In previous blogs we’ve touched on canine labor and possible post-whelping complications but for the sake of this post let’s assume all went well
and you have a new litter of pups contentedly nursing from their exhausted mother. What now? Do you need to do anything?

After gently cleaning up after labor and making sure mama and puppies are comfortable, take time to sit back and observe. Are all the puppies nursing? Does mom look content and healthy? If all is good, there isn’t much you have to do.

It’s important that your dog still keep up a normal elimination routine, so make sure she is getting outside regularly. Keep an eye on mama’s nipples: they should be soft and pink and her milk white and free of blood or any yellowish color, which could mean pus. Mama may continue to have vaginal discharge for up to 24 hours but anything longer would warrant a call to the vet.

Check the mother and pups every few hours to make sure everyone is doing well. Take note of the same things: are they nursing? Do they seem content? Are they eliminating? Etc.

Newborn puppies need to stay warm, and snuggled together close to their mother is perfect for their little bodies. A healthy puppy has a full tummy and gains weight steadily. Use a small scale to weigh the puppies daily and consult your vet if you find that one of them is not gaining weight.

An unhappy puppy may cry or look uncomfortable or cold. Try to troubleshoot the problem: is the puppy being crowded out by other pups and unable to reach a teat to nurse? Could he be cold because of the aforementioned problem? Is he being rejected for some other reason?

If you suspect a puppy is not receiving the motherly attention he needs, call your vet with your concerns. A puppy may need supplemental help with feeding and heat if this is the case.

Call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment no later than 48 hours after birth so they can perform an examination to make sure everyone is healthy. Few things in life are cuter than a puppy. Take time to enjoy them, and good luck!

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.