Puppy Nursing, Birth to third week
We already know why it is so important for puppies to start nursing as soon as possible, and the reason is it stimulates the natural production of oxytocin in the bitch; this consequently helps her give birth to the remaining puppies. However, the most important reason why they should start nursing immediately is because it provides the protection and immunity they need, as the collostrum is only present in the milk for up to 36 hours. Nowadays there are lots of different commercial formulas that can substitute maternal collostrum, which you can administer in case the mother happens to die or has been anesthetized during a cesarean operation of or if you suspect that there might be complications or risks during nursing. It is extremely important in this first stage of life to make sure that the weakest or smallest puppies take advantage of the more generous breasts (the inguinal breasts) in order to maintain a good growth rhythm; it is even sometimes necessary to separate the stronger ones from the mother for short spaces of time so they won't interrupt the weaker ones. Likewise, as we've already seen, it is essential to scrupulously control the weight; the puppies should weigh twice as much around the eighth or 10th day of life and it is not so, you must find out what the cause is. It could be a problem of the puppy itself (difficulties to nurse derived from cardiorespiratory problems or anything else); or it could also be because his litter mates don't let him nurse; or maybe because the milk does isn't good quality.
Until not so long ago, when these kinds of problems occurred, breeders tended to supplement the newborns' diets with cow or goat milk, which, however, produced serious digestive alterations like diarrhea and vomiting because of the high content of lactose, besides serious nutritious deficiencies. The milk of a female dog is usually higher in fat, protein and solid matter.
Nowadays, if you look around, you'll notice that there are lots of different varieties of maternal-quality milk specifically for puppies, which are perfectly indicated in the cases in which you might need to supplement the mother's milk.
It is convenient to know that although during the first days the mother, with a strong instinct, will not want to separate herself from her puppies, after the first week or 10 days, she will need to rest for short spaces of time. You should arrange for her to leave the room and, if possible, go for a walk.
Normally 8-to-10-day-old puppies can already be alone and without nursing for three or four hours, obviously as long as they have been satisfied and perfectly call. Around the 15th day you could argue consider separating them from their mother for up to five hours during the night. This way, you will get them used to eating at a certain schedule, which will eat very beneficial when you introduce solid meals. We are ready now is the first milk teeth appear around day 14, and anyone who has had a chance to play with a puppy this age knows up to what degree they can cause harm due to their sharpness. In some cases, it is absolutely necessary to change the diet, which we generally know as weaning as of the third week of life (21 days), because even the bitch with a lot of maternal instinct can start to reject her little ones because of the damage that the teeth inflict on the nipples.
Most puppies are completely capable of starting to eat from a bowl around the 24th day; therefore, you can easily think about introducing a change in the diet after the third week. Start very slowly to offer a baby bottle with very liquid pap, mixing a couple of fodder balls with warm water, never with milk, as it could cause diarrhea. When these little balls are perfectly soft, blend the mixture well. This mixture has to be and a temperature of 38.5°C approximately. Combine this with the natural milk of the mother, increasing the number of baby bottles throughout the next four days and at the same time reducing the amount of milk they drink from the mother. Thus, the puppies will go getting used to the new flavor and the change will be much easier for them. Some commercial fodder brands form unless for puppies in the presentation of pap, which saves a lot of time for you. But you was also bear in mind that when the puppies stops drinking milk he also stops receiving the important antibodies that protect him against possible diseases. Therefore, it's very convenient to ask the veterinarian what to do in these situations.
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