Observing a mother dog handling a litter of newborn puppies is often a fascinating and heartwarming experience. In general, mother dogs begin conducting their nursing obligations without even skipping a beat.
If puppies are totally healthy and thriving, the mother dog will usually begin nursing them as soon as possible after birth, indicates the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's College of Veterinary Medicine. After the initial immediate post-birth nursing session, the mother dog will probably repeat her duties every couple of hours.
Importance of Early Nursing
Immediate nursing is extremely crucial to a litter of puppies for one major reason. If puppies don't nurse within a span of half a day, then they will not be able to receive the mother's antibodies and disease immunity. Once half a day has gone by, puppies simply are unable to take in these protective blood proteins. Apart from a mother's milk, commercial puppy milk replacer can also accomplish the job, so breathe easy if mama is for some reason either unable or unavailable to nurse.
A mother dog may engage her newborn pooches in a feeding session for a maximum of 45 minutes at once. During nursing, it is not uncommon for puppies to all vie for direct access to nipples, so pay close attention and make sure that all of the little ones are receiving their fair shares of milk. In some situations, a mother dog will not be willing to allow any outside parties to observe the nursing process, so take note.
Nursing offers growing puppies all that they require to develop into salubrious and glowing examples of the canine species. If a healthy mother dog is able to properly nurse her young, there is absolutely no need for any outside dietary sustenance until a litter is old enough to begin weaning -- say around 4 weeks of age. A mother dog's milk is completely sufficient for managing wee puppies' very specific nutritional demands.