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Dogs - Puppies - ORPHANED PUPPIES

ORPHANED PUPPIES

What problems am I likely to encounter?

Several critical problems must be addressed in caring for orphaned puppies.  Among these are chilling, dehydration, and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).  These problems are interrelated and may often exist at the same time.  Close observation and prompt attention is essential if any of these problems develop.  Needless to say proper feeding of the orphaned puppy is extremely important. 

Chilling in newborn puppies can lead to significant mortality.  Puppies loose far more body heat than adult dogs.  The normal newborn puppy depends on radiant heat from its mother to help maintain its body temperature.  In the absence of the mother, various methods of providing heat, such as incubators, heat lamps, or hot water bottles can be used.

If a puppy’s temperature drops below 34.4 °C, its condition is critical.  Therefore, immediate action is necessary to provide the warmth the puppy needs to survive.  A healthy newborn can usually survive chilling if warmed slowly.

During the first four days of its life, the orphaned puppy should be maintained in an environmental temperature of 29-32 <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Times; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-alt:"Times New Roman"; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; text-autospace:none; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Times; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-font-family:Times; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> °C.  The temperature may gradually be decreased after 7-10 days, reducing to 22 <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Times; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-alt:"Times New Roman"; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; text-autospace:none; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Times; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-font-family:Times; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> °C by the end of the fourth week.  If the litter is large, the temperature need not be as high as puppies will huddle together to provide additional warmth.
Caution:  Too rapid warming of a chilled puppy may result in death.

The lack of regular liquid intake or exposure of the puppy to dry air can easily result in dehydration.  The inefficiency of the digestion and metabolism of a “chilled” puppy may also lead to dehydration.

Experienced breeders can detect dehydration by the sense of touch.  Two signs of dehydration are the loss of elasticity in the skin and dry and sticky mucous membranes (gums) in the mouth. 

One method of maintaining air moisture is to put a damp towel or dampened cotton wool near to the puppy in its bedding.  Remember the bitch is continuously licking the puppy and herself and creates a fairly humid, immediate environment. Her breast area is also additionally naturally moist while she is suckling her puppies.

The signs of hypoglycaemia (abnormal decrease of sugar in the blood) are severe depression, muscle twitching and sometimes convulsions.  If a puppy shows signs of hypoglycaemia, a few drops of sugar solution on the tongue can be life saving. If in doubt, please contact us.

What should I feed my orphaned puppy?

Nutrition for newborn orphans should be supplied by a commercial milk replacer until the puppies are about three weeks of age.  At this age, the puppies are ready to start nibbling moistened solid food.

Since the newborn may have trouble generating enough heat to maintain its body temperature, the milk replacer should be warmed to 35-37.8 <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Times; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-alt:"Times New Roman"; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; text-autospace:none; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Times; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-font-family:Times; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> °C for the best results. The milk replacer should be about the same temperature as the skin on your forearm or slightly warmer.  As the puppies grow older, the milk replacer can be fed at room temperature.

Milk formula can be fed either by bottle or tube feeding, where food is directed into the stomach via a feeding tube and syringe. This can be demonstrated if the puppies are not feeding well via a bottle.

Commercial milk replacers have directions on their labels for proper amounts to feed.  It is necessary for the puppy's weight to be obtained properly in ounces or grams. Kitchen scales or postal scales are useful for this purpose. Four meals, equally spaced during a 24-hour period, are ample for feeding a puppy when adequate nutrients are provided.  Six or more feedings may be necessary if the puppy is small or weak.

The weaning process can be started as soon as the puppy's eyes have opened at 14-16 days. Begin by placing the milk replacer in a flat dish and either dip the puppy's nose into it or smear some round its mouth with your finger.  By three weeks the puppy can start to eat food from the dish along with the milk replacer.  A gruel can be made by thoroughly mixing a puppy food (canned or dry) with the milk replacer to reach the consistency of a thick milk shake.  The mixture should not be too thick at first or the puppy will not consume very much.  As the consumption of food increases, the amount of milk replacer can be gradually decreased. By 4 weeks the puppy should be able to meet all it’s requirements from solid food. Human baby foods may not meet the nutritional needs of a growing puppy.

General puppy care

The puppy's genital area must be stimulated after feeding to cause urination and defaecation. This can be done with a moist cloth or cotton wool.  This cleaning should continue during the first two weeks.  If this procedure is not followed, the puppy may become constipated.

Puppies should be treated for worms from 2-3 weeks of age. Fortnightly worming should be carried out until the first vaccinations at 6-8 weeks. It is then worth consulting your veterinary surgeon regarding future worming programs.

The first vaccination is normally given to puppies at 6-8 weeks of age.  However, if your puppy did not nurse from its mother during the first 2-3 days after birth, there may be no protective immunity passed on to it.  In that case, the veterinary surgeon may advise earlier or more frequent vaccinations to complete the program.


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