How To Care for Puppies

Having a puppy is a big responsibility. No matter the age of the puppy, you can be assured that much will be required of you. If for some unfortunate reason the mother dog is not near, you will become the pup's surrogate mother.

  1. If you have a litter of puppies and the mother dog is unavailable to keep them warm, you should take matters into your own hands. Puppies less than one month old cannot regulate their own body temperatures. You should provide them with artificial heat such as a heating pad. However, do not set the pad to "high" as this may burn the puppies. Do not set the puppies directly on the heating pad, either. Place a towel or blanket between the puppies and the heating pad.
  2. You should keep your puppies in a draft-free room. Puppies under a month old should not be kept outdoors. If they are kept outside, they could become infested with ticks and fleas or they could become the target of fire ants. Also, other animals may come and "feed" on your puppies.
  3. The mother dog will usually clean her puppies. If the mother dog is unavailable, you should clean the puppies. This stimulates them to potty. Puppies less than three weeks generally do not "eliminate" on their own. They need assistance. You should use a warm cloth to stroke the private areas (genital and anal) of the puppies. This should be done both before and after the puppies eat. If you have a puppy that does not go at this time, you should try again within the hour. If the puppies are extremely dirty, you can bathe them in warm water. You should dry them completely with a towel or a hair dryer that is set on low. If your pups have fleas or ticks, you should consult a veterinarian. Flea and tick products should not be used on young puppies. You should also know that if a puppy is infested with fleas or ticks that it could cause the puppy to become anemic.
  4. You will have to bottle-feed puppies if they are less than six weeks old. You should purchase puppy milk formula. Puppies should not be fed baby formula or cow's milk. Puppies should be fed every three to four hours. Also, you should not put the puppy on her back when feeding. Hold puppies much like they would be positioned if they were nursing on their mother. Clean the puppies' faces when they are finished eating.
  5. When your pups are around four weeks,their teeth will start to show. Once your pups start developing teeth and they are taking a full bottle at feeding time, you should introduce solid food to them. Start with a mixture of canned and dry food. You can soften the hard, dry food with warm water. Feed the pups three to four times a day. After two weeks, you should gradually start to wean your pups off of the canned food. By this time, your pups will have learned to "lap" and will be able to drink water. Water should be provided for your pups at all times.
  6. Take your puppies to the vet if they get diarrhea, have bloody urination, if they have cold symptoms, have no appetite, vomit--or if their eyes drain for more than 24 hours. Your pups should start being vaccinated when they are between four and six weeks of age. Booster shots will be given every few weeks until they are approximately four to five months of age.


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