What To Do after Puppies Are Born – Mother Dog Leaving Puppies


What To Do after Puppies Are Born – Mother Dog Leaving Puppies

Hand-feeding orphaned puppies

One thing that can strike fear into the heart of even an experienced animal rescuer is caring for a newborn litter of puppies who have no mama. It is a challenge, but many litters have been raised on bottle feeding, and you can do it.

**When you get the litter, if their umbilical stumps have not healed fully, apply iodine twice daily. Some vets believe that septicemia, a blood infection, often enters their bodies through the umbilicus.**

What you’ll need to feed orphaned puppies

*Nursing bottles for puppies
Sometimes, human bottle nipples are best, especially for larger breeds. It’s often hard to get the opening of a puppy bottle nipple to the right size, and the puppies have a hard time getting any formula out. Trial and error is the only way to be sure. If you will be hand-raising many litters for a rescue or shelter, then it’s good to have several kinds on hand, for the different sizes and abilities of the litters you will care for. Puppy nipples usually come with no hole or a very tiny one. Use a razor to cut an X in the tip, but not too big. Cut gradually, testing in between. If the milk runs out when you turn the bottle over, without your having to squeeze it, the hole is too big and the pup will likely choke. If you have to squeeze very hard just to get a drop or two of milk, the hole needs to be bigger.

Commercially prepared puppy formula is best

(next to Mom’s milk, that is)

Remember, mother’s love and mother’s milk: always the BEST!
Use a commercially prepared puppy formula only. Do not feed cow’s milk or any other kind of milk to a puppy. Mix the formula according to directions, so you have the right thickness and nutritional content. The formula should be warmed very carefully. Warm it in a microwave, in a bowl (not in the bottle) for just a few seconds at a time and then stir, to be sure there are no hot spots, before pouring into the bottle. You can warm it in a pot on the stove as well, but do not scald it. If you have time, the ideal way to warm it is to let the bottle sit, off the burner, in hot water. Test the formula on the inside of your arm or wrist, just as you would for a human baby.
There are all kinds of puppy formula recipes on the internet, but these are not veterinarian-recommended, and should only be used in an emergency until you can get commercially prepared puppy formula.

Puppies have trouble learning to latch onto the nipple — it’s not Mom 🙁

The trick is to get the puppy to nurse properly, without aspirating (getting the liquid into its lungs). Don’t force, and make sure the flow from the nipple is not too fast or too much. Another concern is that it is not too little, which will result in a frustrated puppy that can’t get any milk. This is mostly something you gauge by watching and checking. Pay close attention to what is happening with the puppy as he nurses.


Puppies nurse in an upright position

Hold the puppy in an upright position, with tummy facing down, not lying on its back the way human babies are fed. Put the bottle’s nipple to the puppy’s mouth and try letting him find the nipple and latch on himself. Sometimes puppies don’t get it right and need some help. If so, gently open the puppy’s mouth by inserting your finger at the side of its mouth, and put the nipple in the mouth. Hopefully, at that point, the pup will start to suckle, and you will just need to hold him till he finishes.

What you’ll need when hand-feeding orphaned or sick puppies

  • *Puppy formula
  • *Syringe and tube (optional)
  • *Cotton balls
Although you can find many recipes online for puppy formula, the safest and healthiest is a commercially prepared formula. It’s very difficult to get all the nutrients that newborn puppies need in a home-made formula. You can, however, use a home-made formula temporarily. But get the commercially-prepared formula as soon as possible.

How much to feed a newborn puppy

Call your vet to find out how much each puppy should eat, based on age and size/breed. You can also judge by just letting the puppy suckle til it stops, as long as each puppy is nursing well on its own. Don’t move the bottle away the second the puppy stops, as it may just be resting and will come back to the nipple. If it stops and doesn’t start back, then it is usually done.

Help the puppies go potty

The most basic supplies, like soft washcloths, waterproof lap pads, cotton balls, are all very helpful for raising puppies.

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Newborn puppies do not have any muscular control over urination or bowels; they cannot go on their own. They urinate and defecate when their mother cleans and licks them to stimulate the muscles. Simulate this action by using a cotton ball dampened with warm water to gently wipe the genital area. Usually, just a few wipes and the puppy will have a movement and some urine. If not, put the puppy down and try again in about 15 minutes.


What you’ll need when caring for newborn puppies

Even if they have their mama!

*Cotton balls
*Heat lamp
*Box or pen
I’ve given some information, descriptions or alternatives besides most items. If you have any questions, just ask!


Hand-raising puppy is a tireless task

Repeat the above with each puppy in the litter.
Feed the puppies about every two hours at first, even overnight. You have undertaken an all-encompassing task, but it is very rewarding too. Some people let the puppies go 3 to 4 hours overnight, and that is probably fine once they are doing well. Do not let them wait a full night as newborns. Their tummies are tiny and can’t hold much at one time. They get dehydrated fast.
The all-encompassing task: Motherhood

Sometimes, you have to try tube-feeding the puppies

Feed the puppies with a tube, if you cannot get them to suckle after several tries. Some people prefer this method, since it’s faster than bottle-feeding, and others feel it is not as good for the puppies. Sometimes it is necessary to save their lives. Let a veterinarian show you how the first time, but try to find an experienced vet who has actually worked with newborn puppies some — a good breeder can suggest a vet.

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Many vets nowadays don’t have that much experience with litters of newborn puppies. The vet will cut the tube to the right length –too long it will injure internal organs and too short it won’t reach the stomach. It is fairly easy to insert the tube into the puppy’s throat and down into the tummy and it doesn’t hurt the pup if done correctly. Once the tube is in place, attach the syringe filled with the formula to the other end and gently push the fluid into the pup’s tummy.

This is a very brief description so you are aware of the possibilities of tube feeding when needed. You must get help in person from a very experienced orphan puppy raiser or a veterinarian before attempting this.

Below is a feeding tube for puppies that you can order if your veterinarian doesn’t have any.

Newborn puppies can scoot around, rooting for a nipple.

Protect them from falling.

Keep the puppies in a box or tub; they can scoot off the edge of a blanket and be crushed or too cold. It should be washable or disposable and put newspaper, then a blanket/towel on top. Don’t use so many that the puppies get tangled in them.
They also need a heat source. Newborn puppies cannot regulate their body temperature. Put them in a draft-free room that is warm, and use a heat lamp attached to the box or a nearby table. The heat lamp is just a reflector lamp which has a big reflector shade and a 100-watt bulb, or an infrared bulb. Position it so that it shines on one part of the puppies’ bed, but they can scoot away to the side if they get too hot. You will see that they climb on top of each other and sleep in a pile, but if they get warm they will spread out more and if they get cold again they will move closer together.

Keep an eye on the temperature and humidity level in the puppy pen, as well as the way the puppies are lying — apart or together — on average.

Weigh the puppies daily to monitor their health

Weigh the pups at the same time every day to be sure they are gaining weight. It is hard to tell if a puppy isn’t eating as well or is losing weight. If you don’t have a scale that can weigh such tiny amounts, measure how much each pup is eating at each meal and record it.
Record the daily weights and formula amounts, so you will have a clear picture of their progress, especially if one starts to go downhill. The vet can use the records in case a puppy needs to be seen.

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Here are a couple of kitchen scales that measure in small enough increments for newborn puppies. The first one measures in increments of .1 ounce, and the second one in .05 ounce increments.

And here is a great, inexpensive thermometer for checking the puppies’ temperatures. Their temperatures should be around 101 degrees F. Over 102, call the vet. Less than 100.8, call the vet and get it warmed up. Puppies don’t eat if they get cold, and are more susceptible to infection. In fact, a drop in body temperature is often one of the first signs of illness.

Sometimes hand-raising orphaned puppies are heartbreaking

Be prepared for the worst. This is a very emotional job and you get very attached. Even with their own mama and the very best care from before conception, some puppies do not survive, and the puppies you are caring for don’t have their real mama. Usually, the mother of the orphaned puppies didn’t have the best care either, so the puppies start off at a deficit. It’s wonderful if all survive, but if some or even all are lost it is not unusual. You have done all you could and though it is heartbreaking, don’t blame yourself as many puppy nurses try to do.

Tips & Warnings when rescuing orphaned puppies

Try to find a rescue, veterinarian or other experienced people who can advise you.

Try to find some help for the every-two-hour feedings.

If you can find a gentle mama dog who is nursing puppies around the same age, it is best to try to get her to take your puppies. Even if she can only nurse them part-time, while you bottle-feed part time it will help the puppies.

If you can’t find an adoptive mama dog at least find friendly, gentle adult dogs who will play with and teach your pups when they are around 4 weeks 0ld and older. That way they can learn their puppy manners which are so crucial to their futures.

General Tips for Newborn Puppies

Puppies get sick very quickly at this age and go downhill exceptionally fast. Most of the time there is nothing you or the vet can do, but sometimes the vet can provide antibiotics for the whole litter that can help, so ask.
Keep the bedding as clean as possible. Clean the feeding supplies after every meal. Everyone must wash their hands before handling the pups, including you.
Keep traffic in the puppies’ room to a minimum until they get older. Ask your vet about the soonest they can have their first vaccinations, reminding him that they were orphaned and did not nurse from their mom. Most vets will probably vaccinate them a little earlier than usual.


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