The first week of the puppies‘ lives is the most critical to their survival. Newborn animals are physiologically immature; body fat percentage is low 1% to 2% compared with 12% to 35% in adults and they do not develop adequate glycogen reserves until after the first few days of nursing. Puppies have rapid respiratory rates (15 to 35 breaths per minute from 24 hours to 5 weeks of age) and heart rates (200 to 220 beats per minute from 24 hours to 5 weeks of age). The first nutritional concern with puppies is that they receive colostrum immediately after birth; all pups should be held up to a nipple to ensure they get colostrum within 24 hours of birth. The next priority is that they stay warm. Neonatal pups cannot regulate their body temperature (which is 94° to 97° F for the first l4 days). They need to be kept in an environment that is 85° to 90° F during the first week, and 80° to 85° F during the second week of life. Hypothermia makes pups unable to eat, which may result in their rejection by the dam.
A good way to ensure that pups are eating and developing normally is to weigh them daily. Pups should gain 1 to 2 g per day per pound of anticipated adult body weight. For example, if the anticipated adult body weight is 50 pounds, the pups should gain 50 to 100 g (1&1/2 to 3 oz) per day.
Surveys indicate that a high percentage of deaths before weaning is due to a relatively small number of causes: infectious diseases, congenital defects, and malnutrition. The malnutrition usually results from the death of or neglect by the mother, lactation failure, or a litter that is too large for the milk supply. In these circumstances, milk substitutes must be used to feed the puppies.
Several companies have developed milk replacers for dogs and cats; until a commercial product can be purchased, the combination of 1 quart (950 ml) whole cow’s milk, 4 egg yolks, and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) corn oil may be fed. This homemade formula can be used for a day or so.
Orphaned puppies can be fed four times daily if the temperature of the environment is maintained at an appropriate level. Feeding every 6 hours is optimal, but feeding at approximately 8:00 AM, l2:00 noon, 4:00 PM, and 9:00 PM (do not wake pups to feed them) is adequate if the pups are kept at the proper temperature.
Most milk replacers supply about 1 heal/ml. Puppies need approximately l5 to 20 kcal (milliliters) per 100 g (3.5 oz) of body weight per day. The milk and equipment used for feeding must be as clean as possible. Larger puppies can be fed from a small baby bottle nipple; for smaller puppies, a doll bottle nipple or one made for puppies can be used. Feed milk, at least initially, at body temperature. If diarrhea develops, maintain the amount of fluid given, but reduce the solids by diluting the formula 25% to 50%. As with puppies raised by their mothers, orphan pups should be encouraged to out from a pan by 3 weeks of age and should complete the transition to a growth diet by 6 to 8 weeks.
To ensure that orphaned or inadequately mothered puppies are maintained in an appropriate environment, an incubator can be constructed for them. This can be made from a cardboard box, a dry heating pad, a thermometer, cloth towels, newspaper, a cup, and a sponge. The heating pad cover should be pinned to the towel so that the heating element is secured under the towel and covers approximately half the floor are: of the box, allowing the orphan to choose a comfortable temperature relative to the heat source. The cup should be taped in a corner of the box, and a moistened sponge kept in it to humidify the air. The thermometer should be hung in the box near the floor, and the top of the box should be covered to help retain the heat.
How to build a Puppy incubator at home?
- Obtain a large cardboard box.
- Place a dry heating pad in the bottom so that it covers approximately half the floor area of the box.
- Cover bottom (and heating pad) with the towel.
- Pin towel to the heating pad so the heating pad remains covered by the towel.
- Tape a plastic cup to one corner of the box.
- Place a moist sponge (keep it moist) in the cup to help maintain the humidity of the box.
- Tape a thermometer in a corner of the box so the temperature can be monitored.
- Cover the top of the box and place the box on newspapers to help with insulation.
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