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The dried puppy, cleaned from mucus and foetal sac, should be attached to the mother immediately. The puppy should start sucking from the teat as soon as possible. The necessity of close contact with mother and puppies immediately after birth is important for two reasons: 1. The mother produces the first milk (colostrum, which is rich in antibodies that protect the puppy against diseases during the first days of life) in the first 24 hours after delivery. 2. The smell of the puppies initiates a series of instinctive behaviours. The maternal instinct will not develop (or will fade away) if the bitch is separated from puppies for longer period of time. The longer the separation the weaker the instinct (the critical period can be as short as two hours). Bitches with large litters (more than 3 puppies) will not develop a bond to individual puppies but will bond to the entire litter (hence the reason why we can add or remove puppies without the bitch taking notice). The puppy is born blind, deaf and toothless. The nervous system is not developed yet but the survival instincts are very strong. A healthy and viable puppy will move forward by moving its head from right to left and by the first movements of its legs – crawling. Its only objective is to find the warmth of the mother’s body and the teat. Once these are found, the puppy will start sucking from the teat and use “milk steps” (massaging the teat with the front feet). An attentive breeder notices differences in behaviour in these first minutes and takes notes. They speak a lot about the future behaviour of the puppies. This bio tonus is a product of fortunate or less fortunate gene combinations from the parents. These first minutes show what is in the puppy. A puppy that is not able to find teat and suck by itself (does not have a sucking reflex) is not genetically healthy. When first sucking, the puppy remembers the smell of mother’s teat and will seek this smell in the future. It is not advisable to use soap or oils to clean the teats: it is better to use clean water.

Both the mom and the puppies need to rest after the birth. The puppies are either sucking or sleeping. The mother licks their bellies, anus and genitals to help them to move their bowels. The first faeces come a few hours after birth. This is dark brown mekonium that should be quickly removed. It is very sticky and if dry it is very difficult to remove. The mekonium should never be removed by force; the puppy must expel it by itself. The next faeces are typical “milk poo” and come after several hours.

If it is necessary for whatever reason to bottle feed the puppies, it is important to know that the number of sucking movements and level of satiation of the puppy is inborn. Each puppy makes a specific number of sucking movements to reach satiety. Should the puppy be full too soon because the hole in the nipple is too big, it will not make the given number of sucking movements and his sucking instinct will remain unfulfilled. Conversely, if the hole is too small, the puppy will perform a specific number of sucking movements, but will not reach satiety and will not prosper properly.

What needs to be done on the first day after delivery:

Mark each puppy with a collar, take its weight and biotonus, remove mekonium and make sure it gets enough colostrum.
Carefully check the puppies for DS, check the shape and ridge (ridge faults are visible right after birth and 1-2 following days; later, between the 3rd day and 5th week, the puppy has a very fine puppy coat and the ridge faults may be more difficult to identify).
The puppy box should be kept dry, warm and out of any draughts. The temperature should be 22-24°C. A higher temperature is important only when the bitch is separated from the puppies and cannot warm the puppies or if the puppies have low birth weight or if they do not prosper ideally (for example after CS).
The bitch should be administered calcium to prevent eclampsia. The calcium should be given in reasonable amounts after consultation with a veterinarian during the entire lactation period.
Provide the bitch with a light meal and enough liquids. Make sure the bitch is out for walk (even if she does not want to). The foetal sacs and placentas have laxative effect and may cause diarrhoea.

Created by Monika Tusanova TUSANI © 5/2007, all rights reserved. Author of codes: Richard Tušan © 7/2007 5/2015
Petra Krejcova NYATHI, 2010