Frequently asked questions
I have never tube fed a puppy before. Can anyone do this safely?
Tube feeding can be very intimidating for the first few times. Our biggest fear is that we will feed too much, or too little, or put milk into the lungs rather than the stomach. Our video was produced to walk you though tube feeding safely so that you know for certain that the tube is not in the lungs. For example, if a puppy can cry, the tube is not in the lungs. There are other indicators to help you know if tube placement is correct before you push the plunger, including properly measuring the tube prior to inserting, and also allowing the puppy to swallow as you insert the tube.
When tube feeding is needed, this kit and the video on The Dog Breeder Channel will help you to feed safely. Once you "get the hang of it", you'll feel very comfortable. Many puppies are raised 100% tube fed and manage to thrive. Puppies with cleft palates often cannot ever be fed by nipple due to the risk of aspiration pneumonia. It is better to learn to do tube feeding using the excellent instructions in this kit than not to try at all.
How do I choose the right size tube for my puppy?
There is much debate amongst senior breeders and vets on the best size tubes for various breeds. Tubes are measured using the "French catheter scale". You will find the scale in the photos at the top of this product page. The smaller the number, the smaller the tube diameter. We typically offer the kit in multiple tube sizes. With recent medical supply shortages, we do our best to obtain the most commonly used sizes for most breeds. The tiny breeds might do best with something in the range of a 5 French, whereas a larger puppy (working breed type) might do best with an 8-10 French tube. Often the smaller French sizes are shorter in length, as they are designed for human use. The larger French sizes may range upwards of 36", so keep that in mind when ordering your size. We have heard from others that some breeds such as doodles have larger esophaguses and a French 10 would be more suitable for them.
There is some small risk of perforating the esophagus or causing a vagal response (causing them to pass out) when using a larger tube on a tiny puppy. However, it is more important to try and fail than not to have tried at all. So don't let this stop you. Just be careful as you follow the directions and video.
Why are there different types of tubes offered out on the market?
Typically, you will see 2 types of tubes available. One is solid (usually red and rough along the exterior), and the other is silicon (usually clear with graduation marks). Having used both kinds, we prefer the clear food silicon tubes with graduation marks for several reasons.
The clear tubes allow us to see whether there is air in the tube, which needs to be expelled prior to pushing the plunger with milk into the puppy's stomach. This is not possible with the solid red tube
The clear tubes are slick on the outside, making insertion much easier.
The clear tubes have graduation marks. These are helpful in finding how far to insert the tube. As well, you can either mark the tube with a sharpie or (our favorite trick) put a little piece of tape at the marking spot that can be moved as the puppy grows. Either way of marking is fine, but the clear tube shows them more clearly.
When cleaning, the clear tubes show if all the debris has been removed. This is not possible with the solid tubes, so they are really "use once, throw out" tubes. This is why we do not usually carry the solid tubes.
What is the difference between "enteric" and "slip tip" tubes?
An "enteric" tube screws on to a special enteric syringe made for tube feeding humans. This keeps the tube from sliding off while pushing the plunger.
A "slip tip" tube does exactly that - it slips on and off the tip of the syringe, thus making it easier to slip off.
Some breeders prefer one or the other. We tend to supply the enteric version because that is what we use in our own nursery and love them. However, the slip tip works just fine also. The choices in the drop-down menu above tend to reflect what is available to us from the medical supply chain at any given time.