Puppies need a clean, warm, draft-free nesting area. The air temperature in their immediate vicinity should be 85° to 90° F for the first week and about 80° F during the next 3 to 4 weeks. By the time the pups are 6 weeks of age, temperatures can be reduced to 70° F.
Temperatures can be maintained with heat lamps, light bulbs, or heating pads covered with 3 to 4 layers of towels. Great care must be taken that the pups are not overheated during the first few days of life, when they are unable to move away from the heat source.
Clean newspaper is good bedding because it is easily disposed of. As the pups begin to move around, newspaper should be replaced because it is slippery. Cloth bedding offers good footing and is washable.
Puppies may be fed by bottle or by stomach tube. Stomach tube feeding is much faster and especially handy with large litters. Many people, however, prefer to bottle-feed because of prolonged puppy contact. Your veterinarian or clinic staff can instruct you in either method of feeding.
Newborn puppies should be fed 3 to 4 times daily by tube feeding or 5 to 6 times daily by bottle feeding. At 2 weeks of age, three tube feedings or four bottle feedings are usually sufficient.
Puppies must be helped to urinate and defecate by gently stroking the genital area with a tissue or cottonball moistened with warm water after each feeding. Be persistent until they urinate or defecate.
Frequent crying or failure to gain weight indicates a problem. Call the doctor. In general, a pup should double its weight in 8 to 10 days. Overfeeding can be worse than slight underfeeding.
How Much Should You Feed?
You can determine how much to feed an orphan pup by considering its daily caloric requirements. The total daily caloric requirements for pups under 4 weeks of age are:
1st week 3.75 calories/ounce of body weight daily
2nd week 4.50 calories/ounce of body weight daily
3rd week 5.00 calories/ounce of body weight daily
4th week 5.50 calories/ounce of body weight daily
In general, milk substitutes contain around 1 calorie per ml.
Example: You plan to feed a 5-ounce puppy less than 1 week of age 4 times daily. The puppy requires 3.75 calories/ounce body weight5-ounce pup18.75 calories needed for 1 day. You are feeding 4 times a day. Therefore, 18.75/44.68 calories given at each feeding. Your milk substitute contains 1 calorie/ml. Therefore, you should feed 4.68 ml (about 5 ml) (1 teaspoon) each feeding.
Solid foods should be introduced at 3 weeks of age. Pan-feed a thin gruel made by blending good quality puppy food with bitch’s milk formula. Gradually thicken the gruel until no milk substitute is used at about 6 weeks of age. At this time, the pups should be offered good-quality puppy food 3 times daily.