Puppy growth & development: conception through the first two months.
This article is going to give you an insight into the conception, growth and development of a puppy, right from an embryo to until it is ready to move into it’s new forever home which is at about 8 weeks after birth. Needless to say no matter the size or breed or geographical location of the dog, every pup is conceived, formed, whelped and raised by his mother the very same way, be it an unfortunate stray or a pampered pooch. It would prove to be specially delightful and not just informative on part of the readers, in case you have a cuddle bug of your own. Read on to picturize his everyday developments right since he was literally microscopic through each day until you happened to glance upon him on adoption day. Excited? Let’s dive in..
THE FETAL DEVELOPMENT PHASE.
Let us begin with an account of the gestation period that begins right after the mother dog mates. Once the sperm from the male dog fertilizes the egg of the female, it just takes 12 hours for the cells to begin dividing initiating the development process. During this phase of about 9 weeks, which may last anywhere between 55 to 66 days, the puppies are formed inside the mother’s womb, where they grow much like peas in a pod. The pups are joined to their mother by a placenta that provides them with all the oxygen and nutrition they need while inside. In the beginning there is a lot of room for the tiny pups to move but soon as they grow very fast and the birth time approaches, they stay packed in rather tightly. Many dogs will get morning sickness as early as the 28th day of pregnancy. After the 40th day her breasts will enlarge making the nipples droopy and easily visible from a distance. She will also put on weight. She then begins looking for a dark, quiet, preferably secluded place so she can whelp/give birth. She may pick the place about 2 weeks in advance. About 12 hours or a day before she goes into labour, she loses her appetite and becomes very restless. Once the delivery begins, it takes around 6 to 12 hours on an average for the entire whelping process to complete. After each puppy she will strain for around 5 to 30 minutes before whelping the next one. The dog would tear up the sacs the pups come wrapped in individually, clean up the afterbirth and would sever the umbilical cord herself as well.
For a more detailed account of the growth of an embryo into a fetus right until it is born, edited by an experienced biologist, you may want to visit the link below.
THE FIRST WEEK AFTER BIRTH.
Once born they will have their eyes and ears shut, so they cannot see or hear. They are born fully furred. They cannot regulate their body temperature as yet and would need an artificial heat source which will be provided by their mum. They are going to stay cuddled up along with the siblings together in a pile. The pups have pretty strong front legs as they can use them to pull themselves up to their mom. They can cry if they’re uncomfortable and their mum would respond by moving them closer and licking them. They’re going to spend most of the time, sleeping or suckling at this stage. They grow rapidly now and would double their birth weight within 7-10 days.
THE SECOND WEEK
The pups’ eyes are going to open at this stage. They won’t pop open suddenly, but a gap would appear between the eyelids that would widen slowly with time. They still can’t see very much though. The strength of the legs and the body weight increases day by day as well. The mother is very attentive right now and would only leave them to find food or relieve herself. She licks her babies’ bottoms to facilitate their bowel movement and cleans up after them.
The breeder doesn’t have to do anything much at this time as there is no cleaning up to be done yet as the mother is taking care of it. He however will begin handling the pups now in order to get them used to human touch. He will also worm them by the end of this week.
THE THIRD WEEK
The pups ears would have completely opened up by now. They can sit and stand as well as wag their tails. They can growl as interaction while playing with their litter mates. They can now regulate their body temperature more effectively and would cut their first teeth as preparation to get accustomed to food other than their mother’s milk. The front teeth, canines and incisors are cut first enabling them to have their first bit of puppy food at the end of this week. The pups now begin developing their personalities too.
THE FOURTH WEEK
During this time the pups begin playing actively with one another. Their legs are much stronger by now. They begin moving away from their place of sleep to empty their bowels and bladders as well. The mother would have stopped cleaning after them and in case there is a breeder involved, this has to be taken care of by him now on.
The pups have cut their back teeth as well and the breeder has gotten weaning on progress by now. Much of the pups’ nourishment is being drawn by the puppy food at the period. The breeder would worm them a second time too.
In case the dogs are living indoors the mother dog would now spend more of her time relaxing away from her pups, rejoining her human family members for more time each day. Don’t be worried if the mother dog is seen regurgitating her food for her pups, just after she has been fed, as this is totally natural hence normal.
WEEK 5 AND 6
At the fifth week, the pups are now proper little dogs. They will roll, run and play actively with their brothers and sisters. They can bark too and some pups can be quite noisy at this stage! They would also chase their mother and suckle hungrily even though she may now have begun getting fed up of feeding them any longer. She teaches them to not bite too hard while the breeder is introducing them to new toys, people and experiences so they don’t get afraid of the usual things later.
By the end of their sixth week they are fully weaned and are having 5 to 6 little meals of puppy food each day. Even though they may still carry on their suckling behaviour, they no more need to. From now on a small breed pup such as a Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Pug or Maltese may gain around 0.14 kg of body weight per week, whereas the case for a large breed such as a German Shepherd, Great Dane, Rottweiler or English Mastiff is a whopping 9 kgs!
WEEK 7 AND 8
Pups begin showing their fearfulness and get startled at new sights or sounds now. Thus socialisation must begin by now.
At the end of the seventh or on the eighth week many puppies go to their new forever homes. They are now 2 months old and ready enough to start their new lives ahead.
If not earlier, latest by the ninth week the breeder hands over the puppy to his new forever family. He should now be thoroughly socialised and is also ready to begin housetraining, learning to wait before eliminating and sleeping through the night without a potty break. Just being patient and persistent in the training and keeping lots of tasty treats handy, as positive reinforcement for each time he listens and adjusts his behaviour accordingly is key.
And to all those busy pup moms & dads all over the world acing the stage already, a huge shout-out to you! Happy ‘paw’renting!
P.S. A cute Did You Know, before wrapping it up.. ???
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