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Orphan Puppy and Kitten Care

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Overview

If you’ve decided to adopt an orphaned puppy or kitten there are some special challenges you are likely to face. First of all, they may have suffered some problems socializing especially if they have been isolated from their litter mates. In addition, they will need special care that is not necessary for older puppies and kittens.


Tips for Raising Puppies and Kittens

Whenever possible, puppies and kittens should be kept with their litter mates for at least 6 weeks. They learn to play and interact with other animals, they learn proper cleaning and grooming, and they keep each other warm. In addition, it is important to build a proper environment for the infants. Many breeders rely on nest boxes for their infant animals. The box is built in such a way that the puppies or kittens cannot escape. As they are very young, they are more susceptible to illness and require the warmth and comfort of their litter mates to maintain their health. A nest box should therefore be tall enough that the babies cannot climb out. You should line the bottom of the box with towels or blankets so that the babies are comfortable. Also, as a useful trick, you can place diapers over the blankets so that the box is easily cleaned. Puppies and kittens need to be kept clean and dry.


Feeding

Orphaned puppies and kittens still need to be fed. Many companies manufacture milk supplements that can replace feedings from their mother. Usually, these supplements come in liquid or powdered form. The powder is generally seen as better because it must be mixed with water so different dilutions can be made. In addition, there have been some notable side effects to these milk supplements, namely diarrhoea, which are not as severe when using the powder supplements. The powder must be mixed according to the manufacturers instructions and both the liquid and powder supplements should be stored in the freezer so they stay fresh.

You will also need to acquire a pet nursing bottle from the pet store. Sometimes, your veterinarian will also have pet nursing bottles. As you would with a human infant’s bottle, you will need to warm the bottle in hot water. It is not recommended to heat the formula in the microwave. Always test the milk for heat and taste before feeding puppies or kittens. Puppies and kittens will typically feed every 2 or 3 hours. Never wake the infants for feeding as they will indicate to you when they are hungry. You may also need to burp the puppies or kittens after feeding.


Cleaning

Typically, a mother dog or cat would be responsible for cleaning their babies. Since the mothers are not present, you will need to clean your puppies or kittens yourself. After defecating, use a cotton bud or tissue to gently clean the puppy/kitten’s genitals and anus.

Bathing will also be necessary for your puppies and kittens. A normal baby shampoo and warm water are usually sufficient but it is recommended to bathe your babies once or twice daily.

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