Oh, (Bottle) Baby: An Adventure in Fostering
Part of the fun of fostering is getting the chance to learn about taking care of all kinds of dogs–different breeds, sizes, and ages.
Sometimes orphan puppies rescued by Texas Humane Heroes are so young that they still need a mama. They are bottle babies – and you become Mama for a while.
WHAT ARE NEWBORN PUPPIES LIKE?
Puppies are born with their eyes and ears closed for the first 10-14 days. They can creep around but cannot walk. They have a strong instinct to suckle and will find their mama to nurse as soon as they are freed from their placental sac. In many ways they are much more independent than human babies! But they still need lots of help from Mama.
PUPPY FORMULA—IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER (AND LUNCH AND BREAKFAST TOO)
If you foster orphan babies, you can either buy formula from the store or your friendly Texas Humane Heroes Foster Coordinator will give you his blue-ribbon recipe for puppy formula that can be whipped up with a few simple ingredients you can find at your local supermarket. It’s more nutritious and calorie-dense than the packaged stuff, and it’s cheaper to make your own, too.
You’ll hold your bottle baby upright and offer him the formula in a real baby bottle. Sometimes people will hand-feed by letting the formula drip down their fingers, and then the puppies suck on their fingers. After feeding, you can gently pat his back just like you would a human baby to help him get rid of any air bubbles.
A LITTLE HELP, PLEASE?
After feeding a baby puppy, you have to provide stimulation to get him to eliminate. This is why Mama is so careful to lick her babies all over. It keeps them clean, yes, but it also helps them pass waste; otherwise they will get sick and die. Helping your puppy is very easy. You just pat his bottom very gently with a tissue or your hand, or you can run his bottom under warm water in the sink to help him go.
LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT…FOR ABOUT 3 WEEKS
This is your routine every few hours during the day. If you feed your puppy well all day, you should be able to enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Bottle babies, like all puppies, have only one job: to grow. Growing is exhausting! It’s such hard work that your bottle babies will sleep, eat, and repeat…and not much else. It will take more than 3 weeks for your puppies to start acting rowdy and to become ready for soft food. And before you know it, it will be time to take your puppies back to the Texas Humane Heroes adoption center to be spayed or neutered and find their forever families.
SOUND LIKE FUN?
Not many people are given the gift of cradling a tiny puppy in the palm of one hand, or of seeing a baby puppy open his eyes for the first time. This is one of many, many reasons that fostering is awesome, a gift, a miracle, and an adventure.
Looking for your own adventure in fostering? Contact the Texas Humane Heroes Foster Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Amy Gelfand, Foster of Texas Humane Heroes