Tag Archives: feeding newborn puppies

Feeding Newborn Puppies

Sometimes tube feeding is the only way to save newborn puppies, however there are other options that can be tried first, and this article offers advice on that topic. By clicking on the title below”To Tube or Not to Tube” you will be taken to Mary Wakeman’s website where many other useful articles scan be found.  Enjoy!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

To Tube or Not To Tube

by Mary C. Wakeman, D.V.M Canine Fertility

March 16th, 117    The Best of Breed of Online Show Dog Magazines

The answer to this depends entirely upon whether you want your puppies to live or not. What! You say, tubing is the ONLY way to save puppies. And besides, it’s fast. Fast, yes, and deadly. It’s one of those things that sounds too good (easy) to be true; and if it sounds too good to be true it is; we know that it is in our most private thoughts.

Fast and deadly isn’t doing your part by the bitch or the puppies. You may be certain that you are getting the tube in the esophagus (which leads to the stomach) and not the trachea (which leads to the lungs). But, this isn’t the problem I’m referring to. Consider this: when we eat, the process of eating stimulates waves of contraction throughout our entire GI tract. You know very well that as puppies nurse they defecate. That reaction is due to these waves of contraction, which are called peristalsis.

OK. So, we have a sluggish or weak puppy. We put it on the bitch and it won’t nurse. What to do! TUBE. NO! If the puppy does not have a good sucking reflex, it will not have any peristalsis. This means the milk we force in through the tube will just sit there. When the tube is removed, it forces itself back up the esophagus, into the trachea, and ends up in the lungs. It does not travel down through the stomach into the intestine.

Now, how big is the stomach of a newborn puppy in your breed? 1/2 cc? Less? As much as 1cc? Probably not much more. That stomach is just a slightly wide spot on a narrow tube.

So; let’s stick 2 1/2 cc into it . Fast and Deadly. The stomach and esophagus will stretch a bit, then return to it’s original shape and size after the milk runs into the lungs. Not going to raise many puppies that way.

Well then, what do we do? Easy. We give them sub-cutaneous dextrose and saline. Sugar in salt water. The solution which is used for IV therapy. All puppies need 3 things. Warmth. Water. Sugar. That’ all they need right away and for an additional few days if necessary.  So, we take the weak puppy out of the whelping box. We drop a few drops of colostrum onto its tongue several times in the first few hours. Got that immunity taken care of. We keep it in a confined box with a heat source – a heating pad or light bulb, and we give subQ dextrose in saline to supply the sugar and water. We gently stimulate it to urinate and defecate. We’ve met all the puppies needs.

How much fluid do we give? We give enough to satisfy any current dehydration debt and to provide a cushion for an hour or two in the future. How much is that? It is enough so that when we refill the syringe with dextrose and saline, the last 10 cc injection we gave hasn’t already disappeared. And it will disappear, just that fast, if the puppy is already dehydrated.

So first, we need to satisfy the back log, and then we put in some more. We want to raise a good sized lump – say the size of a golf ball on a 12-16 oz puppy. We want that golf ball to stay there a while. If it does, we can safely leave the puppy for a couple of hours. As time goes by, the fluids in this reservoir will be absorbed and the lump will disappear. Also, gravity will take a hand in removing the lump, shifting any spare fluids down around the neck. We can keep this puppy going in this way for 2 to 4 days easily. There no danger here, if the area is clean when and where we inject, and as long as the needle is parallel to the body – not pointed down at the body. We don’t want to pith the puppy (look it up). With the needle parallel to the body, the worst we can do is squirt the wall. The wall can take it.

Fluids given intravenously, by contrast, would run the risk of drowning the puppy – excess fluids in the veins will force their way out through the lungs. This result is essentially the same as that of tubing. Not good. SubQ fluids are essentially outside the circulatory system – just in a repository under the skin. If a fluid defecit exists, they can be instantly drawn into the blood stream. Until then, they have no other effect on the body.

While we are satisfying the puppy’s needs in this way, we will also repeatedly present a nipple to the puppy, several minutes after we have placed a drop of Karo syrup on its tongue. The Karo give the puppy an energy boost, so that when we place it on the bitch, it will make as strong an attempt to nurse as it can muster. We will also present the puppy with a bottle, as it will be easier for it to get milk from the bottle’s nipple than from the bitch, most of the time, during the first couple of days.

One of the greatest deterrents to getting puppies started, after tubing, is the ‘Pet Nurser’ which is widely available. Few if any breeds will nurse off of this thing – maybe a couple of toy breeds I’ve never encountered. Rather, puppies from 4.5 oz to 2# and up will readily take a Playtex preemie, or Playtex 0-3 months nipple (slow flow), one which has a flat, button-like shape. ANY puppy which does want to suck, but is unable to get enough from the bitch, should be asked to take the Playtex nurser. And if they don’t learn to nurse from it within the first few minutes, as soon as an hour or two after birth, it’s your fault, because they like this nipple just fine.

Of course, you have to put the right stuff in it. The concept of using a formulated synthetic milk replacer seems a bit bizarre. Cow’s milk is good, it’s complete, it contains the same things as dog milk. It’s not quite as good as dog’s milk, however, because it’s too dilute. Cow’s milk is 1/2 as concentrated as dog milk. So, all we have to do is go to the store and buy evaporated milk. Nothing could be simpler; comes in a can, easy to store and have on hand, useful for other purposes. We use the evaporated cow’s milk, in the slow flow nipple (no modifications to the nipple, we want it to go in slowly, and to require some exercise from the puppy to make it work). We add a dollop of Karo syrup for energy and palatability, warm slightly, and that’s it; it’s perfect.

Some of us seem to have a need to make life more complicated than it has to be. If you think your puppies suffer from the rare human problem where the size of the cow butterfat globule is too large for comfort, you can search out a source for evaporated, canned goat’smilk. And you might wish to do that because it will make it seem as though your puppies have a special problem, not a routine, ordinary problem. However, goat’s milk has no special benefit for dogs. It also must be fed undiluted from the can, with some Karo.

Note: The only puppies I have ever seen which were nutritionally stunted – and didn’t recoup their early deficits when put on solid food – were 2 giant breed siblings which were fed fresh goat’s milk. To this day these two are ‘minis’. Fresh ruminant milk has 50% too much water in it. Evaporated ruminant milk is just fine as long as you don’t screw it up by adding water. If you are faced with total milk replacement due to the death of a bitch, you will eventually have to add an egg yolk (without the white) to a can of evaporated milk with Karo, in order to raise the protein level even more. But, there is no need for this when we’re simply supplementing.

These puppies which are eager to nurse, but just can’t get anything from the bitch’s nipples, will have good peristalsis. They will work at the nipple and develop their lungs and their body muscles, though only a fraction as well as they would if they were working on the bitch’s nipples. One caution when supplementing the large litter to lessen the stress on the bitch. You must be careful not to OVER feed. The idea is to take some load off her, so you should keep her out of the box for some time every day. We don’t want to supplement and then let them drink their fill from their mother as well, then we’ll only have fat and colicy puppies, not a mother in better shape.

The next question is, will their mother lick them and stimulate the urination and defecation reflexes? If she’s not yet into that, we also have to wash their tummies with a warm wet tissue. This will stimulate the elimination reflexes. We can’t skip this part either. If we do, they’ll all colic. Some bitches, even though they have milk and the puppies nurse with no problem, just don’t like to clean their puppies. If so, then it’s our job. We caused these puppies to be born, the buck stops with us; if they need to be cleaned we have to do the job. We have to be gentle, but we have to be just as certain that we’re successful in stimulating defecation and urination as we are that the puppies are getting enough to eat. What goes in must come out!

One good way to help you be certain you’re getting each one fed and cleaned is to place colorful yarn collars around their necks. This way we can identify each puppy at a glance, no waking them or dislodging them from a nipple in order to check markings. And later, when one puppy is repeatedly striking a pose we can see from a distance which one it is. Helps us identify that BIS Puppy.

Mary C. Wakeman, D.V.M Canine Fertility

Photo by Dustin Hartje

Tube Feeding Puppies

Over twenty years ago a I co-bred a litter with good friend of mine who handled the whelping of our eight Gordon Setter puppies . Everything went smoothly at the birth and they were all plugging along, doing great and gaining weight when out of the blue, four days after giving birth, the dam became critically ill. An emergency call and wild ride to the vet revealed that Eclampsia had struck, and in addition to being life threatening for our bitch it created the need to completely take over the feeding of those eight newborn puppies, the dam could no longer nurse due to this condition. Without tube feeding, this litter’s chances of surviving and thriving would have been fairly slim. Bottle feeding eight puppies around the clock and all by oneself was not an option. Tube feeding only means by which my dear friend could save those babies.

And that brings us to to thanking Barbara Manson for sharing this excerpt on tube feeding and for bringing this topic to my attention, it’s something I hadn’t thought of in awhile, but it certainly should be given space here, so here we go!

Tube Feeding Puppies

The following is an excerpt from the book, Feeding Dogs and Cats by Mark L. Morris Jr. DVM, Ph D and Lon D. Lewis, DVM, Ph D.  Copyright 1984, Mark Morris Associates, Topeka, Kansas.

Tube feeding, for most people, is the easiest, cleanest, fastest, safest and most preferred way to feed orphans,  An infant feeding tube (available from many hospitals, pharmacies or pediatricians), number 8-10 French, or a small male urethral catheter can be used.  Once weekly, mark the tube 75% of the distance from the nose to the last rib.  This is the length necessary to just reach the stomach.  If more is inserted, when withdrawn it will frequently come back doubled, possibly damaging the esophagus.  Attach the tube to a syringe, aspirated the amount of formula needed and expel any air aspirated.  Open the mouth slightly, and with the head held in the normal position (not flexed upward or downward) gently pass the tube to the mark.  If an obstruction is felt before you reach the mark the tube is in the trachea.  If this is not the case, slowly administer the formula over a two minute period to allow for gastric dilation.  If resistance is felt, stop.  It probably indicates the stomach is full.  With these precautions, regurgitation rarely occurs.  If it does, withdraw the tube and do not feed any more until the next scheduled feeding.  For the first few weeks of life after each feeding, burp the animal (just like an infant) and swab the genital area with moistened cotton to stimulate deification and urination.

Below you’ll find more resources, including websites with photos to help guide you, simply click the colored links to go to there.  This is also where I ask other breeders if they have techniques or advice about tube feeding that can be shared with others to help round out this information? Please use the comment section to add your thoughts or if you’ve got more detail to add than can be shared in comments feel free to send me your notes or an article at gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com and I’ll get it published on here.

Many thanks to talented photographer Susan Roy Nelson for the peek-a-boo photo!

Whelping Drugs

Whelping Drugs. What are they? What do they do? How to use them? When to use them? 

Thought I’d take a minute to run through a few oft mentioned drugs or aids that breeders or vets may recommend for you to have on hand for use during whelping and delivery of your litter. I’m hoping my fellow breeders will chime in with comments and suggestions to flesh this article out more so that it includes their experiences and the products they find most useful!


Calcium – use one of two forms for dosing

  •  Injectable form – 3cc in each syringe and up to 3 of the 3cc doses may be given for the larger dog like our Setter
  • TUMS chewable antacid with 1000 mg of Calcium

Calcium will increase muscle contractions and is used when the uterine contractions don’t have the strength needed to push the puppy out. Calcium is a safe drug when injected subcutaneous (under the skin) or as a treat in the chewable Tums form. The PH level of calcium is very low and can cause tissue damage if all injections are given in the same general area. It is important when giving more than one injection to move them to a different area over the shoulder, such as starting out on the left side of the shoulder and giving a second injection on the right side of the shoulder and a third injection in the middle of the shoulder. Calcium may be used when the bitch isn’t pushing and it has been more than 1 hour since the last puppy was born. If the bitch is pushing hard (visible contractions) but no puppy is being expelled it us time to call your vet or emergency clinic.

Photo courtesy of Silvia Timmermann
Photo courtesy of Silvia Timmermann

Oxytocin (common brand name Pitocin) – I do not recommend using oxytocin without veterinarian supervision, please see the previously published article Oxytocin During Whelping (click here for link). Oxytocin is a natural hormone that causes the uterus to contract, as compared to the calcium which strengthens those contractions. Allowing newborn puppies to nurse will cause the release of oxytocin from the dam’s body, so it is best to allow newborn pups to nurse as much as possible from the dam between births. Calcium should be administered, and is recommended before any dose of Oxytocin is given.


Dopram (Doxapram) is a controversial drug used to start or stimulate respiration in newborn puppies following a difficult birth or a C-section. There may be serious side effects from the use of this drug, therefore before choosing to keep it on hand for use please be certain to understand proper use, administration, and the side effects that may be caused by use. I have no experience with this drug, never having used it during a delivery, therefore I cannot endorse or deny it’s viability. Dopram V is a respiratory stimulant which stimulates an increase in tidal volume (the volume of air that is inhaled or exhaled in a single breath), and respiratory rate (number of breaths taken within a set amount of time). It is important to understand that you would be wasting precious minutes for the puppy, if you have not first cleared the airway before administering Dorpram. It is more important that you to learn to safely clear an airway and stimulate breathing the natural way before administering any drug to the newborn pup.

Nutritional Aids for the puppy

Puppy Glucose Solution is my “go to aid” for every puppy, especially those needing a boost of energy to get them nursing during the first 48 hours of life.Click here for complete information “First 48 Hours for Newborn Puppies”

I found these two products that were also recommended by other breeders.

Photo courtesy Silvia Timmermann
Photo courtesy Silvia Timmermann

PUPPYSTIM provides immediate energy supplies from fast absorbed triglycerides (fat), essential fatty acids and glucose.
It also contains: Colostrum (Immunoglobulins) for complementary passive immunity for the first 24-36 hours of life. Natural, safe, friendly probiotic lactic acid bacteria to colonize the gut and exclude overgrowth of potential pathogenic bacteria such as E.Coli or Salmonella etc. A complex package of vitamins and essential mineral iron (in an immediate bioavailable form), improving a puppy’s early condition and resistance to stress and infections. A blend of special plant extracts of Guarana and Kola for stimulating puppies’ early physical activity and well-being to thrive.

NUTRIDROPS are a high energy, nutrient rich supplement.
Ingredients: Propylene Glyco, Cane Molasses, Beet Molasses, Choline Chloride, Methionine, Lysine, Vitamin A, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Di-alpha-tocopherol Acetate, Thiamine, Ammonium Polyphosphate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Potassium Sulphate, Magnesium Sulphate, Manganese Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, Iron Sulphate, Copper Sulphate and Cobalt Sulphate.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions, suggestions and advice in our comment section! Share your best puppy birthing ideas and recommendations please!

Photos courtesy of Silvia Timmermann

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Whelping List – Organizing supplies

Pandemonium and chaos immediately follow the discovery that your bitch is in labor especially if you haven’t even pulled out the whelping box yet, not, mind you, that I’ve ever done that, but it could happen, and if it could happen it would happen to me! I suppose a bat flying through a church lady meeting might more chaos, but I am thinking it wouldn’t cause the same amount of pure panic – well…maybe it would. I know some of you are stone cold new to breeding and whelping, and if this is your first litter you’re probably like every new mom, wanting to browse all the shops for cutesy baby gear. Pre-puppy prep isn’t nearly as exciting or fun as soft blue blankets and little pink booties, but hey, it is what it is and we’ll have to make do with our more boring list of supplies.

Ivy with pups
Photo by Laurie Ward

First, obviously (or maybe not so obviously if this is your first litter and you’ve never chased an even dozen of those little heathens around your kitchen) you will need a whelping box, whether you buy one, assemble your own or simply toss down a plastic swimming pool, the whelping box would be at the top of the items on our pre-labor list We’ll be sharing whelping box ideas in its own separate  article as there are many options to choose from, so no worries, we’ll hook you up, but here we’re simply listing it.

Here it is then, click the title for your  Whelping Supply Checklist in printable PDF format and you can also read on below for instructions on the Puppy Glucose solution and the Puppy Holding Box.

Whelping box – details on how to make the best choices to fit your needs will follow in a separate article.

Heat Lamp – to hang over the whelping box for warmth. Red heat lamp bulbs provide slightly more warmth and are more energy-efficient. They provide a more calming environment for the dam as they throw off a dimmer light. I’ve been told they are easier on pup’s eyes when they first open, don’t know if this is true or an old wives tale.

Indoor/outdoor thermometer – to monitor the temperature in the whelping box, this will need to be securely fastened and protected from chewing by the dam.

Rectal Thermometer  –  to monitor your bitch prior to her due date for the drop in body temperature that warns labor is about to begin.

Vaseline – for lubrication in case of stuck pup and when taking the bitch’s temperature.

Temperature chart or paper – to track and record the bitch’s temperature, 2-3 times daily, starting at least one week prior to the due date

Newspaper – this serves as bedding for the bitch and puppies, to line the whelping box before, during and after whelping as it will soak up birthing fluids and can easily be replaced during the whelping. You may be able to locate rolls of this paper to purchase or use actual newspaper.

Bath mats –  or other non-slip rugs or carpet cleaned of all chemical residue (do not use new carpeting or rugs that have not been washed for newborns). This will serve as bedding for the whelping box after the puppies have all been born and are ready to settle in comfortably with mom.

Clean towels – towels and more towels. Used to clean and dry the puppies following birth. Small towels like hand or dish towel size work best, or use bath towels cut  into smaller sizes. Be sure to have some small washcloth sized pieces to use to grip pups if needed during birth.

4” x 4” gauze pads – to hold slippery umbilical cords while tying.

Blunt tipped scissors – child’s safely scissors are perfect to cut umbilical cord, dull scissors are best as a jagged or rough cut will clot faster.

Un-waxed dental floss or clamps – use to tie the puppy’s umbilical cord to stop bleeding.

Isopropyl alcohol – to clean and dry the umbilical cord. Blot on the cord for the first few days to help dry it so it can fall off more easily.

Iodine or Betadine – for cord care after umbilical cord is cut and to clean puppy abdomens.

Baby suction bulb – to remove mucus from newborns mouth and nose as needed.

Alcohol wipes – use to clean cord clamps and scissors between pups.

Scale – to obtain birth weights and measure growth.

Clock/watch – to note the timing of births and monitor and track the timing of hard labor and birth. Visible and prolonged labor without a birth occurring are a sign of something gone wrong. Note the time of contractions.

Nail Polish or Model paint – 4-6 various colors – you will use this to mark each pup so you can tell them apart to monitoring growth and development.. Buy multiple and easy to distinguish colors and use them to place a colored mark on each puppy, as they are born, and on different parts of the body if necessary. I start with the top of head for each color (and sex) then move to the puppy’s back or perhaps tail with the same color if I need to reuse a color. For example I might have a red girl head, a red girl back and a red girl tail if I had more puppies of one sex than colors. I have always preferred this method of identification as compared to using ribbon, string or yarn around the newborn neck The one and only time I decided used colored rick rack to mark puppies with a collar, I lost a puppy during the night while I slept. His collar tangled in the bitch’s long coat, the more she licked him and he rolled, the tighter the hair tangled in the ribbon until it became so tight the puppy strangled.

Calcium antacid tablets or calcium supplement – to use as calcium supplement if needed during labor. Vanilla ice cream is another calcium boost with a sugar fix for energy.

Puppy Glucose solution – this well established advice comes from what many consider as the bible of dog breeding  written by Anne Seranne “The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog”. I have used this glucose solution and Anne’s advice for decades with very positive results.

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)

Pre-boil store water and store in closed jars to be used later for mixing formula.

Hand Sanitizer

Latex gloves

Paper towels – to clean up messes.

Trash bags – to contain messes, one for dirty newspaper/trash and one for used towels.

Tablet, notebook or form – to record time of birth, weight, sex, identifying mark and to keep any important notes about the puppy.


Puppy Holding Box – You will need a temporary place to put the pups aside to keep them out-of-the-way while Mom is whelping the next puppy. A 24” by 18” plastic box with a lid (such as a Rubbermaid box) can work, a small cardboard box works equally well and is cheap as well! You’re going to use the heating pad listed below in this box to keep the pups from getting chilled while being held here.

Heating Pad – to keep puppies warm while in holding. I would cover the pad with a towel in addition to the soft pad that generally is included. Be sure to monitor the heat setting to keep it at or below body temp as you do not want to dehydrate those puppies by overheating them.

Hot water bottle – this is handy to have on hand if you need to make a trip to the vet’s office and the distance is long. It will hold warmth longer than the heating pad and can be refilled with hot water easily when it cools. It isn’t necessary but they are very, very handy.

Favorite whelping book – reference material right at your fingertips will help to keep you occupied while you wait. I have some parts of my books memorized!

Phone – with emergency Vet #’s clearly saved and easy to find.

Ivy pups3
Photo by Laurie Ward

Car gassed up and ready to go “just in case”.

Using glucose solution to give your pups a faster, stronger start from “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 sue 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.”

Ivy pups
Photo by Laurie Ward

Using the Puppy Holding Box

Fit a small heating pad without the automatic shut off into half of the box, run the cord out through a hole you will make in a corner of the box. Cover this with a bolster type crate mat to protect the pups from cold edges or roll a towel up to buffer the puppies from the cold edges. As an alternative, use a microwavable heating pad. Test the temperature to make sure it is not too hot before using it to hold the puppies. You will want to place the pups in the box, out of harms way while Mom is whelping the rest of the pups. She can get pretty frantic and could step on or injure a puppy while in hard labor during delivery. This is also the best way to transport the pups to the vet and works well as any other time you need to keep them warm but away from Mom (like when you clean the whelping box). Always warm the box before placing the pups in it. When at the vet’s office you can ask to plug your box in to keep it warm for the trip home. You can also use a hot water bottle in place of the heating pad for warmth, especially during travel as it doesn’t cool as fast as the pad.

Another link for helpful information: AKC – Responsible Breeding

I always welcome the comments and suggestions of our fellow breeders. Sharing your ideas, thoughts and expertise with our readers on this topic will be of great value to them so please jump in to add to or disagree with any of the material I’ve published here.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photos from Laurie Ward, Evergreen CO

First 48 Hours for Newborn Puppies

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


Sponge Feeding Newborn Puppies – Great Idea!

Sponge Bob Square pants here we come!

Be sure to thank Pat Larson for sharing this handy tip for supplementing newborn puppies. Often those new babies refuse bottle feeding and many breeders feel a bit squeamish about tube feeding – OK – well, maybe that’s just me. I am a big baby when it comes to the need for tubes, I’d rather eat dirt. But now, thanks to Pat I have another trick up my sleeve that works, and will be much easier on the puppy’s delicate digestive tract.

Start your engines and head on over to the make-up aisle of any discount store where for a buck or two you can pick up a pack of what will soon become your disposable nipple and bottle replacements – make-up sponges.

Pat cut the tips of these triangular-shaped sponges down to a size that fit the puppy’s mouth, (mimic the nipple size of the dam) then she soaked the sponge in puppy formula and with a bit of patience helped the pup learn to suck from it. She said it works great, so great that once you get the pup started nursing they take to it so well they will nearly pull the sponge out your hand with their grip. When both you and puppy are working well as a team you’ll be keeping the sponge full of milk while the puppy sucks by using a syringe to inject milk from the opposite end.

Included below is a link to a YouTube video that demonstrates the technique. But wait, don’t leave us before sharing what you recommend as a milk replacer when feeding puppies? Use the comment section below for your suggestions, sharing is caring you know.

Wishing you all the best with those Gordon Setter babies!

Sponge Feeding a Newborn Puppy