Hi, I have 3 chihuahua puppies that are 2 weeks old, they can't feed from from the mother, I have to bottle feed them. I feed them at least every 4 hours, at times a few times they don't want to eat...is this normal, I was told that I can't force feed them. Also, how can clean them, they always crawl around in their feces.
Not sure what you can do without seeing a Vet? Why would you not clean their bedding? Good that you are bottle feeding them, but they are such a small animal, they don't need much to eat. I still see a Vet for expert help.
You need to get these puppies to a vet and have the vet show you how to tube feed them. By bottle feeding them you are not getting the required amount into them because the weaker they get from not eating enough, the less they are able to eat and it becomes a vicious cycle that feeds off itself.
In short, with tube feeding, you insert the tube down their throats directly into the stomach. The other end is attached to a syringe that holds the exact amount of food needed for a puppy of that weight. You feed the tube down the throat, the puppy's suckling instinct/reflex helps to carry it down. When it is where it should be in the stomach, you slowly push the plunger on the syringe until all of the milk substitute has been pushed into the stomach. Then remove the tube and move on to the next puppy.
The easiest way to see how far in the tube has to go to be in the stomach is to take the tube and lay it out along the outside of the puppy. When the tip of the tube is at the puppy's side just behind the first rib by the flank, take a black marker and make a mark on the tube next to the puppy's nose. This way, when you go to insert the tube, it should go in as far as the black mark. If you encounter resistance before that point then the tube has gone into the lung instead and needs to be re-adminstered. DO NOT EVER EXPRESS THE SYRINGE UNTIL THE TUBE IS IN THE RIGHT PLACE. IF YOU EXPRESS THE LIQUID INTO THE LUNG YOU WILL KILL THE PUPPY. This is the only thing you really have to watch out for, however, and as long as you have the tube in so that the black mark is at their mouth/nose, you're good to go. Have the vet actually show you how to do it. It sounds scary but it is amazingly easy!
Tube feeding is also a lot safer than bottle feeding. With a bottle, it's really easy for them to aspirate fluid into the lungs. With the tube, as long as you have it in the right spot, you can't go wrong.
A good dog-mother always keeps the nest/puppies clean. It is a deep instinct from the wild, as smells can attract predators. That instinct serves the pups well too, as it lessens the chance of disease.
So you will have to work at that. I recommend newspaper, thick layers of it, so it is easily removed, then puppies get bottoms wiped. This is going to have to happen maybe three times a day or even more. It's going to be hard work, but worth it.
If the mother just can't nurse them because she either doesn't have milk or she has mastitis or some other medical reason, she can still take part in raising the puppies. After the person responsible for feeding the puppies feeds them, they can hold them for the mother to clean. I have seen many moms still willing to take part in this part of mothering even though they cannot actually nurse them. It's worth a try and it's a good way to keep the puppies in touch with their mom because she can still teach them the dog basics that they will need to know as they grow. It's so much easier for the puppies to learn it from their dogmom than it is for their humom to try to teach them in a language they don't understand.
If the mother is no longer in the picture, then, of course, that's a different story and the foster mother will have to take over the cleaning duties.
Ghilly gave you good advice. I would definitely be getting the mom and pups into the Vet to be checked. Bottle feeding can also introduce a lot of air into the puppy. Are you burping them afterwards? You can lay they across your forearm and gently tap them on the back. You have to keep the bedding clean, even if that means changing it several times a day.
I've had to tube feed in the past and it could be a little un-nerving for someone who hasn't done it before. If you want to try that, have the Vet show you. Ghilly gave a good description. What I used to do was, as she said, measure the tube on the outside of the pup from nose to the stomach. I would them put a mark on the tube. Before inserting the tube, I would express a little of the formula down the tube to make sure there was no air in it. After placing the tube, if you are unsure it is in the stomach and not the trachea, you can give the puppy a little pinch. If it can squeal, it is in the esophogus and not going into the lungs.
Hope you can get through all this and your puppies will be ok.
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