Feeding Orphan Puppies

So you have found an orphaned puppy or puppies? We here at Four Seasons Animal Hospital want to help you succeed with this amazing responsibility by sharing what puppies need as they begin their lives, from bedding to feeding and how much…

ENVIRONMENT: Puppies need a clean, warm, draft-free nesting area. Because they do not have their mother’s body to keep them warm, the air temperature in their immediate vicinity should be between 85º-90º F for the first week and about 80º F during the next 3 to 4 weeks. By the time the pups are 6 weeks of age, temperatures can be reduced to 70º F. Temperatures can be maintained with heat lamps, light bulbs, or heating pads covered with 3 to 4 layers of towels. Great care must be taken that the pups are not overheated during the first few days of life when they are unable to move away from the heat source. We recommend new paper as bedding because it is easily disposed of. As the pups begin to move around however, newspaper should be replaced with cloth bedding because newspaper is slippery and cloth offers good footing and is washable.

FEEDING: Puppies may be fed by bottle or by stomach tube. Stomach tube feeding is much faster and especially handy with large litters. However, many people prefer to bottle feed because of prolonged puppy contact. We can instruct you in either method of feeding. New born puppies should be fed 3 to 4 times daily by tube feeding or 5 to 6 times daily by bottle feeding. At 2 weeks of age, 3 tube feeding or 4 bottle feedings are usually sufficient. Puppies also must be helped to urinate and defecate by gently stroking the genital area with a tissue or cotton ball moistened with warm water after each feeding. Be persistent until they urinate or defecate. Frequent crying or failure to gain weight indicates a problem. Call us if this occurs. In general, a pup should double its weight in 8 to 10 days. Also remember that overfeeding can be worse than slightly underfeeding so keep the “How Much Should You Feed” tips below on hand.

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU FEED: You can determine how much to feed an orphan pup by considering its daily caloric requirements. The total daily caloric requirements for pups less than 4 weeks of age are: 1st week: 3.75 calories per ounce of body weight, daily. 2nd week: 4.50 calories per ounce of body weight, daily. 3rd week: 5.00 calories per ounce of body weight, daily. 4th week: 5.50 calories per ounce of body weight, daily. In general, milk substitutes contain around 1 calorie per ml (cc).

EXAMPLE: You plan to feed a 5 ounce puppy less than 1 week of age 4 times daily. The puppy requires 3.75 calories per ounce of body weight x 5 ounce pup = 18.75 calories needed for one day. You are feeding 4 times a day, therefore 18.75/4 = 4.69 calories given at each feeding. Your milk substitute contains 1 calorie per ml. You should feed 4.69 ml at each feeding. Solid foods should be introduced at 3 weeks of age. Pan feed a thin gruel made by blending a good quality puppy food with the milk substitute. Gradually thicken the gruel until no milk substitute is used (at about 6 weeks of age). At this time, the pups should be offered a good quality puppy food 3 times daily.

Congratulations, your puppy is weaned !!

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