Continued from last week
Today we continue where we left off last week when we discussed the provision of a suitable hygienic environment and nutrition for the newborn puppies.
The feeding schedule
It is better to underfeed than to overfeed orphan puppies. In hand-feeding, it is a good policy to underfeed slightly during the period when the puppy is most susceptible to digestive disturbances, and to increase the caloric intake gradually to near ad lib feeding after three weeks of age. The feeding can be done with a dropper or syringe.
If the formula approaches the composition of bitch’s milk, you need not feed the puppy more often than three times a day.
Commonsense is still the most important ingredient in any workable feeding schedule. Start the 6 – 8 oz puppy with 0.25 oz for each feeding on the first day, increasing the amount gradually so that he is eating 0.5 oz per feeding by the fourth day. Continue to increase the amount as he gains weight and responds favourably to feeding. A correlation between a pup’s steady gain in weight and the condition of his stool is the best evidence of satisfactory progress.
Separate compartments and clean cloths or newspapers facilitate careful faecal observation of individual puppies.
For the extremely conscientious owners, I will include the following suggestions:
Acquire accessory equipment, viz:
(1) A sensitive scale
(2) A measuring cup marked in cubic centimetres
(3) Enamel ware pans or bowls and spoons, for mixing formula
(4) Pyrex baby nursing bottles and nipples
(5) A data book to record weight and observation on the puppies.
In the preparation of the formula and in the handling of the feeding equipment and utensils, cleanliness and proper sanitary conditions must prevail.
Note also the following:
• Milk is an ideal medium for microbial (germ) growth.
• Do not prepare more formula than is required for a 48-hour period.
• Divide it into equal portions that are approximately the size required for each feeding.
• Keep it refrigerated.
• Before feeding, warm the formula to about 100F or near body temperature.
Daily habits, exercise and grooming
During the first five to seven days of life when the puppy relies almost entirely upon instincts, every physiological process must be stimulated. For the first few days, it is necessary to stimulate defecation and urination after each feeding. This is accomplished by gently massaging with a piece of cotton wool or soft cloth dipped in warm water.
Observe the puppy’s daily habits and supplement them only when necessary. By keeping puppies separated and on cloths or newspapers, this can be accomplished easily.
Regular gentle massage is quite beneficial in the daily routine of the hand-reared puppy. The best time for this treatment is during the awakening period just before feeding, while the formula is being warmed. This may best be accomplished by gently stroking the sides and back with a soft cloth. This is a form of passive exercise, stimulating circulation and thoroughly awakening him.
Simple grooming is also best done at feeding time and should be done only when necessary. Actually, grooming need consist only of wiping the eyes with boric acid solution (which can be had from any pharmacy) and occasionally rubbing the skin with baby oil.
If problems associated with the hand-rearing of newborn puppies are encountered, or further advice/explanations are needed, please contact your vet.