A litter of newborn puppies is delightful to see, but the demands of caring for these little brand new lives can be challenging. These tips will keep your litter happy and healthy.
Provide a clean environment:
The first few days after birth, the bitch will clean up the waste from the pups but as they grow older, you will need to clean out the waste. The nesting box should always be clean and dry. When choosing the nesting box/space for your bitch, ensure it has enough space to contain the puppies, the bitch and give you easy access to change the beddings.
Newborn puppies can’t regulate their temperature yet, they usually get warmth by snuggling up with their mom. For adequate warmth, you can use a heat lamp but you also need to monitor it and ensure it is not too hot.
Nursing and Nutrition
Puppies solely rely on the bitch for all their nutritional needs in the first 3-5 weeks of life. This is quite draining for the mother because a lot of calories are used up during this phase. Adequate nutrition should be provided to a breastfeeding mother to ensure she is healthy and the puppies are in turn feeding well.
The mother should be monitored for mastitis: an infection of the breast characterized by swollen, painful and reddened breast/nipple. The mother would prevent the puppies from sucking and might snap at them. This condition requires immediate veterinary care. Any other form of illness seen in the bitch needs to be treated as well.
At 4-5 weeks, the puppy’s teeth start growing and the weaning process can begin. Once you notice them sampling the mother’s food, you can start withdrawing breastmilk replacing it with puppy food.
Puppies are easily susceptible to infection and diseases. They should be closely monitored and any unusual signs of weakness, discharges, reduced appetite, watery stool, or general discomfort should be discussed with your veterinarian and managed immediately.
Socializing puppies with humans and other dogs begins at week 4 and span through till they are 12 weeks old. Puppies should be well socialized to help them adjust to their new homes easily. Allow them to explore, play with them and help them create good memories.