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A Dachshund Puppy Survives – Caring For A Runt Named "Itty Bitty"
There is nothing that touches your heart more than seeing the puppy of a litter trying to survive with “the grown-ups”. Compassion for the small and weak seems to be a very real and innate human emotion in all of us. -But empathy alone will not warm and feed the puppy. If the puppy wants to survive, your love, action and commitment can do it. Don’t give up! Even when the vet recommends putting it down, tender loving care often accomplishes what modern veterinary medicine cannot. See if the mother is rejecting the puppy and take action. It provides round-the-clock assistance during the first few days. Provides comfort when mom doesn’t. Finally, provide food in addition to breast milk. Rest assured that it can be done! we know each other Raising our dachshund was a blessing for us as we learned to take care of the puppy we named Itty Bitty.
The first sign that Gwenny, our female Dachshund, was rejecting a puppy was when she completely ignored him after the other puppies were born. She knew something was wrong with him and turned her attention to the healthy puppies. As soon as Gwenny was strong enough, she picked up Itty Bitty and put him outside the birthing box. What a thrill it was to hear him scream and then find him alone and shivering on the cold tile floor. That morning we went to the vet and the prognosis was not good. He had an irregular heart rhythm and, the vet assumed, a liver problem. He gave him two days to live. That’s when we said a prayer and took action by following these steps:
1. Provide round-the-clock support for the first few days: The night Itty Bitty was born, I pulled an old camping crib and my sleeping bag out of storage and set up a nursing station next to the birthing box. When Gwenny took Itty out of the crate, she would gently pick him up and put him back in the crate with Gwenny and the other puppies. The bond that occurs between the cubs and the mother at this point is very, very critical, so you don’t want to remove the cub completely if you can. You want the puppy to bond with the mother as well, despite her rejection.
to Set the alarm to go off every two hours for the first night or two. Check out the puppies. Doing this together as a family can be a very rewarding time that will provide a lasting memory.
b. If you need to sleep, have a helper or two; set a schedule for everyone to take a turn.
2. Provide comfort when the mother does not: Do not miss opportunities to comfort the puppy. In those moments when Gwenny took the puppy out of the litter box, I would wrap Itty Bitty in a soft, dry towel and comfort him. I would pet him and talk to him very softly. Amazingly, like a human baby, he responded to comfort and my voice. This started a strong bond between the puppy and I that Itty Bitty and I have to this day.
to During the day, I would find Itty Bitty alone in a corner of the litter box. Gwenny’s attention was fully on the healthy pups. I would wrap the washcloth around him and hold him against my chest while I watched TV. Puppies love body heat! Your warmth warms and comforts. It will not be unusual for the mother to be concerned and want the puppy back in the crate, even if she rejects him again. Your rejection doesn’t mean your child doesn’t care. He’s trying to tell you that he doesn’t know how to fix what’s wrong.
3. Provide food in addition to mother’s milk: You will immediately notice that your puppy is not getting his share of mother’s milk. The others are getting stronger and he is too weak to “fight” for them. However, it is very, very important that you regularly move the other puppies away (such as to the other end of the crate, or even to another crate) and let the little one nurse on its own. Even if mom tries to pull away, gently hold her and tell her to stay in a soft voice (being loud or firm with her will not only upset her, but she will feel it). The puppy MUST have access to some of its mother’s milk. There are life-protecting antibodies in her milk that will help the puppy fight off illness.
to Then buy some puppy milk replacer. I like the powder version that you mix with water. You will want to have a dropper or a syringe to feed the newborn puppy, depending on the size of the pup. For Itty Bitty, I found puppy formula and a small syringe as an applicator at the local pet store.
b. Heat the milk by adding warm tap water to the mixture. He had chilled the milk between shots. Cold milk can be warmed by placing it in a small container and placing it in a larger container or a container filled with hot tap water. DO NOT MICROWAVE milk or water! This will make the milk so hot that it burns the puppy.
c. Set feeding intervals to two hours at first, then increase to four as you get stronger. When you can, switch from the small applicator to a syringe and then to a bottle (you can also get these at the pet store).
d. The puppy may not suck the syringe at first. Simply put a small amount at a time in your mouth. Be careful not to put so much that it gags. It will slowly take the milk.
e. As the puppy gets the idea, within a day or two, you’ll notice that he’ll actually start sucking milk straight from the syringe.
f. As the puppies get older and you move them to a rice cereal, make sure the puppy continues to get his share, including nursing from his mother.
Please know that sometimes puppies may not make it because they are in fact too sick; but also know that, as of this writing, Itty Bitty is now twenty months old and stars in her own children’s book (“Itty Bitty Saves the Day”). If my wife and I hadn’t made the effort to save our Itty Bitty, we would have denied the blessing she has become in our lives. The way she runs to say “good morning” to MaryAnn every day, the way she runs around the house with her “happy feet,” the way she runs up my leg when I’m on the couch and climbs onto my shoulder, and way he loves us unconditionally; we would have missed that! Fortunately, tender care, commitment and love were the right recipes for Itty Bitty, the whore of the litter.
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