bit 'ornery' and off-color during this stage. Again, that can affect their eating habits and behavior.
In my opinion it's possible that Mojo has picked up on the fact that your husband isn't around, but not necessarily because he's not aware of him being there. It could be that you're feeling especially tense and anxious and overtired (and who'd blame you?) and this is what Mojo is sensing. Dogs are very sensitive to our emotions and you and Mojo are probably very close, if you're upset he'll feel it but won't know what's wrong, and that could cause him to have some anxiety issues which could affect feeding etc.
I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to deal with all this, but if you could make a huge effort to be calm and relaxed (as much as possible) when you're with Mojo, who knows it may help. This is especially difficult when you're tube feeding - I know that scary feeling when you push the plunger on the syringe and pray that the tube is in the right place. It's frightening at the best of times, but you're doing a stellar job with it.
I sort of doubt that he's having problems with the formula now, of course it's possible, but I'm not sure whether changing his food at this point would help. Obviously you know this little guy, and if that seems the most likely problem then give it a try, but I'd look at everything else first if I were you.
As you had him checked out yesterday and he was 100% in the vets' opinion, I wouldn't worry too much about this right now. Give it a few days and see how it goes. BUT, if he continues to lose weight and have milk in his nose etc. I'd go back and talk with the vet again. He's come this far and he's obviously a fighter so hopefully he'll come through this with flying colors too.
I know that another 4 weeks of stress seems like forever, but each day is one day closer to getting this little guy all fixed up. Hang in there and I think everything is going to be just fine.
Lots of luck, let me know how it goes. Hugs to Mojo!