When Will the Dog Start Nursing Her Pups?

by Naomi Millburn
    Mother dogs don't usually waste any time in beginning their nursing duties.

    Mother dogs don't usually waste any time in beginning their nursing duties.

    Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

    Observing a mother dog handling a litter of newborn puppies is often a fascinating and heartwarming experience. The protective mamas, out of classic maternal instinct, seem to know exactly how to care for their youngsters. In general, mother dogs begin conducting their nursing obligations without even skipping a beat.

    Time Frame

    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.

    Nursing Duration

    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.

    Full Nutrition

    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.

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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