How Do You Help A Dog After Having Puppies?

Providing Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is extremely important for a mother dog after having puppies. Lactation places high demands on the mother’s body, so she requires a highly digestible, energy and nutrient-rich diet to meet the needs of milk production and maintain her health.

It is recommended to feed the mother a high-quality puppy formula food during nursing. Puppy foods are calorie-dense and contain optimal levels of protein, fat, and nutrients like calcium for milk production (1). The food should contain at least 29% protein and 17% fat.

To maximize nutrient intake, it is best to feed the mother dog 4-6 small meals spaced throughout the day rather than 1 or 2 large meals. This helps ensure she receives adequate nutrition for milk production (2).

Some supplements may also be beneficial, such as calcium supplements to prevent calcium deficiency, and fatty acid supplements to support skin and coat health. Checking with your veterinarian on appropriate supplements is recommended.

With proper nutrition, the mother dog can stay healthy and produce quality milk for her puppies during the demanding lactation period.

(1) https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeding/the-care-and-feeding-of-the-breeding-bitch-part-two/

(2) https://www.purinainstitute.com/centresquare/life-stage-nutrition/nutrition-for-pregnant-and-lactating-dogs-and-their-nursing-puppies

Monitoring the Mother’s Health

It is crucial to keep a close eye on the mother dog’s health after she gives birth, as complications like mastitis can arise. Check the mother dog’s temperature daily – it should be between 100-102°F for the first 4 weeks after whelping (compared to the normal temperature of 101-102.5°F). Contact your vet immediately if her temperature is over 103°F as this could signal an infection 1.

Make sure the mother dog is bonding with and caring for the puppies properly. Signs she is being a good mother include sleeping next to the puppies, grooming and nursing them, and being attentive to their needs. If she seems distant or aggressive, contact your vet right away. This could indicate mastitis or a more serious postpartum health issue that requires immediate treatment.

Check the mother’s mammary glands daily for signs of mastitis, which is an inflammation of the breasts. Symptoms include hot, painful, swollen, or hard mammary glands, along with fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Mastitis requires antibiotics from the vet to treat and prevent septicemia. Keeping the mother dog well-fed, hydrated, and limiting nursing time per puppy can help prevent mastitis 2.

Caring for the Puppies

Newborn puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature so it is crucial to keep them warm. Place the whelping box in a small, enclosed area away from drafts and keep the room between 80-85°F through the use of heating pads, heat lamps, or infrared heat panels. Consider purchasing a special heated whelping mat such as the Snuggle Safe Pet Bed Microwave Heating Pad. Be very careful not to overheat puppies as this can be dangerous. Puppies should be kept on soft bedding and monitored often (Hill’s Pet, 2023).

The mother will naturally take care of keeping the puppies clean by licking them. You can assist by gently wiping the puppies with a warm, damp cloth if needed. Be very careful when handling newborns as they are fragile. Only interfere with the mother’s natural process if she is not attending to the puppies.

Allow the puppies to nurse every 2-3 hours as needed. Do not separate them from the mother for more than two hours at a time. Weigh each puppy daily to ensure they are gaining weight; contact your vet if weight loss occurs. Puppies should gain 10-15% of their body weight daily (AKC, 2023).

Providing a Whelping Box

A whelping box is an essential tool for safely containing puppies and monitoring the mother dog during the first few weeks after giving birth. The box allows the puppies to stay warm, clean, and protected while enabling the mother to come and go for food, water and bathroom breaks. An ideal whelping box has tall enough sides to prevent the puppies from wandering while still allowing the mother to easily enter and exit.

Many breeders construct custom whelping boxes out of wood or other sturdy materials, with recommended interior dimensions of around 4 feet by 2 feet for medium or large breeds. The box walls should be at least 16 inches high. Some key features to include are non-slip flooring, removable walls, and pig rails to prevent the mother from accidentally smothering the puppies. Fleece pads, blankets and heating pads under half the area help regulate temperature.

Puppies can transition out of the whelping box around 3-4 weeks of age once they are mobile and able to easily eliminate on their own. At this age, an exercise pen or gated area provides more space while still safely containing the litter.

Proper whelping box setup supports the critical first weeks of a puppy’s life and reduces potential hazards. Providing an enclosed, climate controlled space enables close monitoring of newborn puppies until they are old enough for gradual independence. With some simple DIY construction and fleece liners, breeders can create ideal puppy nurseries.

Veterinary Care

It’s crucial to take the puppies for their first veterinary visit within their first few weeks of life. The initial puppy exam allows the vet to check each puppy for any health issues and determine if they are gaining weight properly. The vet will also set up a vaccination and deworming schedule. According to the ASPCA, puppies should receive a series of vaccinations starting at 6-8 weeks old and given every 2-4 weeks until 16 weeks old. These include vaccinations for distemper, parvo, and rabies. Puppies should also be dewormed starting at 2 weeks old and repeated every 2 weeks until 8 weeks old. After that, monthly deworming may be recommended based on the vet’s assessment.

The mother dog should be spayed once her puppies are weaned, usually around 6-8 weeks after giving birth, to prevent future unwanted litters. It’s best to wait until the puppies are weaned so the mother’s milk production isn’t impacted.

Signs of health issues in either the puppies or mother dog that require prompt veterinary care include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite, abnormal discharge or bleeding, and difficulty breathing. Puppies that fail to gain weight properly, have pot bellies, or cry excessively may indicate intestinal parasites requiring deworming. Contact your vet right away if you observe any concerning signs of illness in a puppy or the mother dog.

Sources:

Breeding for Dog Owners – Caring for Newborn Puppies

Newborn Puppy Care: Feeding, Vaccines and More

Socialization

Socialization is a critical part of raising happy, well-adjusted puppies. It involves safely exposing puppies to new sights, sounds, smells, people, and experiences during the prime socialization period between 3 and 16 weeks old (Howell et al., 2015). Proper socialization helps minimize fearfulness and aggression later in life.

To socialize puppies with humans, engage in gentle handling techniques like stroking, cuddling, and chest rubbing daily. Let the puppies approach people at their own pace and use treats and praise to make human interaction positive. Introduce new people like friends, neighbors, and children gradually so the puppies can become comfortable around strangers (AKC, 2022).

Visitors can assist with socialization by petting, feeding, grooming, and playing with the puppies for short periods each day. Take the puppies on car rides and to busy parks so they experience new environments. Expose the puppies to sights and sounds like vacuums, doorbells, and music. Keep socialization sessions relaxed, rewarding, and tailored to each puppy’s comfort level.

With proper early socialization, puppies will grow into friendly, confident adult dogs who can handle new experiences without fear or aggression issues. Socialization lays the foundation for a well-adjusted companion animal.

Preparing for Adoption

A key part of helping a dog after having puppies is preparing them for adoption into loving homes. Proper preparation includes screening potential owners to find good homes, providing adoption contracts and health records, and tips for smoothly transitioning puppies to their new families.

When screening potential adopters, it’s important to ask questions about their lifestyle, family situation, previous pet ownership experience, and plans for training and care. Many rescues or shelters may do home visits as part of the screening process. You’ll want to ensure the puppies are going to responsible owners who are prepared for the time commitment and costs of raising a dog.

Adoption contracts can outline expectations for spay/neuter, microchipping, veterinary care, and reasons the dog may need to be returned. Providing vet records about vaccinations, deworming, and general health helps set the new owners up for success. According to Petfinder, adopters should receive a printout about the puppy’s food, medication, medical issues, and behavior.

To aid the transition, some tips include: sending a blanket with the puppy’s scent, providing the same food initially, and giving the new owners schedules and advice on house-training. It’s also recommended to introduce the puppy to its new home gradually, keeping things calm and quiet at first. Maintaining contact with the adopters and providing post-adoption support can also help ensure a smooth adjustment during the puppy’s first weeks and months in their new forever home.

Housebreaking

One of the most important things to start when caring for a litter of puppies is housebreaking. Puppies can begin the housebreaking process as early as 3-4 weeks old. At this age, their bladder and bowel control is still developing, so accidents will happen, but it’s good to start establishing a routine.

A schedule is crucial for housebreaking success. Take the puppies outside to potty every 30 minutes when they are awake and also first thing in the morning, after meals, after naps, and before bedtime.Choose a designated potty spot outside and use a command like “go potty.” Give lots of praise and treats when the puppy goes in the right spot.

Crating the puppies when you can’t directly supervise them will help avoid indoor accidents. The crate should be just big enough for them to stand up and turn around. Puppies won’t want to soil their sleeping area, so crating them teaches bladder control. Limit crate time to avoid accidents.

Accidents will happen during house training. When they do, calmly take the puppy outside to finish. Don’t punish them for accidents – this can hinder the training. Be patient and consistent, and they will learn.

For more tips, check out this guide on potty training puppies from the AKC.

Preventing Future Litters

It is highly recommended to spay the mother dog after she is done nursing her puppies. Spaying refers to the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus in order to prevent future pregnancies. It is best to wait until at least two weeks after the mother’s milk has dried up before spaying, as the surgery and anesthesia may interfere with milk production and the mother’s ability to nurse (https://www.mepovet.net/spay-a-neuter).

There are many benefits to spaying a mother dog after she has had a litter. Spaying eliminates the risk of mammary cancer and uterine infections that can occur from repeated heat cycles and pregnancies. It also prevents any accidental or unplanned future litters. Additionally, spaying may reduce unwanted behaviors associated with the heat cycle, such as restlessness, vocalization, and attempts to escape the home (https://www.bppah.com/spay-neuter/).

Overall, spaying is an important part of responsible pet ownership. It allows female dogs to avoid the stresses of heat cycles and pregnancy while improving long-term health and behavior.

Caring for the Mother

After giving birth, caring for the mother dog is crucial. She needs proper nutrition and rest to recover from delivery and produce milk for the puppies. It’s important to provide the mother with high-quality protein sources like chicken, eggs, beef or puppy food (Pedigree). Her caloric needs are 2-4 times higher when nursing, so feed her to match demand. Make sure she has constant access to fresh, clean water.

Give the mother breaks from nursing so she can relieve herself, eat and rest. Take her for short, gentle walks to encourage mobility and bowel movements. But don’t over-exercise her; focus on low-impact activities while she recovers. Watch for post-partum issues like bleeding, discharge, fever, loss of appetite or lethargy and contact your vet if concerned (Urban Pet Hospital).

Make sure the mother gets plenty of rest. Provide soft bedding in a quiet area away from the puppies. Don’t force interactions if she seems withdrawn at first. With time, her maternal instincts will kick in. Support her recovery with quality nutrition, moderate exercise and adequate rest.

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