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Trying to Save a Puppy
Stories do not always have happy endings; SubQ hydrating a puppy and tube feeding

At first this puppy appeared to be healthy. On day one the puppy was noticeably smaller than the others. On day two it had not gained well, which some breeders would ignore, but we tube fed her a couple cc's of canine milk to bring up her energy. By day three there was blood coming out of her butt and we rushed her to the vet. The puppy was not eating, and the vet and I tube fed her some warm water. A test at the vet showed only blood with no stool coming out that end and gives her a slim chance of making it through the night.


Most breeders would need to leave the pup at the vet at this stage, unless you are capable of bringing the puppy home and keeping her hydrated, in hopes the blood would stop.

Her body was shutting down. One foot was purple, so we massaged it and it came up pink again. We tubed her more warm water. We were still hoping to save this puppy.

A mixture of Nutri-Cal and warm water is something you can try using to hydrate a sick puppy.

Lactate Ringer

Lactate Ringer’s fluid solution given subcutaneously (under the skin) is one of the best ways to hydrate a puppy.

Lactate Ringer

The Lactate Ringer’s must be warmed and NOT injected cold. I heat the bag in the microwave. You do not put COLD fluid into a puppy that you are trying to keep warm. I draw a syringe with the drawing needle (a sterile needle used only as a tester) and squirt it on my wrist. I draw a second test syringe to double-check the temperature of the liquid. Then I remove the test drawing needle and put on the sterile needle I will use for injecting the puppy.

There was not much to be done but to keep her hydrated, warm and tell her how sweet she was. Her tummy was full. There was nowhere for her system to void. We did all we could to give her a chance and make her comfortable. No more blood was coming. We gave her a very mild warm enema to see if we could possibly get the bowels to work. We were beginning to realize the puppy was not going to recover, that it was born underdeveloped. A puppy that is born underdeveloped has a hard time surviving. Mostly it depends on the severity of the defect. This puppy was not pooping.



Tube Feeding

A puppy needs 1 cc for every ounce of body weight every 2.5 to 4 hours.

If you have never tube fed a puppy before, it is wise to contact your vet for directions. Do not attempt unless you are under the instruction of your own vet. This page is meant for general educational information, and is not meant to replace the advice from one’s vet.

When tube feeding a puppy, measure the length of the puppy from the mouth to the stomach.

Mark the length with a pen so you do not go in too far. Gently feed the tube into the puppy's mouth and down into the stomach. Make sure you go down into the stomach so the pup does not get the liquid into his lungs. On the same note, be sure you don't go too far. It is important to measure before inserting the tube. You must hold the pup's neck straight so the tube can go down easily. Very slowly tube the recommended amount to the puppy.

It is important to make sure there is no air in the syringe and to push the milk up through the tube before inserting it into the puppy to avoid filling the belly with air.

Some people tube in a cc of water first to see if water comes out the nose, as water in the lungs is MUCH EASIER to fix than milk in the lungs, however it is much wiser to make sure you prevent this in the first place.

After inserting the tube and before giving the milk, some vets and breeders hold the puppy up to their ear and listen for breathing from the nose of the puppy, so then they know the tube is in the stomach. Some people find that holding the pup up works best for them. Others really rely on where they marked on the tube to be sure the tube is NOT in the lungs. The tube MUST go all the way in to the pre-marked line.

Tubing for the first few times is stressful and worrisome. You MUST mark your tube well to be sure you go ALL the way in to the stomach. With tubing 1 cc per oz. of body weight of a 4 oz. puppy you tube in 1 cc of water and if that goes well then give 3 cc of milk. Contact your vet for guidance and advice.

After you have tubed for a while you will have the comfort level to not use the water. Some breeders listen to the breathing of a puppy before tubing. I personally rely on the mark on the tube. Remember it is very, VERY important to line your tubes with milk so you are not putting air into the puppy. Air is not too big of a worry, but it can cause gas and some pups get air when they nurse or bottle feed, but it is nicer to avoid putting air into their little tummies as it can cause some discomfort to pass.

Puppy milk replacer


SubQ hydrating a puppy

Hold the puppy still.

Pinch the neck skin. You want to inject the fluid JUST under the skin.

Inject a bubble very, very slowly.

You want to inject about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the head of the puppy of fluid under the skin.

After removing the needle, pinch the skin for 30 seconds.

The bubble of fluid will slowly disburse into his body. At first we were hopeful the puppy would recover, however we had found out from the vet she had an underdeveloped intestinal track. And something was seriously wrong.

THINK about what comes with breeding, it is not always cute puppies. This puppy died peacefully on the third evening. When you realize that nothing can be done to save a puppy, humanely putting it to sleep is the best way, and the only fair thing to do for a suffering puppy.

But if there is a chance to save a puppy then it is good to know what to do. Remember, when you decide to breed you may be faced with hard decisions. Always consult with your vet.


Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese



Whelping: Close-to-Textbook Case

Puppies' Progress Chart (.xls spreadsheet)

Cuban Mysti Puppies: Full Term Mucus Plug - 1

Cuban Mysti Puppies: Labor Story 2

Cuban Mysti Puppies: Labor Story 3

Cuban Mysti Puppies: One-Day-Old Pups 4

Easy Delivery a Day or Two Overdue



So You Want to Breed Puppies

Pros and Cons of Inbreeding Dogs

Stages of Puppy Development

Whelping and Raising Puppies: Breeding age

Reproduction: (The Heat Cycle): Signs of Heat

Breeding Tie

Dog Pregnancy Calendar

Pregnancy Guide Prenatal Care

Pregnant Dogs

Pregnant Dog X-Ray Pictures

Full-Term Mucus Plug in Dog

Whelping Puppies

Whelping Puppy Kit

First and Second Stage of Dog's Labor

Third Stage of Dog's Labor

Sometimes Things do not go as Planned

Mother Dog Almost Dies on Day 6

Whelping Puppies Unfortunate Troubles

Even Good Moms Make Mistakes

Whelping Puppies: A Green Mess

Water (Walrus) Puppies

C-Sections In Dogs

C-Section Due to Large Dead Puppy

Emergency Cesarean Section Saves Pups Lives

Why dead puppies in utero often require c-sections

Whelping Puppies: C-section Pictures

Pregnant Dog Day 62

PostPartum Dog

Whelping and Raising Puppies: Birth to 3 weeks

Raising Puppies: Puppy Nipple Guarding

Pups 3 Weeks: Time to start potty training

Raising Puppies: Pups Week 4

Raising Puppies: Pups Week 5

Raising Puppies: Pups Week 6

Raising Puppies: Pups 6 to 7.5 Weeks

Raising Puppies: Pups 8 Weeks

Raising Puppies: Pups 8 to 12 Weeks

Whelping and Raising Large Breed Dogs

Mastitis in Dogs

Mastitis In Dogs: A Toy Breed Case

Why are Toy Breeds are Harder to Train?

Crate Training

Showing, Genetics and Breeding

Trying to Save a Fading Dachshund Puppy

Whelping and Raising Puppies Stories: Three Puppies Born

Whelping and Raising Puppies: All puppies do not always survive

Whelping and Raising Puppies: A Midwoof Call

Whelping and Raising a Full Term Preemie Puppy

Whelping Small for Gestational Age Puppy

C-Section on Dog Due to Uterine Inertia

Eclampsia is Often Fatal for Dogs

Hypocalcemia (low calcium) in Dogs

SubQ hydrating a Puppy

Whelping and Raising a Singleton Pup

Premature Litter of Puppies

A Premature Puppy

Another Premature Puppy

Pregnant Dog Absorbing Fetus

CPR Needed to Save One Puppy

Whelping Puppies Congenital Defects

Puppy with Umbilical Cord Attached to Foot

Puppy Born with Intestines on the Outside

Gone Wrong, Vet Makes it Worse

Dog Loses Litter and Starts to Absorb Puppies

Whelping Puppies: Unexpected Early Delivery

Dog whelps 5 days early due to dead pups

Lost 1 Puppy, Saved 3

An Abscess on a Puppy

Dewclaw Removal Done Wrong

Whelping and Raising Pups: Heat Pad Caution

Whelping and Raising a Large Litter of Dogs

Whelping and Raising Dogs While Working

Whelping a Messy Litter of Pups

Whelping and Raising Puppies Picture Pages

How to Find a Good Breeder

Pros and Cons of Inbreeding

Hernias in Dogs

Cleft Palate Puppies

Saving Baby E, a Cleft Palate Puppy

Saving a Puppy: Tube Feeding: Cleft Palate


Although this section is based on a whelping of an English Mastiff, it also contains good general whelping information on large-breed dogs. You can find more whelping information in the links above. The links below tell the story of Sassy, an English Mastiff. Sassy has a wonderful temperament. She loves humans and adores children. An all-around mild mannered, wonderful Mastiff, Sassy, however, is not the best mother toward her puppies. She is not rejecting them; she will nurse them when a human places them on her to feed, however she will not clean the pups or pay any attention to them. It is as if they are not her puppies. This litter is getting mom’s milk with major human interaction, manually giving each and every pup what they need. In return, the pups will be super socialized and will make remarkable pets, however the work involved is astounding. It takes one dedicated breeder to keep this situation healthy. Thankfully this litter has just that. Read the links below to get the full story. The pages within include a wealth of information that everyone can appreciate and benefit from.

C-Section in a Large Breed Dog

Newborn Puppies... What you need

Whelping and Raising Large Breed Puppies: 1 to 3 Days Old

Things do not always go as planned (imperforate anus)

Orphaned Litter of Pups (not the plan)

Raising Puppies 10 Days Old Plus +

Raising Puppies 3 Week Old Puppies

Raising Puppies 3 Weeks - time to start potty training

Raising Puppies 4 weeks old

Raising Puppies 5 weeks old

Raising Puppies 6 weeks old

Raising Puppies 7 weeks old

Socializing the Puppies

Mastitis in Dogs

Whelping and Raising Large Breed Dogs Main

Whelping and Raising Puppies, a new found respect



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