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Orphans need exercise

Steve Sheldon

The best way to feed a newborn cat or dog is with a nipple bottle – and, no, not all nipples are created equal. There are different nipple bottles for cats and dogs. When you hold the bottle upside down, a drop of milk should gently fall off the nipple – we don’t want any raging rivers here. If nothing comes out, you need to enlarge the hole in the nipple with a hot needle. You can also use scissors to carefully cut away the very top of the nipple. When actually feeding, make sure the puppy or kitten has a strong sucking reflex; never force the milk out of the bottle. We don’t want to drown anyone and it can happen if you aren’t careful. After eating, the abdomen should be a little enlarged but not engorged. Kittens should gain about 50 to 100 grams per week; most weigh around 100 to 120 grams at birth. Puppies should put on about one to two grams per day per pound of their anticipated adult weight for the first five months. For example, a mature 50-pound dog should gain 50 to 100 grams per day, or two to four ounces. Don’t get too caught up in this, there are ups and downs. After each feeding, the mother will stimulate the anus and the genitals with her tongue. This stimulates the puppy or kitten to use the bathroom. This is now your job. Don’t pass out now, you can do this with a cotton ball moistened with warm water. You need to do this after each feeding until they are three weeks old. Puppies and kittens also benefit from mild exercise before they eat. Playing lightly with the young ones helps promote muscle development and also helps to socialize them. Once a week, plan on bathing them gently with a soft cloth. You don’t need to use soap, just a damp cloth – this is what the mom would do, only she would use her tongue.At 3 to four 4 of age, you should start to try to get the kids to eat a little solid food. You can mix the milk replacement with some canned food to make a gruel. Over the next few weeks, just taper the amount of milk replacement you add and you’re all set. Visit your veterinarian when the puppies and kittens are 3 weeks old for a checkup, to start dewormings, and to set up a vaccination schedule. The last step is to try and find good homes for the children – you already have too many, don’t you? Plus, your spouse will kill you if you keep any more. Stephen Sheldon, DVM will open up Gyspum’s first animal hospital this summer. He can be reached at 970-688-0414.Vail, Colorado


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