Raising Orphaned Pups by California Jack


Even if you do everything you can, eventually you will run into a situation where a mother cannot take care of her own infant pup(s). Perhaps her milk went bad, perhaps she has too many pups to keep track of, perhaps one of the pups is weak or sick … or perhaps the mama is just not much of a mama and winds up being a danger to her own pups. Whatever the reason, if you breed dogs for awhile, you will eventually find yourself with a newborn pup that needs you to care for it, if the little guy is going to live. Well, so what do you do when this happens?


The first thing you need to do for an orphaned pup is get him a little box (a shoe box or Tupperware box will suffice) to keep him in, with a heating pad underneath him.

You must always remember that a young puppy cannot maintain his own body temperature, and as such he must be kept warm by artificial means at all times. To do this, all you have to do is go to your local pharmacy and buy yourself a heating pad, preferably one with a temperature control device. Then you need to get a small box of some kind, perhaps a shoe box or a Tupperware box, and you will place the heating pad on the bottom of this box. Plugin the heating pad and adjust the temperature to COMFORTABLY-WARM, not too hot and not too cold. Once you have the temperature adjusted to comfortably-warm, you can then place a little cloth towel over the pad. Then you place the pup on top of this cloth (see Figure 1).

NOTE: If the air is chill outside, you should place a hand towel or two, not just under the pup but him as well, to act as a blanket (not shown in photo). This will keep all of the warmth around the pup. In fact, the only reason the pup in the facing photo didn’t have a “blanket” over him was so that I could take this picture. Right after the photo was taken, his little blanket went right back over him. Again, keeping the pup warm is absolutely critical. If a pup is allowed to chill, all of his body functions will stop. He cannot digest his feed, and he will shut down and die if you do not keep him warm. However, once you have him warm and comfortable, now comes his feeding schedule, which can vary with circumstance. If he is a very young pup, I recommend tube-feeding him over bottle-feeding him. To do this, you will only need a few tools:


The tools you will need to tube-feed your pup will be a 12cc syringe and a feeding catheter Size 8-10 French.

You will need a 12 cc syringe and a feeding tube for a very young pup. You can get the syringe at any feed store, and you can get the feeding tube from your local vet. The feeding tube is a soft-rubber instrument, with an adapter at one end (so you an attach it to a syringe) and at the other end, on the sides, are small holes to allow the liquid nourishment to go into the stomach. (See Figure 2.)

When you get the feeding tube, the first thing you need to do is measure-off and mark the tube so that you are sure it will reach the puppy’s stomach. You do this by laying the puppy on his side and then laying the catheter on top of him, from the outside, and them you take a measurement as follows:


Take the catheter and lay it on the puppy’s side, with the feeding-end of the tube even with the pup’s last rib. Then, mark-off the spot on the upper-portion of the catheter at the point it is even with the pup’s nose. The puppy’s stomach is located right where the last rib is, so when you mark-off your catheter on the upper portion like this, you know that it has been measured in such a way that, when you slide the tube down his throat to the marked-spot on top, you know the feeding-end of the tube is where it should be, which is in the stomach.

The key to tube-feeding your pup is to make sure the tube is placed all the way down into the stomach. You need to make sure that it is neither placed too shallow into the pup (which will cause his lungs to fill with formula), and also need to make sure that the tube is not placed too far into his stomach either (which can injure him). The way you make sure of these things is to measure-off the length of your catheter on the puppy’s side, whereupon you markoff the catheter at the appropriate point. (See Figure 3.) Once you have made this notation on the catheter, it is now safe to give him his formula. For convenience, you can just go to the local pet store and purchase Esbilac® milk replacer as your formula, and then all you do is follow the instructions on the label as to how much to feed. Typically, this is around 30 ml A DAY of formula for every 4 oz of puppy. This means that you divide the 30 ml total into six equal parts (or 5 ml) of feed, that you give 6 times a day (once every 4 hours), again for every 4 oz of puppy. This means if your pup weighs 10 oz you need to feed him 75 oz formula total, divided into six portions (which is roughly 12 cc of formula fed every 4 hours). In order to get the exact weight of your pup, you need to buy a gram/ounce postal scale, which you can get at Staples or Office Depot. The weight of your pup will tell how much formula to feedHowever, feeding every 4 hours is just for the first week. By the second week, you should be able to feed your pup less frequently at 4x a day, or every 6 hours. By the third week, you should be able to feed your pup 3x a day, or every 8 hours. The amount to feed stays the same (30 ml A DAY of formula for every 4 oz of puppy), so you just increase the amount you give per feeding, as the pup grows older and less fragile. If you have a 12 oz pup that you want to feed 4x a day, you would be feedng him 90 ml of feed total, divided into four 22.5-ml feedings. As far as how to feed with the tube, see Figure 4.


First, you load your syringe with formula that you have WARMED TO BODY TEMPERATURE. Next, you attach the catheter to the recepticle of the syringe, and point the syringe upward to MAKE SURE YOU SQUEEZE ALL OF THE AIR OUT OF *BOTH* THE SYRINGE *AND* THE CATHETER. Then, once all the air is squeezed out, you lubricate the syringe with some more of the warmed formula, after which you then gently slide the catheter down the pup’s throat. Keep feel your way with gentle pressure, trying to gradually slide the syringe down the passage … until the mark-off spot on the catheter is even with the pup’s lips. THIS WILL MEAN THAT THE FEEDING-END OF THE SYRINGE IS NOW IN THE PUP’S TUMMY. From here, you gradually depress the plunger on the syringe, until the syringe is empty and the measured amount of formula has been adminis- tered. From there, you quickly pull the catheter back out of the pup’s passage so as not to gag him. Next, after you administer the pup’s feed, you then want to “burp” your pup to make sure there is no air in him. From there, immediately wash-out your syringe and catheter, several times under running tap water, AND THEN BOIL THESE ITEMS FOR 5 MINUTES. You boil them to make sure that all the residue formula comes off, which in turn will ensure that there isn’t any bacteria growth going on between feedings. Return to your pup in thirty-minutes to make sure he is not bloated. You can tell if he’s bloated as his belly will be very swollen and uncomfortable. If he is bloated you can use the catheter to run down his throat … which will release any trapped gas. This is critical to remember, because this technique can save his life. You can also give him a few drops of Gas-X to relieve any bloat or gas. In keeping with this, make sure you do not over-feed your pup. If he still looks full when it’s time to feed him again, wait awhile. These intervals are guidleines, not rules. Just make sure you keep him warm and feed him regularly … and Good Luck!

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