You know, there are many times when the description you get over the telephone doesn't convey an accurate picture. Maybe the owner doesn't have the scientific vocabulary. Maybe they are in distress about their pet's condition, and they exaggerate. Something that looks terrible to them may not look so bad to me — after all, it just stands to reason that after thirty years as a veterinarian, I will have seen more pet medical problems than they have.
Then there are times when, as weird as it sounds, what the owner says is exactly how it is. Even though it sounds like they must be exaggerating, and you just can't believe it until you see it for yourself, by gosh, that's how it is. One example would be "the horse with a motor stuck in his back". Another would be Shelby. "Her nipples are bigger than my thumb, and she lost her last litter because they couldn't nurse." Than your thumb?! Come on, now.
And here she is, heavily pregnant, with nipples that are pretty doggone big. According to what her owners remember, she was bred 5 or 6 weeks ago, yet she already has an udder full of milk, and how. The milk looks normal, and she seems to feel okay, but if these faucets have three more weeks to grow, it does seem unlikely that the pups will be able to latch on. Most of her last litter were born dead, and the rest died within days, so I suspect there may have been other factors involved (canine herpesvirus, for instance). Still, this is a little unusual… okay, a lot unusual.
When you look at this close-up, it is really hard for a guy not to lapse into some kind of politically incorrect remark. Some of these nipples are 3cm in diameter (my own thumb maxes out at 2cm through the knuckle). They say you can't have too much of a good thing and you've heard the one about Whoops!
The follow-up is one of those good news/bad news things. The breeding date was much earlier, so the puppies showed up much sooner than expected. Thus, her udder didn't get much bigger before she gave birth. She had some complications in late pregnancy and wound up in the hospital (the bad news), but whelped normally the next day (the good news). The other good news is that most of the pups were able to grab on to most of the nipples. Since there are nine of them, the owners will still need to do supplemental feedings (and they would need to even if all the nipples were regulation size — that's a lot of puppies, and mom needs the help). Prognosis is good.