When, for whatever reason, a puppy is not able to nurse from its mother, it falls to the hands of the human caregiver to be sure that the puppy gets the nutrition it needs to survive and to be as healthy as possible. To some, this may sound like a daunting task but, armed with proper information, its easy to help your puppy grow into a healthy dog.
One thing that is overlooked by many who care for orphaned pups is the importance of colostrum, the first milk produced by the mother dog after giving birth. It is colostrum that provides much needed antibodies that will protect the puppies against disease. To be effective, colostrum must be ingested within the first 12 hours of life. If not, then the puppy will be unable to fight off diseases as well as other pups.
One way to compensate for the lack of colustrum is to hand feed the puppy oral doses of blood plasma from a healthy dog. If this is not possible, then it is vital to provide extremely sanitary conditions for handling the puppy.
Buying Milk for a Puppy
There are several brands of milk to choose from. Talk to your vet or to a knowledgeable sales person at your pet supply store for help in selecting the best milk for your puppy.
It’s best to mix the formula just before use. Mix well and be sure to shake or stir out any lumps. When feeding, the formula should be slightly above room temperature. Most bottles available for nursing a puppy hold up to 4 ounces of formula. Be sure there are not too many holes in the nipple, or too large of a hole, because if the flow is to fast the puppy may have trouble ingesting the formula.
While it may be tempting to cradle a puppy the way one would a human infant, this is not ideal. Consider the way a puppy would feed naturally – on its stomach. As the puppy is resting on its belly, gently insert the nipple into the puppies mouth. If the puppy is very small, and it seems the nipple is too large, a syringe can be used in place of a bottle. In a few weeks, when the puppy is a bit larger, switch from the syringe to a bottle. Always boil between uses for sterilization.
When deciding how much to feed, refer to the directions on the formula you have selected. The amount will be based on body weight. It’s important not to overfeed a puppy. Overfeeding can result in diarrhea and vomiting. If you are unsure if you are feeding the proper amount, consult your vet or other animal care specialist.
Puppies should be fed every 3-4 hours. If a puppy is hungry, he will let you know! Do not ignore a puppies cries, even if it is a little before feeding time. After feeding, burp the puppy in much the same way you would a human infant. Hold it upright against your body and gently pat its body until it burps.
Because a newborn puppy can become dehydrated very quickly it is important to seek help immediately if the puppy will not take any milk. If the puppy does not begin to suck on its own, there may be a problem that needs to be addressed by a vet, and your puppy should be seen as soon as possible.
By taking the time to properly care for an orphaned puppy, you will be help ensure that he has the chance to live a long and healthy life.