If you're overseeing a litter of darling newborn puppies, it's easy to feel a little stressed out. Even if you have lots of experience taking care of adult dogs, puppies are a whole new ballgame, so understanding a few facts about newborn puppies can help you navigate their care. Because puppies are born altricial animals — unable to care for themselves — they require a lot of care and diligent attention.
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Food facts about newborn puppies
Newborn puppies have zero need for solid foods during their first few weeks post-birth. If their mama dog is healthy and nursing properly, they have all that they need to grow and develop into strong and thriving doggies. If mom for whatever reason isn't in the picture or isn't capable of nursing, commercial puppy formula generally works well. Young pups don't need to start eating any solid foods until they are old enough to begin weaning, which usually is around 3 weeks old.
Sight and sound
As altricial creatures, newborn puppies simultaneously can't see or hear. Their eyes and ear canals are both closed tightly and don't start to open until several days after birth. For the ears, this process typically occurs when the little ones are 5 to 8 days in age. For the eyes, this usually happens when they're 8 to 14 days old. Newborn puppies always begin with pure deep blue peepers, although in most cases, this changes as they develop.
Puppy vocalization and crying
Unlike sleeping and feeding, crying isn't usually a big thing with newborn puppies. If you hear a wee pup crying inordinately, it could signal an issue that requires immediate veterinary attention. The crying could be a sign of sickness, cold or inadequate milk intake.
Newborn puppies are delicate creatures, and it's crucial not to ignore any signs of abnormalities. Contact your vet if your pup cries persistently, or if you observe any other signs that something might be wrong — think breathing problems, isolation from mama and siblings or lack of movement.
Puppy elimination considerations
Puppies don't come out of the womb instantly knowing how to eliminate. Their mama dogs — or human owners —kindly help them out in that department. After feeding sessions, mother dogs encourage their offspring to urinate and pass stools by licking their rear and genital areas. Human caretakers can do the same thing by rubbing the puppies with warm and damp cloths. It usually takes the youngsters between 3 and 4 weeks to start eliminating without any assistance.
Motion facts about newborn puppies
Puppies rapidly grow into tiny balls of energy, although they definitely don't start out that way. The furballs don't even stand up until they're at least 2 to 4 weeks in age. They also generally start walking during that time period. The classic canine behavior of barking also usually starts to emerge during this age bracket.
Expected weight gain
Typical birth weights for puppies differ according to breed. A German shepherd pup probably won't weigh the same at birth as a Chihuahua newborn, for example. However, rapid weight gain and development is the healthy norm for neonate pups. If a little guy is increasing his body weight at a rate of about 10 to 15 percent each day, then he's on the right track.