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The first few weeks of the puppy’s life are very essential for its healthy growth and development. It is very important that during this period, it should be provided with proper warmth and feeding. It is right time to develop social skill in the puppy as well. In case the puppy is with the mother dog, feeding the puppy is not a problem. But in these cases where the puppy is either abandoned by the mother dog or is separated from it; providing it with milk and care is very essential for its survival.
Taking care of a puppy without a mother is really a challenging task and demand 24 hour commitment from the owner.
As soon as the puppy is born it should be checked for birth defects like cleft palate, which could be dangerous for its life. It is also essential to keep puppies warm during the first few weeks of life. For this purpose a warm bottle or a well monitored heating pad wrapped in a towel can be placed along with the puppy.
How to feed new born puppies?
Though the mother’s milk is best for the puppy, in case of separation for mother a veterinary doctor should be consulted to know about how and when to feed the puppy. Before feeding the puppy with the bottle, it is essential to know the proper way of doing so, else it may be harmful for it. The puppy can be fed with the milk specifically formulated for puppies as the other types of milk, such as cow’s milk may cause diarrhea.
How often the feed should be given to the puppies?
During the first few weeks, the puppy has to be given feed every few hours, about after every two hours. After a few weeks the interval between feeding can be increased. When the puppy is about four months old, it can be nursed on solid food. For the purpose of transition to solid food, a good quality puppy kibble should be soaked with some warm water along with milk replacer; the mixture should be blended to the consistency to form gruel. It can be given to the puppy several times. Slowly and gradually, the milk replacer can be reduced till about seven to eight months, when the puppy is able to eat dry kibble. A veterinarian should be consulted to know about the exact feeding schedule and quantity of food to be given each time.
What should be the ideal weight of the puppy?
In order to ascertain the proper growth and development of the puppy, it is essential to check its weight. The birth weight of the puppy varies as per the breed of the puppy. However, during the first few weeks of a puppy’s life its weight can become double or triple. It is considered healthy if the puppy is gaining ten to fifteen percent of birth weight. It is important to note that if the puppy is not acquiring the adequate weight, its survival can become questionable.
Healthy development of the puppy
A newborn healthy puppy is normally plumy, vigorous and firm. A puppy is normally crawling when it is 7 to 14 days old. It is able to walk at 16 days and has a normal gait on the 21st day of its life. It opens eyes at about 12 to 15 days. In case of any noticeable disparity, a vet should be consulted.
Toilet training of the puppy
The puppy is not able to defecate or urinate on its own during the first few weeks of its life. If the mother dog is there, it can stimulate the puppy to excrete by licking it. In case the mother dog is not there, hands can be used to stimulate the puppy to pass urine or defecate. Otherwise, a soft cloth or a small piece of gauze can be dipped in warm water and the anal and urinary area of the puppy can be massaged with it after feeding the puppy. The texture, warmth and movement of the cloth should be similar to that of the mother dog’s tongue. Before practicing it the proper way to do so, must be learnt by the vet. It will encourage the puppy to relieve itself. Usually it is found that puppies learn to excrete on their own when they are about 3-4 weeks old.
When should be puppy taken to vet for first checkup?
If the puppy is showing healthy growth, it can get a first round of vaccination at about six weeks. The first vaccination which can be given is parvo virus. However, the puppy can go under deworming (to remove hookworms and roundworms) or physical checkup earlier to this. For the purpose of scheduling preventive health plan, the vet should be consulted. In case the puppy shows any of the following symptoms, a vet should be consulted immediately:
1. Lack of appetite
2. Poor weight gain
5. Difficulty in breathing
7. Constant crying
8. Pale gums
9. Swollen eyes or discharge from eyes
10. Nasal discharge
11. Inability to pass stool or urine.
Proper care and nurturing environment given during the early years of life can ensure healthy growth of the puppy; which could soon become a part of the family.