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Puppy Health & Conditions Affecting Puppies Print E-mail

Problems Affecting Puppies - Newborn puppies are born with their eyes closed, and spend most of their time sleeping and nursing. In fact they spend up to eight hours a day nursing. They open their eyes after about ten to fourteen days.

Puppies are looked after by their mother, who will keep both the nest and the pups clean. It is inadvisable to disturb the pups by human contact for the first few weeks, but contact is quite important after about six weeks, so that they can adjust to their new role in human society as pets.

The condition of the newborn pup can be monitored by keeping an eye on their body temperature and weight. Healthy puppies are energetic, especially when nursing, but sick pups are limp, cold; and show little interest in nursing. Whereas healthy pups seldom cry, crying indicates that the kitten is cold, hungry, or in pain. Not all the puppies in a litter may survive, and such sickly pups may be pushed out of the nest by the mother.

A warm room is essential if the puppies are to survive, as they have little fat and cannot constrict their surface blood vessels to retain heat. The nest should be kept at between 29 and 32 degrees Celsius for the first week. Afterwards, it can be decreased by 2 degrees per week until it reaches 21 degrees Celsius. A chilled puppy can be warmed by human body heat. To do this carefully take the cold pup and put it next to your skin for two to three hours until it warms.

A healthy puppy should gain weight steadily, doubling its birth weight after about ten to twelve days. A pup should be weighed at birth, after twelve hours, and then every three days until the it is about a month old. If a pup fails to gain weight, it could indicate a more serious condition and you should consult your vet as soon as possible.

During the first two weeks of life puppies are at risk from neonatal illnesses (illnesses related to their recent birth). From five to twelve weeks, they are more susceptible to infections.

This section describes the some of the more common problems that can affect puppies and young dogs including distemper, herpes, canine hepatitis, inherited birth defects, parvovirus, puppy septicaemia, skin infections, swimmer puppies and umbilical infections.

Please bear in mind however that if you suspect that your puppy is ill you should seek advice from your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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