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Sometimes a bitch isn’t at all interested in rearing her pups, and if that happens, it’s up to you to do the job for her. This can be a lot of work, but is very satisfying to see the pups thrive under your care.
What do you need to successfully hand raise pups?
1. Warmth. Puppies can’t regulate their body temperature and if they get cold, they are susceptible to illness. Give them a nesting box with blankets or towels to keep them cosy. Many breeders use a heat lamp in one corner of their nesting box, but a good alternative is a heating pad underneath the bedding. Either of these options allows the pups to move away from the heat source if they’re feeling too warm.
2. Food. There are a range of puppy formulas for you to choose from. These are usually a better option than making up your own recipe, because their nutrient content is close to that of a bitch’s milk. There should be guidelines on how much to feed your pups on the packet of formula.
Most pups will suck from a teat, and can be fed with a bottle. Some pups may not have a strong suck reflex and will need to be fed by syringe or even by stomach tube. Your veterinarian can show you how to do this.
Young pups need to be fed three hourly around the clock, which can play havoc with your lifestyle! Fortunately, the frequency of feeding reduces as they grow older.
3. Cleanliness. Your pups’ nesting box should be cleaned regularly and their bedding washed and replaced. They will need to be stimulated to defecate and urinate after eating; this is done with a moist cloth or cotton ball wiped over their bottom. Clean and sterilize their feeding equipment after each use to prevent bacteria growing in it.
In Summary – It is best for the pups and more convenient for you if your bitch rears her pups herself. However, if she doesn’t, you can certainly raise the pups yourself until they’re old enough to go to their new home.
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