I've been more than a bit out of it recently, as I've been helping our Rottweiler, Pepper, care for her extra-large litter of 12 puppies. Pepper is a pretty good mom, but she's a bit clumsy. With her first litter (10 pups), two of the babies died when they were about a week old, and we believe they were squashed/smothered. With even more babies to watch out for this time, I felt like it would be best to give Pepper a bit of help - especially since she has more puppies than nipples with which to feed them!
For the first five days or so, I only put half the puppies with Pepper to nurse at a time. I found that the pups, having had a good nursing, would sleep for several hours, so during the time the first batch was sleeping, I would put the second batch on to nurse. One group was made up of the smallest puppies, so that they wouldn't have to compete with the bigger ones for their food.
I did this day and night - let me tell you, I was an exhausted wreck! As the puppies grew a bit larger, I waited until the separated pups started fussing, and then I switched them. This resulted in a switch every two hours or just a bit more.
For the past week, I've mostly let all twelve puppies fight it out for a chance at nursing. It has seemed like they all eventually got food, but yesterday I noticed that we had one puppy which was not growing nearly as well as the others, and at the end of the nursing session her belly wasn't as full as the others. To remedy her declining situation, we moved the scrawny puppy in with Buffalo's litter.
Buffalo, our fluffy little lapdog, only has three puppies, and they're so fat they can hardly move. I'm happy to report that this morning the little Rottweiler puppy had a full, fat tummy, so we're hopeful we got her a bit of extra care in time to avoid problems. Up in Buffalo's box, she never has to fight for her food, so she'll have a good chance to catch up with her litter mates fairly quickly, if she has no other health problems. I'll have to watch the rest of the group, though, as even with one puppy removed, there are still more Rottweiler puppies than nipples, and the biggest of the batch are pretty pushy, so I know there's still the chance of some puppies not getting enough to eat. But we're on the job!
Who knew that having two litters of puppies at the same time would turn out to be . . . convenient? LOL