Raising Puppies: What to Expect

We have covered what to expect during pregnancy and during birth of puppies, but what about raising puppies until they are ready for adoption?

In the past few weeks, we have covered what to expect during labor and how to care for your dog after. Next up: some things to know if you are raising newborn puppies until they are ready to be adopted.

For the first two weeks after the puppies are born, handle them as little as possible. The mother’s instincts should kick in, and you will just need to make sure that the babies look healthy and are acting normally. You can handle them in time, but you’ll have to wait a bit. Experts say to begin gently handling the puppies after they are about three weeks old. At that time, pick up and hold the puppies for short periods throughout the day.

In terms of food, the puppies will nurse about every two hours during the first week. The time between feedings will get longer as the babies get older. Transition to solid food at around four weeks old. There are specific pet food brands that have a special puppy formula. Note that it needs to be soaked with a mixture of warm water and milk replacer, and then blended to the consistency of gruel. Gradually, the amount of liquid in the food will decrease until the puppies are just eating the dry food—that happens at around seven to eight weeks old. These are all general guidelines. Talk with your veterinarian about the exact feeding schedule for your litter of pups.

Assuming your puppies appear healthy, the first veterinary checkup needs to be at around six weeks of age. However, if a pup has the following symptoms, call the vet or take him to the animal hospital immediately:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor weight gain
  • Pale gums
  • Swollen eyes/eye discharge/nasal discharge
  • Constant crying
  • Coughing/wheezing/difficulty breathing
  • Inability to pee or poop

Good luck with your new pups!

Do you have any experience with newborn puppies? Share your tips with us!

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