Continued from last week
Importance of weight gain
Puppies should gain one to one and half grams of weight per day for each pound of anticipated adult weight and should double their birth weight in eight to the days. To estimate the adult weight of a puppy, weigh the dam. A steady gain in weight is the best indication that puppies are doing well. Similarly, when a puppy doesn’t gain weight, he should be singled out for special attention. For this reason, puppies should be weighed on a gram scale at birth, at 12 and 24 hours, daily for the first two weeks of life and every three days until a month old.
When several puppies in a litter are not gaining weight, you should think of a material factor (such as toxic milk, metritis, or inadequate milk supply). If the mother is not getting adequate calories in her diet, her milk supply will be inadequate to support a large litter. A nursing dam needs two or three times more food than a normal adult dog. The diet must be balanced to meet the needs of lactation. This subject has been discussed in previous TPCs.
Diarrhoea (‘loose bowels’) will result in a sudden drop in weight due to fluid losses. A balanced electrolyte solution is needed. This is the solution used in correcting dehydration in hand-fed puppies which we will be discussing later (starting next week).
When to supplement
Puppies that gain weight steadily during the first seven days are in no immediate danger. Puppies that experience a weight loss not exceeding 10 per cent of birth weight for the first 48 hours of life and then begin to gain should be watched closely.
Puppies that lose 10 per cent or more of their birth weight in the first 48 hours and do not begin to gain by 72 hours are poor survival prospects. Start supplemental feedings immediately.
If at birth a puppy is 25 per cent under the expected birth weight for his breed or the weight of his littermates, you can expect a high mortality. Place this puppy in an incubator and raise him by hand. Many immature puppies can be saved if their condition is not complicated by disease or congenital defects. I will tell you how to construct a satisfactory incubator in a later TPC.
As an aside
I received a call from a TPC fan who wanted to know whether she could put an anti-flea powder/solution on her pups’ skin. Well, the simple answer is “No!” These fleas on the newborn pup must have come from the mother dog. Long before she gave birth to her puppies, she should have been made flea-free.
But be careful. You know how I am against the use of products like ‘Sevin’ powder. Contact your veterinarian. He/she would advise you what (if at all) products to use. My solution is simply to de-flea the mother, and then pick the fleas off the pups with your fingers. Of course, one has to be particularly careful in administering an anti-parasite medication on the mother dog, especially if she is nursing.
You do not want the chemicals to get on to or into the young pup. Let’s face it: these pups are like little babies; you can’t put poisonous chemicals on little newborn babies.
Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.