Taking care of newborn puppies is a delicate and demanding task, as they are indeed vulnerable to various health issues.
To give them the best chance at a healthy start, here are some guidelines:
•Puppies cannot regulate their body temperature for the first couple of weeks. Use a heating pad (on a low setting) or a heat lamp to keep them warm, ensuring they can move away if they get too hot.
•The optimal temperature for newborns is around 85-90°F (29-32°C). This can be decreased by about 5°F each week as they grow.
•If the mother is present and healthy, her milk is the best food for the puppies. They should nurse every 2-3 hours.
•If the mother isn't available or her milk is insufficient, you'll need a commercial puppy milk replacer. Do not use cow's milk as it can cause digestive issues.
•Feed puppies with a bottle designed for puppies. Ensure they're lying on their stomachs during feeding to prevent aspiration.
•Newborn puppies can't urinate or defecate on their own. After feeding, use a soft, damp cloth or cotton ball to gently stimulate the genital area until the puppy urinates and defecates. The mother usually does this by licking them.
•Keep the whelping box clean and dry. Change bedding regularly.
•If a puppy becomes soiled, gently clean it with a warm, damp cloth, then dry it thoroughly.
•Weigh the puppies daily at the same time. They should gain weight consistently. A loss of weight is a concern and might indicate a health issue.
•Have the puppies checked by a vet within their first week of life, and then regularly thereafter. They'll guide you on deworming and vaccinations.
•Limit the number of outside visitors, as puppies are susceptible to diseases.
•Ensure anyone handling the puppies has clean hands and hasn't been in contact with sick dogs.
•Ensure the mother dog is healthy, well-fed, and stress-free. If she's unwell, she can't care for her puppies adequately.
•Watch for signs of mastitis or other post-birth complications.
•While too young for play, gentle handling by humans from a young age can help puppies become well-adjusted adults.
•From 3 weeks onward, expose them to various gentle stimuli: different surfaces, soft sounds, and gentle handling.
•Always be gentle. Newborn puppies are fragile.
•Avoid frequent picking up or rough play.
If a puppy is crying excessively, not feeding, losing weight, has diarrhea, or appears weaker than its littermates, it's crucial to consult a veterinarian immediately.
Be prepared for emergencies. Have the contact number for your vet and an emergency vet clinic on hand.
At around 3-4 weeks, you can start introducing a gruel made from puppy food and milk replacer. This begins the weaning process, which will go on until they're about 6-8 weeks old.
Raising newborn puppies is a rewarding experience, but it requires dedication, patience, and attentiveness.
The early care you provide plays a significant role in ensuring they grow into healthy and happy adult dogs.
If you ever have concerns, always consult a veterinarian or an experienced breeder.