Feeding, Environment and Behavior Guidelines by Age | PAWS Chicago

Feeding, Environment & Behavior Guidelines by Age

Feeding

  • Nursing
    Try to watch the puppies nursing at least once a day, if mom will permit it. Check that everyone is nursing and that there isn’t too much jockeying for position. A great deal of activity and crying could indicate a problem with milk flow, quality or availability. When the mother reenters the box, there should be some fussing for only a few minutes before everyone has settled down to eat.
  • Bottle- or Syringe-Feeding
    Bottle feed ½ tablespoon formula every two to three hours. Newborns can nurse up to 45 minutes at a time. The puppy should be taking in four milliliters of formula for each ounce of body weight within a 24-hour period. This amount should be divided up into at least six feedings for the first week (one every four hours).

Environment

The floor temperature of the nest box should be between 85 and 90 degrees. Chilling is the No. 1 danger for newborn puppies.

Behavior and Physiology

  • At one week old, puppies should be handled minimally.
  • Puppies will sleep 90% of the time and eat the other 10%.
  • Lips and paw pads are bright red in color.
  • Stool is often greenish yellow.
  • Body temperature is between 96 and 97 degrees.
  • The umbilical cord falls off in two to three days.
  • Flexor tone predominates during the first four days (hence the comma shape of most newborns); after four days, extensor tone becomes dominant (puppy lies on side with head extended).
  • Newborns do not have a gag reflex (important to remember during bottle feedings to avoid overfeeding).

Feeding

Continue to watch the puppies to ensure that are all nursing. If a puppy is not nursing, bottle-feed formula per manufacturer’s instruction every three to four hours, until he is full but not bloated. Puppies should eat 8 milliliters of formula per ounce of body weight every day. Feedings in the second week can be every four to six hours.

Environment

The floor temperature of the nest box should be between 80 and 85 degrees.

Behavior and Physiology

  • Healthy puppies will be round and warm, with pink skin. If you pinch them gently, their skin should spring back.
  • When you pick a puppy up, it should wiggle energetically. Healthy puppies seldom cry.
  • Eyes open between eight and 14 days. They open gradually and usually start to open from the nose outward.
  • Ear canals open between five and eight days.
  • They develop a gag reflex at 10 days.
  • Body temperature is 100 degrees.
  • By two weeks of age, their birth weight should double.
  • They develop neuromuscular reflexes.

Feeding

Continue to watch the puppies to ensure that that are all nursing. If a puppy is not nursing, bottle-feed every four to five hours, until he is full but not bloated. By three weeks old, puppies should eat 12 milliliters of formula per ounce of body weight every day.

Environment

The floor temperature of the nest box should be between 75 and 80 degrees.

Behavior and Physiology

  • The puppies’ body temperature will continue to be around 100F.
  • They will begin to crawl around day 18 and can stand by day 21.
  • They will begin to play with each other, biting ears, tails and paws even before their teeth have come in. Their milk teeth are cut during this period. They learn to sit and touch objects with their paws.

Socialization

Puppies begin their socialization phase. They will be strongly influenced by the behavior of the mother for the next six weeks. If the mother is not present—and to further socialize puppies—increase the amount of handling to get them accustomed to human contact. It is important not to expose them to anything frightening. Children may seem intimidating and should be supervised closely while visiting. Young children should not handle the foster puppies.

Feeding

Continue to watch the puppies to ensure that that are all nursing. If a puppy is not nursing, bottle-feed formula every five to six hours, until he is full but not bloated. Puppies should be eating 16 ml. of formula per ounce of body weight every day. At this age, puppies may start lapping from a bowl.

Environment

The floor temperature of the nest box should be between 70 to 75 degrees from this point onward.

Behavior & Physiology

  • Adult eye color will begin to appear but may not reach final shade for another nine to 12 weeks.
  • Normal vision will develop. It will be well-developed at four to five weeks.

Feeding

  • Continue to watch the puppies to ensure that that are all nursing. If a puppy is not nursing, bottle-feed as needed (about every 8 hours) to keep pups from crying with hunger.
  • Weaning: Puppies usually can drink and eat from a saucer by four weeks. Weaning should be done gradually.
  • Starting solids: Introduce them to solid food by offering warmed canned food, mixed with a little water into gruel, in a shallow saucer. You can begin by placing one puppy by the plate of canned food gruel or you can place a small amount of food into the puppy’s mouth with your finger. The puppies will likely walk in it, slide in and track it everywhere. Be patient. Sometimes it can take three to four feedings for puppies to figure out what to do with the food. Always leave dry puppy kibble out and available to the litter.
  • Be sure the puppies have access to fresh water in a low, stable bowl.

Behavior and Training

You can begin to try to housetrain the puppies at five weeks old. This can be done by using a pile of newspapers or training pads in the corner. After each feeding, place the puppy on the papers for him to go potty. Be patient! He may not remember to do this every time, but he will learn quickly. Be sure to give the puppy lots of praise when he first starts using the papers. It is a good idea to confine the puppies to a relatively small space. The larger the area, the more likely the puppies will forget where the papers are. Keep the papers clean and away from their food.

Feeding

Continue weaning the puppies. Feed gruel four times a day. Thicken the gruel gradually by reducing the amount of water mixed with it. For reluctant eaters, try mixing some puppy formula into the gruel or tempt the puppy with some meat-flavored human baby food (no vegetables or onion powder). The familiar formula taste and smell of the meat baby food is often more appealing to the picky eaters. Once the puppy accepts the formula-based gruel or baby food, gradually mix in dry puppy food until the puppy has been weaned like the other puppies.

Behavior and Training

At about five weeks of age, puppies can start to roam around the room, under supervision. The strongest, most curious puppy will figure out how to get out of the nest. The others will quickly follow.

Feeding

By this age the puppies should be eating dry food as well. Feed the puppies at least three meals daily. Although the puppies may not eat much at a single sitting, they usually like to eat at frequent intervals throughout the day.

Behavior and Training

  • By this time, you have “mini-dogs.” They will play games with each other, their toys and you. Many will come when you call them.
  • Be sure to take them to their papers or outside after meals, during play sessions, and after naps. These are usually times that puppies need to eliminate.

Feeding

Offer dry food always. Leave down a bowl of water for them to eat and drink at will. Do not feed the puppies any table scraps.

Behavior and Training

By the end of the eighth week, puppies are old enough for early spay or neuter and potentially adoption.

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