Orphaned Puppies and Kittens - Part 1

With spring upon us we are receiving more calls about orphaned puppies/kittens and how to handle this situation. The first thing to do is to make sure the puppies are warm. Depending on their age, they may not have much of a thermoregulatory mechanism. Mom usually performs this function for them. Warm towels work well. Be careful with heating pads as they can cause burns. Feeding is also important once their body temperatures are normal. Use only milk replacers made for puppies or kittens. Other types of milk frequently cause diarrhea and are not nutritionally complete. These are readily available at vet offices or pet/feed stores. Depending on their age, they may need to be fed every few hours. Stimulating urination and defecation is necessary, again, depending on their age. Rub a warm wash cloth down their belly to simulate the licking of the mother. This should be done frequently during the day and night. If the puppies are not nursing or are acting lethargic, they need to be taken to a veterinarian quickly. Newborns have very little reserve energy and can become hypoglycemic quickly. This can be fatal. Caring for orphaned pets is very time consuming and exhausting but can also be extremely rewarding as you hear the squeals and coos they make and as you watch them mature.

- Dr. Cooney