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Pet Talk

January 20, 2021

By Maneka Gandhi

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells about good bedding to keep newborn pup warm

What is a good bedding for newborn puppies?

Bedding for a litter of puppies serves many purposes. It should provide comfort for mom and babies. It must absorb urine and other body fluids to keep everyone dry, and the bedding should provide some level of body-heat retention.

Many breeders use shredded newspaper to line whelping boxes, but others prefer towels and blankets, wood shavings, or even sand. Shredded newspaper provides cover, but it doesn’t limit the puppies’ mobility. But the ink can rub off on the puppies. Used towels, blankets and sheets are warm and comfortable for the dogs, but  a trapped puppy could be injured or suffocate. The cloth items require laundering. Many use puppy pads that are available at pet supply stores, but these are expensive.

When the puppies near 4 weeks of age, they will start to get up on their legs and attempt to walk. During this period, the puppies will need secure footing to help the balance. Rubber padding under paper, or cloth bedding, helps the pups progress. Some people line the potty area with a different material than the sleeping area of the box. Sand or even flat-laid newspaper are good choices. Healthy dogs won’t sleep in a soiled area, and many puppies learn quickly where to pee and poo. Regardless of what kind of bedding you choose, be prepared to change it several times each day.

A dog on the street is about to give birth. How can I help her?

The best thing would be to bring her into your house or verandah, or even terrace, so that she is in a safe space. Look for an area to place the bedding that is as warm as possible. Or find a corner on your porch, under the stairs or anywhere else with a roof. This will help control the amount of rain and wind the shelter receives. Wind, rain and cold weather in general can make outdoor sleeping very dangerous for a newborn puppy, even if mom is around. One way to keep the temperature up is to provide protection against the elements. A thick plastic container — large enough to accommodate mom and pups — with lid could easily become an impromptu shelter, as long as there is a large opening on the side to serve as a door and to allow for ventilation. Otherwise, you can also use a thick cardboard or wood box. Cut an opening hole on the side so mom doesn’t have to jump over to get in and add blankets or towels to increase the warmth.

Regardless of whether the pup is an orphan or whether mom is around, some added heating might be the answer to keeping the newborn warm. Because newborn puppies can’t move too far, they end up going to the bathroom where they sleep. This means the towels or blankets will get wet. Wet material won’t retain warmth very well, so you need to replace the bedding material at least once daily. If rain gets in, immediately wrap the newborn pup with a dry towel until he dries up — and in the meantime dry and replace everything inside the sleeping area.

Why can I see tears in a dog’s eyes. Do they actually cry or are they sad?

Unlike humans, dogs don’t cry when they are sad. But like humans, dogs have tear ducts to help keep their eyes functioning properly. However, a dog’s tear ducts drain the liquid back towards the throat and nose area instead of spilling out.

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How can I remove the smell of my dog from my home?

Sprinkle baking soda, a natural odour eliminator,  on your furniture or carpet and allow it to sit overnight, and then clean it up by vacuuming it the next day.  Some people say that they spray areas, where dogs  lie, with vodka.

What smell do dogs hate to pee on?

The combination of vinegar and oranges is very off putting to your dog and will deter him from marking wherever you spray the mixture. If your dog likes to chew on your furniture, you can use the same spray to deter him from chewing on it.

Should I rub my dog’s nose in his urine so that he learns not to urinate where he shouldn’t?

No, you should never rub your dog’s nose in his pee to punish him for urinating in the wrong place. It is not instinctive for dogs to relieve themselves outside; it is only natural for them to not go where they sleep. It might cause your dog to perceive you as being not only menacing, but also erratic. This action, sometimes, scares dogs so much that they resort to “running away” any time they feel the urge to eliminate. If your dog thinks that it’s scary to urinate or pass bowel movements in the middle of the living room, he might make a beeline for your bedroom, instead. Rubbing a canine’s nose into his waste an hour later isn’t a helpful act, either. If your pup had an accident and doesn’t even remember doing it anymore, putting his nose on the stuff will probably just serve to confuse him. His brain won’t associate the potty incident with what you’re doing right now. If you ever notice your pet in the midst of the soiling, however, you can give him a firm, yet calm “no” and then, without a second of hesitation, bring him outdoors — a way of teaching him the right spot to potty. Never jump to conclusions about why your pet might be having potty woes, whether he’s a tiny puppy or an adult who previously handled housebreaking just fine. A lot of different health conditions can bring upon these kinds of problems in canines — think urinary tract infections or inflammatory bowel disease, to begin with.

What are the signs of fever in dogs?

Although there are no definite signs, some symptoms that might indicate illness and fever in dogs include lethargy, shivering, loss of appetite, vomiting, coughing, nasal discharge, hot insides of ears. I always get alert when a dog misses a meal.

When does the menstruation cycle of a female dog start?

On average, puberty (or sexual maturity) is reached at about six months of age, but this can vary by breed. Smaller breeds tend to have their first oestrous cycle at an earlier age and sometimes as early as four months, while large and giant breeds may not come into heat for the first time until they reach eighteen months to two years of age.

How long does the menstrual cycle last?

Menstruations usually last between 2-4 weeks. It can be shorter or longer and  the sign that the cycle is over is when all her vulva returns to its normal size, and there’s no more bleeding or discharge.

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What should dogs eat during menstruation?

Dogs should be kept on the same food regimen. Change of their diet can cause stomach issues.

What precautions should we take during the time of menstruation?

Avoid male dogs. The first thing you will notice, if you have a bitch in heat, is that she will attract un-castrated male dogs within a very large radius. Her behaviour will change too, so, while she normally wouldn’t let males mount her, she almost definitely will while in heat. While your bitch is in heat it’s inadvisable to leave her unsupervised outside, and you’ll need to keep her on the lead at all times while on walks.

The second concern is bleeding. If your dog is producing enough blood to cause a mess you may want to restrict her to easy-to-clean, un-carpeted floors. Just leaving her outside is a bad idea.

A bitch in heat, especially during her first seasons, is anxious about everything she is experiencing. Her body is clearly morphing, along with her mood regularly swinging. During this difficult period, she may seek more love, or perhaps less. Adapt to her and offer her a lot more attention than you normally do. Cuddles are always a treat with female dogs in season.

Another way to calm a dog down is to make them sleep. The easiest way to get a dog to sleep more is to exercise them more than usual, or if you can’t do more exercising, make sure it is more intense than what you normally do.

How to clean newborn puppies?

There are sequences of steps to clean a newborn baby, and bathe a newborn puppy, if really necessary. 

STEP-1: Hold the puppy close to you for comfort and warmth. Work in a warm place with no drafts.

STEP-2: Use a soft washcloth, or use a cotton ball or gauze square for tiny puppies.

STEP-3: Wet the cloth in warm water, not hot or cold, do not use soap.

STEP-4: Start at the puppy’s head and work toward their back end and tail. Gently wipe away dirt. Warm up the cloth often with warm water, do not allow it to get cold. Work as quickly as possible so the puppy does not have to stay damp longer than necessary.

STEP-5: Dry the puppy by gently wiping with soft dry cloth, blow dry on the lowest warm setting, carefully. Put the puppy back with mom to keep warm, or in a warm location. A warm water bottle, or other carefully regulated heat source, can be used if mom is not available.

What temperature is appropriate for newborn  puppies?

During the first four days of life, the environmental temperature where the puppies are kept should be maintained at 85-90°F (29.5-32°C). The temperature may then be gradually decreased to approximately 80°F (26.7°C) by the seventh to tenth day, and to about 72°F (22.2°C) by the end of the fourth week.

How can I keep newborn puppies warm?

There are several ways to keep newborn puppies warm, like using a hot water bottle filled with warm water, or a heating pad set very low. Put a towel or blanket in between the heat source and the puppy to make sure the heating is gentle enough. Make sure that the heat source is not too hot for the puppy.

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