Caring for the Runt of the Litter; a Newborn Puppy Survives

Dear Itty Bitty fans,

 This past week, I received a posting on Itty Bitty’s facebook page asking for help with a weak puppy.  The puppy was a Dachshund and the runt of the litter, just like Itty Bitty.  That made me think that it would be good to post an article that I wrote a couple of years ago on caring for a weak puppy or the runt of the litter.  Here is the article:

A Dachshund Puppy Survives: Caring for a Runt Named “Itty Bitty”


There is nothing that will touch your heart more than watching the runt of a litter trying to survive with “the bigger guys”.  Compassion for the small and the weak seems to be a very real and innate human emotion in all of us.  –But empathy alone won’t warm and nourish the puppy.  If the pup is to survive, your love, action and commitment can pull it through. Don’t give up!  Even when the vet recommends putting it down, tender loving care can often accomplish what modern, veterinary medicine can’t.  Watch for signs if the mother is rejecting the pup and take action.  Provide around the clock support for the first few days.  Provide comfort when the mother doesn’t.  Finally, provide nourishment in addition to the mother’s milk.  Rest assured that it can be done!  We know. Raising our Dachshund runt was a blessing to us as we learned to care for the puppy that we named Itty Bitty. 


The first sign that we had that Gwenny, our female Dachshund, was rejecting a puppy was when she completely ignored it after the other pups were born.  She knew that there was something wrong with him and focused her attention on the healthy pups.  As soon as Gwenny was strong enough, she actually picked Itty Bitty up and put him outside of the whelping box.  What an emotional thing that was, to hear him cry out and then find him alone and shivering on the cold tile floor.  We took our runt in to the vet that morning and the prognosis was not good.  He had an irregular heartbeat and, the vet surmised, a liver problem.  He gave him two days to live.  That is when we said a prayer and jumped into action by using the following steps:


1.        Provide around the clock support for the first few days:  The night that Itty Bitty was born, I pulled an old camping cot and my sleeping bag out of storage and set up a nursing station right next to the whelping box.  When Gwenny put Itty out of the box, I would gently pick him up and put him right back in the box next to Gwenny and the other pups.  The bonding that goes on between the pups and the mother at this point is very, very critical, so you do not want to completely remove the pup if you can help it.  You want the pup to bond with the mother, too, in spite of her rejection.

a.       Set your alarm to go off every two hours during the first night or two.  Check in on the pups.  Doing this together as a family can be a very rewarding time that will provide a lasting memory.

b.      If you need the sleep, have a helper or two; set up a schedule so that everyone takes a turn. 

2.        Provide comfort when the mother doesn’t: Don’t miss opportunities to comfort the puppy.  On those times when Gwenny put the puppy out of the whelping box, I would wrap a soft, dry wash towel around Itty Bitty and comfort him.  I would caress him and talk very softly to him.  Amazingly, just like a human baby, he responded to the comfort and to my voice.  This began a strong bond between the pup and me that Itty Bitty and I have to this day.

a.       During the day, I would find Itty Bitty alone in a corner of the whelping box.  Gwenny’s attention was fully on the healthy pups.  I would wrap the wash towel around him and hold him to my chest as I watched TV.  Puppies love body heat!  Your warmth warms and comforts them.  It won’t be unusual for the mother to be concerned and want the pup right back in the box, even if she will reject it again.  Her rejection does not mean that she doesn’t care for her pup.  She is trying to tell you that she does not know how to fix whatever is wrong with it.

3.        Provide nourishment in addition to the mother’s milk:  You will notice right away that your puppy is not getting his share of the mother’s milk.  The others are getting stronger and he is too weak to “fight” for his share.  It is very, very important, though, that you regularly move the other pups away (like to the other end of the box, or even to another box) and let the little one nurse on its own.  Even if the mother tries to move away, gently hold her down and command her to stay in a gentle voice (being loud or firm with her will not only upset her but the runt will sense it, too).  The puppy MUST have access to some of its mother’s milk.  There are life- protecting antibodies in her milk that will help the puppy fight off disease.

a.       Next, purchase some puppy milk replacer.  I like the powdered version that you mix with water.  You will want to have an eye dropper or syringe to feed the newborn pup, depending on the pups size.  For Itty Bitty, I found the puppy formula and a small, syringe like applicator at the local pet store.

b.      Warm the milk by adding warm tap water to the mix.  Refrigerate the milk between feedings.  Cold milk can be warmed by putting it in a small container and placing that container in a larger bowl or container that is full of tap hot water.  DO NOT MICROWAVE the milk or the water!  This will get the milk so hot that it burns the puppy.

c.       Set up two hour feeding intervals at first, then increase to four as the runt gets stronger.  When you can, move from the small applicator to a syringe, then to a puppy baby bottle (you can get these at the pet store, too). 

d.      The puppy may not suck on the syringe at first.  Simply place a small amount at a time in his mouth.  Be careful not to put so much that it gags.  It will slowly lap the milk down.

e.       As the pup gets the idea, in a day or two, you will notice that he will actually start sucking the milk right out of the syringe.

f.        As the puppies get older and you move them to a rice cereal, make sure that the runt continues to get its share, including nursing from its mother.


Please know that sometimes puppies may not make it because they are in fact too sick; but also know that, as of this writing, Itty Bitty is now twenty months old and stars in his very own children’s book (Itty Bitty Saves the Day)!  If my wife and I had not put the effort in to save our Itty Bitty, we would have denied ourselves of the blessing that he has become in our lives.  The way that he runs in to say “good morning” to MaryAnn each day, the way that he runs through the house with his “happy feet”, the way that he runs up my leg when I am on the couch and climbs up onto my shoulder, and the way that he loves us unconditionally; we would have missed out on that!  Fortunately, tender care, commitment and love were the right prescriptions for Itty Bitty, the runt of the litter.


Armando N. Garza is the author of the children’s book, “Itty Bitty Saves the Day,” a heartwarming story about the runt of the litter that saves the day for his dog family.  Go to to see Itty Bitty and learn more about his story. Armando and his wife, MaryAnn, have four Dachshunds and live in California, USA.

 Here is a link to the article on Ezine Articles:—Caring-For-A-Runt-Named-Itty-Bitty&id=835647 P.S.  Become a fan of Itty Bitty on Facebook!     Facebook Badge 
All photographic images and designs copyright (C) Armando Garza. All rights reserved

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69 Responses to “Caring for the Runt of the Litter; a Newborn Puppy Survives”

  1. Hi, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this article. It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

  2. armando says:

    Thanks for the feedback! Best wishes, Armando and Itty Bitty

  3. I found this blog while searching for other blogs on self-esteem. I enjoyed the article and I think that self-esteem is one of the most important but under-appreciated pieces of psychology. A lot of people suffer from it but most people do not realize they possess it nor how to treat it. It is a shame because we have so little time on this planet and we if we don’t love ourselves what kind of emotions are we having and even more sadly what kind of existence is that? I actually just wrote an article on self-esteem on my blog. I would love for people to check it out and tell me what they think of it. Either way this was a great read and I am going to see what else your site offers.

  4. armando says:

    Thanks for the post! Very well said, I might add. For an article that I wrote specific to self-esteem titled “Special Needs Child Development and Self-Esteem – Learning from a Special Puppy” please visit—Learning-From-a-Special-Puppy&id=963514
    Best wishes, Armando and Itty Bitty

  5. Natella Schukin says:

    So my sister’s dog, La-Luna (Shi-Tzu breed), and she had some puppies 3 days ago. And sadly their’s a runt in every litter, like that i have. It’s litteraly breaking my heart that our runt looks so small and skinny, i can feel it’s ribcage. But other then that it’s looks much better then most runts. La-Luna is such a wonderful mom (it’s her frist litter) and she dossne’t reject the poor pup, she takes care of her, licks her, eats her poop and pee like all mother dogs do, and most importiant that she dosen’t reject her in anny way. La-Luna Treats the poor pup just the same way as she has done with the other pup’s.
    The poor pup looks like it has a good amount of fur on it’s body just the same amount that theother pups do and seems to be normal alaround, but the the poor pup looks really skinny and in the pink parts (nose and feet) looks more purpelish then the vibrant pink.

    It is the third day and im scared, PLZZZ reply ASAP!!!!

  6. armando says:

    Please follow closely what I posted on caring for the runt. As for nourishement, follow this advice:

    Provide nourishment in addition to the mother’s milk: You will notice right away that your puppy is not getting his share of the mother’s milk. The others are getting stronger and he is too weak to “fight” for his share. It is very, very important, though, that you regularly move the other pups away (like to the other end of the box, or even to another box) and let the little one nurse on its own. Even if the mother tries to move away, gently hold her down and command her to stay in a gentle voice (being loud or firm with her will not only upset her but the runt will sense it, too). The puppy MUST have access to some of its mother’s milk. There are life- protecting antibodies in her milk that will help the puppy fight off disease.

    a. Next, purchase some puppy milk replacer. I like the powdered version that you mix with water. You will want to have an eye dropper or syringe to feed the newborn pup, depending on the pups size. For Itty Bitty, I found the puppy formula and a small, syringe like applicator at the local pet store.

    b. Warm the milk by adding warm tap water to the mix. Refrigerate the milk between feedings. Cold milk can be warmed by putting it in a small container and placing that container in a larger bowl or container that is full of tap hot water. DO NOT MICROWAVE the milk or the water! This will get the milk so hot that it burns the puppy.

    c. Set up two hour feeding intervals at first, then increase to four as the runt gets stronger. When you can, move from the small applicator to a syringe, then to a puppy baby bottle (you can get these at the pet store, too).

    d. The puppy may not suck on the syringe at first. Simply place a small amount at a time in his mouth. Be careful not to put so much that it gags. It will slowly lap the milk down.

    e. As the pup gets the idea, in a day or two, you will notice that he will actually start sucking the milk right out of the syringe.

    Here is a link to the article on Ezine Articles:—Caring-For-A-Runt-Named-Itty-Bitty&id=835647

    I will also say a prayer for the little pup!

    God bless,

    Armando N. Garza
    Article Source:

  7. Kelly Tyree says:

    Wow!!!! This is the only word to describe how I’m feeling at this moment. I am currently surrogate momma to a little Wiener runt born 6 days ago. What a blessing this article has been for me. I was beginning to worry and feel discouraged as he is so tiny and fragile. His current weight is 4.9 oz. His lowest weight was 3.9 oz. We think he is making progress but our area of expertise lies with horses, beagles, cats, birds and other little critters you may find roaming a farm. This is our first time caring for this breed. Your article has given me hope for our little man, who we’ve named Hercules, as he is our little warrior. What struck me most was the name of your pup, Itty Bitty. Our runts surrogate dad suggested we call him Teeny Weenie. Lol!!! That may become his Middle name if he stays with us. Thank you again!!! Your story and knowledge has helped us tremendously. God Bless!!!

  8. Chad and Ericka says:

    We have a litter of 9 rat terriers and the runt started out on day one as just a half oz smaller then the others. But we found that by the second day the others had gained an oz and he had lost an oz from 3 down to 2oz. We found that he could not suck and we had to drip milk into his mouth for him to swallow. by the 3rd day he could suck but was so behind in weight that the others pushed him away. We gave mom a small bone to chew on in her own bed and used that as personal feeding time for the little guy Clark as in our Superman. he has been great. But now at 7 weeks he can’t hold his own when it comes to playing with the others. He weighs a little over a pound and the others are over 2 lbs. So now we have to keep him separate from the bunch. He is eating solid food and loves to play with us and his dad plays well with him. I hope he doesn’t have any issues with learning since he has been out of the litter for about 2.5 weeks now. He sees us as his parents it seems like. Will there be negative effects as he gets older?

  9. armando says:

    Dear Chad and Ericka,
    My initial thought is that it would be good, with supervision, to let Clark (I love the name!) interact with the others as often as you can. I think it is great that he sees you as parents. With our litter, Itty Bitty, the runt, was too tiny and frail to sell, so we kept him. We sold or gave away the other puppies. So that left us with the little guy and we became his parents, too. Of course, his mother, Gwenny and grandmother, Roxy, as well as Uncle Chance lived with us at the time as well. As for issues with learning, you’ll be surprised at how much instinct takes over. He is a puppy after all. One word of caution is to keep a very close eye on him physically and don’t waste time getting treatment if you see a change in diet or disposition. Physically, something has kept his size down. For Itty Bitty, it turned out to be a liver problem, so extra care and vigilance is required. Best wishes to you and Clark and thanks for the correspondence!

  10. Rosa Nieto says:

    I have a week old tzitzu runt and I am taking care of it as best as I can by giving it the milk from Petco and I have a heating pad set on low under a pillow. Please pray for her. Her name is Noel Nieto she was born on Dec. 22

  11. Damara Page says:

    I’m currently caring for a runt Bichon Frise Poodle mix …Sugar the momma hasn’t rejected her but her monster brothers are over powering her at the teat…I have been providing homemade supplement and removing the other pups for her to nurse…I was worried I was wrong…the article has given me the boost I need to keep going.

    • armando says:

      Dear Damara,
      Thanks so much for the feedback. I’m glad the article gave you a boost. Just keep doing what you are doing and love on the little pup. Spending time with her will be very important for her as she grows. God bless, and keep it up!


  12. Tracy says:

    Our beagle had puppies 5 days ago and the runt was about half the size as the other puppies at birth. He is still with us but the other puppies are a lot bigger than he is now. The momma is a good dog and takes care of him and he does nurse but tends to get knocked off or he nurses after the other puppies. We just got a dropper and some milk replacement today and was able to give him a little bit of it. I’m praying that we are doing the right thing and that he continues to get stronger. We weighed him to night cause we finally got a scale and he weighs 4.6 ounces and will keep a track of it. Please pray for our baby.

    • armando says:

      Dear Tracy,
      Rest assured that you are doing the right thing in caring for your little pup! You might also try to remove the other pups a couple of times a day and let the puppy have mom’s milk all to himself. …Praying for your baby!

  13. kaluna says:

    I wish I had read up on runts much earlyer my runt just pass away he had just turn 6weeks on this day I enjoyed your story.I do most of the stuff you did but he still die feeling a bit depress but he went back to heaven Thats the good part . thanks for the story I now how to care for runts

    • armando says:

      So sorry that you lost your little puppy. Sometimes they are just not strong enough to make it. I, too, believe the little guy is in heaven now. Thank you for your feedback!

  14. Cheri says:

    Please say a prayer for our 2 day old pup (Newfoundland)…we already had one die at birth…we are getting her to the vet this morning. Thanks for the HOPE and advice! It is so appreciated!

  15. ed spacer says:

    we have a major problem. we have year and a half old brother and sister beagles that made puppies. we lost three during birth then we had five. all fine and well all feeding..then we lost georgio after three weeks…frank..then marco. all were good one day..deceased the next. only rhing common among all were one day they looked lighter than the others..then refuse feeding….cry then die. we have one thats like super puppy luigi thats like superdeveloped and brandon started fading out but we stabilized him. what would cause that after three weeks?

    • armando says:

      So sorry that you are going through this. In my experience, a brother and sister mating (in-breeding) will cause internal deformities in some puppies and may not in others. It is very hard to say what is going on inside. All you can do is continue to love them, care for them, and pray that they pull through. It sounds like you are taking very good care of them. I’ll pray all goes well with the surviving pups.

  16. Tracey says:

    My Chihuahua had pups about 3 weeks ago and the monster size brother and sister pushed the tiny little one aside, the mom keeps pushing her out and clamping down on her throat I am trying to feed her with the replacer and tiny weeny bottle and in hope of momma giving her another chance, but if she doesn’t , I pray to God she makes it we are calling her mustard seed. Please join with me in prayer that she lives and not die. Thanks for your article, it gives us hope.

    • armando says:

      What I wound up doing with my Itty Bitty was removing the other pups and letting the runt nurse on its own –even holding down the mother if she would not stay down. I did this at least a couple of times a day. Best time to do this is while they are sleeping and milk has had a chance to replenish inside the mother. I love the name that you have given her. All we need is faith the size of a mustard seed and we can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). I am praying for little mustard seed.

  17. Dale says:

    I have an 11 week old female Havanese who was the runt. She was basically hand fed while the mother was nursing the other 5. We bought milk substitute and gave her that also. She seems really weak. She has very little strength in her hind legs and she kind of head bobs as if she has weak muscles in her neck. Vet said she seems fine but I’m concerned. She does eat dry food well but just seems to not have any muscle development.

    • armando says:

      Remember that it is VERY important for the pup to get milk from its mother as well. Separate the other pups and let the runt nurse from the mother. This will get her the important anti-bodies that the runt needs to get stronger. I believe this will go a long way in getting her strength to where it needs to be.

  18. lana says:

    Just had 6 yorkies 9 hrs ago
    There is a runt…I am worried that she may suffocate him..I keep finding him behind her or under her while the other’s are feeding…I don’t want to rush to put him on a bottle…Did i touch him too soon?

    • armando says:

      Touching him should not have an effect. The mother is probably ignoring it because she thinks that there is something wrong with it. If you have the mother and pups in a whelping box, be sure to have a round dowel in it about 4-5 inches from the side. That way the baby can get in the space between the dowel and box if it gets behind the mother. Here is a link that shows what I mean:
      Also, move the other puppies away at times and let the runt nurse by itself. Hold the mother down if she tries to get up so that the pup gets some milk. You can give added milk through a bottle as well so that it gets enough between mother’s milk and bottle. God bless.

  19. Toshi says:

    Pray for my pup, he’s two day old and he’s weaker than the other. Thanks. Such a great article.

  20. Hannah says:

    I have a 3 day old runt litter of 9 to a bullhound he is the smallest and vary small tonight I have taken him away and started him on orphaned puppy milk he’s struggling to get a look in even though I’ve done the putting him on first moving puppies out of the way he’s not getting any bigger this is my 3Rd litter(not from same bitch I am a foster mummy for local rescue center)but first runt and smallest litter I’m at my wits end I’ve truly fallen in love with him as he was first born and I had to smrevive him and so on she kept on rejecting him to a point I kept finding him in 1 of my ugg boots but I’ve been persistent on putting him back advice on what to do would be appreciated as the vet is saying it’s best to let nature take its course

    • armando says:

      I’ll say a prayer for your little runt. It is true that we must let nature take its course, but that does not mean that we, as part of nature, can’t provide tender loving care and nurturing to help a runt survive. The most important thing now is to keep doing what you are doing and spend time with him. Keep him warm and comfort him. If it is meant to be, he will slowly gain strength and become a part of the litter. A heating lamp over him in the litter box will help keep him warm. Wrap him in a small blanket or towel and hold him in your lap to let him know that he is loved.

  21. Nick McDowell says:

    I have a litter of 2 day old peek a poos and the mother is pushing the tiny away. When I noticed it I immediately got it out and warned it up. I went and got some milk replacer powder and have it some of that and it started to whimper again. I held the mother and let the baby eat alone and when it finished she picked it up and put it with the rest of her pups. I will be keeping check over the next few days every cople of hours to make sure all stays well. Thanks for the advice.

    • armando says:

      You are quite welcome. And thank you for the feedback! So glad to hear that the mother has accepted the pup! Best wishes for you and the pup!

  22. sandy jung says:

    We have a 9 day old daschund runt. You’re article has given me hope. He is so tiny and we worry about him. We bought puppy replacement. He’s been whining a lot today and it’s been scaring me. He’s not hungry as he was fed couple hours ago. We just learned about the rubbing of the genitals as to get him to go to the bathroom. Maybe he has a tummy ache. Today we bought nutri cal but unsure how to use. Put a sm dab on the syringe but he refused it. Thank you for any help I can get as 1 runt passed away at 4 days because we didn’t know anything about taking care of them. I was heart broken. We took the pregnant mother in as the owner was abusing his daschunds, leaving them outside in the freezing Oregon weather and no proper nutrition

    • armando says:

      Hi, Sandy,

      God bless you for taking in the mother and puppies! It sounds like you are doing all of the right things. The whining may be a sign that he needs warmth and comfort. If he is not getting that from his mother, wrap him in a small towel and hold him while you are sitting and relaxing. Also, use powdered milk formula (like PetLac, for example). Warm it up (be sure it is not too hot!) and use a syringe to feed him. At this point, Tender Loving Care, and nutrition is what he needs. If you have a mind to, pray for the little pup. We did for ours. I’ll pray for yours to get strong and healthy!

  23. I have a 8 week old runt of my litter puppy he is a full blood bully his mom is like 45 pound pregnant and his dad is small also but my pup (samson)isnt even a pound he runs plays acts fine but im woundering if he will ever grow even just a tiny bit his brothers and sisters make 10 of him

    • armando says:

      Just keep giving him tender loving care and he may have a growth spurt. Our runt, Itty Bitty, did that and wound up about three-fourths the size of his siblings. Give it time and see. I love the name Samson, by the way!

  24. Gracie says:

    This is such a wonderful inspirational story and you are a truly compassionate person.

    We are considering getting a runt Shepadoodle as our first dog, she is a calm quiet , little shy but stoic puppy. The breeder told me her health is good .

    But I did my due diligence researched, and called a bunch of dog trainers, and talked to them about this runt and they have all told me to NOT adopt her that it will have physical problems and since it is shy it might become aggressive, and to boot all the physical problems could be very costly!.That a runt with this shy problem is a very bad first dog choice. Now I feel so torn about it I do not want our first dog experience to turn into a nightmare, but I really felt that we could help draw her out and get her on supplements. The dog trainer straight out told me not to get involved, to let someone else adopt her, that is experienced with this stuff ! The dog trainer is an expert and is trainer for most all the problem shelter dogs and he works with them before most of them are adopted out .
    I guess my point is he isn’t just some guy, since he used to be breeder, and I think he said, up to 40 litters so he knows dogs .

    Man, I thought I felt confused before, now my head is spinning

    • armando says:

      My thought on that is for you to do what is in your heart. We only had our runt for three short years. Sure, we grieved when we lost him, but those three years are now full of precious memories of watching the little guy grow. We were able to love him and care for him. Isn’t that all any of us wants? To be loved and comforted in this life? Sorry, I was sort of preaching there! Do what is in your heart and be at peace with your decision. The rest will take care of itself. God bless you.

  25. Shannon says:

    Thanks for the story! Were are working with & praying for a little girl right now. She is 4 days. We noticed right away she wasn’t eating. Her mother has not rejected & cleans & cuddles her. We bought milk replacer right away and she drinks from a tiny bottle just fine once we stick it in her mouth. Her siblings have, of course, grown already & she is still little with her ribs showing. They don’t push her away either-it’s all her! She searches for a nipple & goes clear across the pile to moms end & just falls asleep. I have tried to move her to a different spot to be alone with mom when the others are sleeping, but, it doesn’t help. She searches and never finds. So, I trying helping, put the replacer on moms nipple etc. She still won’t suckle from mom! I am worried, because, like you said she needs some of moms milk too! Any suggestions greatly appreciated!!!

    • armando says:

      Sorry to just be seeing this. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things. It sounds like she has acquired a taste for the milk replacer over her mother’s milk. I suggest that when you put her at her mother’s nipple, you try to gently squeeze some milk out onto the puppies tongue. You’ll have to wait for mother to be really full with milk, so you may have to separate the other pups for a while to let the milk build up. If this does not work, check with your veterinarian to see if there are supplements that you can give her. I’ll pray for that little girl!

  26. Miranda says:

    I have a 5 day old chihuahua baby he is only 2.4 oz and he is not putting on any weight.. I was so scared of over feeding him that I think I may have under fed him (he wouldn’t take to the breast I was up all night trying to get him to latch) I’ve been feeding him with syringe. I have only been giving 2ml at a time but it might have spilt loads as he has been lapping it from the syringe? I’m so scared I am in love with him please pray for him and please can you give me any tips he won’t take the syringe any more I don’t know if he’s just sleepy- he’s warm but he’s floppy please help

    • armando says:

      Dear Miranda,

      So sorry to hear about your little pup. It sounds like you are doing what needs to be done. Sometimes, when they don’t take milk from the syringe, they are still getting it on their lips. If he has stopped taking it, with Itty Bitty, I gently held his mouth open a little bit to get milk on his tongue. Be careful not to put too much. Just a little to let him “smack” at it. Please know that I will say a prayer for the little guy.

  27. kaitlin says:

    hey, I loved this and im going through something very similar and I need help! im so stuck! my beagle had 8 pups four days ago and most of them were very very weak and almost dead basically so we brought them in and them warm, gave them warm sugar water, and cared for them just enough until they needed to go back to their mom, she was reluctant to let them drink milk! we woke up the next morning and two had passed and 3 were again very very weak. We bought milk replacer and brought them in and fed them like they need be and kept warm. We knew how important the moms milk is so we would hold the mom down and let them drink and they almost wouldn’t stop, it broke my heart she fought so much at them to drink. We put them in a tote with a heat lamp and fed them every two hours, I woke up yesterday and three had passed! I have two left and one is getting weak and I am so lost as to what to do! there is one that we have became very attached to and shes fat and seems healthy (knock on wood) I pray and pray these sweer babies make it! can you help me and give me tips as to keeping them alive and well? I’m in desperate need of help!!! thank you!

    • armando says:

      Dear Kaitlin,

      So sorry to hear that you have lost puppies through this. Sometimes the mother of the pups doesn’t have the instinct to care for the pups. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things. If you do not have a heat source for the puppies, I recommend a heating lamp. Like the kind you buy for a pet lizard. You can arrange to hang this over where the puppies sleep to keep them warm. Be sure it is far enough away to NOT overheat them. Another thing that I did was put a windup clock (one that tics) wrapped in a dry washcloth in with them to simulate the mother’s heart. Keep checking on them through the night. Every 2-3 hours. It sounds tough, but it will pay off. Also, keep forcing them (and the mother) to get milk. Keep adding to that with the formula as well. Drops of water to keep them hydrated. God bless, and I’ll pray for the remaining puppies.

  28. Donna says:

    I have a two day old runt. The Labrador mom is so connected to us I feel like she understands us so well. This is her first litter. I started to supplement food for the runt every two hours. Could not believe my eyes when I went back to the box and mom had put all the others (there is a total of 12) between her front legs to let the little runt eat by himself. She understood he was in danger and saw me feeding him –so decided she could do that herself! Love that dog! and your article helped when I felt in a panic. Having lots more hope.

    • armando says:

      Thank you so much for the feedback! You are so right. The mother usually does know instinctively that something is wrong. What a blessing for her to realize that and try to help! Best of luck, and I’ll pray your little guy to get stronger every day!

  29. Chris says:

    FRAIL PUPS and SMALL Breeds: I enjoyed your article and read so many different articles regarding breeding my chihuahua since so small..I just bred my third time but my first for this one…I have to say though out of literally dozens or more of articles I read and videos I watched for every scenario I could prepare for, not a single article mentioned if you have a frail puppy that stops suckling or does so very little and gets weak and barely moves to give it sugar water or karo syrup or maple syrup-just a dab on the tongue…then place the baby back on the moms teet-then if it won’t attach then bottle feed…the bottle hole should be large enough when you hold it upside down to form a droplet by itself without squeezing-as you don’t want to over feed…I lost 2 of my runts-not one article could I find told me this…I did rush them to the vet but it was too late. I did call at the first sign and they only told me to bottle feed which I got an excellent milk replacement. The vet told me it is possible they were underdeveloped since both pups were not but 2″ long so I will never know if I could have saved those two…my third pup was just starting to look frail and they gave it sugar water and it immediately started to suckle again. Also for small dogs give the mom CN critical nutrient puppy food which she ate more then dry puppy food while pregnant and birthing since pups rob mom of needed nutrients. I also noticed mom was a bit tired and not drinking much water(I had to hand feed her). I bought at Petsmart A gel paste of vitamins which helps hydrate your dog. I can’t believe she perked right up and drank! Once the vet told me about the sugar issue when I actually searched articles for sugar issues with new pups that’s when I finally found the articles -but they won’t come up unless you are looking for it…I wish every article had told me this as it may have saved my babies..the two I have are doing well and suckling great now!

    • armando says:

      Thank you so much for your comments in regard to sugar water. I’ll keep your comments attached to this blog for others to see! Thanks again!

  30. jennifer says:

    itsy bitsy is one lucky dog!
    my mini schnauzer had three healthy pups two weeks ago today. I have an itsy bitsy as well and am looking for any additional information I can get! I have been syringe feeding her since two days old. she is too small to grab hold of the tet on momma. I continue to put her next to momma each time before feeding, but she will not grab hold. she is very strong, lots of will…but, is 1/4 the size of her siblings. any input? I am wondering how long I will be feeding her….and if by the time the other two are ready to begin weaning, if she will be able to eat on her own as well? thank you so much!

    • armando says:

      Thanks for reaching out to us! As far as suggestions, in order to get the pup to make a connection between mother’s milk and the teat, try to let mother’s milk get full, then gently squeeze a little milk out of the teat and put the pup up to it. You might have to do this several times and for several feedings before the pup catches on. Another thing to do is to transition from the syringe to a small bottle (they look like tiny baby bottles) to get the pup to begin sucking the milk out of the bottle. This will help when you try to get it to nurse from the mother. Please let me know that you received this. I’m wanting to make sure my replies are getting through. God bless you and the pup!

  31. Haylea says:

    Hi, I have just had my Rottweiler give birth yesterday and there is a runt in the litter but she is weak and cannot suckle on her own I have to feed her with a syringe. I made sure she got lots of colostrum yesterday but she is quiet and sleeps all the time. She has a paw that is bent and she is being shown to the vet tomorrow about it but she is weak and doesn’t want to feed or move around. I’ve been giving her milk replacement and keeping her as warm as I can but she doesn’t change. What do I do??

  32. Your post “Caring for the Runt of the Litter; a Newborn Puppy Survives” is very informative and helpful. Thanks for sharing with us. If you want to know about How to prevent problems in whelping and lactation, you must visit our website.

  33. Heather Wright says:

    Thank you for your article. I rescued an abandoned dog from the mountains and turns out she was pregnant! She just had a litter of twelve and it’s hard for her. I spoke with my vet about bottle feeding today, but your article made me much more confident in caring for the smaller of the litter. Thank you, this is helping my sleepless sanity?

  34. Twila Reich says:

    Great message. I’m handfeeding a Japanese chin, I’ve never seen a pup so tiny. The vet wanted to put her and her sister down. Sadly her sister didn’t make it. Bella (I named her) is so weak but I’m on day 11. Her Brothers look like they came from a whole different litter there is that much of a size difference. It has been very strain full even heart breaking at times. I’m glad you wrote your article it makes me hopeful. Thanks, Twila.

  35. Christine says:

    ty for a wonderful artical

  36. Carol Robson says:

    Was looking for info on runts in litter and came across your info. So parallels my “wee bitty”. Mom was rejecting her and I am feeding her with a bottle. She was 8 oz and other Airedale puppies were 13 or 14 ozs…9 in total. Bitty will be 3 weeks tomorrow and is gaining slowly. She is now 17 ozs. but very strong and eats well from a bottle. When did you start giving your puppy rice cereal?

    • armando says:

      Dear Carol,

      My apologies for the delay in replying to you. Been away for the computer for a while! As I recall, Itty Bitty started to show an interest in rice cereal at about 8-12 weeks. Based upon your puppies age, she should be ready any day now! Enjoy your puppy!

  37. Deb says:

    Thank you so much!! I have my second litter of frenchies (used to bully pits) and they are tiny to start with but the runts always worry me. After reading about aspiration I was terrified to feed formula. My runt (we call her angel) was fading and I could tell with the lolling head, the no energy, the sleeping, the no protest no matter the position you put her in. she was dehydrated and I was up two nights all night. Holding her in a towel on my chest and talking to her and feeding her every hour (seemed like only drops of warm formula by dropper onto my palm and a few drops of sugar water on her tongue…still terrified of aspiration…and finally putting the dropper between her and momma while nursing and putting a few drops in the crease of her mouth (not confirmed but think she has and underbite causing her to not suckle efficiently enough to get nourishment. Reading this article gave me hope I could bring her through. Two days later she is full of energy (still tiny and wobbly) but working harder at nursing and momma has not even rejected cleaning her (typically she does with formula) since I gave mom a few tastes of the formula. Thank you for the information, it got her over the hump.

  38. lisa says:

    thank you rfor your story .ithas helped me out so much.ive grown to love this little going to give it my all.i love all animals and this little one has touched my heart very hard.i now have him in his on very worm blanket my alarm is set at two hous from now .he is 4 weeks old but he is so tiny ,,for now I’m going to feed him every two thinking of naming him SON.thank you for your story… really inspired me.

  39. Angie says:

    Hi i have a friend who chocolate Lab just had her first litter 14 in all by the end there was only 11 that made it she had 1 tiny tiny pup the other are3 times her size as i went in to peak at the babys there owner said see that tiny 1 we’re going to have to throw it out back it’s not going to make it being a dog lover me an my husband look at each other an ask can we have it they said sure take it the mom keeps pushing it away she is so little my husband put her its a girl under his shirt we ran strait to pet smart i bought ESBILAC puppy milk replacer an tiny bottles an of course we next door to CVS an ask for a baby meds droper before i could get any made up my husband informed me she had went stiff an just stop breathing i grabbed her up an blowed a breath in to her nose as i messaged her chest she became limp but took a breath so my husband then took over so we could leave cvs we are homeless right now so we stay in our car an park in a friends back yard never mind that but we set up all night taking turns just blowing in her face just like blowing at her we didn’t want to blow to hard well once again she stopped breathing my husband did the same as i had done earlier she came back again we feed her with the dropper threw the night an just rubbed her just keeping her awake until she began to have her breathing in a rhythm she is 2 days old as of now she’s waking up about every 2 hours on her on to eat she’s nursing the puppy bottle on her own she pees an poops right after she eats of course we knew to massage her little hiney im just asking for prayer’s an to offer anything extra i should do to make sure she makes if whst worries me is she never had any mommies milk im not sure but im going to go by her mom’s house tomorrow when we get up an ask if maybe i can get some of her mom’s milkthanks for your article it gives me hope GodBless Angie Billy and LolaBitti!

    • armando says:

      Dear Angie,
      What an amazing effort you are making for your little puppy! God bless you for that! It warmed my heart to read of the love that you have for her. It sounds like you are giving the most important thing right now: love. Make sure you keep her warm. Also, if your friend will let you, isolate the other puppies from the mother and see if the mother will let the little one nurse from her. This will help get the much needed antibodies. I will definitely pray for your pup, and also for a home for you! God bless.

  40. says:

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  41. Kara says:

    A month ago (4 weeks and 1 day) our toy poodle had her second littter. This litter she had 3 parti and 1 cream runt. The cream is identical to her and looks just like her. Being the tiny one it was quite hard for him to compete with the others. I started supplementing him and he started doing great! I stopped supplementing after a couple weeks as he was catching up. We noticed the past few days mama started growling & snapping at him. He’s seriously the sweetest pup! Seems like she’s rejecting him. He’s not been injured thankfully. He’s old enough to start lapping milk from a bottle cap. I gave him some today and extra cuddles ofcourse. It’s my suspect that being the smallest and the only pup with color is the reason. I’m not overly experienced with puppies but am getting coached by a vet & another poodle breeder. Haven’t shared this information yet, I wanted to see what was on the internet first.

    Now I know this is quite different from dogs but I have witnessed that in other animals (chickens especially) the mom rejecting the lone chicks that are a contrasting color to the others. We aren’t perfect, nor is the animal world. I want this one to have all the love he can get. He’s going to a very special home. I wish I could attatch a photo to this post. He’s come such a long way. Someone has to love the underdog. No pun intended :-) thank you for your post.


  42. Bailey says:

    So my Yorkie gave birth to six dorkies, and they all looked normal for the first couple of days and then 5 of them started growing and the runt was the same size it was when it was born. It’s been 12 days and she’s half the size of all of them and she’s so skinny and she barely eats and she’s really cold. She also has an enlarged eye and I think a tumor growing on her jaw. She’s barely breathing and the mom brings the runt to me and just whines. She carries her everywhere and I don’t know what to do. We can’t take her to the vet because my dad doesn’t want to pay for the vet so she’s at home and we’re bottle feeding her but she won’t eat please help.

    • armando says:

      I’m so sorry that the pup was not doing well. I had some issues with not receiving notices on my blog.
      How is the pup doing? Did she make it?
      Sometimes the best thing is giving them love and offering up a prayer.

      God bless,


  43. Amanda says:

    I loved reading your article. My mini dachshund Aspen just had her first litter of four pups, 3 boys and 1 Girl Saturday morning. The third puppy is the runt of the litter, he’s half the size of the other pups. I’ve been feeding him puppy formula from a syringe every 2 hours. I’m looking for some guidance and encouragement, we love this little guy so much and want to do the very best we can for him. He’s got a wonderful mama who is very accepting and tries her hardest with him, but he can’t latch on and he won’t suckle. What is the right amount to give him to satisfy his hunger right now? What is an adequate belly size after a feeding? How do I know he’s satisfied? I’m worried that I might under feed him or over feed him, thoughts? He seems so tired and weak, and I’m afraid I’m not doing enough.

    • armando says:

      Hi, Amanda,

      My apologies for not replying sooner. How is the pup doing?
      To answer your question, you should be able to tell when he is full (his tummy will show). It will take time to digest, but he’ll know when he is full.
      I pray he is doing well.

      God bless,


  44. Jan Bates says:

    I’ve been surfing the web looking for advice and came across this article! I suppose everyone’s story is different, but mine is that my Jack Russell Terrier gave birth on 12/08/17 to 4 puppies prematurely (4 days to be exact) but I have since found out that 4 days is quite substantially prem. Needless to say and sadly 3 boys were stillborn but there is one live little girl….
    Pip as we’ve named her was quite strong in the beginning and managed to suckle from mum…sometimes needing support but I thought she might make it (I knew that getting Colostrum is important in those first few days). Slowly but surely she started fading and it was upsetting to watch so I jumped in and decided to help her, supporting her with feeds (buying formula using a syringe) where necessary. In-between me feeding I give her back to mum who cleans her and keeps her warm. All is going well and it’s now day 4 and she’s gone from 91g to 102g – I’m weighing her daily to check she’s still gaining in weight. Today, tonight she starting suckling from mum…it was full on and I’m so pleased…I just want to know should I still keep supporting the pup (Pip) or should I pull back and leave alone now? I’m just wary of her fading again and losing her next time? I’ve got so attached.
    Thank you for reading.

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