I’ve taken care of several litters now and I can confidently say I have come a long way since my first rookie experience. I can also tell you no two litters are the same, and just because you have seen so many doesn’t mean you won’t be mesmerized at the sight of newborn puppies.
The first time I handled a new litter, I would go in to check in on the puppies almost every five minutes, fearing that the mother would squish them or maybe they were not warm enough. Now I know that, except in very rare cases, the natural motherly instincts kick in as soon as the puppies come. The mother, especially if this is not her first litter, knows how to clean her puppies, and the puppies instinctively know where to find the mother’s nipple.
The most important thing to do as a caregiver is to make sure the puppies all get colostrum within a few minutes after birth. You can direct the puppy to the mum’s nipple and if it’s a healthy puppy, it will start suckling right away.
Heat is also very crucial for newborn puppies. Remember they just came from a well insulated place, the womb, and adjusting to the new environment takes time. Make sure the floor they are lying on is adequately covered with a clean blanket. Cotton bedsheets also do a fine job. In my experience, I have found an infrared lamp to be a life saver. Just make sure you hang it away from the mother’s reach. I once made a mistake of hanging it within reach and the mother ran outside for a break. When she came back, her fur was wet and when it came into contact with the lamp,the bulb exploded causing a real scare. Nobody was not hurt but I learned my lesson.
If for some reason there are weak puppies, be prepared to bottle feed them. You might also want to bottle feed if there are many puppies in the litter, which means some don’t get a chance to feed as often as they should.
Taking Care of a New Litter