Puppies cry to communicate their distress. Unlike adult dogs, they are physically unable to indicate a lack of food or physical discomfort. Puppies are unable to shiver and rely on their mother to provide for all of their needs. You must be aware of the needs of very young puppies and make certain their mother is capable of caring for them effectively. Take puppies that cry continuously to a veterinarian.
A well-fed puppy has a firm, round stomach and rarely cries. At times, larger puppies push smaller ones away from the mother’s nipples. Rarely, a female dog will develop mastitis, which is an infection in one or more nipples. Infected nipples cannot provide enough milk or healthy milk, and puppies should not be allowed to nurse from them. Puppies that have not nursed enough cry to indicate that they are hungry or that other puppies are preventing them from nursing. Weighing nursing puppies daily is a good practice, because it tracks any gains or losses the puppies might have. Puppies should double their weight in their first week of life. If an otherwise healthy puppy is losing weight, allow the smaller puppy to have some individual nursing time once or twice a day.
Puppies cannot regulate their own body temperature for their first 10 to 14 days of life. They depend on their mother and on their environment to keep warm, so they may become chilled and cry if they crawl away from their mother or littermates. Puppies must be kept away from drafts and should be kept warm with heating pads, hot water bottles, or other heating devices if there is a risk of them being chilled. Puppies can die if their body temperatures drop too low, so chilling must be avoided at all costs.
Sometimes, due to poor environmental temperature control, parasite infestations, or viruses or bacteria being spread by other dogs, small puppies become ill. Puppies may also have genetic diseases or defects present at birth. If diarrhea becomes a problem, puppies can rapidly dehydrate and be at risk of dying. Puppies in extreme distress may cry at a different pitch than puppies experiencing other, more minor forms of distress. Although some minor illnesses might seem treatable at home, bring a sick puppy to the veterinarian as soon as you recognize the reason for its distress.
Puppies can also be uncomfortable if the mother sits on them or if she presses them against the side of the crate or whelping box. She may cover them with a blanket too heavy for them to crawl out from under. Their sharp newborn toenails might become tangled in the bedding, especially if you use an old towel to provide padding. Puppies have no other way to let you or to let their mother know that they are feeling discomfort, other than to cry. It is up to you to investigate the cause of that discomfort and to correct it whenever possible.
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