- From nursing to weaning >
- Week by week from birth to weaning
Week by week from birth to weaning
The puppy has four primitive reflexes
At birth, the nervous system of the puppy is still developing; nevertheless, it already has a certain number of reflexes enabling it to survive, the so-called "primary reflexes":
- The burrowing reflex makes him search for the warm parts of his mother's body to snuggle up to it
- The suckling reflex enables him to suckle
- The perineal reflex activates the elimination of urine and stools - the mother stimulates this reflex by vigorously licking her puppies on their belly and under their tail
- The carrying reflex encourages him to stiffen when grabbed at the neck.
Don't forget, the puppy is incapable of regulating his own temperature!
Hence, the importance of ensuring that the whelping area is placed in a warm room.
A temperature of at least 30° C within the environment of the puppies is necessary during the first week.
The easiest way of checking the temperature is to place a thermometer in the whelping box.
Temperature can then be progressively brought down to 25° C during the fourth week.
Puppies are born deaf and blind
The puppy is born with his eyes firmly closed.
He is also deaf. Having said that, his tactile sensations are well developed.
Through touch, he will manage to find his mother's teats for suckling. Once in contact, he becomes appeased.
Moreover, observations via ultrasound have shown that when touching the bitches belly during the course of pregnancy, the puppies feel such touch and move accordingly.
Make sure that the bitch has enough milk and that the puppies suckle on the first day
In the first hour after birth, the puppies should suckle the colostrum - this first milk, rich in maternal antibodies that will protect them against infection.
In order to benefit from the protection provided by this first milk, it is imperative for the puppies to drink it within the first 48 hours of life.
Lack of milk is rare. To be on the safe side, you may check that it flows properly. With clean hands, gently press the middle of the teat with one hand and then pinch the tip of the teat with the other in order to see a drop of colostrum coming through. Its aspect is different to that of milk. It is lighter in colour, thicker and slightly transparent.
Although the puppies may have difficulty in finding the teats, it is not wise to overly intervene for fear of stressing the bitch.
On the other hand, if you see that the mother does not spontaneously push one of her pups towards the teat, you may gently guide him.
Very quickly, the puppies come to master matters.
After a few days, the mother will start producing milk instead of colostrum.
In the event of lack of milk or insufficient lactation, the veterinarian will treat and advise accordingly; however, you can plan ahead and prepare to bottle-feed the puppies with adapted reconstituted milk.
BABYDOG MILK, whose composition is very similar to the bitch's own milk, is designed to cover such situations.
Prior to birth, it is always advisable to have an advance tub of maternal milk should lacteal secretion turn out to be insufficient.
Be sure to carefully follow the instructions for use and the recommended hygiene rules.
The bitch should receive a high-protein diet
Just after birth, it is possible that the bitch loses her appetite, however this state should only be temporary.
Indeed, the period during which the bitch is providing her young with milk is the time when her nutritional needs are at the highest.
Her energy needs are multiplied by 2 to 4, with her protein needs multiplied by 4 to 6.
Moreover, lactation lasts approximately six weeks, which is quite taxing on her body.
STARTER and STARTER MOUSSE are the nutritional solutions designed and adapted to respond to such specific needs.
Deriving from the professional world, they will encourage optimal milk production for good puppy development and the proper maintenance of the bitch.
A bitch weighing 25 kg, having given birth to 6 puppies, will produce 2 litres of milk per day during the 3rd week!
Her energy needs will be threefold.
Puppies’ minimal rectal temperature: Birth 35.5°C ±0.5°C
Puppies gain weight daily
Except for the first day when the new-born pup may slightly lose weight due to the elimination of the first stools or to the initial difficulties of suckling, the puppy should gain weight daily. This is a sign of his vitality. In order to confirm, it is advisable to weigh each puppy every day using kitchen scales, and then to jot down their weight for their records.
A puppy that fails to gain weight for two consecutive days should alert you to seek advice from your veterinarian!
Grooming of the mother
After giving birth, it is important to check the hygiene of the whelping box, while respecting the mother's intimacy with her young.
When the puppies are not suckling, remove all of the soiled bedding and replace it with clean bedding.
Simply covering over the soiled layer with a clean layer is not hygienically sufficient.
Using a soft sponge and slightly soapy water, you may clean the bitch's belly and teats, rinsing and drying the area afterwards.
In and around the whelping box, if the floor surface is appropriate, wash down with cold soapy water; you may disinfect using a few drops of bleach diluted in water. It is important to rinse and dry the surface in order to remove all dampness.
The puppy holds up his body weight on his forelegs; his hearing develops
The puppies' life essentially consists of sleeping and drinking, even though marked changes are already visible. Hence, the nervous system, undergoing development, enables the puppy's forelegs to support his own body weight, making moving towards the teats much easier. He recognises the odour of his mother and develops a preference for certain teats. He is still unable to hear, even though his hearing is able to detect sound vibrations.
Puppies’ minimal rectal temperature: 37°C