Introduction: How to Care for a Litter of Puppies
I was given the responsibility to take care of ten puppies when my dog gave birth a couple of months ago. Taking care of puppies takes a lot of time, money, responsibility, and effort. Imagine this: Your dog was just let out to use the bathroom. She so happens to be in heat, and she has wandered off into the neighbor’s yard. Ten minutes later you go to let the dog back in and don’t see her. Now what? You call and call for her, luckily, she came running on the last call. Fast forward a month, you notice your dog beginning to eat more food and gain weight. You also notice her teats starting to increase in size. You take your dog to the vet and they diagnose YOUR DOG IS PREGNANT. Fast forward three months to when your dog has given birth. How will you take care of these puppies? What do you do first?
The first step to taking care of a litter of puppies is to gather puppy supplies!
Kennel (for your dog to give birth in)
Food and water bowls
Empty water bottles (your choice)
Step 1: Make Sure the Puppies Are Sucking on the Mother.
The next step, after all the supplies have been gathered is making sure the puppies are all suckling on the mother’s teats. Sometimes, the bigger pups will push the smaller ones out of the way, preventing them from eating. As a result of this, pups will die, get sick, or they won’t grow as fast as the others. If there is a runt in the litter, it should be sucking most of the time. This will prevent the runt from dying. Laying a couple of towels down helps the puppies stay warm, and it also protects what they are laying on. Typically, puppies will sleep in a pile until they are sold or given away. One of the most important things anyone can do for a newborn puppy, touch it as little as possible. Believe it or not, we have bacteria on our hands that can get the puppies sick, and we don’t want that.
Step 2: Check to Make Sure There Are No Birth Defects and That the Mother Is Doing Her Job.
The third step to taking care of a litter of puppies is to keep an eye on them to make sure nothing is medically wrong with them and that the mother is doing her job. Watch for irregular breathing, birth defects, or immobility. To make sure the mother dog is doing her job, watch her and see if she is cleaning them, letting them eat, and being ‘motherly’ to them. A mother dog should clean her puppies because her licking stimulates the puppy’s need to use the bathroom. During the first couple of weeks, before the puppies are eating hard food, the mother dog will eat their waste.
Another thing to keep in mind if your puppies were born in the winter months is to find some sort of heat source for them. Water bottles filled with warm water work really good because they stay warm for a while. Heat pads, heaters, heat lamps, and other heat sources work just as well as water bottles do. Just in my opinion, water bottles filled with hot water uses no electricity!
Step 3: The Real Responsibility.
Additionally, once the puppies start eating hard puppy food, you will need to start cleaning up after them. Which is why the fourth step is cleaning up after the dogs. Puppies start eating hard food at three to four weeks old. It is best to feed them two to three times a day, but remember not to overfeed them. Putting puppies away at night can be a challenge, so I recommend feeding them breakfast, dinner, and then lastly, right before they go to bed. Like foo dup like they do for cattle, kind of like a ‘feedlot’. This ensures that every pup is eating at the same time. When puppies start eating hard food, their waste will come out more solid and it will have a different color to it, depending upon what you feed them. Clean up is very important because puppies can get diseases from their siblings' stool. To make cleaning up after the puppies easier, I recommend not keeping them caged up all the time. Instead, let them run free where you have them barricaded. Also, the extra-large puppy pads work best for covering a large area and covering it efficiently. To keep the puppy pads from getting messed up by the playful puppies, use masking tape to tape puppy pads to the floor and each other. To make it even easier and faster to clean up the puppy area, use disposable gloves to pick up the puppy pads and stool that didn’t make it on the puppy pads. This saves you time, and makes it easier for everybody!
Step 4: Getting Rid of the Puppies.
Lastly, when the time has come to start getting rid of the puppies, it is best they have had their shots. Puppies get their shots at about two months old. Shots can be expensive, therefore, make sure when you sell the puppies, you break even with the profit you make off the puppies. Every breed of dog sells for different prices, based on how good and efficient the breed is. If you have puppies of mixed breeds, they typically sell for less. A purebred puppy can sell for well over 700 dollars, depending upon the breed. Now, depending upon which mix your puppy is, they can sell for a lot more than a regular ‘mutt.’ Some people like a heeler, Australian shepherd mix. They are good cattle dogs and people will pay 300 dollars for one. Most people won’t buy a heeler, lab mix because they are unheard of and no one knows what they are good for.