Runts are the weakest and smallest puppy in a litter. There is no clear cut explanation on what causes a runt but it has been suggested to be poor placentation or a congenital problem but not because they were born last. Because runts are weaker than the other puppies, they often have slow growth and reduced immunity compared to others and do need extra care to survive.
Tips on how to care for a runt puppy
- Ensure they get enough milk either by sucking or hand-feeding to prevent hypoglycemia and dehydration.
- If the puppy is unable to get colostrum from the mother, consult your veterinarian to prescribe a milk replacer to help boost the immunity.
- Runt puppies with the other litters should be kept in a warm environment.
- In very cold weather, a heating pad or lamp should be considered.
- Monitor the runt of a litter carefully and ensure it has access to food, water, and shelter.
Not all runt puppies die and with adequate attention and care, they can live and grow healthy with other puppies.