In the same way that neonatology works for children, veterinary neonatology treats newborn animals. During their first days in life, this science studies the basic needs of newborn animals.
A premature or newborn puppy requires special care to be able to survive. Veterinary neonatology studies the first 15 days of the puppies’ lives. It also treats the mother and observes the behavior of the litter to prevent the puppies from dying.
- Observation. One of the first tasks that a specialist should perform is to observe. Not all puppies behave in the same way even though they have the same instincts. A puppy will need a month before it is independent. About 14 days after birth, the puppies will begin to open their eyes and develop their hearing.
During the third week, they will take their first steps and start following their mother. Therefore, they also begin to copy her behavior and learn from her. The mother’s behavior has a great influence on the puppies’ condition. A nervous mother will pass this on to her puppies. This can happen if there is a problem with one of her newborn puppies.
- Check weight and size. There are universal measures that show the normal growth of animals. This means that an animal’s new development can be observed. The neonatologist will check the puppy’s weight to make sure it is developing normally with regard to its breed. Newborn puppies should double their weight during the first two weeks. If this is not the case then maybe you have to worry about them. It is possible that the puppy has problems breastfeeding his mother or maybe his siblings do not want to give him enough space to eat.
- Veterinary neonatologists also focus on newborn hygiene. This includes cleaning up their feces and making sure their living environment is clean. The puppies’ habitat must be kept clean to prevent infections or diseases. When it comes to her personal care, the mother will be the first to make sure her puppies are clean. If the mother is not present, puppies can be carefully cleaned with a damp cloth.
- The place where the puppies live during the first days is very important. It must not be too humid otherwise it will cause colds or flu. However, it must not be too dry either because then they can become dehydrated.
The perfect temperature for newborn puppies is between 27 and 32 degrees, so they can keep their body temperature between 34 and 36 degrees. Another important aspect is whether the room is well ventilated or not to prevent premature infections.
- Neonatal hypoxia. This occurs when a puppy inhales some amniotic fluid during childbirth. This can cause the airways to collapse. One way to prevent this is by helping the mother with the birth. If a puppy suffers from hypoxia, the neonatologist will try to clear the airways using a syringe that cleanses the throat and larynx.
- Hypothermia occurs when a puppy gets too cold. This usually happens in small litters of animals that can not cuddle with each other to stay warm. To prevent this from happening, you can place the puppy on a heating mat. It can also be surrounded by hot water bottles. However, the puppy needs to recover his body temperature gradually, otherwise he will suffer from shock.
- Dehydration. This can be caused by a dry environment. In addition, it may mean that the puppy is not fed properly. The most effective way to identify this is by weighing the puppy. Depending on the breed, a puppy should gain between two and three kilos per day. In case of dehydration, the neonatologist should feed the puppy with fresh water or milk replacer.
- Hypoglycaemia is a low blood glucose level. Symptoms include weakness, dizziness and difficulty breathing. The main cause can be a problem with the mother if she does not produce enough milk, suffers from milk congestion or stress. To treat the newborn, it must be fed artificially.
There are many different diseases that can be inherited from the mother. The majority of them are vitamin or mineral deficiencies or bacterial infections.
These are just some of the reasons why veterinary neonatology is so important.