That’s a reality: it is not uncommon for shelter staff to deal with orphaned puppies and kittens. However, how many of us are really prepared? Very often indeed, puppies and kittens are considered and treated as “smaller” adults. We tend to use the same approaches, the same logic,… while in fact they are way different !
That is why we did this webinar on how to take care of orphaned puppies & kittens in an animal shelter environment (you can watch the video again here). As promised also, please find below the answer to the questions I was asked at the end of the presentation!
What is the feeding weekly schedule for an orphaned puppy/kitten?
We typically recommend to feed orphaned puppies & kittens:
- 8 times a day during their first week of life
- 6 times a day during their 2nd week of life
- 4 times a day during their 3rd week of life
After 3 weeks, it is recommended to start weaning them, in the following blog post is our recommended recipe on how to manage this nutritional weaning
Does the 4 hours for colostrum account for the time they may not nurse as the labour is long?
Colostrum absorption in puppies and kittens indeed peaks 4 hours right after their birth. This means that the clock starts as soon as they are expulsed from the womb of their mother. If they still have access to the mother, they should nurse as soon as possible after they are born in order to receive the colostrum.
If kitten does not eat colostrum, does it still need the series of 3 vaccinations to achieve protection?
If a puppy/kitten did not receive colostrum, this basically means that after birth, its immune system is completely naïve. It has NO antibodies to fight eventual threats caused by viruses, bacterias, parasites,…, that could be found in its direct environment.
The role of vaccination is to boost the immune defenses of the individual, and the number of injections required are usually defined so that they will help puppies/kittens to be protected from an immunological standpoint. For puppies/kitten that did not receive the colostrum, the number of vaccinations per se might not be modified. However, since they are definitely more fragile, they might be vaccinated earlier, depending on the risks they are exposed to in their specific environment.
Keep in mind that vaccination protocols may vary from one shelter to the other, again based on the specificities of their environment. It is important to discuss the case of these orphaned puppies & kittens with your attending veterinarian so he can define the best protocol that will fit the specific needs of these animals in this particular situation.
Would you repeat the 3 ways of caring for the umbilical cord?
2 essential things to do here:
- 1st: Stich it 2-3 cm from the belly of the puppy/kitten
- 2nd: Disinfect its terminal end with an antiseptic solution 2-3 times a day until it falls off (which usually happens 3 days after birth)
This way you will prevent bacterial spread in the umbilical cord. It is important to keep in mind that umbilical cord infections are among the most common cause of neonatal infection in neonates.
What rate would you recommend setting the IO catheter to?
Keep in mind that intra-osseous catheters should ONLY be placed under veterinary supervision.
The recommended rate for maintenance fluid therapy is 3-4mL/kg/hour.
Please refer to your veterinarian for more information.