How to Raise Large Litters of Puppiesby Stephanie Dube Dwilson
Even an experienced mom may need help if she gives birth to a large litter of puppies. While Mother Nature typically helps the mother dog provide and care for her pups, be extra vigilant and ready to step in if your new momma appears to need the help. Your main concern with a large litter of puppies is that some of the smaller ones may not get enough to eat or stay warm enough. Keep accurate records for each puppy from birth so you will know if you need to intervene.
Tie a different colored ribbon around each puppy's neck after he is born. This is really the only way to keep track of each puppy individually when you have more than a few. Check the ribbons each day to make sure they aren't getting tight; puppies grow very quickly at this age.
Weigh each puppy at birth and record the weight in a notebook. Just put the color of the ribbon down, followed by the weight. Include the date you weighed the puppies. Don't count on your memory for anything. Weigh the puppies daily so you can catch any lagging puppies early.
Watch for signs that the puppies aren't getting enough to eat. If they cry after they are finished eating or haven't doubled their birth weight at the end of the first week, consider supplemental feeding. There are many commercially available milk replacers you can use to supplement meals. Follow the directions on the package and record how much each puppy eats at each meal.
Make sure the puppies stay warm. In a large litter most puppies will stay warm by piling together. However, if one or two always seem pushed to the outskirts of the group, you may need to add some supplemental warmth, such as a hot water bottle covered in a towel.
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- Scale (food or baby)
- Commercially available milk replacer
- Hot water bottle