Cyda has quite a large litter of 6 puppies. The largest litter we had was Carys who had 8 – and managed to rear them all! The picture shows mum and dad with part of the litter of 8. With a large litter, there is always the question of supplementary feeding to consider – there are 3 options
- do you hand feed the larger puppies to give the smaller ones chance to feed off mum?
- do you feed the smaller puppies to endure that they have sufficient milk?
- do you keep a close eye on them, and ensure mum is getting plenty of food and liquid?
I would always steer away from hand-feeding the puppies unless they are constantly hungry – they make a noise like little seagulls when they are hungry! Option 3. is always preferable. Ensure mum has 1 extra meal per 2 puppies plus one for herself, so in Cyda’s case, that is 4 meals a day. I always give small dogs half a calcium tablet to keep their calcium levels up, particularly if they are feeding a large litter. Keeping a close eye on all the puppies, especially the smaller ones, is essential to ensure they are all feeding well.
Only if it is absolutely essential and the puppies are hungry, would I go for option 1 (in preference to option 2). Hand-fed puppies always grow more slowly than those who feed from mum, so by keeping the larger ones full, the little ones are more able to get to the milk-bar for their share, and hopefully give them the nourishment and strength to compete with their larger siblings. I would always opt for a 4oz baby bottle with a premature baby or slow flow teat, and my preference is Lactol puppy milk.