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Tube Feeding Your Puppy

Tube Feeding Your Puppy

A safe way to nurse a newborn puppy without the risk of strangulation is by using a feeding tube. The equipment needed for tube feeding an orphaned or abandoned puppy is quite simple. You will need a #8 or a #10 French infant feeding tube, a hypodermic syringe, and a substitute for mother's milk. The puppy tube and syringe are disposable and can be thrown away after each use. On the other hand, there are also reusable puppy feeding equipment such as glass barrel syringes and rubber feeding tubes that are available but must be thoroughly cleaned right after each use. One great advantage of these puppy feeding tubes is that they can be placed in water and boiled, along with any other equipment, when sterilization is required.

After the proper equipment has been gathered, the feeding of a puppy with a stomach tube is performed by applying the following steps:

Step 1: Fill the syringe about ˝ full of the warmed mother’s milk substitute and put it aside for future use. Then, determine the proper depth to which the tube should be inserted by measuring, with the tube, the distance between the puppy's nose and a point just behind the elbow or just in front of the last rib. This is approximately where the stomach of the puppy is located. Continue to hold the tube by your thumb and forefinger. ;

Step 2: The next step is to mark the tube at the correct depth measured in step 1. This can be done using a marking pen, or with a tiny piece of tape.

Step 3: With the marked tube still held between the thumb and forefinger, hold the puppy with the opposite hand, placing the thumb and forefinger on the cheeks, one on each side of the puppy's mouth. Use the remaining three fingers of the same hand to grasp the puppy. The middle finger is placed around the puppy's neck, in front of the forelegs. The fourth finger grasps the rib cage just behind the puppy's front legs. The little finger is placed in front of the puppy's hind legs, either in the groin or around the abdomen, depending on the puppy's length. Once the puppy is held firmly in hand, pry the puppy's jaw open with the little finger of the hand holding the tube. Gentle and steady pressure is placed on the sides of the puppy's mouth at the same time. By maintaining this light pressure, the puppy's mouth can be held agape once it is opened.

Step 4: With the puppy’s mouth open, insert the end of the tube into the groove formed by the top of the puppy's tongue. Carefully push the tube back into the puppy's pharynx. You have to push the tube straight in until it reaches the depth of the pre-determined mark. If it does not go down smoothly to the depth of the mark, it is not where it should be. If the tube is accidentally inserted into the puppy's trachea, healthy puppies will cough and struggle violently. In addition, a tube that is inserted into the puppy's trachea will usually stop about half-way to the mark where it encounters the division of the trachea. Once the tube is successfully inserted to the depth of the mark, slip your thumb and forefinger from the cheeks to the tube, and hold it firmly in the puppy's mouth at the level of the mark. Slide your other fingers up and around the puppy's head, leaving the little finger behind the puppy's front legs to give it a steady hold.

Step 5: While the tube is held firmly in place, stick the open end of the tube into a small jar of water. If a series of bubbles are produced in the water, it is likely an indication that the tube has slipped into the trachea. It may also indicate that the puppy has a little gas in his stomach. In any case, however, the tube should be removed and blown clear of water, then reinserted until no air bubbles appear in the water.

Step 6: Once the tube is safely inserted in the puppy's stomach, continue to hold the tube firmly in the puppy's mouth with the thumb and forefinger. With the other hand, place the open end of the tube between the forefinger and middle finger of the hand that holds the tube in the puppy's mouth. Once again, with the opposite hand, pick up the previously filled syringe and insert it snugly into the open end of the tube.

Step 7: With the syringe firmly attached, apply gentle pressure with the thumb to the syringe plunger and deliver the substitute mother's milk to the puppy. Continue to deliver the food until the correct amount has been administered. Then, draw back slightly on the plunger and gently slip the tube out, still attached to the syringe.

A word of warning - if you are not highly adept at handling tiny puppies, do NOT attempt this procedure without supervision. The first time you attempt such a procedure, you MUST have an experienced breeder and puppy handler or a vet to supervise you.

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