Runt Mix - McDowell's Herbal Treatments

The smallest, and often weakest, animal in a litter is known as the 'runt'. There's a long-standing myth that the runt was located in the centre of the uterus, furthest from the blood supply. But this isn't true as multiple birth animals move around constantly...

stock puppies SMLL

What is now taught is that the runt is the puppy who had poor placentation. Runts are not weak because they were conceived last or happened to be positioned in the middle of the uterus; it is their placement within the uterine horn (1).

The runt can have several disadvantages, due to their size and potential weakness. Firstly, the runt can have a harder time competing for milk. If the litter is larger, they can struggle with nursing, particularly getting enough colostrum in the first forty eight hours. 

Secondly, the bitch can ignore the runt because she detects the puppy is small or weak (2). She could focus her attention on the healthier, bigger pups. In other words, it is survival of the fittest (2).

What can you do to help the runt survive and thrive?

The runt can grow to be just as strong and healthy as the other pups. To assist you can;

  • Ensure the runt stays warm and well-fed
  • Have a vet exam the runt for any potential health abnormalities
  • Monitor/observe them carefully, including weighing them daily
  • You may need to help the pup eliminate after feeding (if the mother isn't)

It may also be necessary to physically place the puppy on the nipple every couple of hours in the first couple of weeks OR if not increasing in weight may need supplementary feeding.

McDowells Recommendation

A mix formulated for those in the litter that are somewhat "left behind" in development. The mix will promote development of strong healthy bones as well as stimulating the development of the brain and the nervous system.

This is a similar combination of herbs which I use in all cases of slow development in my human patients whether it be slower than normal physical, nervous system or intellectual development.

The herbal combination includes sage, maritime pine bark, nettle, elecampane and horsestail as well as the Bach Flowers Walnut, Rescue Remedy, Chestnut Bud and Wild Oat. This mix improves the prospects for the runt of the litter.


(1) The Dog Breeder's Guide to Successful Breeding and Health Management By Margaret V. Root Kustritz
(2) Interesting Facts and Myths About the Runt of the Litter By Adrienne Farraicelli

Have a question? Contact McDowell's Herbal Treatments

Get in Touch

We are open Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm. AEST. You can also contact us by phone or email.

02 6331 3937
+61 2 6331 3937(Int)


McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

EMAIL info@mcdowellsherbal.com  |  PHONE 02 6331 3937  |  INTERNATIONAL +61 2 6331 3937