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Bottle Feeding Orphaned Puppies

Ron Hines DVM PhD
Most momma dogs are excellent mothers. But occasionally, when the mother dog is
very young or is one of the temperamental toy breeds, it may neglect its offspri
ng. Then you need to step in.
Some older dogs suffer milk failure and have no milk to give their puppies. Othe
r mothers produce contaminated milk or vaginal exudates that are toxic to the pu
ppies. At other times, a litters contains one or two star-crossed runts that wil
l not survive unless you hand-raise them yourself. Any pup that weighs twenty or
more percent less than its littermates is best raised by hand.
What Supplies Will I Need?
You will need to have a nest box for the puppy (s). Since the infants often soil
their container, I usually find a small cardboard box that I can readily replac
e to keep the baby in. Pick up a few and replace them as need be. Just be sure n
othing toxic was stored in them.
You will need a heating pad. I usually pick up a heavy-duty model at WalMart. Th
en I go to their aquarium section and purchase an aquarium thermometer. The ones
that contain a red liquid are more accurate than the strip type. A feed store c
hick thermometer works well too. In the same section you will find pet nursing b
ottles and , if you are lucky, Pet-Ag's Esbilac brand of canned puppy milk. You
can also purchase Esbilac powdered puppy milk online and at veterinary offices a
nd pet stores. Just be sure the container hasn't sat around a long time and that
it does not smell rancid when you first open the can. It should not have lumps
and clumps in it. If it does - return it. (I have no connection to Pet-Ag, its j
ust that their products are usually conveniently found. The Fox Valley line is e
qually as good)
A small food scale is also very nice to have to weigh the infant(s). If the pup
is weak you may want to tube feed it. I will get to that later, but you will nee
d several 3-ml syringes and 18Guage butterfly infusion sets from a veterinary ho
spital or human medical supply center if you go that rout.
Delivering The Puppy
When puppies are born they are wrapped in a clear sac called the amniotic membra
ne. This membrane must be removed from the puppy s face in order for it to breathe
. I tear this membrane with my fingers and slide the whole puppy out. Then I use
scissors to snip off the umbilical cord which connects the puppy s belly button t
o the afterbirth. I leave about a half inch of cord attached to the puppy and ti
e it off with a piece of thread so it will not bleed. Moms just chew it off, so
there is really no need to tie them. It is only a danger if the pup has any degr
ee of umbilical hernia when it is born.
Then I use a rubber bulb to clean mucus away from the puppy s mouth, throat and no
se. The same one they sell for human infants.
Nest Box
The nest box does not need to be elaborate. It needs to be just big enough for t
he puppy to turn around but not much bigger. Be sure the sides are tall enough s
o that the puppy can not fall out. Line the box with clean bathroom hand towels,
diapers discarded underclothes, etc. Be sure that there are no threads or holes
in the material for the puppy to get tangled in.
To maintain temperature, keep a heating pad set at its lowest setting under one

the puppy looses its ability to absorb most of the antibodies in colost rum. What To Feed The Puppy? I prefer to feed puppies a powdered Esbilac formula that comes in powdered form and which I prepares just before use. additional temperature is unnecessary. yellowish-cream in color. You can keep reconstituted formula in the refrigerator betwe en uses. but discard any remaining formula at the end of the day. The First Milk Or Colostrum Colostrum is the milk that the mother produces the first days after birth. Pour just what . The heating pad will go under one side of the box . It might also benefit from daily probiotics. Wrap the pad with sufficient bath towels so that the inside of the box stays at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit but no higher.side of the box. It is better to give sm all amounts of these products over long periods than a whole lot at once. Puppies housed at th at temperature will themselves be a few degrees warmer . Buy the kids a new stuffed puppy to raise just like Mom (or Dad) is doing. When the pu p reaches the end of its first month of life it will be happy in room air temper ature of 70-75F. If your pup is older than that. Secure the puppies area from children and other pets. Place the box in a draft free location. After the fi rst day. You can't d freeze the cans of liquid b ecause it causes the ingredients to separate out. With only one side of the box heated the puppy will be able to crawl away from t he heat source if it gets too warm. By the fourth week normal rectal temperature is 100-102F (the same as a dult dogs). When the mother is there to keep the pups warm. Orphan pups need an environmental temperature of about 90°F (32. But they are not good for puppies. If your puppy could not nurse. Newborn puppies can not generate enough heat to keep their bodies warm and have not yet developed a shivering reflex. so no lum ps or goop remains. and rich in antibodies that protect the p uppy against disease.2°C) their first wee k. in the mid 80's the second week. They will rely on you to regulate temperat ure during the first 14 days of their life. It is easier to f ind around town quickly. I store opened canisters in the freezer.more so if more than on e are huddled together. the only effective way to give the blood pr oduct is by injection. It is very thick. The first thing to do with chilled puppies is to warm them up. But you can use their canned product initially. Normal rectal temperature for a newb orn puppy is 94-98F. giving it oral doses of blood serum or plasma fro m a healthy dog is one way to compensate for the lack of colostrum. not in it. yogurt or bene-bac paste. very slowly. Young children delight in pu ppies. to 95 degrees F. Puppies that do not drink colostrum during their first 12 -14 hours of life can not fight the diseases and bacteria they encounter as well as pups that do. The chief reason is that dry formula is mo re economical. When this is not done (and it is usually not done) you ne ed to be especially sanitary when handling and feeding the puppy. Really blend the powder well. and then in the mid 70's. rectal temperature should be 97-100F. By their second week of life. Be very cautious using the heating pad since the puppy can be easily hurt by too high a temperature while it is still too young to move away from the heat sourc e. Allow some time after mixing a batch for bubbles to leave the formula. As t he baby matures the temperature in the box can be gradually lowered.

Birth defects often come in multiples and thi s pup may have other life-ending defects. Very rarely. These puppies snort milk from their noses and must be tube-fed if you are planning to save them. I microwave a bowl of water and set the bottle in it after it comes out of the microwave to heat the formula to 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit before use. Boil pre-cleaned nursing bottles. the puppy will ingest too much air and become bloated an d colicky.you need into a secondary container and put the remainder back in the fridge im mediately. you can not obtain puppy milk rep lacement you can mix a formula. one teaspoon full of corn oil. If milk bubbles out of your pup s nose it is flowing too rapidly fro m the bottle. let it cool until it is slightly above room tem perature. I use a flame-heated needle to melt two small pin holes in the latex cap. But it is much safer to give them a little less than they are willing to drink. a puppy will be born with a cleft palate. There are good instructional videos on You-tube. one drop of pediatr ic multivitamin (Visorbin or equivalent). For some reason. Never feed them upright or upside down as you would a human infant. If. two raw egg yolks and a tablespoon ful l of plain whole yogurt. Pop the plungers out of the syringes so the steam penetrates all aroun d. in an emergency or some isolated location. Always feed pups while they are resting on their stomachs. (You nee d to think hard before you decide. They are generally sold without holes punched in the nipple . Gently insert the nippl e into the pup s mouth using a prying motion while you apply pressure to the sides of the bottle to release a drop or two of milk. Here is just one of them. We all have a tendency to over feed puppies. the puppies ten d to inhale the formula into their lungs rather than ingest it. It c an also cause diarrhea. Experienced breeders generally decide when to stop feeding based on the sha . Adding a qua rter of a lactase tablet to each batch of formula helps the puppy digest the lar ge amount of lactose present in cow s milk. you will be better off just giving healthy puppies pedialyte until then. If too few or to o small a hole is made. It is much safer to feed smaller amounts more frequently than larger amounts les s frequently. A good puppy-nursing bottle holds 24 ounces of formula. This is usually due to too large a hole(s) in the nipple or over f eeding. After the formula is well mixed. If it will be less than 24 hours befor e you can obtain a commercial puppy formula. Over-feeding can lead to pneumonia when milk is inhaled into the lungs rather then swallowed into the stomach. How Much Milk Should I Feed? That is a very difficult question to answer because puppies arrive in so many si zes. Bottle Feeding I mix my milk formula just before I use it. The holes should only be big enough for a few drops of milk drip out when the bottle is vigorously shaken.) Some owners find it easier to feed very small newborn pups from a one or three m illiliter syringe and switch to a bottle when the pup is two weeks old. formulas based on evaporated milk caus e less diarrhea and indigestion than those based on fresh cow s milk. From then on the pup should suc k on its own. It consists of one-half cup evaporated whole mil k. syringes and utensils for 10 minutes between e very use. If too many holes are punched in the cap. one half cup boiled water.

5 ounces) of body weight. move their heads from side to side and suckle on e ach other and on objects in the nest box.healthy pup. During weeks three and four give 20 ml for every 100 grams body weight. Be very gentle when you do this and don t worry if no urine or stool is produced a fter every feeding. As long as it is slow ly but steadily gaining weight. Puppies fade and dehy drate rapidly. take the puppy to your veterinarian. WalMart Stor es Inc. Nursing bottles that do not release enough milk lead to more air being trapped that you need to release through burping. add more pedialyte to the formula to make up for the fluid t hat is lost.releasing trapped air. Helping Your Puppy Eliminate Normal puppy stools are yellowish brown with a jam-like consistency. By the time the pup is three weeks old it should be able to go without your help. You can even give feeding of pure pedialyte to allow the intestines time to heal.if at all. each day the average puppy needs 25-35 milliliters of formula for every 100 grams (about 3. Burping The Puppy After each feeding hold the puppy upright with its tummy against your shoulder a nd pat it gently until it burps . Two i ndicators of dehydration are loss of elasticity of the skin (the skin stays tent . Some peop le get up to give their puppy a midnight feeding but this is not necessary if yo u have a vigorous . so serious diarrhea must not continue for more than a day. Problems That Can Occur If diarrhea occurs. your veterinarian may need to place the puppy on medica tions that slow the intestine and.antibiotics. Puppies can also become dehydrated if their environment is too hot or dry. the puppy should be eating some solid foods. take the pup to a veterinarian . If this does not rapidly cure the problem. Divide this number by the number of feedings per day to obtain the amount for each feeding.pe of the puppies stomach and its greediness to continue feeding rather than by giving a set amount of formula. If the problem persists. If the puppy should bloat or become colicky add a few drops of infant anti colic medicine (simethicone. Feed the puppy unti l its belly is gently rounded or pear-shaped .) to the formula. Puppies that are hungry and need fee ding will whine continuously. After every feeding. At this age f eed it formula 2-3 times a day . During week two. Equate Infants Gas Relief. give 15-20 ml for every 10 0 grams body weight. try a new rubber nippl e and a different brand or container of milk replacement. When diarrhea is severe. perhaps. How Often Should I Feed ? Feed very young puppies every 2-3 hours or six to eight feeding a day. 4 feedings per day are quite sufficien t.never more. The pup will almost alwa ys also receive injections of subcutaneous fluids. These amounts are always only a rough estimate. If that does not quick ly solve the problem. But I can give you some idea: When the powdered formula I suggested is mixed acc ording to directions (one part formula powder to two parts water) . everything is fine. By the time the puppy is three weeks old. gently massage the anus and urinary orifice with a cotton ball or Klee nex moistened with warm water until they urinate and defecate. At 5 weeks of age.

it should need no more distemper-parvo-corona vacc inations for many years to come. If they still remain bound up. but they are not the subject of this article) Never include leptospirosis in the vaccination of a puppy and think twice about giving it to mature dogs as well. The adult parasites (hookworms & roundwor ms) in puppies can take a number of weeks before they produce telltale eggs. weak and they are cold to your touch. depressed. the best way to warm them is to p lace them on a hot water bottle and gently blow them with a hair drier. (Products that state on the label that they contain piperazine are not sufficient. Impacted pups also have bloat ed abdomens. At 12 weeks the puppy should receive a rabies vaccination and at 14 and 18 weeks the pup should receive a booster of its first vaccination. Dextrose solution or corn syrup placed on their tongue is sometimes helpful. but their best chance at sur vival is in the intensive care setting of a veterinary center where dextrose can be administered intravenously or intralingually (in the tongue) 24 hours a day if need be. the first vaccine should be administered at 6-8 weeks. take them to your veterinarian. This is because veterinarians check for parasite eg gs in the stool . If other unvaccinated dogs come in contact with the p up. canine hepatitis (adeno-2 virus). If you live Overseas. human infant pinworm medicine is usually parantyl pamoate. The most important booster vaccination of this puppies life will be the one it receives between 14 and 16 weeks of age. Some special-case dogs might require periodic a dult lyme or leptospirosis vaccination but most don't. Read more about what vaccinations y our pet really needs here. increas e the frequency of feeding and dilute the formula. (If you are raising puppies in or for a shelt er. If the puppies are kept isolated from other dogs their first vaccinations can be given at 12 weeks of age.ed when it is gently pinched up) and decreased saliva production (the gums and t ongue feel tacky or dry). You can purchase this worming medicine at WalMart Stores. You can give them a few drops of flavored mineral oil or cat hairba ll ointment to help them evacuate the stool. Adult dogs probably need boosters for distemper/parvo every 7 years or never. Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can develop rapidly in a puppy that is not nursi ng. If this should occur. they are quite susceptible to chilling. (it is e asy to burn puppies with human hair driers. Never place amounts of unflavored l axative oils in a puppy's mouth because they often inhale them rather than swall ow. They may need a warm water enema. How you handle rabies vac cination requirements is an administrative decision for normal house pets. Hold it far from the puppy and alway s have your hand in the air blast so you can gauged the amount of heat) Stools that are clumped and cheese-like can be due to feeding the formula too co ncentrated. Because newborn puppies can not regulate their temperature well. . Most vets will stretch it to every 3 years.not adult parasites. Dogs in the US receive entirely too many vaccination. When puppies strain to defecate and pass overly-hard stools. These puppies are limp. I would be happy to talk to you about them. parvovirus an d coronavirus. The vaccine should im munize against canine distemper. ) Fecal specimens from very young puppies with worms are often negative when they are checked microscopically. Be sure the vaccine is a reputable one (Merial. you have special challenges. The ir gums are often bluish and their muscles may twitch. That is in the process of chang e. Intervet) and not a cheap product and that it is stored and administered correctly. It is a good idea to worm your puppies with pyrantel pamoate when they are six w eeks of age. Pfizer. After it receives it first birthday vaccinations.

At the same time . I do not feed pupp ies very pungent foods because I fear I will make them into fussy eaters later i n life. It is difficult to explain this process in writing.Tube Feeding I discourage tube feeding of puppies that will nurse a bottle because puppies ne ed the companionship they get when we slowly feed them from a bottle. If I only feel one structure I remove the tube and reinsert it again unti l I am certain I am in the esophagus and not in the trachea. feed no more than 75% of what the puppy would h ave taken orally so it does not regurgitate the formula. pick them off wi th tweezers and drop them into some isopropyl alcohol or vodka. When I think the tube is partially in place. with my thumb and index finger. It will soon get the idea. The earlier puppies eat on their own the better. Although many puppies will eat as early as four weeks. Fleas can quickly get out of control. I snip off the needle and fill the remainin g tubing with milk. And people overworked wit h oodles of puppies need to keep their sanity. When the "bath" is finished carefully blow dry the puppy. If you find any. This is the same time you should begin to offer formula to the puppy in a bowel. The n I gently open the puppy s mouth and begin to thread the tubing over the puppy s to ngue very slowly. Check the underside and hind end of all puppies carefully for fleas when you gro om them. The other will be the catheter tube. When you are tube feeding. This gives the pup time to swallow the tubing rather than have it go into the windpipe. Never grasp a full pupp y by its abdomen. Purchas e some cans of gourmet cat or dog food in chicken and beef flavors and smear a b it on the roof of the puppy s mouth. I fill a 3 or 6 milliliter (cc) syringe with warm formula. I do not suggest baby foods be cause they are too low in calcium and vitamins. bei ng careful that no air bubbles are present. This will cause weak teeth and b ones. If you are accidentally in the windpipe the pup will s quirm and fuss. I c arefully palpate the puppy s neck to feel two tube-like structures. will be the windpipe (trachea). Do one section of them at a time with a soft. puppies should begin accepting fine textured solid foods. some take an additi . One. Then I attach an eighteen-gauge infu sion (butterfly) set to the syringe. But puppie s that are too weak to nurse will need to be tube fed. By four and a half to five and a half weeks the puppy should be weaned. in the ce nter of the neck. Then I slowly injec t the contents of the syringe being sure the syringe is positioned not to inject air. throw away their nest box and put all reusable bedding through a hot air cycle in your drier. Be careful to keep the dryer far away from the puppy so as not to overheat it. wet hand towel. Younger puppies should get only partial baths. Then I lay the tube along side the puppy and make a mark wit h an indelible pen on the tube when the tip is alongside the puppy s last rib. The best way to learn how to tube feed is to have someone experienced in the technique do it with you the fi rst time. When I tube feed. Weaning You Are Almost To The Finish Line! Between 3 and 4 weeks. Bathing Puppies During their first 2 week of life it is best to just clean puppies with a damp p ledget of cotton.

When a whole litter is born star crossed. i t is better to never breed that mother again.onal two or three weeks before they have much interest in solid food. Terms Of Use . but many more fade away from hidden genetic defects that occur at the metabolic leve l and that will never be identified. Sometimes one pup. Congratulations ! You are not going to succeed every time. keep a dish of water available. As soon as puppy chow is offered. or a whole litter we re just not destined to be. puppies are lost to herpes virus. Occasionally. By the time th e pup is 10 weeks old it should be receiving its puppy chow dry.