Is your German Shepherd dog about to have puppies? Congratulations! You’re about to be a proud parent, and your German Shepherd is about to be a proud mom! But, as any German Shepherd owner knows, it can be difficult to figure out how to take care of a newborn German Shepherd puppy.
How Do You Take Care of Newborn German Shepherd Puppies?
The following is a brief how-to guide on taking care of newborn German Shepherd puppies before, during, and after birth.
Getting Ready for Delivery
1. Prepare the Nest
It is important to get your female German Shepherd into a secure “nest” where they can be safe, warm, and comfortable to deliver their puppies.
It is generally best practice to puppy-proof the area (make sure that there are no hard, sharp objects protruding from the walls or floors), and make sure that it is in an isolated part of your house to avoid nuisance. In addition, it will be very difficult for you to move the mother during the pregnancy, so make sure that this area is ideal before she goes into labor.
2. Prepare a Checklist of Supplies
Preparing a preliminary checklist of supplies that you will need for the mother and her pups can be very helpful. Remember that this list should contain everything that you think that you may need before the puppies arrive. Here are some items to include in your preliminary checklist:
2.1 Clean sheets, towels, and blankets
These three are the first items you should have on hand. It is best practice to line the bottom of your nest with sheets and towels so that it can be easily removed and washed after birth. The mother will defecate most frequently when she first goes into labor (we recommend having a diaper-changing razor nearby), so you want to make sure that whatever you choose to line your nest is easily removed and disposed of.
You will also need additional blankets and towels to cover the mother and her puppies to keep them warm during this “delivery period.”
2.2 Heating Pad or Heat Lamp
Newborn pups cannot regulate their own body temperatures, so it is imperative to make sure that their environment is warm enough for them. You should consider using a heating pad or heat lamp in your nest area. Also, make sure that you have an extra blanket nearby because even if the heating pad is set on the proper temperature setting, it can still drop after hours of use. The extra blanket can also be used in combination with the pad if you need to increase the temperature of your nest area.
2.3 Whelping Box and Mat
A whelping box is usually plastic or wood with a hole in one end that the mother and puppies can go into for increased comfort and security. A mat, on the other hand, is usually used underneath your mother and her puppies to keep them warm in this “nest,” but it can also be used as a bedding material if you do not want to use the towels and sheets that you have on hand.
The purpose of these two items is to provide a den-like environment for your mother and puppies after they have been delivered.
2.4 Baby Scale
You should consider using a baby scale in case of emergencies or for routine check-ups during the first few weeks of your puppy’s life. Generally, puppies are checked over at 2 weeks after birth and are weighed then (in addition to 2 weeks after that). However, you can get a baby scale to weigh the puppies as often from there on out.
2.5 Digital Thermometer and Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer
You will need a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the mother, her pups, and your nest area to make sure that it is warm enough. In addition, you will want to check the temperature outside of the nest to make sure that it is not too cold (or too hot). If you are having trouble regulating the temperature inside and out, it may be a good idea to put your female GSD in an enclosed whelping box.
2.6 Baby Nose Suction Bulb
If there is excess fluid or mucus inside their nose, you can use a baby nose suction bulb or baby ear syringe to help get it out.
2.7 Gloves, Sterilized Scissors, Thread, and Antiseptic Solution
German Shepherd giving birth for the first time might have difficulty cutting her umbilical cord herself; you will need to prepare to cut it for her. You will want to be sure that you have a pair of gloves, sterilized scissors, and a sterile area in which to perform the procedure, as well as some thread and some antiseptic solution.
Ensure the Environment is Clean and Comforting
During and after the birth, you will want to ensure that the area in which your mother and babies are being kept is clean and comfortable. Here are a few tips that you can use to make the area clean and comfortable for your dogs.
- Make sure to clean the birth area as best you can. The easiest way to do this is by using a solution of warm water and vinegar (3 parts water, 1 part vinegar).
- Keep a squeaky toy around for fun and entertainment purposes only. In addition, you should keep it hidden until the puppies are old enough to enjoy playing with it (at about 2 weeks).
- Remove unnecessary items from the area to ensure there is enough space for the mother and her pups.
- Disinfect this area well so that it remains sterile.
- Try your best to limit external stimuli for your mother while she is in labor, such as the presence of children, loud noises in the area, and anything else you can think of that might interfere with her birthing process.
Watch Out for Some Warning Signs During Pregnancy
If you have done everything you can to prepare for the birth of your puppies, you should be all set when it finally happens. However, just like everything in life, not everything goes according to plan! Sometimes, there are warning signs that something is amiss with your female GSD. What you need to be aware of are the following things:
- She appears to be in pain or otherwise uncomfortable before giving birth.
- She looks like she’s going into labor, but she does not give birth within 24 hours.
- She stays in the same position for several hours while giving birth to her puppies without showing any signs of labor (e.g., general restlessness).
- She begins to bleed excessively from the vagina.
- She seems extremely tired and unable to get up or do much at all.
- A puppy does not appear to be breathing properly when it first comes out of the mother’s body. This could signify that it was born prematurely and needs some extra care before being left with its mother.
- She has a long break that lasts more than several hours.
Taking Care of a German shepherd Puppies Right After The Birth
Newborn puppies are born blind, deaf, and toothless. This is when they need to rely on their mother GSD to provide everything they need to survive. Although the mother should be able to provide for the puppies most of what they need, sometimes she might need a little bit of help.
1. Check The Newborn Puppy
Right after the birth, make sure that the puppies are breathing properly. If a puppy does not appear to be breathing or if it seems like they are having trouble breathing, take them out and rub firmly across their back while covering them with a towel. This will stimulate the puppy’s muscles into crying out and breathing.
2.Watch The Temperature and Humidity
Another important thing you need to do at this point is to keep a close eye on your female shepherd’s body temperature. Usually, a dog’s body temperature will drop after giving birth to her puppies. If this is the case, you should keep her warm at all times by dabbing some alcohol onto her rear-end and massaging it gently until she warms up again.
Here is some guideline:
- During and after giving birth and until the puppies’ first week, the recommended room temperature is 30º to 32ºC.
- In the puppies’ second week, 26º to 28ºC will do.
- In the puppies’ third week, 22º to 24ºC is fine. The puppies will be able to regulate their own temperatures at this point.
3. Make Sure The Newborn Puppies are Properly Nourished
As the puppies are born, they must be nourished right away. At this time, they are too early in their development to drink regular mother milk, let alone puppy food and solid food. So instead of milk, a puppy must be fed a yellowish substance called colostrum during the first 12 to 24 hours of life. This is the mother’s first milk that she produces after giving birth to her puppies.
This substance is so critical for newborn German Shepherd puppies as it contains all the antibodies they need to help them fight off disease at an early age. In fact, most newborn puppies who have been deprived of colostrum will die within the first week.
Most of the time, during the first few weeks, until the puppies are approximately 7 to 8 weeks old, you don’t have to worry about feeding them anything else as the mother should be able to feed her puppies just fine.
However, sometimes things can go wrong with the puppies’ mother (e.g., she stops producing milk for a while) or the puppies (e.g., they have an intolerance to the mother’s milk). In these cases, if the mother does not do a good job at feeding her puppies, you’ll have to step in and help out.
You can either find another feeding mother, or you can feed them yourself with artificial formula. Whichever you choose, make sure to consult with your vet first before doing so.
1. How Long Does a German Shepherd Carry Her Puppies?
A German shepherd dog can carry her puppies anywhere between 63 to 68 days. Larger breed dogs like the German shepherd tend to carry their puppies longer than smaller breeds.