PUPPIES and kittens may require hand-rearing for a variety of reasons: the most obvious is death of the mother. However, some mothers may not be able to produce milk (AGALACTIC), have mastitis, have an underlying disease or are so debilitated that they cannot care for the litter. Sometimes the litter is so large that the mother is incapable of supplying adequate nutrition to all of the offspring. Some neonates are much smaller or weaker than their siblings and may have difficulty competing thus necessitating hand rearing to improve their chance of survival. Most people assume that neonates die from some infectious diseases. However the majority of orphan puppy or kitten's deaths are due to human error in that we usually delay in identifying the problem to respond correctly in a timely matter to save them. Orphans are at a higher risk of infection because of a variety of factors; e.g. Decrease immune response from not receiving local antibodies (e.g. colostrums) from their mother's milk. Handling of the litter should be primarily restricted to the caregiver and everyone else should wash their hands before handling neonates. Orphan puppies and kittens along with their mothers should receive a complete physical examination by your vet to determine why they were orphaned. Often abandon neonates have significant medical problems including HYPOTHERMIA, HYPOGLYCEMA and DEHYDRATION. An excellent approach for raising orphans is to try putting them to a FOSTER mother (one who is presently lactating and raising some offspring). It is recommended that some odor from the natural offspring is placed on the adoptive neonate to aide in this process. One can use feces or urine. Hand rearing orphan kittens and puppies To effectively hand rear orphans kittens and puppies you would need to provide the proper environment (temperature and bedding), nutrition, and stimulation to eliminate. Orphans require a controlled environment. It should be dry, warm, free and comfortable. This nesting box should be easy to clean. Environmental temperature control is important for many reasons. Many orphans cannot regulate their body temperature so provisions should be made to keep them warm. Radiant heat is preferred; hot water bottles wrapped in towels or heat lamps are commonly used. Feeding The most common question asked is what to feed, how to feed, how much to feed and how often. Proper is hygiene is paramount when feeding neonates. Orphan puppies and kittens should be weighed twice daily and they should be vigorous, squirming and fat. There are homemade milk replacers for puppies and kittens. It is necessary you feed them until you decide to wean them at 4 weeks. Feeding should be done by a bottle or tube feeding. Newborns should be fed 6 to8 times daily for the first two weeks. Puppies and kittens need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate for the first three weeks of life. A warm, wet cotton ball can be used to gently wipe the urinary and anal openings. Many care givers usually stimulate elimination just before feeding.