When a mother is unable to care for her puppies, it is up to us to step in and take over duties until she is able. If the puppies are orphaned, the task becomes more daunting as the owner must assume all caretaking duties until the puppies are able to fend for themselves. Caring for orphaned puppies can be a trying, but very rewarding experience.
First, determine why the puppies were orphaned. Did the mother pass away due to illness? If so, the puppies should be taken to a veterinarian immediately to determine if they are ill as well. Orphaned puppies will need to be cared for by a veterinarian throughout the owner's caretaking process, to receive immunizations and worming as well.
After the puppies have been given a clean bill of health, go to the nearest pet supply outlet and purchase several bottles and containers of replacement formula. Puppies, like human infants, have specific nutritional needs in order to survive and thrive. These nutrients cannot be obtained through feeding cow's milk. Cow's milk can also complicate matters by giving the puppies diarrhea and dehydrating them.
Feedings should occur every two hours from completion of the last feeding, for each puppy, twenty-four hours a day. This means that each puppy should be given the opportunity to feed every two hours from the time of its last feeding, not the time when feeding the litter ends. While it sounds redundant, care must be taken to not extend the time in between feedings to more than two hours since a puppy's glucose levels can drop dramatically, endangering its life. This may mean that you find yourself beginning a feeding every hour on the hour if the litter is particularly large or you have trouble getting some puppies to feed. It may be beneficial to have several people involved with feeding the puppies.
After feeding, you must stimulate bladder and bowel emptying. Wetting a cotton ball with warm water and stroking the genital area several times accomplishes this task nicely. Stimulating elimination is just as important as feeding and must be done at each feeding to properly care for the puppies.
And lastly, mother dogs are constantly cleaning their puppies. This is great for hygiene as well as stimulating the puppies. You should make several attempts a day to gently, but vigorously rub the puppies and get them moving to ensure proper development.