This is a preliminary version of my notes, and is subject to change.
Here is a tiny synopsis of my current thoughts on the care and
feeding of cubs:
Remove cubs from mother at 10 to 14 days.
Bottle-feed or tube-feed goat’s milk every 2 to 4 hours. After 10 to 14
days of milk-feeding (3 to 3 1/2 weeks old), begin offering the cub a
weaning mixture of goat’s milk, soaked Eukanuba puppy food, and finely
chopped beef or chicken. Offer this mixture on your finger, then on a
Eventually, the cub will become extremely interested in the mixture.
Be careful not to overfeed these first few times. Gradually increase
the percentage of Eukanuba and meat over the next 2 to 3 weeks to 50%.
After 17 to 10 days of weaning (4 1/2 to 5 weeks old), the cubs should
no longer require any supplemental milk-feeding by bottle or tube. Wolf
cubs wean quickly in comparison to dog puppies.
Esbilac was once widely used to bottle feed cubs, but reports from wolf
and hybrid owners indicate that it is no longer suitable. Di-gel can be
used to temporarily relieve the gas and extreme digestive problems
caused by Esbilac, but then discontinue feeding the Esbilac.
(Please Note: “Esbilac” and “Di-gel” are trademarks of their respective
Wolf cubs are ravenous eaters, and develop much more rapidly than dog
puppies. Be sure not to underfeed. Be extremely careful when bottle-feeding.
Cubs suckle aggressively. This can result in painful stomach
cramps from swallowed air (indicated by moaning or crying after eating).
With the cub against your upper chest, “burp” it as you would any human
baby. The worst problem that can occur during bottle-feeding is the
aspiration of milk into the lungs. This can be fatal. After feeding,
if a cub shows signs of choking, has breathing problems, vomits, is
sluggish, or runs a fever, contact a veterinarian immediately! An
occasional single small “burping up” of milk is normal.
Here is a safe and simple way to bottle feed a cub. Start with the cub
in a walking position, belly down on your lap. Support the cub from
underneath with one hand (and arm) running from the tail to the front
legs. Bring the cub’s head to your upper chest. The cub should be angled
moderately upwards, less than 45 degrees (head higher than tail).
Bottle-feed the cub. DO NOT EVER bottle-feed a cub that is lying on its back!
The cub will want to push against the bottle with its front paws (as it
would normally do against its mother’s belly). Try to provide an area
on your hand for it to push against. This will prevent the bottle from
being pushed away. If the cub gets frustrated while feeding, take away
the bottle for a minute to give the cub a short rest. This may not
work, so be patient. Check that the bottle opening is large enough, but
not too large, or the cub may choke when first given the bottle. A
HUNGRY CUB CAN ASPIRATE a large quantity of milk before it pauses to
breath, and this can be fatal. The best advice to follow when
bottle-feeding is patience, patience, patience.
If you have problems feeding your cub, consider tube-feeding. Once
learned, this is an easy, almost foolproof method, which solves the
numerous problems associated with bottle-feeding. It involves sliding a
piece of tubing, attached to a syringe full of milk, down a cub’s throat
and into the stomach. Your veterinarian can teach you using your cub,
and will show you how to measure the tubing. The length to be inserted
should be marked with tape (instead of cut exactly) to allow for cub
growth. Wolf cubs grow quickly.
The amount of milk a cub needs may vary between feedings, depending
upon mood and activity. It is good practice when tube-feeding or
bottle-feeding to pause at 1/3 to 1/2 of the total amount of milk to be
fed. This will prevent a cub from vomiting due to over-feeding. This
pause also allows you to check the cub’s belly. If it is soft and
plump, you have a full and happy cub. If it is hard, there is air in
the stomach probably, and the cub should be “burped”. A full cub will
go to sleep soon after feeding.
Return to The Care and Feeding of the Cub