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Healthy Dogs

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Caring for a Newborn Puppy

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How Can I Help an Orphaned Puppy to Go to the Bathroom?

During their first few weeks of life, puppies are unable to urinate and defecate on their own. Dog mothers instinctively stimulate their babies to excrete waste through licking. If you are raising puppies without a mother dog, you will have to assume this-luckily, you can use your hands instead of your tongue! Dip a soft washcloth or a piece of gauze in warm water and gently massage the anal and urinary regions after feeding. The warmth, texture and movement mimic a mother dog’s tongue. It is vital that you do this, so have your vet coach you on methods of encouraging newborn puppies to relieve themselves. Puppies begin excreting on their own at about three to four weeks of age.

When Should Puppies Have Their First Vet Checkup?

Assuming the pups appear healthy, most veterinarians recommend that they receive their first round of standard vaccinations at six weeks of age. Deworming and a physical examination can begin at an early age. Consult with your veterinarian to schedule your puppies’ preventative health plan. However, you should call your vet immediately if a puppy exhibits any of the following symptoms:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Poor weight gain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficult breathing
  • Coughing/wheezing
  • Constant crying
  • Pale gums
  • Swollen eyes or eye discharge
  • Nasal discharge
  • Inability to pass urine or stool

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and management of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition and put his life at risk. If you are concerned about the cost of veterinary care, please read our resources on finding financial help.
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