When you raise a litter of puppies, it’s an unforgettable experience that might make you nervous or excited depending on whether it’s your first time, but it will be rewarding to watch the puppies develop into young, healthy dogs. But in order to make sure that your first time raising a litter of puppies is a positive and successful experience, there are some things you need to know before you make this kind of commitment.
Before The Birth
Take your expecting mother to the veterinarian in advance of the birth to have her examined and to inquire about any immunizations she might require. It’s not just mum you need to think about.
When the mother feeds the puppies, she will transfer antibodies to them. Be sure to heed the advice of your veterinarian. Don’t forget the room and supplies the puppies will require when they arrive.
Sorting Out The Puppy Pen/whelping Box
Before birth, your whelping box—the comfortable, den-like space where your dog will give birth—should already be set up. We’ve got a full post all about how to get ready for your dog’s birth which explains how to prepare the whelping box in more detail. The pups’ sleeping quarters will then be in this box, which must be cozy, spotless, and at the right temperature.
Create a cozy space for the puppies and the new mother using blankets, towels, and bedding, and keep an eye out for any soiled bedding that needs to be removed right away.
Keep the pen clean and hygienic by routinely wiping down the sides and floor to ensure that no nasty bacteria have a chance to grow because this could lead to potential illnesses and issues for the new puppies. The puppies’ immune systems are still underdeveloped and will be weak, making them less able to fend off illnesses than adult dogs.
Making sure the temperature is managed and controlled is the next factor to take into account when creating the ideal puppy pen for the litter. It is up to you and the mother of the litter to help control the temperatures of newborn puppies because they are unable to regulate their body temperatures on their own just yet.
Make sure the puppy pen is in a warm place. The puppies will be exposed to the cold in any draught, which stresses their bodies and increases their risk of illness.
Use a heat lamp to increase the temperature in the pen to make sure it is warm enough for the animals to live in, but make sure there is enough room inside for them to move to a cooler area if it does get too warm.
To avoid burning the mother and puppies, position the lamp high above and far enough away from the group to avoid any risk of injury. It’s also a good idea to put the lamp in the box’s corner so the puppies can enter or exit the warm area as they please.
Puppies need a lot of food to survive because they are such tiny creatures. They require the energy for playing, exploring, and, most importantly, developing into robust, healthy adult dogs.
In the first few weeks, particularly the first few days, the pups are entirely dependent on the milk they receive from their mother. Colostrum is a fluid that the mother produces immediately after giving birth and is packed with nutrients and maternal antibodies that the puppies need for the growth and development of their immune systems.
It is absolutely essential that the pups consume enough colostrum in the first few days because it protects them from infection and disease. This natural form of immunity will be lost when the puppies reach around 6-8 weeks old, which is around the time they’ll get their first vaccinations.
You can start weaning the puppies off the milk and onto solid foods when they are about 4 weeks old. Keep this progression gradual. The pups will begin to become animated, inquisitive, and most importantly, hungry, so the solid food you select needs to be nutrient-dense to fuel all the growing they need to do.
Choose puppy-specific food, as it will contain the ideal ratio of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to support the litter’s continued health and growth all the way through adulthood.
For example, Pure has recipes that are totally tailored for puppies, packed with every single thing they need in every bite to grow into healthy, happy dogs. When using Pure, the recipes are tailored to the dog’s stage of life and change as they get older to start focusing on their long-term health.
Feeding The Nursing Dog
Actually, your dog needs food whenever they seem hungry because nursing dogs need extra calories. You need to give your female dog more calories because she has so many extra mouths to feed, which is robbing her of a significant amount of the nutrients she would typically get from her food.
A complete and balanced diet, like Pure, is perfect for your nursing dog because it is packed with nutrients and premium ingredients to maintain those energy levels and keep the puppies happy and healthy.