How do you know if a newborn puppy is healthy? This webinar will discuss what to do right after puppies are born and how to take care of newborn puppies and kittens. Dr. Marty Greer, Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services, will provide resources to measure the health of newborn puppies and strengthen the overall health of neonates. In addition, Dr. Greer will give the necessary tools to address newborn puppy problems and improve neonatal survival outcomes when puppies are in trouble. She will discuss:
- Identifying high-risk puppies
- What is the most critical time for newborn puppies
- What is the greatest danger facing a healthy newborn puppy
- How do you keep newborn puppies healthy
- Measuring the health of newborns
- Managing neonate puppies
*During this webinar, Dr. Greer mentions a handout. Scroll down below the video to find the handout she is referencing.
What Are the Risks of a Newborn Puppy?
The first thing we want to do is identify our high risk puppies. And to do that, we’re going to use the APGAR score, birthweight, litter size and 4H syndrome.
Puppy APGAR Scores
APGAR is going to be very useful in assessing puppies. APGAR on the human side stands for A-P-G-A-R where A is appearance. So in dogs we call that “mucous membrane color.” P is for “pulse” or heart rate. G is for “grimace.” And of course, puppies don’t grimace the way babies do, so we look for irritability, reflexes. The second A is “activity” or mobility, and the R is for “respirations.” We score five different parameters on a scale of zero, one and two, and it’s scored twice, once at one minute after birth, and then again 5 minutes after birth.
Newborn Puppy Care Handout
This is a chart it gives you a chance to score your puppies at the time of birth, whether they’re born by vaginal birth or by C-section. It’s a really great tool to assess how vigorous your puppies are at birth. So if you have a zero APGAR score, you’re probably either deceased or pretty close to it and it may be difficult to resuscitate. If the puppy comes out screaming, moving, good heart rate, good pink color membranes and breathing regularly, it’s going to have a score of a ten. You can get a score anywhere between zero and ten, depending on how vigorous or not vigorous a puppy is. We know heart rates should be above 220. We know that they should be actively moving. We know they should be crying shortly after they’re born. They should have pink mucous membranes, and they should have good, strong respirations. Some puppies will have some irregular respirations for the first few minutes. That’s not unusual. But that’s going to drop their APGAR score from a ten maybe to a nine, maybe to a seven.
We know puppies that have an APGAR score of below seven have a 22-fold increased risk of death in the first 8 hours after birth. And we know puppies with a four to seven APGAR score, so in that midrange, they’re weak but not deceased at birth, have a 90% survival rate if we intervene with appropriate intervention.
Puppies Born Via C-section
When we do C-sections, all of our puppies are identified at birth by a colored towel. When the surgeon does the C-section, they have to remain with sterile gloves. So we sterilize a set of colored towels that we hand to the technicians as they resuscitate the puppies. Each puppy is going to be born and handed off into a technician’s colored towel. That way, in our veterinary clinic, we can track a number of things. We can track their APGAR score, we can track the resuscitation efforts that we have to provide, and we can track their position in the uterus. I think it’s interesting to know that if you’ve got multiple puppies that are next to each other in the uterus, that there was a deceased puppy and then there were some things not too healthy, those are important things for you to know as well when you take these puppies home. It’s a lot harder to know what their uterine position is when they were born by vaginal birth. You know what their birth order is, but it doesn’t tell us if it was the right horn or the left horn that they were born from. It can be harder to tell when they’re born by vaginal birth, but you can still use this information.
The reason we have colored towels is number one, so that they can be sterile, but number two, they can be identified. If we have a litter of 16 puppies, and we do sometimes, we’ll be able to track where the puppy was, what the resuscitation efforts were, who resuscitated them, what their APGAR score was at birth. And the other information that a client needs as a pet owner to take these puppies home and be able to intervene and keep their puppy survival rates high. Then once they go home, they’re marked with fingernail polish or Breeder’s Edge ID Me collars so that we have a way that we can permanently identify them, and then that information can be transferred onto a puppy tracking sheet. You can use a puppy tracking sheet on your computer. You can use it in a spiral notebook with a pen and a ruler so that you can draw your lines. With information like the APGAR scores, the weights, the temperatures, urine color and some of the other parameters that we’re going to talk about measuring with or without an Excel spreadsheet. As a pet owner, you can very effectively track how your puppies are doing, what kind of success rate they’re having, and what you need to do for intervention.
Newborn Puppy Weight
The second parameter is puppy birth weight. I prefer weighing puppies on a digital scale that includes grams as well as ounces, because grams are much smaller increments, and we can see weight gain and weight loss much more readily on a gram version than we can on an ounce version. Please realize that a lot of these scales you can flip back and forth so you can actually record both weights.
Low birth weight puppies like low birth weight babies have a greater risk. And in puppies, that’s an 81% greater chance of death in the first 48 hours if they’re low birth weight puppies. We know that puppies in the lightest 25% of their breed have an increased risk of mortality in the first two days and weight loss.
Most puppies lose some weight when they’re first born. We used to say up to a 10% weight loss was acceptable, but now we know anything more than 4%, which is a pretty small amount, can have an eightfold of increased risk of death. With all this information about birth weight, it’s really important that we record and that we track this information.
Puppy Litter Size
Puppy litter size is the third parameter. We know in large litters of puppies, again, they have a fourfold increased risk of neonatal death because of low birth weight puppies. So you tend to have 14 puppies that are smaller than if you had six puppies, but they’re also going to be slower in the delivery of those puppies. By the time you get to puppies number of seven, eight, nine and ten, you may have some increased risk of death because they’ve had a slower time coming out of the uterus and they’ve been oxygen deprived during some of that time that the uterus was contracting. And they were traveling through the uterus and out vaginally or at C-section. We know large litters have an increased risk of mortality.
When Should I Be Concerned About Newborn Puppies?
The 4H syndromes are the last four things that we can measure. Those are Hypothermia, which is low body temperature, Hypoglycemia, which is low glucose or low sugar, Hydration or dehydration, and Hypoxia or low blood oxygen.
Hypothermia or chilled puppies have ileus of the gut. Ileus of the gut means that when they’re chilled, their intestinal tract stops moving and digesting. Instead of digesting the food, the food tends to foam up in the GI tract and puppies tend to aspirate. They also tend to dehydrate because they’re not absorbing fluids from the intestinal tract. When that’s happening, their blood glucose is dropping. So these things are all really intertwined with each other. Not one stands alone. If you have a chilled puppy, you have this cascade of events that starts to happen that needs to have intervention. I recommend that our moms are at room temperature at around 75 degrees in the room, but the surface temperature where the puppies are kept should be between 90 and 95 degrees for the first week, with a drop after that. The rectal temperature on a puppy in their first 24 hours after birth should be 94 to 96 degrees. After the first week, it should go up to 96 to 98, and then it goes up one degree a week until they get to a normal body temperature of 101 when they’re about 4 to 5 weeks old.
We know chilled puppies have a fourfold increased risk of death. So chilling is really bad. How do we tell if they’re chilled? Well, we use a thermometer. Digital thermometers are the best. The shake down mercury kind or kind of a thing of the past. And a rectal temperature on a puppy should be 96 to 98 degrees before they nurse or before you feed them. Even with the smallest two ounce puppy, you can put a thermometer in those puppies if it’s well lubricated. So don’t be afraid to take the temperature on a puppy, even if it seems like a really, really little puppy.
How do we measure low blood sugar? Well, we can use a glucometer just like the glucometers that are used for diabetic patients to monitor blood glucose. A normal blood glucose in a puppy should be 90 or higher. If it’s lower than that, we need to make sure that this puppy is warm and being fed adequately because again, we have a fourfold increased risk of death when we have a glucose that’s that low.
The third thing we want to monitor for is dehydration. The third is hydration or dehydration. Room humidity should be between 55% plus or -10%. So 45, 55 to 65% should be normal room humidity. You can monitor hydration and puppies with whether their mucous membranes or their gums feel moist, and the color of their urine. A lot of you are familiar with checking hydration in adult dogs and cats by pinching the skin on the back of their neck and watching how quickly it goes down. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work well in puppies because they don’t have some of the subcutaneous fat that adult dogs and cats do. So you want to check hydration by the urine color. Urine color should be very pale, almost clear colored after their first urination. All it takes is a cotton ball or white tissue, and you can very easily stimulate the puppy’s perineum and collect a urine sample. Even if mom has recently licked the puppy, you’ll usually be able to collect some urine. If you contaminate it with fecal material, of course it’s going to look more yellow, so make sure you just collect urine. On the females it’s a little trickier to get just urine than it is on the males.
The fourth thing we can measure, although not very well, effectively at home right now, is hypoxia. We can use a pulse oximeter like the little thing that the doctor puts on your finger when you go to the doctor’s office to check your O2. We can do that on dogs in the veterinary clinic.
How Do You Help a Newborn Puppy Gasp For Air and Cold?
Breathing, of course, is the first A when you go through the ABCs of CPR. The first thing we want to do is make sure that the puppy is breathing by getting the membranes off of their face. If it’s coming headfirst, you can clear those membranes before it’s all the way out, unless Mom beat you to it. If they’re coming up back end first, you’re going to get their back end out and then the face turned as fast as you can and the membranes cleared. Then you can kind of get out of the way and let mom do some of the work. Sometimes you’ll have females that are very effective at this and they’re right on it. Like any other critical patient, once we clear the membranes, we want to make sure that they have an open airway, that they’re breathing, that they have a heartbeat, and that they’re dry and warm. The ABCs and Ds.
Once the membranes are off the face, you can intervene with a Delee mucus trap. These are very simple to use and very inexpensive. You can very quickly and effectively suction fluid out of the puppy’s airway with these Delees. All you do is put one end in your mouth, the other end goes in the puppy. It’s really intuitive to use them. you really can’t use them wrong. There’s sort of like a straw. The white piece goes in your mouth, the other piece goes in the puppy’s mouth and is very soft and pliable. Then you just gently move it around in the back of the puppy’s throat, not all the way down into their stomach, just enough to clear the fluid.
Now I combine a Delee mucus trap with a bulb syringe and I have good success with alternating back and forth. I think the bulb syringe does a nice job with thick mucus and I think the Delee does a better job with clear watery fluid. When you’re using a Delee mucus trap, you want to be careful. You want to stop when the fluid chamber gets no more than half full and drain the fluid out of it. You just pop the lid off, dump it down the drain, put it back together, and then suction again. Or you will have the opportunity to taste the wonderful placental fluids that your puppy was born with. I don’t recommend it. They’re salty, by the way. Like I said, I use the bulb syringe, squeeze it so that it’s already compressed when you put it in the puppy’s mouth and then release it when it’s in the back of the throat. Alternating a Delee mucus trap with the bulb syringe is a very effective way of clearing fluid out of the back of the puppy’s throat and getting them to start breathing.
How Do You Give a Newborn Puppy Oxygen?
At that point, if they’re still not breathing effectively and you have available oxygen or a Puppy Warmer Oxygen Concentrator, this is the time to start using it. You want to use a heat source under the puppy to keep the puppy warm and provide oxygen at the same time. These take room air, which is 20% oxygen and, with the wonders of medical technology, turns it into 95% oxygen. Without having to go out and buy an oxygen tank and worry about it running out at 2:00 in the morning, you have access to full 95% oxygen with this device that very effectively can deliver oxygen to one puppy or to a group of puppies if you put them in an incubator.
If at that point you still don’t have the puppy breathing, you can use caffeine. For this we use caffeine tablets, we use NoDoz, which you can buy without prescription. If you don’t have these, you can use 5-Hour Energy, the liquid, and put a drop of that in the puppy’s tongue. So caffeine can be used as a respiratory stimulant, and it can be used every couple of hours if necessary to keep the puppy breathing regularly.
We just dissolve a tablet of NoDoz in one cc of tap water, keep it in a syringe, and then use that if we need to keep up breathing. If push comes to shove, you’ve done everything, you’ve cleared the airway, you used caffeine, you used acupuncture point GV 26 and you’re at home and you don’t have any other way that you can resuscitate the puppy.
Along with that, we can keep the puppies tilted, head down to help fluid to continue to drain. If you’re at the veterinary clinic, intubation can be performed so we can place an endotracheal tube in the puppy’s airway and ventilate the puppy. This is only done at a veterinary clinic.
I know people will also put their mouth around the puppy and breathe for them. I’ve done that myself. I prefer not to. But if that’s the only choice you have, then it’s absolutely worth doing.
The last thing that you should do if you’re still working on this puppy at home is grab your stethoscope. I would encourage everyone to have a stethoscope at their house. Listen to the puppy’s heart to see if you can hear a heartbeat. And if you see the curled pink tongue and you hear a heartbeat, you want to keep working on that puppy as long as you can until the next puppy comes so that you have an opportunity to get these puppies breathing.
While you’re doing all this. You want to keep them safe, so they don’t fall off the table. We want to keep them warm. The Puppy Warmer oxygen concentrator and incubator keep the puppies warm and to keep the oxygen levels high enough. These are very precise.
How Do You Keep Newborn Puppies Warm?
Now, the other thing that I make sure of is that we have an adequate heat source after the puppies are born. I want room temperature, like I said before, not to be any warmer than 75 degrees, but I like the surface temperature to be closer to 90 degrees. Now I use that from heating from underneath. We know puppies want to pick their own temperature. We don’t want to have them all at one uniform temperature, so they need to have areas that are cooler and areas that are warmer. A heat lamp can heat up the room too much. It can make the mother too hot. She won’t want to stay with the puppies. It can heat the puppies to the point that they dehydrate.
How Do You Take Care of a Newborn Puppy’s Umbilical Cord?
We want to make sure as soon as we get the puppies umbilical cords tied off for the female bites them off and they’re not bleeding that we adequately dip the cord with tincture of iodine such as Breeder’s Edge Clean Cut Iodine. And when I say dip the cord, I really mean dip the cord. It means totally surround the cord with iodine. Don’t just kind of mist a little bit at it. You want a complete circle around it. It prevents an infection from sending up the umbilical cord while it’s wet and fresh and into the puppy’s abdomen. I did lose a puppy of my own at one point. I was using chlorhexidine instead of tincture of iodine, and I was very sad that I lost the puppy. She was fine at 2:00 in the morning and at 4:00 in the morning she was dead. So it can happen really fast. Be aware of that.
How Much Weight Should a Newborn Puppy Be Gaining?
The next thing we want to do is make sure that we’re providing adequate nutrition for our newborns. We don’t want puppies to lose more than 4% of their body weight in their first 24 hours. They should double their birth weight in the first 7 to 10 days, and we want to see them gain 2 to 4 grams per day, per kilogram of anticipated adult body weight. Basically, puppies should be big when they’re born, and they should get bigger. They should not have too lower birth weight, or the prognosis is less favorable for their survival. Toy breeds are typically 100 to 200 grams, which is about a quarter of a pound at birth. Large breeds are typically 400 to 500, which is about a pound, and giant breeds are about 700 grams.
Dogs like Labradors, golden retrievers and that size range, they should gain 1 to 2 pounds a week during their weight gain. And again, there are ways to calculate this for other breeds. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you want some help with that.
How Do You Give a Puppy Colostrum?
Colostrum is the best food that you can feed a puppy, but unfortunately, we don’t always have access to colostrum for our puppies. We know that there’s a correlation between colostrum ingestion, and longevity in puppies and in humans. So we want to make sure that colostrum is ingested by our puppies. Colostrum is the first milk that a female has. It’s that yellow looking stuff that isn’t quite the color of milk. If you can collect colostrum from a female in your kennel that has a small litter and plenty of colostrum, you can put this in your freezer and use it for other dogs, other puppies when they’re born. Breeder’s Edge Nurture Mate gel is a colostrum substitute, a bovine colostrum source that can help, if you have puppies that aren’t getting adequate nutrition.
I don’t like to see you share colostrum from one kennel to another because I’m concerned that you may along with that share infectious diseases. But you can only get colostrum for about the first 12 to 24 hours. It’s only absorbed for that short period of time from the intestine. If you have a generously endowed female and not enough puppies to drink all the colostrum, save some, put it in small ziploc bags in your freezer, label it so that you don’t confuse it with some other thing that you froze and save it for the next time you have a litter of puppies that needs help. I like feeding with a bottle if the puppy has a strong enough suckle reflex. I like the Medi-Nurser. And I like the Miracle Nipple. They do come in three sizes. They come in the original, which is this size. They come in a mini for very, very small dogs and then they come in a large. You want the puppy to have a strong enough suckle that they’re pulling on the nipple and pulling the syringe barrel down. You don’t want to be forcing this down or you’re likely to cause aspiration in the puppy.
Feeding a Weak Puppy
What do you do if you have a puppy that’s too weak or puppies that are too weak or not strong enough to suckle well or take a bottle. Then we talk about puppy tube feeding. There are some tricks here. There are the 5 Ps, sometimes 6, ways to tube feed safely. You’ll want to do all five of these before you tube feed a puppy.
The first step is to pre-measure the tube, so the tube goes from the tip of the puppy’s nose to the last rib and put a mark on it so that you know how far it is. It’s going to be about 15 or 16 centimeters for most puppies.
The second thing you want to do is pre-warm the puppy and the formula. You don’t want a cold puppy. It needs to be at least 94 to 96 degrees and the formula should be warm. I don’t use the thermometer, I just use my wrist. I’m old school, you know, check the temperature of the formula so it’s not too hot, not too cold.
You want to pass the tube with the chin down. The temptation is to put their head back and that’s likely to open up the airway. So keep their chin down and pass it to the left.
The last thing you do before you push the plunger on the syringe is you pinch either their tail or their toe, and if they can cry, you’re in the esophagus. It’s safe to feed. If they can’t make any sound, you could be in the trachea. Pull up the tube, go get a cup of coffee, take a little break. Stop shaking. Come back and try it again.
How Much to Tube Feed a Puppy?
The amount that you feed is going to be one cc per one ounce of body weight. At 2:00 in the morning, you are by yourself. There is no one there to help you with complicated math, so I want to make this as simple as possible. So a four ounce puppy gets four ccs, and an eight ounce puppy gets eight ccs, and a 16 ounce puppy gets 16 ccs. It’s pretty straightforward.
I’ll measure the tube, going from the last rib to the tip of the nose. I would mark the tube. Then I’m going to keep the chin down and opened.
Be brave, follow the instructions, pull up the video and with these five steps you can very safely tube feed a puppy. Don’t be afraid to do it. Just make sure you kind of teach yourself to do it. And once you’ve accomplished it, you’re going to feel really wonderful about how great a job you’ve done saving puppies. All you need to tube feed a puppy is going to be a feeding tube, a syringe to put the formula in, a marker so that you know how far to pass the tube, a rectal thermometer so you know how warm the puppy is before you feed and a scale, so you know the volume. So these are all very simple things for you to have around the house.
If we have puppies as old as 12 days or older and we don’t have enough milk from the mom because she’s got mastitis or she’s sick or she’s got 14 puppies and she can’t feed them adequately, you can fall back on the Royal Canin Starter Mousse by this age. Now I try not to wean quite this young. If you need to do this have some Royal Canin Starter Mousse on hand.
Fluids are given if you have a puppy that’s dehydrated. Plasma will also serve as a fluid source. If you don’t have plasma, you can certainly keep saline around the house. Keep it as sterile saline that comes in a bag or a bottle. The dose is one CC for every one ounce of body weight. So again, a very simple calculation. I don’t use lactated ringers if I can avoid it because puppies can’t metabolize lactate. And I don’t give it intraperitoneal into the abdomen. I know there’s some veterinarians that do. I’ve it in the past. I’m not comfortable doing it. I’m much more comfortable giving it by oral use or subQ use. So you can use the GI tract orally if the puppy not vomiting. It does compensate for losses like diarrhea. It will help with dehydration. So if you have a puppy that’s not thriving, the first thing you want to do is keep them well-hydrated. Remember, the urine colors should be very, very pale yellow.
If their blood glucose is low or they seem weak, then you can go ahead and give glucose. You can get 5 to 10% glucose again, which you can purchase. That you want to give orally. You don’t want to give this subcutaneously because it’s likely to cause an abscess. And again, the dose is one CC per ounce. If you don’t have anything around the house, Karo syrup will help and you can also use Karo syrup if you have puppies that are constipated. It’ll help keep them from being constipated without having to give them any medication.
How to Keep a Newborn Puppy Hydrated
Next is electrolytes. Electrolytes are as important for puppies as they are for athletes. Breeder’s Edge Puppy Lyte is a great puppy electrolyte source. You can use this for the moms, too. This is a chicken soup based flavor, so the puppies really like it. This is also comes as a kitten version if you’re a kitten raiser as well. The Puppy Lyte and Kitten Lyte can be used very effectively as an oral supplement. The females will drink it. The puppies will drink it. It’s a great way to keep puppies hydrated.
What are Bad Signs After a Dog Gives Birth?
The next thing we want to talk about is antibiotics. We don’t put every puppy on antibiotics. It’s really not necessary. It’s really not even a good idea. But if you have a puppy that was born with meconium on it, like this puppy has on its shoulders, that’s the first fetal stool. When they’ve been exposed to the first fetal stool, we’re concerned about aspiration, pneumonia, and bacterial infections. So all of our puppies that have meconium on them, which is a sign of fetal distress, go home on antibiotics. Number one, they’re distressed. Number two, they’ve potentially aspirated meconium. So we put those all on antibiotics. If you have puppies that are crying uncontrollably and they’re losing toes or tail tips, if they have that blue belly, if you think they’re running a fever, if any of those things are happening, then we can use Clavamox, Unasyn, which is the injectable form of Clavamox, Cephalexin, or Naxcel, which is a large animal antibiotic. The advantage to subQ injections are that they don’t mess up their intestinal flora. That is a better choice than orals, if you have access to an Naxcel. If you don’t, orals are better not using an antibiotic. Subcutaneous injections are actually absorbed better in puppies than intramuscular injections. That’s the opposite from adult dogs. Puppies don’t have great circulation to their muscle. They have better subQ circulation. So drugs are better given subcutaneously than intramuscularly. For these little puppies, an IM injection just seems like it’s hard on them, so I give it subcutaneously.
Our next step, if we’ve given antibiotics or if we have diarrhea, is we’re going to use probiotics. Breeder’s Edge Nurture Flora or Doc Roy’s GI Synbiotics are probiotic gel’s that are really easy to use. So a lot easier than the capsules in the powders when puppies are very, very young. You can put a little dab of this on their tongue, they’ll swallow it and then we’ll start putting the right bacteria into their GI tract.
The next thing would be vitamin K, and that will be used if a puppy is spontaneously bleeding. If they’re bleeding spontaneously from any place, from their oral cavity, from anywhere, from an umbilical cord, you can give a vitamin K injection. It can also be used if the puppy is spontaneously bleeding after a tail doc or dew claw removal or if they’re septic. Many puppies are born vitamin K deficient, so it’s not unusual for premature puppies to have some bleeding. The dose is 1/10 of a CC, and this one does go IM even though everything else goes subQ. We give this for active bleeding, either spontaneous bleeding, tail dock and dewclaw bleeding, or premature puppies that you’re concerned about bleeding. Plasma will also help with bleeding because it does have clotting factors in it. So if you have a puppy bleeding, you would treat it with vitamin K and plasma.
How Do I Know if My Newborn Puppy Has Parasites?
Puppies are born with roundworms and hookworms or shortly after birth they’re exposed to them through the mammary glands, if the female had parasites when she was a puppy. You can deworm her and deworm her with every protocol known to man and she’ll still pass those parasites on to her puppies because they encyst in her muscles and the stress of pregnancy and lactation reactivate their migration and they’ll migrate through the mammary glands or through the placenta and into the puppies. You will have puppies born with parasites that by the time they’re three weeks old and you can get your first fecal on them are already sick. They have bellyaches, have diarrhea, aren’t doing well. They’re just sick puppies. Rather than waiting for the puppies to get sick and then deworming them, we recommend that you deworm with Panacur from the third week before whelping to the second week after whelping. It’s a total of five weeks. The label says three days. We know that. We’ve been using this protocol for a long time and if you do this, you don’t have to deworm the puppies with Nemex and Pyrantel at two, four, six and eight weeks, because you’ve already effectively dewormed them. This was information published in 2002. We’ve been using it for a long, long time. I have clients that have been breeding dogs for 40 years who comes to my door, and they say, “Dr. Greer, we have never had such healthy puppies as we have this time. I love this protocol.”
Now, the mom dogs don’t like Panacur much. It tastes like chalk. You can mix it with Splenda or peanut butter, and you might have to mix it with some things to convince her to take it. The dose is one CC per 4 pounds of body weight. So if she’s a 12 pound dog, she gets three CCs and that’s once a day for five weeks. The last three weeks of pregnancy through the first two weeks of lactation to keep those migrations of the parasites from causing your puppies to be sick.
That will do roundworms, hookworms and giardia. It won’t do coccidia. For coccidia my preference is Albon. I don’t use Ponazuril or some of the others routinely unless I have resistance and I can’t get rid of coccidia any other way.
Rest assured that almost every breeder at this point has coccidia and giardia at some point during the time they’re raising puppies. So we recommend that you give coccidia medication if you show coccidia positive fecals. And we also recommend that you give it for the last three days before the puppies leave your house and send three days home with the puppies with their new home, not because you’re selling sick puppies, but because we know from some studies that were done that it stabilizes the intestinal bacteria, and it reduces the risk of these puppies picking up parvo at the time that they’re stressed, and their vaccines aren’t fully effective yet and they’re being moved from one household to another. So six days of Albon, three days at your house, three days of the new house is the very best way you can do, along with vaccinations for parvo, to prevent the development of that parvovirus.
What to Do if a Newborn Puppy has Diarrhea?
The next thing I want to talk about is treating diarrhea. And if you do have a problem with newborn puppy diarrhea, you want to use Kaolin Pectin, the veterinary kind. The human kind is not the same as the veterinary kind. We don’t want to use it on our newborns and we don’t want to use it on our moms. We want to use kaolin and pectin.
The last thing I want to talk about for an emergency is neonatal ophthalmia. This happens pretty often. It’s reported in the literature to only happen in unsanitary conditions. But we had two cases of two different litters of this two weeks ago. One was a mom that had mastitis, and I think she had the same mastitis that the puppies had in their neonatal ophthalmia. Basically what happens is that the eyes are still sealed shut. These are puppies under two weeks old and their eyes are still sealed shut. And they start to develop some swelling behind the eyelids. If that happens, you need to get those eyelids open as soon as possible. If you can do it yourself with a warm washcloth and some gentle traction, go for it. If you can’t, get an appointment with your vet today and get in, get them on oral antibiotics and eyedrops. If you don’t do this, I will guarantee you will lose eyes. You’ll have blind puppies. We’ve had too many clients have this happen to them and not realize what was going on. If the puppy’s eyes aren’t open by two weeks or they’re swelling behind the eyelids, get those eyelids open. You are not going to cause harm to their vision by opening them early. You will cause harm by not opening them. If I even have one puppy with one eye affected in a litter, I open everybody, because they’re likely to be the next day. The next puppy is going to be affected and the day after that, the third one. So just get them all open at the same time.
How Do You Keep a Whelping Box Dry?
A great tools to have on hand is a Breeder’s Edge Repeat whelping pad. These are good for 300 washes. They are waterproof and keep the puppies clean and dry and they have an absorbent side and a non- absorbent side. You put the absorbent side up. It doesn’t allow the fluid to soak through. It keeps the puppies clean and dry, and these wash beautifully. They come in multiple sizes depending on what size whelping box you have.
Finally, I want to mention raccoon latrines. Raccoons that live out in even urban areas, not just rural areas, will develop latrines where they used to urinate and defecate. So they don’t just randomly go somewhere on the lawn. They go to a latrine. They’re typically on a tree line or a fence line. And if you’re having problems with parvovirus or leptospirosis in your kennel and you can’t figure out why, it’s probably because somewhere on the perimeter of your property, you have a raccoon latrine. The recommendations for managing this, if you’re having problems, of course, are good hygiene, washing the female’s feet before she comes back in. Having an elevated whelping pen so that the puppies aren’t down on the surface where they’re so likely to pick up things.
How Do I Take Care of Newborn Puppies? Shop This Webinar!
Some of the products Dr. Greer mentions in this webinar include:
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Newborn Puppy & Kitten Care: The First 72 Hours
The first three days are critical for newborn puppies. There is a lot that goes into caring for a newborn puppy or kitten. Learn how to keep them warm, how to care for the umbilical cord, what to feed them and more.
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Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.