How to Care for a New-born Puppy
Upon discovering that a dog is pregnant and due to give birth it is essential for any owner to immediately research how best to care for a new-born litter of puppies. Preparations need to begin at least a week in advance of the birth to give each and every new-born the best start in life.
Prior Preparations and the Birth
The puppy nest should be ready a week before the birth. When the mother is about to go into labour she should also be confined to the nest or within close proximity to the nest. She may prefer to go somewhere secluded and may try to go outside and hide under a bush but this is not wise. The size of the puppy nest will vary from breed to breed. It should be at least twice the size of the adult mother when she is lying down. It should have slight walls but not so high that the mother cannot get in and out when she chooses. More importantly, new-born puppies are not able to regulate their own body temperatures so will need a source of heat. The puppy nest should have a heat source, but also somewhere cooler for the pups to lie.
After The Birth
It will be necessary to keep a check on the weight of each puppy after it has been born every day for at least three weeks. There should be a very recognisable steady weight gain. If this is not the case then the new-borns are not getting enough food. If they are feeding from the mother additional supplies of milk may be needed. If they are being bottle-fed they simply need more!
If bottle-feeding new-born pups, be sure not to feed them cow’s milk. Goat’s milk can be used or a powdered milk substitute. If using powdered substitute, use distilled water to mix in as tap water will give the new-borns diarrhoea. A new-born puppy will need to be fed every two to three hours.
Four Weeks after the Birth
Four weeks after the birth the puppies will now be ready to try solid food. Do not force them to eat solid foods if they are not ready – let them take their time. Some puppies may take to solid food more easily than others. Solid food can be created by mixing a little milk with some baby cereal and baby meat. The puppy may need encouragement to start lapping from the dish, but will eventually get the hang of it.
For the first few weeks puppies will sleep around the clock and will only wake when they want to be fed. This can happen many times in the middle of the night. As they grow bigger and get older, the new-borns will be able to eat more and more solid foods. Each day make the food a little less sloppy and more firm. By eight weeks the puppies may be eating solid dry puppy food.
The Paperwork and Costs
It is very important to make sure a puppy is given its vaccinations at between six weeks and twelve weeks of age. It is also very important to invest in dog insurance as soon as possible. If the puppies are each going to different home then be sure the new owners understand the importance of pet insurance. Be sure to identify the local vet and have to hand the out-of-hours number for the vet just in case of emergency. The vet will be able to give support, advice and guidance throughout the whole birthing process and will be able to monitor the growth and health of new-born puppies.