Safety & Space
- Prioritise their safety over all else. A lot of times, puppies born on busy roads, buildings, or construction sites suffer from accidents. It is important for the rescuer to look for a safe space for them nearby and ensure they have a safe space as soon as they open their eyes.
- Build a small shelter or doghouse for them. For the puppies to be able to survive in winters and monsoons, it is important for them to have a warm, dry, preferably enclosed space to sleep. This way, they will be safe from the weather as well as other animals around them.
- Keep the newborn puppies with their mother as far as possible. If the mother is absent or the area is very unsafe, other solutions must be found for the pups’ safety.
- Supply their meals at defined times. There should be a proper time gap between meals, and food should be given once or twice a day. Pups often depend on their mother for milk or their caregivers for nutrition, as they cannot hunt or support themselves.
- Keep bowls available for them. Avoid feeding them off the ground, as they might eat a foreign object and fall sick. Puppies also require water, which should always be placed near them for accessibility.
- Make sure the pups are able to receive their mother’s milk, as it is an essential source of nutrients and helps their immunity develop.
- Provide proper healthcare. Deworming and vaccinations should start in time in order to monitor their health. In addition, their weight should also be monitored.
- Assess the puppies for signs of illness. If any pup exhibits any of these symptoms, have them evaluated immediately by a reliable veterinarian: restlessness; vomiting; not nursing; excessive crying; rejection by the mother; lethargy; isolation from siblings; lack of weight gain.
- Evaluate the mother for signs of illness. Mothers not only keep their babies safe, but they also supply all the nutrients that each of the puppies needs to survive through their milk. Common symptoms of the illness include: excessive panting; not eating; vomiting or diarrhea; not nursing; hiding; extreme lethargy; excessive discharge or strong odour from the vulva; yellow discharge from any of the nipples; redness, hotness, firmness, or tenderness around any of the nipples.
- Once the pups are over three months of age, the mother should be sent for sterilization to prevent further litters.
- The young dogs can be sterilized once they are over 6 months of age if their health is secure.
Adoption & Relocation
- Orphaned young pups with no chance of surviving on the street can be put up for adoption as long as the rescuer is willing to take full responsibility for that pup, even in situations such as failed adoptions.
- Remember that a healthy, vaccinated dog has a much better chance of surviving on the street than in a shelter.
- Avoid guests and visitors as much as possible when the puppies are below two months of age. Guests/visitors may add undue stress to the mother and cause her to become protective of her puppies. This is also a critical time for the babies to bond with their mothers and nurse properly.
- Take special care of the more timid pups. In a litter, there are always one or two puppies that are relatively more dominant. Hence, it is important for the caregiver to give extra attention to the timid ones so that they are not neglected.
Safety & Space
- Do not displace the puppies or leave them away from their mother. They should always be as close to their mother and littermates as possible for their own safety.
- If the mother is present, do not move them to a foster. Once a pup has been moved to a foster, the responsibility of that puppy and its life lies on you. Moving a pup from foster to foster is extremely bad for the dog’s development and can cause anxiety and behavioural issues.
- Do not build their home/shelter near dog parks or areas where other big dogs might interact with them. Puppies are highly sensitive and should be kept secluded until they are vaccinated.
- Do not keep their food available at all times, as it may result in overfeeding. Feed them at their allotted time and remain as consistent as possible.
- Do not feed them low-quality food. Invest in a good brand or give them a healthy home-cooked meal.
- Do not over-feed the puppies. They should be fed soft food and in limited quantities. Over-feeding them would cause indigestion, which can put their health at risk.
- Do not feed them bones or any kind of hard food, as they will not be able to digest it and could possibly choke on it.
- Do not wait for the puppies to fall extremely sick. Puppy immune systems are a lot weaker than those of older dogs. It is always best to keep up with vet visits so as to avoid any serious illness.
- Do not delay their deworming or any of their medications. Their vet visits, vaccinations, and medical treatments should always be up to date.
- Do not neglect the health of the mother, as she is the primary provider for the pups. The mother should be cared for so she can continue to care for them.
- Do not send the pups to a shelter if there is an injury. Instead, take the pup to a vet and follow the treatment provided by experts in a safe environment to increase their chances of survival.
- Do not send the mother for sterilization without making sure the pups will be able to survive without her for 2 weeks.
Adoption & Relocation
- Do not adopt a puppy without being willing to dedicate the next 10-15 years of your life to taking care of it. Taking home a puppy and then returning it after a failed adoption will make it impossible for them to re-adjust to the streets.
- Do not send puppies to a shelter to keep them safe because of fear they may not survive on the street. A shelter is a place where sick, critically ill or injured dogs go to recover. Shelters tend to be filled with infections that the immune systems of young dogs cannot fight off, which then becomes a death sentence for the dog. Responsible shelters will refuse to accept healthy pups, as they know their chances of survival there will be slim.
- Only put up puppies for adoption if the situation requires it.
- Do not invade the personal space of the mother and the puppies. Stand at a distance and wait for all of them to come to you. Once the mother fully gains your trust, then you can approach them to nurse/feed them or to clean their shelter.
- Do not pick up puppies and wander with them. Dissuade people from doing the same, as this may make the mother very protective, and she might start attacking neighbours.
- Do not make puppies wear tight clothes or collars. If the puppies become stuck at some place, then a collar/clothes might make it impossible for them to escape.