Care of Baby Animals
By Pat Hoctor
Feeding must be done every 2 - 3 hours around-the-clock until the baby is one week old. You can then start to gradually decrease the feeding to every four hours. At about one and a half to two weeks you can stop all night feedings.
The task of feeding a baby can be accomplished with a baby bottle of appropriate size or a stomach tube, placing the formula directly into the stomach. The tube can accidentally be placed into the lungs so this procedure should only be attempted after a veterinarian or a very experienced person trains you.
Animals should not be cradled like a human infant but should be fed in an upright position.
Never over feed the baby. Don't keep encouraging the baby to eat more. If the baby eats more than it can digest the excess food will spoil in its stomach with an overgrowth of bacteria, causing bloat and diarrhea. This can kill the baby. It is better to underfeed than to overfeed. Give less at more frequent feedings. Meals spaced too far apart encourage overeating.
Hiccups in babies are very common and are not a sign of worms as is commonly believed. Most of the time, hiccups are caused by a muscle spasm of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a big muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen, which contracts and relaxes to make us breathe. This muscle is controlled by the phrenic nerve and sometimes becomes uncoordinated, causing a muscle spasm which results in hiccups. The parts of a young body are simply getting used to one another and learning to work together.
After feeding, the baby must be stimulated to urinate or defecate. One method is by dipping a cotton ball in warm water and rubbing the baby from the rectum to the genitals until the baby eliminates.
Watery stool is a sign of overfeeding. A stool that is too firm can be softened by feeding more or by the addition of three or four drops of Karo syrup to the bottle of formula. Feces should be the consistency of toothpaste, brown in color but never green, which indicates infection.
Urine should be light yellow and thin. If it is thick and orange the baby is dehydrated and the formula should be thinned or the animal fed more frequently.
Babies cannot regulate their own body temperatures so a heat source such as a heating pad or heat light must be provided. However, do not overheat.
Remember an infant that has not received any colostrum from the mother has not produced any antibodies to ward off illness so it must be vaccinated much younger.
And always remember that this is a baby. Babies of all kinds require lots and lots of rest.