Sunday, 5 February 2012

Feeding The Puppies

The puppies were two days old when their mother died

The puppies were tiny cute and very hungry. I needed to get them to a vet as soon as possible.I needed  as much information as possible as I had never raised puppies before.It was not my dog who had the puppies so I was not prepared for puppy rearing. I went to 2 vets in 2 different towns neither of them had any puppy milk. I was getting very worried at this stage as the pups were hungry and weak. I finally found some puppy milk at a pet shop. The 2 vets I went to were not much help. I gained all my useful information on the internet.  At the  second vet it was the receptionist who dealt with me. She made the holes in the bottle teats too big which can be deadly for the pup. I bought a heat lamp at the vets but when I brought it home I realised it was fitted with an industrial plug no use for me . I used hot water bottle instead of the heat lamp. I was very nervous about feeding the puppies as I had read about how if you do it wrong you can do damage to the puppy. As the puppies grew so did my confidence. 
I needed to get the puppies home as quickly as possible as it is of the utmost importance to keep them in a warm and temperature regulated environment as they do not have they ability to regulate their own body temperature in the first weeks of their life.  I found an amazing vet who loved the puppies a few weeks later.It makes such a difference when you find a vet that is interested in you and your pets like a great dentist etc.

I have raised orphaned lambs and calves in the past but raising orphaned puppies is a much more daunting and time consuming experience.

Body Temperature

Puppies are unable to regulate their own body temperature until they are about 4 weeks old. But if you are as cautious as I am you will carry on this regulation for a while longer. Their bed should be kept between 32 - 37 degrees Celsius (90 - 98 degrees Fahrenheit). I kept a thermometer in their bed which allowed me to ensure that the temperature was correct and constant. As I mentioned earlier the heat lamp I bought did not work in a domestic setting so I used hot water bottles to regulate the temperature of the puppies bed. It was more work but it was effective.


The flow of milk from the bottle is dependent on the size of the hole you make in the teat. I would recommend buying enough teats to allow you to practise putting the hole in them in order to achieve the desired flow of milk substitute. If it flows to quickly you run the risk of getting the milk substitute into the puppies lungs. This could lead to pneumonia which could be detrimental. If the flow of the milk substitute from the teat is too slow this results in the puppies having to suck too hard and excessively. This practise runs the risk of them getting bloat which can be fatal. Scary stuff!
The teat should drip the contents of the bottle slowly when it is turned upside down. This is one of the most important things you will do to keep them alive. I prodded the teat with a hot needle in order to create the opening. The length of time you hold the needle in the teat will alter the size of the hole. It took numerous attempts to get the desired slow drip so I wasted an innumerable amount of teats during this tedious task!
I usually prepared the puppies feeds fresh every time but when the strain of the night feeds began to kick in I would make some bottles in advance and store them in the fridge until I needed them. It is recommended to only store them for 24 hours and after that toss it out. The milk substitute should be heated to about 37 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit).
When feeding the puppies there might be some little bubbles of milk visible at the edges of their mouth and this is normal. If there is milk flowing out of their mouth the hole in teat on the bottle is too big and this should be ratified immediately.
During and after feeding the puppy it is necessary to burp them. This is done by holding them upright over your shoulder and gently patting and rubbing their back.
Calorie intake needs to be adjusted according to the growth of the puppies. A general rule of thumb is 1 CC per OZ. of body weight every 2 or 3 hours. You must have an accurate scale with which to weigh the puppies if you are going to get the best results. I used a kitchen food scale. It is easy to see any weight gain or loss. It is beneficial to keep a record that you can easily refer to. A healthy puppy should gain weight on a daily basis. If this is not the case then it is advisable to keep a close eye on them and bring them to the vet if you have concerns. I was always concerned and rang the vet many times. I did out a chart to keep record of the times i feed them and how much they drank and their weight.


A newborn puppy is unable to urinate or have bowel movements on its own as it does not have control over its muscles at this stage. It is then necessary to stimulate them to do so. Before and after each feed, stimulate urination and defecation by gently rubbing the ano-genital region with a warm damp cotton ball. This should be done gently for about a minute or until there is a result. This action is replacing the licking that would be done by their canine mother. This is rather gross and not for the squeamish. You will need a lot of cotton balls! (By about 21 days of age they will be able to have bowel movements of their own and this is when the real fun begins!)
Looking at the colour of the puppies urine can reveal some necessary information. If it is pale yellow or clear in colour then that is a good sign. If it is dark yellow or orange in colour then the puppy is not being fed enough.
The feces should be a pale to dark brown colour and only partially formed. Green feces indicates an infection, and if it is too firm this indicates they are not getting enough formula. If the feces is hard, feed more often rather than increasing the amount of milk substitute given in each feeding. It is possible to over feed a puppy, but you can not feed them too often. Too much food will cause bloating, gas, regurgitation, and sometimes aspiration into the lungs.


It is important to boil the water for making the bottles and to allow time for it to cool slightly. Even when the puppies get to the age when they have their own bowl of water to drink as they desire this water must have been previously boiled and allowed to cool to room temperature. This is due to their sensitive immune systems. It is also important to keep the puppies in a clean and hygienic environment and to disallow them having contact with children, other animals or too many other adults. Ones own hygiene is also very important and compulsive hand washing is a definite must! The puppies in the early weeks of their lives are unable to groom themselves. This is a task that is carried out by their mother. In order to replace the mothers grooming it is necessary to wipe them gently with a warm, damp flannel cloth a few times daily. Their faces should be wiped after each feed.


The puppies should be contained in a small box or crate until they are at least four weeks old. I used a box that was about two foot wide and two foot long. I place the hot water bottle at the bottom and on top of this I placed their blankets. The puppies curl up beside each other to stay warm but it is very important to regulate the temperature of their bed until they are at least 4 weeks old. They are unable to regulate their own body temperature so this becomes another job you must carry out in order to keep them alive. They should be kept in a draft free area that is clean and comfortable for them and you... as you will be spending so much time with them there! I have read that heating pads are dangerous so I avoided using them. I recommend having a kettle nearby as you must ensure they have warm hot water bottles at all times. I will stress again the importance of keeping their bed between 32 - 37 degrees Celsius (90 - 98 degrees Fahrenheit). I kept a thermometer in their bed!

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