Litters often contain one puppy which is significantly smaller than his littermates and often prone to health issues. This pup is called The Runt.
Contrary to popular belief, these puppies can indeed grow up to become normal-sized, happy and healthy dogs. In fact, some pet adoption groups report that many people are actually drawn to the runt of the litter because he appears so cute and needy, and they choose this little fellow over his normal brothers and sisters.
However, if the proper care is provided, runts can grow up just fine and live a normal lifespan.
The Much Needed Colostrum
Mother’s first milk contains colostrum, a type of fluid rich in antibodies which protects the newborns from developing health issues early in their puppyhood.
Since runts usually can’t get to the colostrum because they are smaller and weaker than the other littermates, they end up lacking the precious protection from common canine illnesses and diseases.
This can be avoided by purchasing puppy milk replacer which contains colostrums, but it would be wise to contact your vet in order to get the best possible advice.
Weeding Out The Weak
Some mothers will even ignore the runt completely and refuse to feed the poor thing. However cruel it may sound, this behavior is actually quite normal. If you witness this brutal version of the survival of the fittest, you need to give the runt a chance to fight for himself.
If mama-dog rejects the weakest link, you’ll simply have to feed him a commercial puppy milk replacer or consult your vet to see if he can find another mother dog to let him nurse.