Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fostering Animals 101

Let’s face it. The economy has wrought devastation and destruction on many, and pets are often the causalities of economic war. Many people don’t think of animals the same way that we do, and pets are often discarded, abandoned or turned in to rescues. Occasionally, it’s just necessary for the safety and health of the animal. 
And this is where we must, as a society, do our part in the world. Fostering is one way that we can save a life. 
In November, my husband and I fostered two puppies who were only three days old. We plan to do a lot more fostering as this was so enjoyable. So, for the next few days, we’re going to regale you with tales of how to foster, what our experience was, and how it all turned out. 
The Down and Dirty
The first thing about puppies is that they sleep, eat and poop. In that order. In fact, that’s all they do. They are like human infants, but their eyes and ears are sealed. At the age of 5 days, they operate solely on touch and smell.
These two are each eating about 0.50 - 1 oz of Esbilac fluid every 2 hrs or so. This works well for me, because it’s hard to get me away from the computer that often. If I hear a puppy crying, it forces me to get up and attend to them. Good for me, good for the pups. As they mature, we recommend a well-balanced diet of CANIDAE food – you won’t need to switch them out later in life and it’s a very high-quality food. 
Tricks We’ve Learned
Don’t spend money on the bottles you get at pet stores, as they are largely inefficient. We are using a Playtex Ventaire, which is perfect for the pups. The bottle vents excess air itself, is curved and has a larger nipple for easy puppy suckling. (Wow… Never thought I would be talking about nursing anything… I’m just VERY happy that it deals with puppies and not humans. :)
Heat is very important to these little ones. Right now, we have them in an enclosed room with no drafts, away from the other pack members (despite our pack’s affinity for new arrivals, we opted for isolation for safety reasons). We use an electric blanket on low placed on the floor, the small crate they are kept in are kept on that, and if they still get chilly, we add a magnetic heat pack under the box towels they sleep on. This way, they can decide where they want to be. They can crawl pretty well....
The “Messy” Side
Since they can’t even defecate on this on their own, we have to use a warm, wet cotton ball of paper towel to “copy” the mother’s licking/cleaning response. This is the bad part of the event. Puppy poop is sort of disgusting… I would get into other poops, but you know… Do it twice, before and after feeding, in order to cover your bases.
Although these guys are too little to play, we learned a lesson from the numerous squeaky toys that we bring in for our other pets. They’ve learned that if it squeaks, it’s a toy. Not a great lesson for your pets if you’re trying to foster… We’re working on establishing the difference between live pups and chew toys with Cheiss right now.
Please consider taking in some fosters of your own. Tomorrow we’ll discuss some of the success stories of foster!
Find an adoptable pet in your area at!

Stacy Mantle

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