Your Dog Just Had Puppies – What Should You Do?
Raising puppies can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It can also be a time of great frustration, but understanding what to expect will make the process a pleasure. There are a number of things that you can do for the puppies and their mother to help make their first days, weeks, and months together healthy and happy ones.
The mother dog will spend every moment of the first few days with her new puppies. Check on the mother and the pups often to reassure the new mom and make sure all is going well. Provide plenty of fresh water for the new mom and let nature take over.
A new mother dog will lick the pups’ hindquarters. This stimulates the puppies and they will use the bathroom. The mother will clean up after her pups for the first few weeks to keep her babies and the nursing area clean. Cleaning up the pups’ droppings is a natural instinct to eliminate the scent of her pups’ to protect them in the wild.
The first few days are the most important and Mom will barely leave the puppies. It is especially important the pups be kept warm during this tender time. A large litter will still need to be kept warm, but the puppies’ body heat will help as they huddle together.
The mother will be very protective of her pups and strangers should be kept away from the new family for at least two weeks. Some dogs attempt to hide and protect the pups by moving them to a more secure spot. This is instinctive behavior and the mother knows what she’s doing. Keeping the mother and her pups in an enclosed area may help ease the mother’s anxiety and it will help keep the pups from scooting away.
During the puppies’ first month there won’t be much for you to do. Their mother will attend to their every need and keep them and the area clean. You only need to monitor the pups’ progress and growth rate. The puppies should double their weight in about a week and by two weeks of age they will be alert and trying to stand. By the time they’re a month old the pups should all be able to walk, play, and run around. Now the fun starts!
By about four and a half weeks, the puppies should be eating solid food. This is about the same time mom will start to wean them. You can help the puppies learn to eat solid food by feeding them a mixture of dry dog food mixed with a little water or milk to soften it, or using canned dog food the same way. The pups will seem to be drinking, but they will be eating food at the same time. Decrease the amount of liquid used to mix the food a little each day until the pups are eating the canned or dry food by itself.
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