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Caring for Newborn Puppies

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Maybe it was planned, maybe it wasn't - but there you are with a litter of heart-meltingly gorgeous, tiny newborn puppies. Now what?! Well, here are a few things to help you along.

  • If you're fortunate enough to actually know that your lovely mother-to-be is about to be a mother, then you can start by making sure there is a nice, soft "nesting" place for her and her pups. Obviously, mum needs to be able to lie down comfortably, but it's also important to know that newborn puppies can't regulate their own body temperatures, so their surroundings need to be warm and cuddly to compensate.
  • Naturally, during the first many weeks of their life, pups do little else than eat, sleep and poop. A healthy mom with access to plenty of food and water usually takes care of her puppies' nutritional needs with her own milk production. Start introducing puppy kibble to the young 'uns from three weeks of age, and by six weeks they will be used to eating solid food on their own. If you suspect that mom is not feeding her pups enough, chat to your vet to be sure. It may be that you need to supplement feeding by using bottles of puppy replacement milk... let's hope not, as it's every 2-3 hours... eek!
  • Newborn puppies sleep and sleep and sleep. In fact, in the early weeks, being awake is mainly so they can eat. And then they sleep. You don't need to wash the little darlings, by the way - mum takes care of that.
  • By their fourth week, your pups will be up and roaming around but still rather delicate, so best to give them a secure and safe space. Also, start handling them early so that they become used to human interaction; this, along with interactions with their littermates, will help them gain confidence and become socialized. And don't separate them from mum until they're 8 weeks old.
  • Remember to deworm the little things at two, four and six weeks of age. Ask your vet for a suitable deworming product for this purpose.
  • Last but not least... vaccinations. Puppies are actually born with the necessary immunities inherited from their mother. However, this will wear off sometime between 6 and 12 weeks of age, so the first set of vaccinations to be given by your vet is at 8 weeks of age, with the second "booster" dose done about a month later (don't forget the booster!!). Final vaccinations, which include rabies protection, should be given at 16 weeks of age. Just check with your vet and they'll guide you through the process.

Finally, and very importantly, please PLEASE be careful about cuddling too much - it's addictive!

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