As I understand it, the two most pressing hazards we face as breeders, to keeping our puppies alive in the first 48 hours would be cold (chilled) and dehydration. After those two the next hazard to life is lack of nourishment. Now, I’m always open to learning new tricks, so if there is anyone who can offer me insight into something more pressing that I am overlooking as vital in this 48 hour time-frame, we all want you to step forward to chime in here, my purpose is to provide the most comprehensive advice to breeders, and your addition to this article may save another Gordon Setter puppy. Please, please don’t be shy!
The first thing I reach for, and the best tool in my breeder toolbox, to address the hazard of dehydration (and nourishment) is advice given by Anne Serrane in her book “The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog” and that is her recommendation to use a Puppy Glucose Solution. The ingredients of this solution and the method of delivering it via an eye dropper fit four vital needs of the newly born puppy. The first is to assure that the puppy stays well hydrated, the second is to give the puppy a boost of energy with nourishment that is less foreign to his extremely sensitive digestive system, and the third to teach the puppy to swallow and suck. The fourth need is some assistance to preventing chill, and the solution can help avoid chilling by providing a warm liquid to the pup’s internal organs. Warming this solution to body temperature by holding it close to our body or in our hands, this solution, when swallowed, will provide some warmth for the puppy internally. I store my Puppy Glucose Solution within reach during whelping by sitting it in a container of warm water so it holds that warmth between uses. Yes, you can choose to use other re-hydration techniques like the injection of Ringer’s Glucose-Saline fluid or tube feeding a milk replacement, but neither of these techniques meet the need to help that puppy learn to swallow and suck, and the replacement formula delivered by tube is often too foreign for the (less than 48 hour old) puppy to properly digest. I avoid the use of milk replacement formulas in the first 48 hours whenever possible as these can cause more stress for the puppy instead of help.
So moving on, prepare this 5% Glucose solution just prior to whelping and store in a dropper bottle:
- 1 TSP Kayro (Corn) syrup
- 4 TBL boiled water
- few grains of table salt (sodium chloride)
- few grains of salt substitute (potassium chloride)
Then follow the simple instructions ont how to use the Puppy Glucose Solution and give your puppies a faster, stronger start by Anne Serrane from her book “The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog”
“This resembles a Ringer’s Glucose-Saline fluid but, of course, cannot be used for subcutaneous or intravenous injection because it is not sterile. Store the solution in a dropper bottle. As soon as a puppy is dry and breathing normally, weigh it on a gram scale and give it five or six drops of the solution for each 100 grams of body weight. It is best to administer the glucose drop by drop on its tongue and not introduce it directly into the stomach by tube. By giving it on the tongue the swallowing reflexes are being developed. Make sure the puppy has swallowed each drop before the next is given. Usually even the weakest pup will accept it gratefully. Then put the puppy with it’s dam for stimulation and warmth. Every four hours weigh the puppy, record the weight, and repeat the glucose, increasing the amount if the puppy wants it, to as much as a full dropper or more for each 100 grams of body weight, until the puppy shows signs of gaining weight. Then offer it to the puppy every eight hours until it is 48 hours old. It should not be forced to drink it. Usually even the smallest puppy will begin to take hold and nurse strongly with good suction at the end of 24 hours, and will reject the glucose, indicating it is getting sufficient energy and nutrition from its dam. You can tell when its suction is getting stronger for, suddenly, the puppy will close its mouth around the dropper and suck all the solution from the tube.”
It takes a good deal of patience and practice with newborn puppies to get them to accept this liquid from the eye dropper, you’ll need to learn how to get the puppy to open his mouth to accept the eye dropper, but once you both get the knack of it the pup will stick out his tongue for the dropper and eventually suck the liquid right down!
It’s so simple and such a great boost. It’s like a puppy power shake!
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ
Photo by Sarah Armstrong