Some Tips On Nursing Puppies


Maneka Gandhi

(Bihar Times)As more and more people come into the animal movement, the number of people picking up puppies from the road has , thankfully increased. It is a sad truth that 90% of the puppies die within a week of their birth and 30% of mothers die before the pups are even a week old - of being run over, of being beaten because they try and defend their puppies from young children hurting them , of being poisoned because people don't want puppies on their street or neighbourhood, of being picked up at night and thrown away, of sheer exhaustion from the delivery and consequent starvation. Once the mothers are gone , the puppies don't stand a chance. They will starve to death or die of cold , of be run over or be stoned by people or develop parvo virus or distemper.
It is important for you to pick them up and look after them. But you must know how to feed them as well. Here are instructions on what to do with puppies - whether the children of a pet or those that you have brought in from the street.

Q. My dog just had 5 puppies. They are now three weeks old. I can see my dog is getting tired of breast feeding. When the puppies feed on her they can be very aggressive to get to her nipples and they scratch and hurt her. I also want to feed my dog properly because she's breast feeding. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with the puppies being hand fed. What foods I should my dog to get the proper nutrition?

Ans. Start to wean the puppies by giving them formula milk twice a day. Take the mother out when you feed and then allow her to go back in. Give her a lot of broth – the more she drinks the more milk she will make.
This is the formula: 10 oz. of canned evaporated milk or goat's milk (not pasteurized cow's milk . Do NOT use sweetened condensed milk. 3 oz. sterilized water (boiled water that is then cooled). This is not needed if using whole goat's milk.1 raw egg yolk.1 cup of whole yogurt. 1 c white sugar and 1/4 c hot water (cook it to dissolve in the water. Place ingredients in a blender and blend or use a wire whisk. Be careful to not over blend and create a milkshake full of bubbles and then tube bubbles into the puppy. Warm formula to body temperature (dogs are around 101 degrees). This is a thick mixture - enlarge the hole in the nipple for easy access for the pup. To enlarge the hole, heat a needle and then pierce the tip of the nipple a few times. The hole is the right size if, when you turn the bottle upside down, milk replacer drips from the nipple with only a gentle squeeze of the bottle.
If, when you upend the bottle, you must squeeze it firmly to get milk to drip from the nipple, the hole needs to be enlarged. Otherwise, the puppy will become discouraged or exhausted when nursing and may even refuse to nurse. Discard any un-used formula.
Q. I have brought in puppies from the street whose mother was run over when they were just one day old. What should I do ?

Ans. Newborn puppies cannot regulate their body temperature very well. They quickly become chilled, or hypothermic, if their mother, their siblings, or their environment does not keep them warm. It will be necessary to provide a heat source for your puppy for the first few weeks of life. Suitable heat sources include hot water bottles, incubators, and heat lamps. Whichever heat source you use, make sure the puppy doesn't become overheated or burned. In addition, avoid drafts by placing the puppy's box away from windows, doorways, and air-conditioning vents.
During the first 4 days of life, aim to keep the air temperature in the box at puppy-level between 85°F and 90°F. Gradually decrease the temperature to about 80°F degrees by days 7-10. If you are raising a litter of puppies, the temperature can be a little lower, as the puppies will huddle together and keep one another warm.
The normal rectal temperature for a newborn puppy is 95-99°F. If its rectal temperature is below 94°F degrees you are dealing with a potentially life-threatening case of hypothermia. The puppy needs to be warmed immediately. Take care not to overheat the puppy or warm it too quickly; this can be fatal in a weak puppy.

Q. The newborn puppies look very dehydrated to me?

Ans. Newborn puppies quickly become dehydrated very quickly if they are not nursing. They can also become dehydrated if their environment is too hot and dry. Two indicators of dehydration are loss of elasticity in the skin (the skin stays tented when gently pinched up) and decreased saliva production (the gums and tongue feel tacky or dry).
Hypoglycemia quickly develops in a newborn that is not nursing frequently. As hypoglycemia worsens, the puppy becomes progressively more depressed and weak. Without treatment it may develop muscle twitches or seizures and then it will become unresponsive and comatose. If it is showing any of these signs place a few drops of corn syrup on its tongue. This simple procedure is often sufficient to revive a hypoglycemic puppy. Also watch for signs of hypoglycemia over the next several days, as you adjust your puppy's feeding schedule.

Q. Should I know anything about their defecation ?

Ans. Mothers stimulate their puppies to defecate (pass stool) by licking or nuzzling around the puppy's anus. To prevent your orphaned puppy from becoming constipated, you'll need to mimic this action using a soft cloth or cotton ball moistened with warm water. Gently stimulate the puppy's anal area after feeding for the first 2 weeks of its life. Orphan puppies less than one week old must be stimulated to urinate and eliminate. This is accomplished by gentle massage of the abdomen and genital area with a piece of cotton wool or tissue, dampened with warm water.

Q. What should I feed them ?

Ans. What I have written above but gently and slowly.

Q. What should I watch out for when bottle feeding puppies ?

Ans. Here are some general rules for bottle feeding puppies:
Always boil your water before using - allow time to cool.
Burp your pups after feeding.
A pup may have little bubbles by his mouth but there should not be milk running out of his mouth.
When the bottle is held upside down the milk should drip out - NOT FLOW OUT in a stream - pups that get milk in their lungs will get pneumonia and more than likely die.
Calorie intake needs to be adjusted according to growth of puppies. A general rule of thumb (unless someone has a better idea) is 1 CC per OZ. of body weight every 3 hours.
You must have an accurate scale to weigh pups if you are going to get the best success. Use a kitchen food scale. It is easy to see any weight gain or loss. Keep a record that you can easily refer to.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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