Caring for a mother dog and her litter of pups can be a heartwarming experience for any dog lover. While the momma dog will most likely be willing and able to care for her litter, she may need a little extra help from you. Most important, she'll need a safe, warm place to take care of her young brood until they're able to care for themselves or go to a new family.
Items You Will Need:
• Nesting box
• High-quality dog food
• Soft rag
• Canine milk replacement formula
• High-quality wet puppy food
Prepare A Comfy Space
Set up a nesting box on newspapers for the mother and her litter in a quiet room or area. Ideally this should be done before whelping, but soon after labor is also acceptable. The box should be large enough for the mother dog to lay out completely with sides that she can easily step over. If you don't want to supply a nesting box, allow her space in a large closet or spare bathroom. The purpose of the box is to keep the puppies contained while allowing the mother dog to feel safe and secure.
Turn up the heat to at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer in the room where the nesting box is. Chilling is a leading cause of newborn puppy death.
Feed momma dog approximately two to three times as much food as normal separated into three or four daily feedings. A high-quality food keeps up her strength and benefits her overall health. During nursing, the mother is eating not only for herself but also to feed her puppies the milk they so eagerly consume.
Grooming & Handling
Wash the mother's nipples with a soft, wet, warm rag if milk begins to dry on the outside.
Handle the puppies for a few minutes a couple times a day once they reach 3 weeks of age. They're still fragile at this time, but handling them gently encourages positive human socialization.
Begin the weaning process when the puppies reach 3 weeks old. Weaning consists of making a gruel for the puppies to start eating. Mixing canine milk replacement formula with wet, high-quality puppy food and warm water is the ideal gruel mixture for weaning pups. As the puppies grow from 4 to 7 weeks old, gradually decrease the amount of water and milk replacement until the puppies are eating plain puppy food.
By Jasey Kelly
Hilltop Animal Hospital: Care of Mother Dogs and Puppies
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Newborn Puppy Care
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Diet for a Dog Nursing Pups
About the Author
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.