While most newborn puppies have their mother to nurse, nurture, and raise them until they're able to get around on their own, it doesn't always work out that way. If you're taking in abandoned puppies in their first couple of days of life, it's important that you understand the details of their necessary care. Start with a visit to an emergency vet clinic to have the pups evaluated and to obtain a feeding and care schedule. Here are a few tips for bottle-feeding and caring for newborn puppies.
The Fundamentals of Puppy Bottle Feeding
The early stages of a puppy's life can be demanding. You'll have around-the-clock feedings and observation. Your emergency veterinarian will provide you with recommendations for a canine milk replacement that you can use to feed the puppies and will give you some suggestions to help ensure that you feed them at the proper intervals.
When it's time to feed the puppies, follow the instructions on the formula can closely. This is essential, because the water-to-powder ratio will vary from brand to brand and the nutrient content depends on proper measurements. When the formula is ready, feed the puppies right away.
For puppies that are in their first day or two of life, you'll have to start with a syringe designed for feeding. Your veterinarian will provide you with one if you request it. Let the puppy rest on its belly so that you don't risk getting any formula in its lungs.
You'll want to plan on feeding the puppy every two hours during the first week. During the next several weeks, you can typically shift to every three hours. While you're syringe feeding, draw the formula into the syringe. Then, place the syringe against the edge of the puppy's mouth. This stimulates the natural suckling reflex.
When that happens, you can start releasing the formula in drops. Don't release more than a couple of drops at a time, though. Let the puppy's growth determine when you switch from the syringe to the bottle. When the syringe isn't enough by itself, it's time to switch to a bottle.
The Basics of Puppy Burping
Just as with a newborn baby, you have to burp puppies. About halfway through each feeding, stop. Pick the puppy up and place his or her tummy against your shoulder. Rub the puppy's back just as you would a newborn baby, but very gently. Do the same thing at the end of the feeding to encourage the puppy to burp, though it may not happen every single time.
Ensuring a Comfortable Puppy Environment
After every feeding, the puppies should be able to rest comfortably. If pups are restless, whimpering, or otherwise distressed, that's an indication that a puppy is either still hungry or possibly cold. Put a heating pad in the bed area so that the pups stay warm. You can also try to burp the puppies again. If neither works, try feeding them a small amount more of formula to see if it helps.
In addition, you'll want to avoid handling a newborn puppy any more than absolutely necessary. The pup should be comfortable, warm, and fed, but shouldn't be actively handled and socialized until a few weeks of age.
When it's time to start handling the puppies, start in brief sessions once or twice a day. That way, the pups can slowly acclimate to the process without stressing their sensitive nervous systems. If you have any reason to be concerned about the puppy's development or any further questions, talk with a local vet, like one from 1st Pet Veterinary Centers, for guidance.