By: Tracy Ferrick

If the mother dog dies during or just after birth of the whelps, or if she has no maternal feelings toward the pups and will not let them nurse, then there are three ways in which to feed at this point.  You can bottle feed, tube feed, which I do not recommend unless you are experienced, or "finger feed".

Some Bullmastiff pups have poor sucking reflexes just after birth.  This means that they may not be able to nurse properly on a bottle.  To "finger feed" first cut your fingernails and make sure there are no sharp edges.  Wash your hands thoroughly and prepare the formula.  I use a syringe(without the needle) to draw the formula into.  This is the formula I have used for 12 years!!!

12 ounces Evaporated Milk, 12 Ounces Pedialyte (first week only, then switch to bottled water), 6  ounces Half and Half (may have to increase for more fat content), 3 drops of Infant Poly-Vi-Sol vitamin drops with Iron, 1 Teaspoon Plain Yogurt with Active Live cultures  

OR you can use Goat's milk.  I prefer the Meyerberg brand.

Mix thoroughly and refrigerate.                                   

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Then gently insert your finger into the pup's mouth.  Do not let them suck more than your first digit into their mouths and some pup's mouths are to small for even that much.  Drop the heated formula onto your finger at the first digit.  As the pup sucks on your finger, he'll suck the formula into his mouth!  It gets a little messy, but it works great and when the pup is a little stronger to take the bottle, without aspirating the formula into his lungs, he will have developed a stronger sucking reflex!   You will need to burp the pups after each feeding.  Gently rub the sides of the pup and you will hear a little "beep" noise (although some may be quite louder!)

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Once the pup is strong enough for the bottle, there is a correct position to hold the pup in.  NEVER hold the pup upside down like a human baby. Support the pup's belly so it doesn't sag. Again burp the pup after each feeding.

No matter which way you feed the pups, you MUST check their weight gain daily.  If they start to lose weight or are NOT gaining weight, the pup my fade and die.

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Once the pups are all fed, then you need to stimulate them to go potty.  Take a warm washcloth or paper towel that is barely wet and rub gently on their genitals.   They should urinate immediately.  In doing this you are doing what the mother dog would have done as she cleaned her whelps.  Then you need to make them go pooh.   Take a clean towel or paper towel with warm water on it and gently mimic the motion of the mother dog's tongue(move upward).  Do not let the puppy get constipated. If the puppy starts to get constipated, then I give them a little Nutri-Cal.  This works in about 1 hour.

By 3-1/2 weeks of age you can start the puppies on the formula with Beechnut Baby Rice Cereal(other brands actually add soy which the pup may become sensitized to) in a feeding pan. When I first start the pups I use little cat dishes so I can control how much each pup is getting.

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When they get to be 4-6 weeks of age, I use the flying saucer pans.  They work great! 

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There is one thing, at this point, you need to remember.  Clean the pups very thoroughly after each feeding.

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  They will get very sticky and their fur may become matted if you do not.   Then the hair may fall out and you could end up with skin problems.

By the time they are 3 weeks of age they should be going to the bathroom all by themselves.  You still need to monitor them daily to make sure they are going properly.

There is much more that goes into the proper care and raising of a litter of puppies.   If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.








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