Aftercare of Mother and Neonates


•  Post whelping checks on the mother:

It is normal for the Bitch to have a discharge after whelping. It should be red in colour and of a watery to thick consistency. It will gradually lessen in volume and changes to a brown/mucousy colour over the next couple of weeks.


Mammary glands should be checked daily for signs of mastitis – this is an infection of one or more of the mammary glands. Infected glands are painful and appear red, hard and swollen with a brown watery fluid. This may lead to an abscess which could burst. The mother may become lethargic and stop eating if mastitis is left untreated. Antibiotics are usually required and the pups may need to be hand fed temporarily.


After whelping it is important to feed the bitch a good quality diet. It needs to be a puppy or growth formula which is complete and balanced and has a higher protein level than adult foods. Do not feed a large breed puppy formula as the calcium levels are not correct for lactating bitches. The amount she will need to be fed will increase to around 2 - 4 times the required maintenance over the first 4 weeks of lactation. As she is receiving a larger quantity of food it is a good idea to split this into 3 or 4 meals a day to make it easier for her to digest. Continue feeding a puppy or growth formula until the puppies are weaned.

•  Post whelping checks of the puppies:

Identify each pup in the litter so you can easily monitor the progress of each individual puppy. The easiest way to do this is to paint a nail on each of the puppies a different colour with nail polish or put a dot of nail polish on a different area of the body of each puppy.

Weigh each puppy at birth and determine its sex. Check each puppy for any congenital abnormalities.

The average weight range for toy breeds is 100-200g, 400-500g in large breeds and over 700g in giant breeds.

A healthy newborn will vocalize, push with the back legs and have a strong instinct to find and nuzzle the bitch. They will begin suckling minutes after birth and then will feed every 2-3 hours. Each puppy needs to suckle within 12 hours of birth to gain the maximum amounts of colostrum. If a pup has difficulty in finding a teat gently place its mouth around a nipple and massage the gland to express the milk. Once the pup tastes the milk it should suckle more persistently.


The daily expected weight gain of the puppies is 5-10g per 100g of birth weight. In the first 24 hours 10% of the body weight can be lost, but any further loss or if the pup is not increasing in weight may be a danger sign. Observe that the pup is getting adequate milk from the mother and is not being pushed off by its litter mates. Weight gain in the other pups indicates sufficient milk production. When supplement feeding pups try not to remove the puppy completely from the bitch as the bitch will still care for it well in-between the feeding.

•  Temperatures:

For the first 4 weeks of life the puppies are unable to regulate their own temperatures and they will need to be kept warm. The mother will provide some warmth for her puppies but you may also need to think about providing extra heating either by heat lamps, hot water bottles or pet electric blankets. Make sure that if using hot water bottles or electric blankets they are well covered so the puppies do not get burnt. It is useful to have half of the whelping box unheated for the mother so she does not overheat.
Below are some guidelines for the room temperatures needed:
Day 1 – 3, 29.4 - 32° celsius
Day 4 – 7, 26 - 29.4° celsius
Day 7 – 28, 23.8 - 26° celsius


•  Supplement feeding:

If you need to supplement feed the puppies there are various puppy formula milk powders available on the market. It is important to then make the milk up by following the directions provided by the manufacturer. We recommend not using cow’s or goat’s milk to supplement feed the puppies as their composition is very different to the bitches and so have the incorrect amounts of lactose, fat and protein, which may cause upset stomachs and diarrhoea. Milk substitutes should be warmed to body temperature before feeding (39 degrees). Bottles and utensils are available to purchase if required.

•  Weaning:

At 2 ½ weeks you can start to introduce the puppies to solid food by placing a small amount of soft food on a finger and encouraging them to lick it off. At 3 weeks of age you can encourage the puppies to lap the soft food from a bowl. At 5 weeks of age they should be on 5-6 small meals a day. Be sure to follow the directions on the food for feeding quantities which depend on the breed and weight of the puppies.


Usually at 6 weeks of age they can be fully weaned. There are many puppy formulas on the market both wet and dry. Some of the dry formulas can be mixed initially with warmed milk or water which will moisten the food allowing the puppies to eat it easily. Gradually decrease the amount of milk added to the dry food over a period of 7-14 days. A premium puppy formula is a complete and balanced diet and therefore nothing else needs to be added to the puppies diet.

•  Worming:

Worm treatment of the bitch should be up to date before she whelps. The puppies will need to be treated for roundworms from 2 weeks of age. This can be done either using canex puppy suspension or worm tablets. The puppies need to be treated at 2 weekly intervals until 12 weeks of age. At 12 weeks of age the puppies will then be on an all wormer tablet which will control roundworms, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworms this will be given at 3 monthly intervals for life.


•  Development chart:


Eyes Open

10 -14 days

Eyes Focusing

21 - 28 days

Ears Open

13 -17 days

Normal Adult Hearing

35 days


15 – 18 days


18 days

Stand Upright

21 days

Urination/Defection Without Stimulation

21 days

Appearance of Deciduous Teeth

21 – 28 days


21 days


21 days

New Home Varies –

minimum 6 weeks


Please contact us if you require further information or would like to make an appointment to see one of our vets.