From puppyhood to his senior years, your dog will go through several stages of life, all of which include physiological and mental changes. From a playful and curious six weeks old puppy to a senior dog who wants to relax, your dog’s life stages can come with their own set of concerns. Here’s what to expect, and how to deal with, different changes during each stage of your dog’s life.
The Puppy Stage (Birth to 6 Months)
There are not many things more heartwarming than watching a puppy stumbling around, learning his way in the world. This is the time in your dog’s life that the changes are most rapid. The puppy stage can be broken up into different phases, that each come with a unique set of changes and needs.
The Neonatal Phase (Birth to 12 days)
Newborn puppies are delicate, needing constant care from the mother. If you have a dog who has recently had puppies, she will need special care. Here are a few ways you can help your dog settle into her new role as a mother.
Ensure the mother is eating a proper diet – place adequate food and water nearby so that the mother can easily access it when she is hungry. Although it may be tempting to supplement your dog’s feeding with extra vitamins and nutrients – don’t do this. Any imbalance in nutrients can cause the mother and her nursing puppies to get very sick. Feeding her a dog food formulated for nursing mothers and providing cool, fresh water should be enough. If you feel your dog is becoming malnourished, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
Make sure all of the puppies are nursing – puppies should instinctually find their mother’s nipple to nurse. Puppies who don’t begin nursing immediately may need assistance; puppies should be nursing approximately every two hours.