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Caring for Newborn Puppies

Caring for newborn puppies can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences you'll ever undertake. It's not a decision to make lightly--a great deal of time, patience and attention will need to be given in order to make sure the puppies grow up healthy. If you decide to raise puppies from birth, though, one of the strongest bonds possible between a human and an animal will develop.

Nest

Newborn puppies are quite susceptible to body heat loss due to their under-developed coat of fur and lack of mobility. Make an artificial nest for the pups out of a padded box outfitted with several warm blankets. A heating pad on a low setting may be placed under half of the box, but never put it underneath the entire box. Pups may not be able to move away from the heat source if they get to hot.

Cleaning

A quick cleaning with a damp cloth should be performed daily, and the genital area should be stimulated with the cloth after feeding. This will encourage the puppy to urinate and defecate. Full baths should be given only as needed and the puppy should be fully dried afterwards. Use a milf puppy shampoo and warm water. Always make sure the water isn't cool to the point that puppies could become chilled, or hot enough to scald them. Mild dish soap, such as Dawn or Ivory, can be used if fleas are present.

Diet

Like us, dogs aren't born with the ability to eat solid foods. Ideally, a nursing mother dog--either the pup's biological parent or a stand-in dfemale--can give a puppy colostrum which contains antibodies, protecting the puppy against disease until vaccinations can be given. Since colostrum is only present in a mother's milk 24 hours after birth and antibodies can only be absorbed by puppies for the first 18 hours of life, it's important to have puppies nurse from their boilogical motehr or a surraget during that time period. If your puppy is being nursed by a surrogate nursing mother, never leave the two alone together. If the surrogate rejects the puppy, she may kill it. Replacement milk formulas can be found at pet stores and your vets office. ASk your vet to recommend a product that will suit your puppy. These formulas should be warmed slightly to bosy temperature, then delivered in a bottle. Always test the milk before giving it to a puppy, making sure it't not hot enough for possible scalding. Puppies should be fed every two to three hours during the daytime. They'll also probably need to be fed a few times through the night until about three to four weeks of age. After four weeks, you can start introducing solid foods, but soak the food in formula or water and mash it up before offering it to puppies.

Veterinary Care

Maintain a close relationship with your veterian while you're raising newborn puppies. Puppies are often born with intestinal parasites and may need de-worming. Thanks to their under-developed immune systems, pups are also very suscepitble to disease and should be kept indoors to prevent exposure. At six weeks of age, puppies should receive their first round of vaccinations. As a puppy gets older, they should be gaining weight and becoming very active. If you don't think your puppies are behaving the way they should, call your vet right away.