With a normal birth and a sufficient amount of milk, caring for newborn puppies in the first three weeks is more like looking after the nursing mother and helping her if necessary.
Preparation for birth
About a week before giving birth, a place should be prepared where the mother and her cubs will be. Ordinary basket, living box will not fit. You need a place where the dog will be comfortable and the growing puppies will be able to move.
Usually, they arrange an arena. This is a box or fence of such height that the dog can get inside without jumping, but simply stepping over the wall. For small breeds, you can use a box made of hard cardboard, for the rest, the arena is made of plywood or durable plastic. Hardboard is completely unsuitable, as it releases phenolic resins.
The arena is made in such a size that the dog can lie down calmly, stretched out to its full length. To prevent the dog from accidentally crushing the cub with its back, a rail or bar should be attached along the inside of the arena around the entire perimeter. This protrusion should be at a height of approximately the middle of the lying dog’s body. Then she will not be able to snuggle against the wall of the arena and damage the puppy.
During childbirth, amniotic fluid will drain, a fairly abundant discharge persists in the early postpartum period, growing puppies will urinate many times a day. To keep the arena clean, it is best to make it easy to clean, even wet. The playpen should be placed on a sheet of plywood – this will preserve the floor in the room, while the plywood itself is easy to clean and, if necessary, wash.
A litter is placed on top of the plywood, since babies have very delicate skin, they especially easily rub the calluses on their paws. For bedding, you can use clean cotton sheets, short-haired faux fur, special absorbent mats and diapers.
You cannot lay mattresses and diapers filled with cotton wool, padding polyester, foam rubber in the arena – puppies can swallow them and die. Do not use thick bedding. The dog will tear it to pieces and may accidentally roll the puppy into pieces. Do not put knitted fabrics in the playpen, puppies can get entangled in the loops pulled out of the fabric. Absorbent diapers are a good option, but they tear very easily and puppies can swallow the litter.
Train your dog to sleep in the arena. You can feed her there, put water next to it. A playpen for puppies and nursing mothers is placed in a sufficiently secluded place so as not to disturb the dog once again. Nevertheless, there should be a convenient approach to the playpen so that you can clean up there, examine the puppies, and take the mother out for a walk.
First Days Of Puppies ‘Life
The first ten days after giving birth, the dog practically does not leave the puppies. She lies with them, feeds them, warms them with her own body, licks them. Often, even taking the dog for a walk has to be done using force. Having quickly recovered, a caring mother is in a hurry to return to the puppies.
This behavior of the dog is normal. Newborn puppies are completely helpless, they cannot see or hear, as their eyes and auditory canals are closed. Babies are guided with the help of smell, in addition, they have a pronounced innate reaction to move to a heat source. It is these abilities that allow the cubs to find their own mother.
Heat Regulation Of Newborn Puppies
Small puppies need a mother not only as a nurse, it is very important that she keeps the puppies warm. Newborns lack thermoregulation, they cannot maintain their own body temperature at a constant level. If the mother does not keep the babies warm, they freeze in the truest sense of the word. For a puppy in the first days of life, hypothermia can become fatal – it will no longer be possible to warm it up, and it will die.
A congenital reaction called crowding allows babies to partially combat the imperfection of their own thermoregulation. In the absence of the mother, the puppies are worried, begin to crawl in a circle, and as a result, they all huddle together in one pile. This allows them to maintain a normal body temperature for a short time. However, the puppies outside are more cold and tend to crawl into the middle. Feeling discomfort, babies begin to whine shrilly, prompting the mother to return as soon as possible.
A caring mother regularly licks her young. She uses this “massage” already in the process of childbirth. This increases the peripheral circulation, which warms the puppy, dries and cleanses his coat, allows the mother to remember the smell of the newborn and understand that it is her “baby”.
The main thing for which licking is needed is to stimulate the emptying of the bladder and intestines. Until about 10 days of age, puppies do not have reflexes that allow the body to get rid of waste products. By actively massaging the stomach with the tongue, the dog causes the cub to urinate and defecate. The dog swallows the urine and feces of the puppy, thus maintaining the cleanliness of the den. The dog continues to clean up after the puppies even when they already know how to go to the toilet themselves. This behavior in most dogs persists until the start of feeding babies, that is, until three weeks of age. There are also super-responsible mothers who “clean up” after children at the age of two or even three months.
Feed a Breeding Bitch
After giving birth, the dog gradually returns to its usual way, goes out into the street. In urban maintenance, after a walk, do not forget to wash her paws with warm water. To prevent the fur on the belly and mammary glands from getting dirty, it is better to take the dog for a walk-in overall. If a nursing dog walks in dirty weather without overalls, then upon returning home, it is necessary not only to thoroughly wash all milk lobes with warm water without soap, but also dry them thoroughly, especially where the skin touches. If this is not done, then diaper rash may occur.
In the first days of the puppies’ life, bring the mother to the playpen only on a leash, it is better to carry a small dog in her arms. In a hurry to return to the children, the mother jumps into the playpen and may accidentally step on one of the puppies.
It is best to look after a young original dog when it goes to feed. She does it clumsily, and one of the puppies may be behind her. The squeak of a crushed puppy usually excites the dog very much, it starts spinning around, scattering the rest of the puppies. As a result, one of the kids can get injured and even die. To avoid this, move the puppies to the side while the dog is settling into place, and then move them to the nipples. Do not completely remove the puppies from the playpen. Not seeing the cubs there, the dog will become very worried, and it will be very difficult to put it in an empty arena.
Drinking water should be placed near the playpen so that the dog can get drunk whenever he wants. It is generally better to put a bowl of food in the playpen. In a lactating dog, the need for food increases significantly, it is better to introduce additional feedings. This is especially important for dogs with abundant milk secretion. During this period, it is best to use special foods designed for lactating dogs or puppy foods. They have all the nutrients needed for the dog and its offspring.
Lactation in a dog and feeding of newborn puppies
For puppies to grow and develop well, it is very important that they receive adequate amounts of breast milk.
In a dog, lactation begins already during childbirth. A newborn puppy immediately tries to find milk, focusing on the smell. Some mothers help the cubs by pushing them with their nose to the chest, or even take them in the mouth and apply them to the nipple. Others do not help newborns, leaving them to find a source of milk themselves. Having found a nipple, the puppy sticks to it. The first attempts may be unsuccessful, but in the end the puppy grabs the nipple with its entire mouth and tongue so tightly that it can hang on it for a while if the mother gets up.
Most dogs have 4 pairs of nipples, of which the rear lobes are usually the milkiest. However, there may be more or less nipples. A dog feeds puppy without problems when there are at least one less of them than its working nipples. If there are more babies, early complementary foods may be needed.
In the first days after giving birth, the dog’s body secretes colostrum. It is a slightly yellowish substance, rather liquid in comparison with milk. Colostrum, in addition to nutrients, contains a huge amount of immune substances. A puppy receiving breast milk is protected from disease-specific diseases until about two months of age.
Colostrum secretion is gradually replaced by milk secretion. A dog’s milk changes its composition during lactation, the peak of which occurs approximately 10-20 days after birth. It is possible to determine whether babies have enough milk by their behavior. If puppies constantly squeak, crawl from nipple to nipple, they have sunken bellies, then they are hungry. In a dog with normal milk flow, when the nipple is pressed, milk literally splashes in several trickles. With low milkiness, small drops appear on the nipple or they are absent at all.
The lactating dog should receive a complete feed, the energy level of the feed is increased by at least 50%. When fed with prepared foods, mothers are given food for the puppies.
Correct care for puppies in 1-2 months
The overwhelming share of care for the offspring is, of course, the dog itself. Until the puppies are three weeks old, the breeder mainly controls the growth process. To do this, from the first day of life, each puppy is weighed daily and the result is recorded in a journal. In principle, the growth should also be daily. However, if this particular puppy does not have weight gain today, this is not scary, but if this persists the next day, or he loses weight, then a medical consultation will be necessary.
Most breed puppies will normally double their body weight during the first week of life. If the mother does not have enough milk and all the puppies are malnourished, it is necessary to start feeding them.
Whole cow’s milk should not be given. Milk substitutes can be used and are industrially produced. If puppies are reluctant to eat dog milk substitutes, then the best substitute for mother’s milk will be goat’s milk, which is very close in composition to dog’s milk.
If a puppy is completely artificially fed, then in the first decade of life he should eat a mixture in the amount of 25% of its own weight per day, then the daily consumption is reduced to 20% of the puppy’s weight. They feed the “artificial” every two hours, be sure to record the amount of the mixture eaten and the weight of the puppy.
Fortunately, breast milk is usually sufficient for babies.
With artificial feeding, the mother may refuse to care for the puppies, and people will have to ensure the hygiene of the babies. After dampening a cotton ball in warm water, gently massage the puppy’s tummy and the area around the anus until it relieves. Puppies begin to recover on their own at the age of about 10 days.
Abnormal maternal behavior is common in dogs that have had a caesarean section.
Converting puppies from milk to solid food is called complementary foods. Usually, puppies begin to feed at three weeks of age. Until this time, they do not produce enzymes that allow them to digest any foods other than milk.
Three-week-old puppies are already actively moving, their eyesight and hearing function normally. Thermoregulation has also improved, although strong cooling, as well as overheating, are still dangerous.
The mother now spends very little time with the puppies. She often does not lie down next to them, rarely feeds and leaves very quickly. Since the mother is standing, the cubs are forced to suckle milk while standing on their hind legs. This exercise strengthens the muscles well.
The puppies are already erupting their baby teeth and can be very painful to bite the dog while feeding. Even more unpleasant for her is the cuts that leave the sharp claws of the puppies. It is necessary to monitor the length of the puppies’ claws, trim them regularly and smooth the cut with a nail file. Such care will allow the dog to avoid unnecessary torment when feeding grown puppies. This procedure is also necessary to ensure the correct placement of the limbs and the formation of correct movements in the puppies themselves. The overgrowth of the claws forces the puppy to lean on the outside or inside of the paw.
During complementary feeding, the mother should be taken to a different area, since the dog may well eat food intended for children. Some dogs may even drive the puppies away from food. By the way, the dog itself should now be fed separately.
How to feed the puppies – natural food or ready-made food – the breeder himself decides. To do this, you need to weigh the pros and cons. If he chooses to feed natural food, he must clearly know all the needs of the dog’s body for the necessary nutrients. If he chooses the option with ready-made food, then in the product line it is necessary to choose one that will be suitable for the age of the puppies and take into account their breed.
It is necessary to introduce such complementary foods into the diet gradually: since the stomach of the puppies is not yet accustomed to solid food, the food must be soaked at the first stage. You need to feed in small portions, several times a day. Each package of food must contain instructions, which indicate how many times a day you need to feed puppies, depending on age, and how much food you need to measure for each puppy per day. The gradual introduction of dry food into the diet will allow the puppies’ digestive system to better adapt to changes in nutrition.
It is most convenient to teach puppies to solid food by feeding all the offspring at once. It is enough for one puppy to start eating, as the rest follow his example. For complementary foods, it is optimal to use dishes with a sufficiently high side, standing on a stand, or a special feeder for small puppies. The sideboard prevents the puppy from getting into the feeder. If you do not pay attention to the fact that the puppy puts its paws in a bowl, then this manner of eating can gain a foothold.
Puppies receive their parentage papers at 45 days of age. By this time, they must be microchipped or have a tattoo (stamp) with an identification number.
From 45 days of age, puppies are allowed to be transferred to owners. Responsible breeders deliver puppies only after vaccination at the age of 2.5-3 months. By this time, the puppy is taught to cosmetic or hygienic manipulations, to walk on a leash.
Specific recommendations for feeding, keeping, caring for the puppy are given by the breeder in accordance with the breed characteristics.