The first few days of a puppy’s life may not be action-packed (it’s a whole lot of sleeping, eating, and pooping, as is the case with most newborns). But there are some things new pet parents should know to ensure their pups grow into healthy and happy dogs. Here’s what our vet experts had to say.
The symptoms develop over a short period of time
In the womb of their mothers, puppies grow and develop for about two months. The normal dog gestation (or pregnancy length) is two months. According to Dr. Margret Casal, an associate professor of genetics and medical biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, “in terms of development, a puppy’s birth is similar to that of a premature baby.”
In a week, they double their weight
Richard Wheeler, owner of Poudre River Veterinary Clinic, Fort Collins (Colorado), and faculty at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, explains that the size and weight of a dog is entirely determined by its breed. He says that all puppies, in the ideal case, should have doubled their weight at birth after the first seven days.
Although they can’t see or hear, they are still able to make noise
In the first 2 weeks, puppies cannot see or hear but can still make noises. Wheeler says that puppies will vocalize from birth. When they’re born, mom will lick off the placenta to stimulate them.
Around 10 days old, the eyes will start opening, although they haven’t yet fully developed. Wheeler says that the rudimentary eyes haven’t fully formed until 10 weeks. Casal says that all puppies have blue-gray eyes at birth. Around 10 weeks, their “true eye color” will become apparent.
Casal states that “most newborn puppies are able to hear some when they’re born.” Their ears remain closed for about 14 days.
The Sleep a lot and eat a lot
The Gotham Veterinary Center in New York City, run by Dr. Bonnie Brown & Dr. Ashley Davis, points out that puppies are fed every two hours. Casal notes that even without sight, the puppies rely on their instincts and reflexes to locate their mother’s breast to feed.
Davis and Brown both agree that between feeds they spend about 90% of the time asleep, which is 22 hours.
You can’t eliminate waste on your own
The mothers of newborn puppies are responsible for encouraging them to use the toilet. Wheeler suggests that humans if mom’s not around, can assist by gently massaging a pup’s back with a moistened paper towel.
It is Important to Stay Warm
The temperature is a very important factor in the development of newborn puppies. Wheeler says that puppies are not able to regulate their body temperatures very well. Ideal temperature for puppies is 75 degrees with 80 percent humidity. This will allow their immune system to function properly, as well as the digestive tract and other body processes.
The babies are born with fur and nails but no teeth
Casal says that puppies “have little sharp nails” when they’re born. She says it’s best to wait 4 to 6 week old to trim their nails. However, this can be done earlier if the puppy is hurting its mother.
The amount of hair and fur they have depends on their breed. Wheeler says that puppies have a coat when they are born. As they mature over the first year of their life, shedders shed their puppy coats to grow an adult coat.
Davis and Brown say that their teeth begin to appear at about 4 weeks of age. They begin losing their baby teeth between 3-4 months of age to prepare for adult teeth.
These Kids Are Quick Learners
Puppies will crawl and scoot as newborns. Davis and Brown state that between 3 to 12 weeks, puppies will start learning how to walk and improve their motor skills.
The Elderly Are More Vulnerable To Illness
Wheeler states that puppies are at their most susceptible to diseases like distemper and parvo between 4-12 weeks old. In the first three weeks after birth, puppies can also be susceptible to herpesvirus. This can come from either their mothers or other dogs living in the house. Very young puppies exposed to high doses of the canine herpes virus almost always die.
Family Time Benefits Everyone
The mother of a newborn puppy and his littermates should never be separated before the 8-week mark. They can remain together for as long as 12 weeks. A puppy’s health and immune system can be affected by separating it too early. Casal says that keeping the puppies close to their mothers will reduce the risk of them contracting infectious diseases. If you remove them, they are not yet fully developed and their immune systems will be compromised. They could become sick.
You Must Socialize Them Properly
When it comes to growing puppies, health is not the only thing that matters. According to Davis and Brown, the period between 3-14 weeks is critical for socializing puppies.
Puppies must be able to interact and recognize dogs, as well as other animals such humans and cats. Socialization should begin at three weeks, when the brain is developing rapidly. This is the time when puppies can respond and understand their surroundings. Around 4 weeks of age, puppies start playing in groups.
The Animals Need to be Vaccinated and dewormed
Davis and Brown recommend that pet owners take their puppies to the vet for their first visit after they have been adopted. This should be done at around 8 weeks old. Deworming medications and keeping your dog clean can help prevent intestinal parasites. A veterinarian should examine the stool of all puppies to check for parasites.
Wheeler says that puppies should receive their first vaccines at this time as well, because the antibodies in their mothers’ milk are starting to wear off.