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How to Raise Orphaned Puppies

If y’all remember, my brother and sister – Ozzy and Brandi – were born here a few days before an ice storm. Well, as it goes, my Lady ended up with first-hand knowledge on how to raise orphaned puppies!

You see, for whatever reason, their momma decided she wanted to up and move her babies.  

To make a long story short, the momma dog was able to move some of her babies, but not all of them.

The ice storm was so bad that she didn’t make it back to get the last ones.

That is how we came to have Ozzy and Brandi as part of our pack.

There were actually 4 of the orphaned puppies left, but my Lady found homes for two of them after they got old enough to go to another home.

At any rate and back to my story, rasing orphaned puppies without their momma was HARD work!

My Lady says it’s never the best thing to have to do, but sometimes it just can’t be helped.

So, my Lady wanted to give you some tips on how to raise orphaned puppies!

How to Raise Orphaned Puppies

Check out my Lady’s tip on How to Raise Orphaned Puppies

A young puppy can become orphaned for a number of reasons.

Maybe their mother is sick, injured, or dead, or she could have a behavioral issue that prevents her from providing the proper care.

Regardless of the reason, if a puppy is less than 8 weeks old it will need special care.

And if their mother isn’t available to provide that care, a person will have to step in.

We did that part with our own Ozzy, Brandi, and two other siblings!

Miss Molly even did her part!

She would have been a good mother for sure!

She helped clean, comfort, and take care of the orphaned puppies! We are so proud of her!

How to Raise Orphaned Puppies - Brandi

Brandi – only days old – sorry for the blur 🙂

If you’re dealing with a similar situation, these tips on How to Raise Orphaned Puppies should be very helpful!

1. Keep Them Comfortable

Young puppies need to be kept warm to stay healthy.

As they don’t have thick fur or the ability to do much that would make them warmer, they’ll rely on you.

A 1-week old puppy should be kept in an area with an air temperature of 90-95 degrees.

At two weeks, 85 degrees. 80 degrees through the third week, 75 degrees in the fourth week, and finally 70 degrees (room temperature) at five weeks and beyond.

An incubator, heating pad, or heat lamp can help with this as long as they’re used safely so the puppies can’t get overheated or burned.

Puppies only days old

2. Keep Them Fed

If you’re trying to raise orphaned puppies, you’ll need to buy or make puppy formula.

In their first 48-72 hours of life, feed the puppies in 2-hour intervals.

After that, feed them in 3-hour intervals except for at night, when you can do two 4-hour intervals.

At two weeks old, feed them every 4 hours (with a 6-hour gap between feedings at night).

Burp them after each meal.

When puppies are 3 weeks old, they can begin to eat puppy mush 3 times a day along with their puppy formula.

At 4 weeks old, they can eat the mush 4-5 times a day, can have less bottle feeding, and don’t need to be fed at night.

At 6 weeks, they can eat normal solid food.

Person holding a weeks-old puppy in hands on its back

3. Manually Create Potty Times

Until they’re 21 days old, orphaned puppies will need you to stimulate their bowels because their muscles are too weak for them to accomplish those tasks on their own.

So you’ll need to rub a warm, damp cotton ball or towel on their genital and anal areas to get them to urinate and defecate.

For some puppies, this will work best before a meal, and for others, this will be most successful after they’ve eaten.

4. Prevent Diseases

Young puppies are especially susceptible to disease since their immune systems are so new and weak.

To raise orphaned puppies that are healthy, you may need to get them vaccinated earlier than non-orphaned puppies (consult with your veterinarian).

You should also provide your orphaned puppies with deworming treatment at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks old.

Then put them on a monthly heartworm preventive product when they are of age.

Ozzy and Brandi at 3 months old

Ozzy and Brandi at 3 months old

5. Socialize Them

Just like human babies, puppies need to be given time to work on their social skills.

So when you’re working to raise orphaned puppies, don’t forget to spend time with each puppy.

Pet them, talk to them, and generally just show them love.

When they’re about 5-6 weeks old you can start getting them used to more complex things, like household noises and other people and pets.

After they are fully vaccinated, you can begin to introduce them to new people and other pets for further their socialization.

Just take it slow, remembering that they’re essentially furry babies!

For further help, consult your veterinarian.

They can guide you on what exactly needs to be done for your puppies depending on their situation, health, breed, and age.

Raising orphaned puppies takes a lot of time and patience, just as with a newborn baby. 

It’s not an easy task, but it can be done.

Ozzy and Brandi playing

Ozzy and Brandi at 3 years old

In this picture, my two little orphans are 3 years old and big healthy pups!

Ozzy and Brandi playing in kiddie pool

Now, at 10 years old, they don’t remember their birth mother at all.

They truly I am their mother and never let me out of their sight!

So, tell us, have you ever cared for orphaned puppies before?

We would love to hear about it in the comments below!


Monday 3rd of February 2020

orphaned pups are 7 weeks, eating solid kibbles, and drinking milk from a bowl. They also will drink water, when can we stop with the baby formula we have been getting from the vet?


Monday 3rd of February 2020

Once the pups are eating solid kibble at around 6-8 weeks, you can stop the formula. I have always mixed the formula with the food (let it sit and get mushy) at around 4-6 weeks and then slowly added less and less. However, once they eating solid kibble on their own AND drinking water, the formula is not necessary :)

Shirley Winand

Tuesday 3rd of December 2019

Love little puppies, So, darn adorable

Dena Akbar

Saturday 26th of October 2019

They are so cute, this is so awesome!

Jamie Lentz

Sunday 20th of October 2019

So glad to see them doing so well!


Monday 7th of October 2019

I keep two orphan pups for my daughter while she works we don’t live close so I keep them at my house during the week they are 24 days old and showing signs of needing more solid food crying and wrestling for some time after eating even though their amt given is over what they need and one is a strong lapper already the other is lapping but not as pro as the other My daughter and her sisters are against me trying to start some thin mush but I think they are ready their daddy was a Great Pyrenees and both puppies are large for their age What do you think about this dilemma I think I may just go ahead and do it ?


Monday 7th of October 2019

At around 3 weeks, you can try and place the formula into a shallow bowl. Dip your finger into the formula and place it on their lips to try and introduce. Allow them to learn to lap it up. Go slow and continue with bottle feedings until they have the hang of it!

Once they have learned to lap it up (3-4 weeks), you can begin what I call "mush" food. Kibble with formula added to make it mushy and thin. Make it really thin to start with and then gradually reduce the formula over the next couple of weeks. In my opinion, they still need the formula in some form or fashion until at least 4-5 weeks to help meet nutritional requirements.

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