Not many baby animals are as cute as few days old little pups. But the thing is they are as cute as they are confused and undeveloped. Why? Well, because they are blind and deaf. They are born as such and remain like that for some time, not being able to navigate more than a few inches away from their carrying mom.
For first time owners, this can be a challenging period as there is a lot to consider. The following guide and this comprehensive puppy checklist provides an overview of how to deal with a new-born pup starting day one.
In average, the gestation period lasts around two months. Here is everything you need to know about it.
When Does Your Puppy Start Opening Its Eyes?
Many people think that the moment the little pups open their eyes the gestation period is over or they can see. The little pups will open their eyes in one or two weeks after they are born.
At this point all they can see blur movements and light, nothing beyond that.
Their sight will improve slowly, week by week. The most notable progress is after four or five weeks. But for a fully developed eyesight, the pup needs be at least seven weeks old.
Why Are Puppies Born Deaf & Blind?
Unlike humans, cows, and other mammals, dogs are born in a helpless state – deaf and blind. They are only left with the sense of touch and scent. Thanks to them they can find their way to their mother.
The answer to why puppies are born at a stage in which they are entirely helpless takes us back in time. Way back when species had to make a reproduction strategy that will give them the best chances for survival. For mammals, the choice was whether to have a long pregnancy and have a functional offspring, or a shorter one in which the offspring was partly formed and needed much care.
Dogs’ predecessors, the wolves, belong to the species that went with a short pregnancy strategy. The logic here is that a mother with a litter of puppies in its belly cannot be an effective hunter.
Because of that, it is better to unload the little ones as soon as possible, regardless of their condition, and go hunting without them. While the new mother is out hunting, the young ones are hidden in a den. Considering their condition, it’s not likely they would be able to wander away. At least, not too far. That way their chances of survival would be much greater. In all fairness, it is a strategy that has proven effective for both wolves and dogs alike.
Things To Watch Out For
The first few weeks are the most critical ones for new-born puppies. Far more critical than with many other mammals. In the first few weeks after their birth, they are most vulnerable to infections. Even though their eyes and ears are not fully developed, those are the areas that are most prone to infections.
Regardless of the fact that the pup hasn’t opened its eyes, it doesn’t mean it cannot get an eye infection. A virus or a bacteria can create pus or swelling. An infection at this stage often affects the glands that are responsible for creating tears. The pup’s immune system is still in development so that it will have a rather difficult time dealing with the virus or bacteria.
However, that’s nothing a decent veterinarian cannot fix. It is important to consult with your local veterinarian as soon as you notice the condition. Worst case scenario, if the condition is left untreated, the pup will have vision problems and lifelong dry eyes.
An ear infection during the first six weeks can cause some serious damage if left untreated as well. Ear cleaners and antibiotics at this point are useless and can do more harm to the young one. If the little pup continuously shakes its head or rubs its ears from the floor, it might have an ear infection. On some occasions, there may be even some redness in the ear canal, and the pup’s ears may smell bad. In each case, a trip to the veterinarian is a must.
How To Care For Your Puppy?
The trick here is to make the mother as comfortable as possible and give her space and time to take care of the little ones. Let her deal with the little ones while you provide her with food, water, a quiet room, and a whelping box. You can also consider researching into what types of puppy food that are the most suitable for your new-borns.
It is for the best that during the gestation period have as less contact as possible with the little ones. As you notice a sign of an infection, you need to take one or more of them to the veterinarian. The idea is to let nature takes its course.