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Management Prevents First-Week Puppy Loss

Ensuring the health and survival of newborn puppies, especially during their first week of life, is crucial for breeders. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of puppy losses occur within this period. To prevent these losses, we need to address the primary causes: respiratory issues, gastrointestinal (GI) issues, and malnutrition. Here’s how proper management can make a difference.

newborn puppies
newborn puppies

Respiratory Problems in Newborn Puppies

Preventing respiratory issues begins with ensuring puppies are born quickly and efficiently. Delays in birth can lead to puppies being deprived of oxygen, causing lethargy and making them prone to respiratory problems from aspirating amniotic fluids. Proper management includes:

  1. Ensuring Timely Birth: Effective contractions and timely delivery are crucial. Adequate calcium levels in the mother can help ensure strong contractions and prevent uterine inertia.

  2. Prenatal Care: Providing the mother with prenatal vitamins fortified with essential nutrients like iron, folic acid, and zinc can support a healthy pregnancy and improve the chances of a smooth delivery.

GI Issues and Diarrhea in Newborn Puppies

GI issues, including diarrhea, are the second major cause of puppy loss in the first week. To prevent first-week puppy diarrhea, probiotics play a crucial role:

  1. Probiotics for the Mother: Administer probiotics to the mother two weeks before and two weeks after whelping. This ensures she passes only good bacteria to her pups when cleaning them.

  2. Probiotics for Puppies: Start giving probiotics to the puppies from day two through seven. These probiotics help populate the gut with beneficial bacteria, preventing bad bacteria from taking hold.

When treating active diarrhea, antibiotics may be necessary alongside probiotics. Probiotic doses should be adjusted based on the puppy’s size and administered carefully to ensure they are swallowed.

Parasite control is also vital. Using fenbendazole for the mother from day 42 of pregnancy to day 14 of lactation can effectively manage parasites.

Preventing Puppy Malnutrition

Malnutrition is a preventable cause of puppy loss. Ensuring that puppies are born healthy and that mothers produce adequate milk is critical:

  1. Prenatal Vitamins: Mothers need adequate iron and prenatal vitamins to ensure healthy births. Puppies are born with all the red blood cells they will have until six weeks old. If born anemic, they remain weak and vulnerable.

  2. Milk Production: Adequate glandular development in late pregnancy and the initiation of milking at birth are essential. If mothers do not go through labor, they may not start producing milk. Certain herbal supplements can stimulate milk production. Starting these supplements one week before the due date ensures mothers are producing milk at birth, which supports the puppies’ nutritional needs from the start.

Practical Tips for Managing Newborn Puppies

  • Monitor Closely: Regularly check the puppies for signs of respiratory distress, diarrhea, and adequate weight gain.

  • Maintain Hygiene: Keep the whelping area clean and sanitized to prevent infections.

  • Provide Supplemental Feeding: If the mother is not producing enough milk, consider supplemental feeding with a high-quality puppy formula.

Puppy Loss Conclusion

Preventing first-week puppy loss requires proactive management and timely intervention. By addressing respiratory issues, GI problems, and malnutrition with the right practices, breeders can significantly improve the survival rates of newborn puppies. For more information and resources on managing newborn puppies and ensuring their health, visit Our expert advice and products are designed to support breeders in raising healthy, thriving puppies.


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