Tiny Berner puppy...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Kat, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. Kat

    Kat New Member

    Hey all,

    First time poster here, long time Berner lover. I just accomplished my lifelong dream of having a Berner of my own, but unfortunately things aren't going perfectly for my little guy :(

    He's just over 10 weeks old today, and today he weighs 7.6 lbs. When I picked him up from the breeder, I could tell immediately that he didn't have the "mass" that an 8 week old puppy should have. Despite his Berner fluff, you could feel his ribs, spine, and hip bones easily. We took him to the vet and she had us switch him to canned food to try to beef him up and get him growing. At 8 weeks of age when we first picked him up he weighed 4.7 lbs. Despite the breeder seeming to be forthcoming, honest, and reputable in the beginning, that all fell apart once I picked him up. She wouldn't tell me how big his other siblings were, and she failed to tell me that he was the "runt" of the litter until the day I was picking him up. And clearly the fact that she sold a puppy in such an underweight condition does not sit well with me. I thought I had done enough research and everything seemed to be appropriate with the breeder, and I feel like I was totally duped. I already feel awful that I ended up buying from a breeder who in the end was not looking out for the breed, so please understand I already know that something major was not right with the breeder and be gentle with me. I already feel absolutely awful.

    I've been researching a lot the last few weeks about normal Berner growth, and his weight has definitely bounced back a lot since getting him on a mostly canned diet. We've had him on Wellness canned puppy food with a little bit of dry food mixed in. He's been on the canned food for about 2 weeks now and all was going well until 2 days ago when he developed watery diarrhea. It got better for a day, and now today it's back. He lost 0.25 lbs with the diarrhea, which obviously he can't afford to lose. We have an appointment with the vet for tomorrow to get him looked at yet again.

    I guess I'm just looking for words of wisdom or advice on what to do with such a little guy... He has tons of energy and spunk, has a great appetite, knows how to sit and give paw already, but I find it SO disheartening and heartbreaking to see "normal" puppies weighing 2-3x what he weighs. I'm terrified that this diarrhea will set him back even more if he has to go on a bland diet... Anyone been in these shoes before?? I want to help him but feel so powerless.

    Thank you all for having the patience to look through this and for any help that you may offer me!
  2. Berner love

    Berner love New Member

    I’m so to hear of your puppies ill health
    Hopefully the vet can at least eliminate any physical health issures he may have. That’s a good start do you have anyone you know that has a berner who has a good breeder relationship good breeders are a godsend for good nutrition info and tips on raising a healthy puppy since they really are all about bettering the breed. I’m a first time berner owner so I have to depend on my breeder for support and feedback. I known my Truman has on n off diarrhea issues and his tests came back negative my breeder had me change his food her comment was matching right food for Truman she has me using earthborn meadow feast no pork in it and at the 26percent protein.
    Too much protein not good. Keep us posted on your baby’s progress. I also give Truman a daily probiotic class with your vet first.
  3. Kat

    Kat New Member

    Thank you so much for your advice! I don't know anyone with a Berner, but I was thinking maybe I could contact a local club and see if someone there would be willing to talk with me... And that totally makes sense about matching the food to the dog! After being on the food for 2 weeks with no issues at all, do you think it's the food that could be causing the diarrhea? I'm just at a loss as to where it came from. We do take small hikes around our house and the thought occurred to me that maybe he ate something... I'm not sure how long that would take to resolve if that were the case though. Just throwing thoughts out there....

    It's just so hard not to feel upset and distraught. It seems like he takes 2 steps forward and 1 step back. :( He's the sweetest little guy.
  4. LadyandNala

    LadyandNala New Member


    since your puppy is only ten weeks old and has watery diarrhea, I think it's a good idea to take him to the vet. At this age he doesn't have all his vaccinations yet I guess so he could catch any virus, most dangerous virus beeing the parvovirus (watery diarrhea and throwing up are symptoms of this virus). The incubation period for this virus is 2-10 days and often due to a puppy not beeing vaccinated. If your breeder is unreliable, then maybe he did not get his shots.
    I don't want to scare you but I would definitely take my dog to the vet in your case, as you already said you will. Good luck!
    Kat likes this.
  5. Kat

    Kat New Member

    Thanks for the help! Absolutely agree the vet was the right move.... Just an update in case anyone is following this or looks at this thread in the future, we took him to the vet first thing this morning. The vet thinks it's giardia based on his symptoms. We gave him a stool sample, so we should have a definitive answer on that on Monday. He's started up on some medication for that in the meantime. Interestingly enough, his diarrhea wasn't quite so bad this morning before he started the treatment. It went from being watery early this AM to more like soft cookie dough right before we left for the vet (sorry for the visuals). His appetite and attitude are still normal :)

    He weighed 8 lbs today; up 3.3 lbs in just shy of 2 weeks. I asked this vet (our initial vet left the practice in the 2 weeks since we were there...) what he thought about his size, and he really didn't have much to say. He didn't seem to think he had any anatomical or absorptive abnormalities based on his exam, but also didn't have any ideas to offer on why this little guy is half the size as most of his breed at the same age. The idea of a liver shunt was brought up to me after our vet visit, and I'm thinking about bringing it up to the vet next time we go in for boosters.. The thought of that is just plain terrifying to be honest.

    I very much appreciate everybody's time and if anyone else has any idea to offer up, I'm all ears... I can't help but worry there's more going on than meets the eye.
  6. LadyandNala

    LadyandNala New Member

    This is actually good news for you, compared to other possible sicknesses. It's easy to treat or should be anyways. In any other case like the virus I mentioned, the diarrhea would not have gotten better, so the diagnosis looks pretty good, I'm happy for you guys it's "just" giardia.

    The size thing could really be nothing.
    Some dogs are small for their breed while others are really large compared to theirs.

    I have a friend who owns 3 Chihuahuas and two of them are the, "usual" Chihuahua size and the oldest is the largest Chihuahua I've ever seen. But it's still a Chihuahua :)
    He weighs about 6 or 7 kg surely :)

    My own Berner is female and only weighs 31 kg which some people would also consider small for the breed. Or at least she is not the largest Berner anyways.
    But since they often suffer from hip displasia like my own a slow growth or even the dog staying relatively small could be a good thing :)

    It's surely difficult to say for any vet why a dog is smaller or bigger than usual. This things just happen. I would not worry too much about the size.
    And anyways, maybe after his giardia treatment he will gain more weight again and also may grow faster.

    Good luck to you and keep us updated because I personally feel it's still interesting how your dog is going to turn out after treatment or if there is any update on the size :)
    Maybe you'll have the biggest Berner yet in a few months :D

    BR Jenny
  7. Berner love

    Berner love New Member

  8. Berner love

    Berner love New Member

    Good to hear the vet has started a treatment for your berner I know that giardia is very treatable patience however it can take more then one round of meds from what I’ve been told.
    But the Weight gain is a good sign for sure. I think the you getting with a berner club is an excellent idea for moral support and general advise and the social exposure for your berner. Hang in there your diligence will pay off for both of you
  9. Kat

    Kat New Member

    Thank you both for your replies!! We are really hoping that it's "just" giardia and things smooth out for his poor GI tract. He's had some diarrhea since my last post, although it's not quite as watery or frequent now. He weighed in at 8.6 lbs this morning, so he's heading in the right direction :) Still a happy bouncy pup.

    Obviously we will love him to the ends of the earth regardless if he's the smallest or biggest Berner out there, and it's encouraging that his size appears to be the only thing really "abnormal" about him. He's a very quick learner, very happy and playful with a huge appetite, and seems to be heading in the right direction again. There's just a part of me that is constantly worrying that there must be something wrong health-wise that he's so small. The thought occurred to us that maybe the breeder fibbed about his birth date, but there's no proof of that whatsoever. It's exhausting going through so many "what if's" so I'm going to try and take each day as it comes and keep hoping things stay in the right direction. We have a booster appointment at the vet this week, and I'm thinking I'll mention the liver shunt topic and see what the vet has to say.

    I did get in touch with someone from a local club, and she has been SO helpful - it actually brought me to tears to have someone so willing to help me when she had absolutely no obligation to do so. Thank you so much Berner love for that suggestion, it really helped us a lot.

    And I do intend on keeping this updated as time passes... doing searches to try to find answers or someone who had a similarly small puppy has been very difficult as there's not much out there regarding very small Berner puppies, and hopefully someone else that ends up in the same shoes might at least see what my experience ends up being.
  10. txaggies08

    txaggies08 New Member

    Best of luck. Our pup also had pretty bad diarrhea when he was younger. We found chicken, rice, pumpkin really helped settle his stomach. Once he was pooping fine, we would slowly return him back to his normal kibble.
    Kat likes this.
  11. Kat

    Kat New Member

    Another update for anyone interested! He had a vet appointment today for boosters and he weighed 9.9 lbs - just couldn't put on the extra ounce to make me jump for joy about hitting double digits, haha. His stool sample came back absolutely clear, but we're continuing the medication through it's course anyways. His diarrhea is much better - not watery anymore, but still definitely on the soft side. Some stools are more firm than others. After talking with our vet and discussing his growth over the past 2 weeks on his canned diet, we're going to try to transition him back onto dry food and see if that helps his stools as well. Our vet said it's possible all the moisture in his food along with the richness isn't helping his colon out.

    I did bring up the liver shunt topic, and our vet did say it's a possibility that could be going on based on his small size, but other than that he's given us no reason to believe that's the case with him. Based on how malnourished he was when we got him, we're hoping he's just so small because he lacked the nutrition he needed to grow. The vet said if we wanted to follow up on the liver shunt thing, then the first step would be to get an ultrasound ($350). Those can be hit or miss on whether or not they find shunts, so the next step would be a CT scan (>$1,000). His advice was to keep monitoring his growth, watch his behavior, and if something changes that he starts showing symptoms of a shunt then we should talk about working him up for that. In the mean time, he's a happy, playful, growing little guy so we're going to keep hoping the worst is over with.

    Thank you txaggies08 for the pumpkin advice!! Next trip to the grocery store we'll pick some up in case he takes a turn as we're getting him back on dried food! :)
  12. Kat

    Kat New Member

    Just figured I’d throw another update out there in case anyone else finds them in a similar situation as me...

    Our little guy is just shy of 5 months old now. He weighs just over 35lbs. His gains, since we got him, have followed normal Berner growth of about 10lbs a month. We’re really thinking that his growth was stunted due to malnourishment in his first 8 weeks of life... and potentially that he wasn’t truly 8 weeks old when we got him. His energy and activity levels have been normal for a puppy. His biggest issue as of late has been an unfortunate bout of ringworm, which has kept him quarantined from socialization for the last month, and that he can be a picky eater. Mixing just a spoonful of canned food with his dry food and some warm water usually does the trick. ☺️

    Thank you to everyone who sent words of advice and support - I was really at the end of my leash with worrying about this little guy. So thankful he seems to be heading the right direction!
    kjw likes this.
  13. Kat

    Kat New Member

    Another update in case anyone else finds my post and has similar concerns about their puppy...

    Our guy is now 1.5 years old and happy and healthy. We didn't neuter him until he was a year old to give him a chance to grow, but he's still a small Berner. He weighs about 85 lbs and is short. We call him our mini Berner :) Anyways no health problems have come up so we have no reason to believe he has or had something physiologically wrong with him - he was probably just malnourished until we got him. Life is good!
  14. Tlund

    Tlund New Member

    Hi, I have a 12.5 year old Bernese and his highest weight has been about 85-87 pounds. He has never had any health issues, nothing. He’s never even been sick that. He’ll be 13 on Christmas Day. He does have a little arthritis in his hind legs now but I guess so since he’s quite old. Just thought I’d let you know.

Share This Page