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Raising orphaned cats and dogs

Steve Sheldon

So, you just can’t resist those parental urges, can you? Many of us have at one time reared orphan puppies and kittens, and it can be a very rewarding experience. It’s a neat feeling to have a 1-ounce bundle of life grow into a fine dog or cat and, good heavens, it sure beats watching a plant grow. To raise puppies and kittens successfully, you need to provide them with a proper environment, feed them the right amounts types of food, find a regular schedule for sleeping, feeding, grooming, and exercise, and last, you need to help provide the newborns with the stimulus to use the bathroom. Be glad this lasts only three weeks – the diaper phase in kids last two to three years.During the first weeks of life, newborns are unable to regulate their body temperature. They gradually adapt over about four weeks. During this time, try to house them where you can keep temperatures between 86 and 90 and maintain humidity at about 55 percent to 60 percent. After about three weeks, they can handle temperatures as low as 75. This could be a problem out here so keep them warm – just don’t cook the little guys with a space heater. Also, try to keep them from being overstimulated these first few weeks. In other words, put away your 3-year-olds for a while. What they really need during these first few weeks is to sleep, eat, poop and pee, exercise a little, and socialize with each other. Dinner timeUnless you can find a foster mother – otherwise known as a wet nurse – you will need to find a milk replacement. Foster moms are great, but they are rare – you need to find a lactating dog or cat in the neighborhood and this can be tough for even the most seasoned scavenger hunters. So count on doing the feeding yourself. There are a number of quality milk replacements out there or you can make one. The commercial ones are better because they are closer to the real thing. Here’s some homemade recipes: For puppies mix 120 ml of either cow or goat milk, 120 ml of water, 2 to 4 egg yolks, 1 to 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and 1,000 mg of calcium carbonate (Tums). For kittens mix 90 ml of condensed milk, 90 ml of water, 120 ml of plain yogurt (not low fat), and 3 to 4 egg yolks. Read the direction and find out how much to feed – as a rule of thumb feed 2 tablespoons per four ounces of body weight. Divide this into four daily feedings and warm it up to about 100 degrees before feeding for the first few weeks. Don’t overfeed the first few days of a newborn’s life.More on raising newborn cats and dogs next week 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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