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How to take care of your puppy in the first 2 days

From what to know when buying a German shepherd dog in our previous article, I am sure you will want to read  How to start breeding dogs for business. I have been overwhelmed by questions regarding puppy care.

Part one of this article will cover tips on puppy day care for the first 2 days.

Puppies' 1st Day

Today is extremely critical for the new puppy as are the next several days.

He will be nursing almost constantly but he is not getting milk from the dam. He is getting 'colostrum'. It is a sort of thin yellowish-milky fluid. Colostrum is the fluid that contains all the antibodies against the many viruses that could make the puppy sick and it is extremely important that he gets all he can over the next 48 hours, before the dam begins producing real milk.

When he is not nursing, he is sleeping. It is normal for all the puppies to make a 'mewling noise' almost constantly. There is nothing wrong with them, if they feel full and are warm.

Their little legs and bodies will twitch from time to time. This is normal too. He cannot piddle or poop on his own, so the dam will lick him to stimulate his bladder and bowel, and she will clean up and swallow whatever he excretes. She will continue to clean up her 'nest' completely until solid food is introduced.

She will also 'worry' the cord that is not yet dried and fallen off. It usually falls off in 48 hours, but the dam wants it off immediately. If she pulls on it, an umbilical hernia may develop, and while you can't cover the cord, you can sit with her to try and stop the licking and pulling behaviour.

The puppy's eyes are sealed closed and so are the ears. The eyes and ears continue to develop outside the womb. Eyes open anywhere from 10 - 18 days after birth. Ears begin to hear approximately the same time.

At birth, the ears have no visible opening, but you can see the ear canal beginning to develop after 10 days or so. The dam will be reluctant to go out to do her own bathroom duties because she does not want to leave her babies, so you may have to put a leash and collar on her and manually pull her away from the puppies and take her outside.

Keep a box of hygienic tissues or clean materials at the door to wipe her vulva with, because she will continue to have a bloody discharge for several days.

After each bathroom trip outside, wipe her nipples and lastly the  vulva with a wet warm cloth from a supply of old clean cloths to wash away the discharge and fluids that have accumulated. Offer your dam warm watered beef and rice at least 3 times in the day for the first couple of days. Keep a dish of water for her too, easily available, but most of the time she doesn't even want to leave the puppies to drink.

Put the soup dish between her paws, so that she doesn't have to move away from her puppies.

Give her lots of water in the days after the whelping to assist in making milk, and to regulate her temperature. She will eat large amounts of dog food, just as she did before the whelping, in order to make sufficient milk for the puppies.

It is very important that she does not have visitors at this time. Her own family can go in for short visits, but the puppies should be handled only by the main person in her life.

Animal mothers who feel threatened often will kill their own young, so that a predator does not kill them. This is why it is so important that she feels safe and secure in her quiet place. Remain extra careful over what is happening around the whelping box for the next 10 nights. Puppies get behind the dam and then squeal because they can't get back to her teats.

Puppies' 2nd Day

On Day Two of the puppy's life, you'll see that the puppy has lost weight.

A new born puppy normally loses 10% of its birth weight in the first 24 hours, so beginning today the weight will start coming back on and by tomorrow they should weigh the same as they did at birth.

You should weigh the puppies every day on a food scale to make sure they are gaining weight every day. If you have a puppy, who is not gaining as well as the others, then pay special attention to that puppy, and make sure he is not being bullied by stronger pups and is getting his fair share of nursing time.

If he is being pushed off by stronger puppies, then you should put the other puppies in a clothes basket and let the weak puppy nurse unmolested every 2 hours. If he still fails to thrive, take him to your Veterinarian. Infants get dehydrated and weaken very quickly and Vets attention is needed to save his life.

Today, Day two, the dam's temperature may still be slightly elevated. By tomorrow it should be returned to normal. If it is not, then you should call your Vet. The vaginal discharge will continue to be moderately heavy and bloody looking.

There should not be any foul odour or green colour to it, however. If a bad smell or a weird colour develops, call your vet immediately. This could be a sign of a retained dead puppy and needs immediate attention. Something like this can cause your dam to die.

You should offer food to your dog three times a day, today, (day two,) and every day after whelping. It is very likely she will refuse normal dog food right now. Actually, water is more important at this time.

You can add some minced meat soup to entice her to eat. As the puppies grow, the amount of food for the dam will increase proportionately. Water should be available at all times for her, but be careful that a puppy cannot crawl into the water and drown.

When you wash her teats today, examine them for any scratches or redness. Puppy nails are very sharp, and can scratch her breasts. Feel them with your hand. They should be full, but soft, and warm but not hot. You should examine the breasts every day, the same way. The puppies' umbilical cords should be quite dry and may be falling off today, (day 2 or 3).

Tomorrow- day 3 - is the best day to remove dewclaws from the rear feet.

Ernest Maina
About the Guest Author:

Mr. Maina breeds purebred German shepherd dogs at Blueline-kennels. He is sharing this to promote ethical and responsible dog breeding in Eastern Africa Region. All his breeding dogs have been x-rayed by university of Nairobi (Kabete campus) and hip-scored by Kenya veterinary board. You can keep in touch with him via Email


  1. Michael mwangi10:36 PM

    Aam thanx for the i am still a university student. For more forwad to my email


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