When should I place the puppies in their new homes?
To allow for proper weaning and to begin social development, you can place most puppies in their new homes at around eight to ten weeks. Puppies separated from their mother and littermates earlier than this may be more susceptible to behavioral problems later in life.
Should the puppies be treated for worms?
The common intestinal parasites are transmitted to puppies across the uterus before birth or through the mother's milk after birth. Puppies can be treated for worms as early as two weeks of age, but it is more common to treat them when they are three and six weeks of age. It is essential to weigh the puppies so that the proper dose of medication can be used.
"Puppies can be treated for worms as early as two weeks of age, but it is more common to treat them when they are three and six weeks of age."
Should I keep the puppies until they are fully vaccinated?
Puppies usually receive some protective immunity to the major canine diseases from their mother before and shortly after birth through the colostrum (first milk). This is particularly true if the mother is healthy and her vaccinations are up to date. These maternal antibodies protect puppies against diseases to which the mother is immune during the first few weeks of life. To help ensure that this protection is adequate, you should have the mother vaccinated before mating.
Maternal antibodies only protect the puppies for a few weeks, after which puppies become susceptible to disease. How long maternal antibodies last in each puppy varies and depends on several factors. First vaccinations for puppies typically begin at six to eight weeks of age, depending on the circumstances.
If the puppies cannot nurse during the first three days of life, they will not receive proper immunity from their mother's colostrum. Similarly, if the mother is not up to date on her vaccinations before giving birth, she may not pass adequate immunity to her puppies. In these situations, your veterinarian may recommend starting the vaccination series at six weeks; quarantine procedures may be advisable to lessen the risk of disease transmission to unprotected puppies. All puppies require three to four sets of booster vaccines as they mature to develop active immunity against common infectious diseases.
"All puppies require three to four sets of booster vaccines as they mature to develop active immunity against common infectious diseases."
Do I have to do anything to dry up the mother’s milk supply?
Starting approximately three weeks after birth, the puppies will gradually feed less and less from the mother's milk as you start the weaning process. She will be happy to leave the nest for longer periods and, depending on her breed, will probably enjoy increased periods of exercise and physical activity.
During this time, her milk supply should diminish naturally, and you can gradually reduce how much you feed her. Medical intervention is rarely required to reduce a mother's milk supply.
Other handouts in this series, “Breeding for Dog Owners”, contain further information about intestinal parasites, infectious diseases, and vaccinations. Your veterinarian can provide you with this information and give you specific advice related to your circumstances. If you have any other questions, please contact your veterinary clinic.