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How to Care for Newborn Puppies

The first three weeks after they are born, newborn puppies depend entirely on their mother to give them all the security and nourishment that they need. All you have to do at this stage is to see to it that they stay warm, and that she stays healthy, and is producing enough milk for her puppies, by giving her enough food to provide all the nourishment she needs. If she has had a really large litter, you can help her further, by supplementing her milk with canine milk formula, to ensure that her puppies are getting adequate nourishment.

However, sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes something might go wrong with mom, or she might decide that taking care of puppies is not for her. It doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes, momma dogs do abandon their litters. Or she might just be too exhausted, or have too big a litter to cope on her own. If so, here are a few things you can do to help care for her new babies.

Cleaning Puppies

Without upsetting the mother, handle all the puppies as often as possible, making sure to clean their mouth, eyes, and ears every day, with a piece of cotton wool, dampened in warm water.

Trimming Puppy Nails

Puppies tend to have very sharp nails, so keep them trimmed to prevent them from scratching her abdomen while they are feeding. This will also help to get them used to having their nails cut regularly, when they are adult dogs.

Hand Rearing Puppies

In the event that the mother has died or has rejected her puppies, you will have to take over and hand-rear them yourself. They will have to be bottle-fed every two hours - your vet will be able to tell you exactly how this should be done, and what amounts to feed them. You will need to do just as their mother would just after they have finished feeding too, by wiping away spilled milk from around their mouths, and cleaning their anus and genitals with a piece of cotton wool, dampened with warm water. This will imitate the mother’s licking motion, and will stimulate the puppy into defecating and urinating.

Most people will never need to know any of this, and we always recommend that dog owners have their pups spayed or neutered, so they don't have to, but if you do ever need to raise puppies, these tips should help. It's a tough job though, and if you do find yourself in this situation, you may need to recruit a few helpers. Newborn puppies can be just as demanding as human babies, and with a whole litter to take care of, you might find you're exhausted pretty quickly!

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