Young and Hungry : Our 2016 Shelter Guide on Neonatology. Our Answers to Your questions !

Great webinars yesterday : lots of interaction, great discussion, definitely a very good way to kick off this first shelter series of the year !

As usual, you will find here our written answers to the questions you asked us during the 4 different sessions. If you have more questions, do not hesitate to post them here or on social media ! We will be happy to continue the discussion !

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Can you freeze unused baby dog or baby cat milk ?


This is not something we recommend. Freezing can potentially alter the nutritional properties of the product by creating ice crystals and modifying the water content. 

Serum administration in neonates : is subq the same as oral ?


Both are described in the scientific literature. 


That being said, I am not aware of any study comparing the two routes of administration.

Would you recommend serum for premature puppies/kittens ?


Not necessarily. The biggest issue usually associated with prematurity is difficulty to breath because those individuals are lacking surfactant, a tensioactive liquid that deposit in the lung after 58 days of gestation.


Real premies are usually born before 58 days of gestation and in dogs and cats, and the prognosis is really poor for those individuals : they indeed cannot breath properly and we do not have a really efficient medical alternative to turn to in veterinary medicine (while in human medicine, they have access to synthetic surfactant). On real premature puppies & kittens, the most important thing to focus on would be to make sure they receive enough oxygen.


In shelters/rescues, it is always better to assume that those puppies & kittens have not drunk the colostrum from their mother. Use of serum can be an interesting to consider in kittens, but it is not always a very practical alternative.


More about this in those two blogs :

If you have the runt of the litter do you treat them to their age or their weight? Do they have any different care?


I would always focus first on their weight and make sure they are gaining, despite being the smallest individual in the litter. It is not uncommon that they catch up with the other afterwards. And as long as they are gaining weight, this is always a good sign in terms of health.

However, if they do not gain weight 24 hours after proper nutrition and environmental care have been implemented, I would definitely advise to seek veterinary care. There might be something else (like a bacterial infection) involved in the problem.

Are cleft palates and flat-chested kittens genetic ?


There is a genetic determinism behind those problems, but not only !

We discuss cleft palates in more details in those two blogs :

Concerning flat-chested kittens, the environment in which they grow can play a role : slippery floors for instance can cause this.

What is your opinion on combining litters of kittens. We often have single kittens come in. Is it best to combine them if they are close in age for socialization or better to keep them separate so they do not expose one another to new things?


Always better if you can combine them. Behavioural issues are often encountered in hand-raised single kittens. Being with other kittens is definitely a first step on the path to proper socialization and is something we will recommend. 

What is most important when weaning? Should you continue to add formula to paste and gradually replace with water ?


Nutritional weaning is a very critical step, no doubt about that.


Here are our recommendations :


-          In puppies :


-          In kittens :

Can Feline Corona Virus be transferred by mom to babies while they are still in the uterus or through the mom's milk , once they are born?


We do not believe this is a common route of transmission today. That is why some recommend early weaning (see in this ebook for more details ) to prevent its transmission to kittens.

Most frequently, feline coronavirus is transmitted via the litter box, where the kitten is in contact with stools containing the coronavirus. 

Universal donor type in regards to giving serum?


In cats, you want to make sure that the bloog group of the donor is A.

More info on this here :

Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with Fading Kitten Syndrome? 


The best suggestion I can give here… is to find the cause (see here why I say that ).

As we mentioned during the webinar : “ More neonates die from improper husbandry & nutrition than infection”.

As discussed during the webinar, this will be the first things I would focus on. And if 24 hours after those measures are implemented, no improvement is observed, I’ll advise to seek veterinary assistance to take infectious causes into consideration. 

What about tick and flea treatment in neonates? Also deworming.


Even if there are now flea / tick preventatives available for use in puppies & kittens, most of those products are not approved before 6-8 weeks of age. For younger animals like neonates, manual removal of fleas with a fine-toothed comb is recommended. Bathing will also help.

Re: deworming, it is usually recommended to start at 2 weeks of age. Discuss this with your attending veterinarian, he will be able to provide you with further information on products and frequency of use.

Should we NOT add rice cereal to our milk replacer?


No. As mentioned in our webinar, doing so if you use a dedicated canine/feline milk replacer will modify the osmolarity of the product and potentially lead to the development of diarrhea… Never a good thing in neonates !  


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