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Rearing the puppies

A Davenport from Aberdeenshire asked...

Is it normal for a bitch to come away from the puppies in the first week? My Retreiver is reluctant to stay with them for too long, and in some cases has to be instruted and laid down to tend to them. She doesn't like the heat much at the best of times and even with a fan on them I can't encourage her to stay unless I sit with her. Puppies are perfectly healthy and are putting on weight well, but her distancing from the pups concerns me.

Parental and nursing instincts
Added on 24/08/2008 at 15:45:25

From what you describe you have nothing to be concerned about with your girl.
The most significant indication of the natural development of a healthy pup is weight gain. You are obviously monitoring the weight of individual puppies and the fact they are putting on weight shows she's spending enough time with them to provide sufficient nourishment for growth.

If you find that one pup is falling behind a little and not gaining as much as the others (this is more likely when a bitch spends little time with the pups as the stronger pups will always get the best teat and maybe even prevent a weaker pup from feeding) then you should ensure that the pup is given chance to feed and not be pushed out which may require you to keep the others away whilst the pup nurses.

The amount of time the bitch spends with the pups is not important what is important is the time she spends with them is helping all the pups grow sufficiently and keep them hydrated.
You can tell if a puppy is sufficiently hydrated by lightly pinching the loose skin at the scruff of the neck and releasing it; the skin should return to normal straight away.

The bitch does provide warmth for them too however if you have a heat pad or a lamp then your issue is not a factor.