Whelping and Caring for newborn puppies
There are few things as delightful or rewarding as Whelping and Caring for newborn puppies and seeing them grow into adult dogs. However, as adorable and fun as puppies are, caring for them can seem like a daunting task. In fact, caring for a newborn puppy requires as much time, effort, and commitment as looking after a newborn human.
Hence, this blog will cover the things that you need to know in order to be prepared for the first few months of your pup’s life, and to be able to raise a happy and healthy dog.
Caring for Newborn Puppies after whelping:
Feeding a Newborn Puppy:
During the initial few days of their life, a puppy should consume its mother’s milk. Dog mothers produce colostrums, a milky-colored substance that allows their babies to produce antibodies and fight off various infections. Therefore, it is crucial that your puppy nurses from their mother for as long as possible. If the mother has died or rejected the puppy, you should consult a veterinarian and arrange for the supplements that the pup will need to survive.
Once the first few weeks have lapsed, puppies that do not have access to their mother’s milk can be fed through a tube or bottle. If your puppy is struggling to use the bottle, you should reach out to your veterinarian and request a stomach tube.
Make sure that you purchase a milk formula specifically developed for canines. Remember to lay your puppy down on their stomach before feeding them; other positions might cause them to choke on the milk.
The milk needs to be warmed to around 100-degrees Celsius (the equivalent of a human body’s temperature). However, instead of using the microwave to attain this temperature, place the milk bottle in warm water. If the milk feels slightly warm against your skin, it is sufficiently warm for your puppy. Once you have fed the puppy, pat their back to help them release any air that might have been trapped while they were swallowing the milk.
How Often Do Puppies Eat?
A newborn pup will generally need to be fed every couple of hours or so; if you are using a formula, the packaging will contain information about how much and how often to feed. You might find that your pup needs a little less or more food than the quantity mentioned on the packaging, and it is important to make a note of this.
Puppies need to eat and sleep in a warm environment, since their bodies cannot regulate temperature during the first few weeks of life. This means that, if a puppy feels cold, they might fail to digest or even eat their food. For this reason, your puppy’s nesting box must contain a heat source underneath the blanket or towel. Place this source next to a non-heat source, so that the puppy can move away should they feel too hot.
At around the 4-week mark, you might notice that the puppy has started chewing or biting their bottle. This indicates that your pup is now ready to move on to semi-solid or soft foods. When you first make this change, you might need to mix their milk formula with a bit of canine food. If you are unsure about how to proceed, consult your veterinarian for guidance.
By the time your puppy is 6 weeks of age, they should be able to eat solid food from a bowl, all by themselves. A 6- to 12-week old puppy should be fed around four times a day.
How Much Do Newborn Puppies Weigh?
Every newborn puppy has a different ideal weight, determined primarily by their breed. Generally, puppies can weigh anywhere between 2 ounces to 3 pounds.
What is more consistent is the percentage of weight that puppies gain. A puppy needs to be weighed every day during the first two or three weeks of their life, and at least once every four days during the first year. Take a note of your puppy’s weight –typically, their body weight should go up by approximately 10% every day.
Healthy puppies are quick to gain weight during the initial year of their lives. Hence, if you feel that they are not growing fast enough or losing weight, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. According to studies, puppies shed some of the birth weight during the first week of their life, but then quickly double that weight. Depending upon the size and breed of your puppy, you can expect them to gain six to eight times their birth weight within the first three weeks of their life.
When Should Puppies Have their First Medical Checkup?
Typically, puppies should be taken for their first veterinarian assessment when they are around six weeks old – this is because it is around this time that the protective effects of their mothers’ antibodies start to wear off, making them more susceptible to infections and other illnesses.
During the initial examination, your puppy will receive their first deworming medications and immunization.
Six weeks is also the age at which a puppy should receive their first vaccinations. Generally, new puppies receive vaccinations against the following viruses:
- Distemper Virus
- Parainfluenza Virus
Then, at the 8-12 week mark, your puppy should be receiving the below follow-up vaccinations:
- Rabies (first year)
- Canine Influenza H3N8 and H3N2
During the physical examination, the veterinarian will check for any conditions or abnormalities that require treatment or observation. They will also provide suggestions about your puppy’s feeding and general care.
To sum up, caring for a newborn puppy involves planning for their food and temperature needs, ensuring that they are growing at the right pace, and taking them for regular checkups and vaccinations. You must also have a proper plan for fulfilling their training and stimulation needs.
In case of any questions or confusions, make sure to reach out to your veterinarian to discuss the appropriate course of action.