Practical Dog Breeding - Free Articles and Information
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Feeding Puppies

A comparison of bitch's and cow's milk has already been made. This difference meets the requirements of their young. It takes a calf forty-seven days to double its weight, while a puppy does so in nine days provided the bitch is fed in such a way that she is able to supply the necessary nourishment. This means not only the nourishment to keep the puppy fat, but also to supply the bone-building foods and minerals which will go into forming his skeleton. The mating may have been designed to produce a heavy-boned specimen, but if the dam is not fed in such a fashion that she will be able to supply the calcium necessary to build this heavy bone structure, all the work and thought will have been wasted and the resulting puppies will be a disappointment.

It sometimes happens that the dam is unable to feed the puppies. This may result from various reasons, and when it does, the logical answer to the problem is a foster mother. Bottle feeding always entails a lot of extra work, and at the best is unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, it is sometimes a very important link in carrying the puppies over from the time their dam is unable to feed them until a foster mother may be obtained.
A supply of milk powder should be in your possession. When bottle feeding becomes necessary, this powder may be used when mixed according to directions on the package. The same care must be taken as when mixing Junior's formula. If no milk powder is available, condensed cow's milk may be substituted. This should be diluted with about one part of boiled water to two parts of milk.

Any small bottle which may be sterilized can be used, provided the neck is the right size to fit a rubber nipple. An ordinary baby's nipple is all that is necessary, but be sure it is made of heavy rubber. The light ones draw together and give much more trouble when feeding the puppy. When more than one puppy is to be fed, a bottle large enough to hold food for them all may be used. The nipple should be scalded between pups, and the milk must be kept at the right body temperature.

For the first week puppies should be fed once every two hours; the time may be lengthened to once every four hours by the end of the second week. The amount to be given at each feeding varies according to the breed. Toys should receive about one-half teaspoonful, terriers and spaniels about one teaspoonful, collies and setters two teaspoonfuls, and the larger breeds three.

During the time the puppies are being bottle-fed they must be kept in a warm box near a fire, or in a box with a hot-water bottle. They must be cleaned several times a day. Since the dam is not with them, that is a job the breeder must undertake with absorbent cotton. If a mild antiseptic is used, the puppies must be thoroughly dried. Raising a family of youngsters on the bottle is a lot of work, in fact, it is a full-time job, and it does not pay a very high rate of dividends.

It sometimes happens that the supply of milk which the bitch is able to furnish her offspring is not sufficient, but it is hard to decide which puppies should be removed and which left with the dam. A foster mother would solve the problem, but possibly one cannot be obtained when most needed.In a case like this, the puppies may be given a bottle two or three times a day to supplement the food which they are receiving from the dam. A better plan is to leave with her only the number of puppies which she can feed herself. This is good advice, but there are many who will not take it. Little puppies are such helpless things, and the real dog lover will not want to do away with any of them. If any deformed ones are found when the new-born are examined, however, it is only a kindness to destroy them at once. A deformed dog can never serve any useful purpose, and as it grows older it will become a burden to itself and its owner.

Tail Docking

The first task to be performed following normal birth may not appeal if you are raising a breed which calls for a docked tail. Tail cutting should be done between the third and fifth days, while the center is still cartilage. At this time the shock is much less than if left until later. It usually calls forth a loud squeal, and then as soon as the puppy is put down it scrambles around as though nothing had happened. Do not cut the tail of a weak or sick pup. It is better to leave it and have the operation performed under an anesthetic by a veterinarian later.

My method for cutting tails is as follows: I spread a clean paper on top of the whelping box and lay out my instruments. They consist of a pair of sharp scissors, surgical clips and the pliers for inserting them, the usual artery forceps, and a dish containing tincture of iron. All instruments must be sterilized before being used.

Now take the puppy in the left hand and draw the skin covering the tail as much toward the body as possible. The place where the cut is to be made is measured by eye, and a quick snip completes the operation. Immediately following cutting, dip the stump of the tail in the dish containing the tincture of iron. This acts as a styptic, and in most cases will completely control any bleeding.

The skin is now drawn over the cut end of the tail cartilage and is fastened in place with a surgical clip. The tail is given a final dip in the tincture of iron and the puppy is put back in the whelping box. I have never yet found hemorrhage to be so great as to necessitate tying off, but I always have the artery forceps ready "just in case." Surgical clips are not absolutely necessary. By many breeders the wound is left to heal of its own accord, but when the skin is held over the cartilage the healing is quicker, and there is not the same likelihood of the cartilage protruding past the end of the skin. If this is the case, the skin will draw together around the cartilage, forming a tight band of scar tissue, and the protruding cartilage will slough off. In this way your careful calculations as to the correct length of the tail will be thrown out, and it is more likely to give discomfort to the dog, for the scar tissue thus formed will press on the cut end of the tail cartilage instead of fitting loosely over it.

When cutting a tail, be sure never to cut it too short. Should it be left a shade too long, it may be remedied later on, but once it is too short the balance of the dog will be destroyed for all time. In a parti-colored dog where the tail is black or dark in color at the root, with a white spot farther along, it is just as well to cut it in the white spot if possible, thus giving him a white-tipped tail.

The correct length for the tail is an important consideration, for it must be balanced with the rest of the body. In spaniels, with the exception of Irish water spaniels which are not docked, approximately two-thirds should be removed. "Wire-haired and smooth fox terriers and sealyhams, as well as poodles, should have about two-fifths of the tail removed. King Charles spaniels, griffons, and Yorkshire terriers lose about the same amount as cocker spaniels—two-thirds. Schipperkes and English sheep dogs have the tail removed close to the rump. When cutting a terrier's tail, remember it is sometimes necessary to pull him out by it when he is digging into a hole.
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