Hand Rearing Puppies: Keep The Little Suckers Sucking!

Puppies are perhaps the most adorable creatures known to man. As they clumsily explore their daunting new world, it’s almost impossible not to smile.
Occasionally, though puppies must be hand reared if the mother rejects them, or if she passes away prior to rearing her young on her own. For larger litters—often greater than five or six—supplemental feeding may also be necessary.

dobermann-puppy-depositFirst off, if you must hand rear a Doberman puppy—or any young dog for that matter—procuring a warm, clean environment is of utmost importance. Just like human babies, puppies crave warmth and safety, which is pivotal to their brain and body development, not to mention overall survival. The top three issues many people encounter when attempting to hand rear a puppy is chilling, starvation and dehydration. Keep those pups warm! Baby blankets, soft towels and inexpensive dog beds, which are available at most major retailers, will help with this. Place the puppies in a crate or box where they will feel secure, and change any soiled bedding immediately. Since very young dogs are unable to control their body temperatures, it is also helpful to place some kind of heat source with them to help them regulate temperate. Heat lamps are ideal, but in their absence you can try warm water bottles, warm towels or heated oat bags. Keep in mind these do not offer consistent heat, so they must be swapped out are regular intervals. If you have an electric blankets you can also use it on the low setting to keep the pups warm. Additionally, make sure your puppies are drinking enough water by observing them very carefully.

There are a myriad of milk formulas on the market today for puppies. Simply check your local pet store for a milk substitute. The boxes should include detailed instruction on how much to feel your puppy and how often (typically this takes place every 2-6 hours). When feeding use small bottles and make certain to sterilize them with boiling water in between each use. Yes, it’s very similar to feeding a human baby! Just as you would feed a child, make sure the puppy drinks 1-2 drops at a time. Feed them very slodoberman-litter-septermber-2014wly to prevent any choking hazards. Also, make sure the food is around body temperature.
Again, just like babies, the first 2-3 days of life are the most important for puppies, and they typically feed every 2-3 hours. Yes, it’s a vigorous feeding schedule, but it ensures the pup’s increased strength and a better chance at survival. You can often tell the animal is full when his or her belly is slightly distended or they turn their head from the bottle. That said, if the puppy is sleeping don’t wake them to eat. They need their beauty rest!
Semi-solid food can usually be added around week three, and the pup can be gradually weaned off bottle feeding starting near the end of the fourth week of life.
Now on to toilet training (ah, yes the fun part.) The mother usually licks the puppy’s bottom to signal the dog to use the restroom, but in her absence it’s up to you. Wipe the puppy’s bottom with a damp cloth in order for nature to take its course. This should be performed after each feeding. No shock there, right?
As we stated before, keep a close eye on your puppies for any signs of sickness. These include twitching, muscle weakness, depression, and diarrhea. If you’re worried something might be off, pick up the phone and call your vet. Speaking of your vet, puppies should receive their first vaccination at about 6-8 weeks of age.

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