Everyone loves puppies. Their silky coat, big eyes, high-pitched barks, and adorable puppy scent all seem designed to melt us. But, since most people adopt puppies between 8 and 10 weeks old who are ready to leave their mothers, many may be surprised to learn that when they are born, puppies are very helpless. They are born deaf and blind, and their senses develop after that. So when do puppies open their eyes? Finally, we have the answer here.
When Do Puppies Open Their Eyes?
The answer to the question of when puppies open their eyes is 10 to 14 days after birth. The Cocker Spaniel usually opens its eyes earlier than the Fox Terrier. However, puppies should not open their eyes too early, or their sight may suffer.
Hearing develops even later than sight: most puppies have to wait around three weeks before they start to hear. Fortunately, the puppy has a sense of smell from birth, and it uses this sense to find its mother's udder and begin to identify its siblings. Then, around eight weeks, the puppy is weaned. At this point, he can hear, see, smell, and chase humans and other puppies as he sees fit. This is also the age at which the puppy is ready to be adopted by its new human family.
Why Are Puppies Born With Their Eyes Closed?
The development of babies at birth is different from animal to animal. Many reptiles are independent when born, while little marsupials still develop for months in their mother's pouch. Dogs fall roughly in between. They are born deaf and blind, so they depend on their mother's care for their first few weeks.
If they are born with their eyes closed, it is because their eyes are not fully developed at birth. However, during their first two weeks, their eyes continue to develop, so they must be protected from the dangers of the outside world. These include light, particles in the air like dust or dander, and potential attacks from their litter mates, whose eye-paw coordination isn't quite there.
Even after a puppy has opened his eyes, it's important not to accidentally expose him to too much light before he's ready for it. If you notice your pup has milky spots in his eyes or doesn't seem able to see at 3 or 4 weeks, he could be blind or have an eye problem. You should have him checked out by a veterinarian.
Remember that you should never open a puppy's eyes yourself. Each puppy will open their eyes at their own pace when ready. Forcing a puppy's eyes open can lead to infections, eye damage, and blindness.
Female dogs know how to take care of their newborn puppies, but you might be caught off guard when adopting a puppy for the first time. Get tips on feeding, potty training, and exercising your new puppy in Purina Canada's library of dog and puppy articles.
Here you can see a timeline of your pup's development and what to expect at key ages of his growth.
Development Of The Puppy: From Birth To Adolescence
We learned when puppies open their eyes. Scientific research proves that growing puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs. To give your puppy the best start for long and healthy life, it is important to offer a diet specially designed for puppies throughout their growth phase. The length of this phase depends on the size of your dog, with more miniature puppies reaching maturity much faster than larger dogs.
Early socialization and learning experiences leave a lasting, positive impression on puppies and help them develop into well-behaved adult dogs. Puppy development can be divided into five distinct stages:
These periods of development are followed by adulthood.
Birth To 2 Weeks Neonatal Period
During this period, the puppy is relatively vulnerable and completely dependent on its mother.
At this stage, the puppy spends most of its time sleeping or eating. At birth, the puppy has its eyes and ear canals closed but is sensitive to touch and smells. Although their eyes open at about 10-14 days, the puppy responds to light and movement stimuli until the transition period (at 2-3 weeks).
During the neonatal period, puppies have restricted freedom of movement and can only crawl slowly. In addition, they are not yet able to stand or support their body weight.
During this period, the puppy actively seeks the presence of its mother. If separated from it, it begins to vocalize and crawl, then shakes its head to find it. At this point, the pup has a reduced ability to regulate its body temperature and relies on its mother and litter members to produce body heat.
During the neonatal period, the puppy can feed only by suckling its mother. Its urges to urinate and defecate are stimulated by its mother, who licks its anogenital region and keeps the brood clean by cleaning it and consuming any waste material. Handling puppies during the first two weeks of life has benefited their behavior over the years.
Your pup can crawl forward, but his eyes and ear canals are closed.
Up to 24 hours
Puppies must consume colostrum found in their mother's milk within 24 hours of birth, as this ingredient contains antibodies and other immune substances that help protect newborn puppies from disease.
Your pup's eyes and ear canals are beginning to open, but his eyesight and hearing are weak at first.
Your puppy is very susceptible to worms. He must therefore be dewormed for the first time without delay.
The Transitional Period
2-3 weeksThe transitional period
This is a time of rapid change as your pup shows some adult characteristics by showing its first signs of socialization, such as growling and wagging its tail. He reacts to light, and movement as his eyes begin to open and to surrounding noises as his ear canals open. He also starts playing fighting games with his sisters and litter brothers.
The puppy begins to show interest in semi-solid food (but continues to nurse from its mother). In addition, he can now lap water from a bowl.
From birth, the mother licks the anogenital region of the puppy because it needs stimulation to regularly eliminate its urine and excrement. However, this is no longer necessary. The puppy begins to relieve itself naturally outside its litter at this age.
The Period Of Socialization
3–12 Weekssocialization Period
This is probably the most influential time in your pup's life, and most of the knowledge he learns at this stage will serve him well throughout his life. This is when puppies develop social skills and learn about their surroundings. During the second part of this period, puppies must be exposed to as many people, objects, and situations as possible to which they might be exposed later in life, including being left alone for short periods, visiting the vet, and going on road trips.
At three weeks, the puppy begins to show a startling reaction to loud noises. He will try to get up and walk and even attempt to bark!
Dogs have two sets of teeth, like humans, the first being the “deciduous teeth,” often called “milk teeth,” and it is at this age that they begin to break through.
6 to 9 weeks
At six weeks, it's time for your puppy's first vaccination. (The second vaccination will take place two to four weeks later.)
Between 6 and 8 weeks, your puppy will be completely weaned and eat four or five small meals daily.
From 8 weeks, puppies usually leave their mother and their littermates to live with their new families. Discuss with your breeder the vaccinations and deworming treatments your pup has received. Discussing vaccinations, puppy parties, and neutering with a veterinarian is also a good idea before picking up your pup. This is a key time when your puppy is most receptive to socialization. Therefore, it is good to expose him to a wide variety of situations, people, noises, and environments so that he develops the social skills he will need throughout his life. You can take him outside before his vaccination is finished, as long as you hold him in your arms without putting him on the ground and you do not give him access to places other dogs may have gone.
8 to 12 weeks
You can now reduce your puppy's meals to 3 per day. This period also corresponds to the time of his second vaccination. It is important to check with your veterinarian how many days you will need to wait after this vaccination before you can take your puppy out to visit public places outdoors and meet other dogs.
The Juvenile Period
12 weeks to juvenile adolescence period
Most major changes occur when your pup reaches the juvenile period. After that, all sensory organs are fully developed, and his growth rate is slowing down.
However, the juvenile period continues into adulthood, and your puppy will need to continue eating puppy food until he reaches adulthood. This period can be a year (for smaller breeds) or 18 or 24 months for large and giant breeds. During this period, your puppy will continue to grow, and psychological changes you might not know will occur.
Puppies have motor skills similar to adult dogs starting at six months old, although this age can vary depending on the particular dog and its environment. In addition, at around seven months, the adult dentition replaces the milk teeth.
You will need to continue socializing your puppy and begin a training program. Puppies have short attention spans and can be easily excitable, so keep training sessions short, consistent, and fun.
The first heat marks sexual maturity in the female and the ability to achieve a fertile mating in the male. This stage usually occurs around six or seven months, although males may show sexual interest in females before this age.
However, even though dogs are sexually mature at this age, they are not yet considered adult dogs at this stage.
This is a good time to discuss spaying options with your veterinarian.
Puppies mature very quickly, and the smaller their size, the faster they mature. In small breeds, adolescence can begin as early as five months old. However, it can start as late as 9 to 10 months in larger breeds, and very large breeds may not reach adolescence until 12 or 18 months.
Depending on your pup's breed size, adolescence will last anywhere from a few months to a year.
Recognize adolescence in your dog
When your dog reaches adolescence, you may notice some or all of the following behaviors:
Very short attention span
Leg lifting (males); and
Excessive overlapping behavior.
Dealing with your dog's adolescent phase
After all the work you've put into training your puppy, their teenage years can be a frustrating time.
Instinct tells your dog it's time for him to go on an adventure, show off, leave his scent everywhere and hunt the competition. Your challenge is to give him freedom without getting into unpleasant situations with other dogs and their owners.
When adolescent dogs face off, an altercation is almost inevitable, but it's highly unlikely to lead to injury. Once one of the dogs has established its superiority, the battle is usually over within seconds. One of the goals of adolescence is to learn the rules. So you don't have to keep your teenage dog away from other dogs. It will become a frustrated and poorly socialized adult. (Well-socialized puppies will pretend to bite without causing injury – if your dog hurts another dog, that dog will need bite inhibition training from a specialist.)
At this stage, it's essential to continue working on every aspect of your dog's training: Praise and reward him to boost his self-esteem while he burns off his extra energy. Don't give up – adolescence doesn't last forever.
Puppy Food: How To Feed Your Puppy?
The puppy's food must be adapted to its specific needs. Guide to a healthy diet. What is the best puppy food? Answers.
This article deals with weaning your puppy, how to feed it (frequency, quantities, energy needs: proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, etc.), and what food to offer it (composition, specific needs).
When Can You Start Weaning Your Puppy?
Have you just adopted a baby dog? If he is not yet weaned, you must ask yourself at what age you can start giving him solid food. Then, find out when to wean your puppy, when to offer him solid food and how to choose the best diet to see him grow up healthy.
From breastfeeding to weaning
During his first three weeks of life, the puppy obtains all the essential nutrients for his diet through the milk of its mother, who breastfeeds it. Puppies separated from their mother too early can be bottle-fed, with milk specially made for baby dogs – prescribed by your veterinarian.
Never cow's milk
Never make the mistake of giving your puppy cow's milk. Highly enriched in lactose, it differs radically from the milk naturally produced by carnivores – including female dogs. In addition, offering cow's milk to your baby dog can cause food intolerances.
Weaning, instructions for use
The exclusive breastfeeding phase ends within three weeks of life. The puppy is then ready to begin weaning: solid foods can be gradually introduced into their diet.
Three weeks is the ideal age to start introducing solid food. Weaning ends when the puppy reaches the age of 7 to 8 weeks: from then on, the baby dog's milk teeth have appeared, and he can chew food properly. The transition from liquid food to solid is not instantaneous: count about one month, during which it is a question of proceeding gently and gradually.
Another essential precaution is to offer your puppy, as first solid food, a particularly digestible food. You can prepare a meal based on milk and solid food, all mixed - and composed of the nutrients essential to your pet's growth. It is a question of concocting a kind of puree: in this form, the culinary preparation is easier to chew, and the dog digests his new food more efficiently.
First solid food, instructions for use
To prepare the first puree when weaning your baby animal, mix puppy food with water or milk specially designed for dogs – never cow’s milk! The final texture must be creamy to allow the dog to eat without too much effort. Ideally, you can slightly heat the preparation to a temperature of around 20°C. This trick makes the mash all the more tasty and delicious.
How Much Food For Your Puppy?
The age at which to introduce solid food, and even more so the amount of food for a puppy, depends on its weight gain.
Be sure to check the nutritional information on the back of the food packet you use to make the formula and the milk used to dilute it – if you are using milk instead of water. In addition, you must ensure that during the entire weaning period, your puppy has twice the recommended energy intake for a dog of the same breed as an adult.
Warning: be aware that the dog's energy needs can vary within the same breed. The amount of food for a puppy must therefore be adapted to your pet's specific needs.
Best Products for Puppies
How Often To Feed Your Puppy?
To prevent the risk of digestive problems (vomiting, diarrhea, etc.), it is essential to feed your pet in portions: divide its daily ration into several small doses – 5 to 6 portions per day.
Withdrawal and diarrhea
The baby dog may suffer from diarrhea throughout the food transition period. To prevent this risk, do not rush weaning. A few basic precautions:
Introduce solid food gradually, starting with smooth preparations – in the form of puree. The formula should be relatively liquid at the onset of weaning. They become more and more solid as the weeks go by.
Choose A Good Quality Puppy Food To Aid Digestion.
Offer the puree in small portions regularly. By doing so, you protect your pet with a small stomach against bloating, and you help improve the digestion of food. This rhythm also allows you to give your puppy energy throughout the day.
While still a baby, more than at any other stage of life or growth, dogs need the best care in all areas.
The major risks to watch out for to ensure the proper development and growth of your baby dog:
Female dogs can have difficulty nursing their puppies, especially with insufficient milk production or infections.
The composition of the baby dog's food may be incomplete.
Puppy weaning may start too late.
Once you've introduced solid foods to your small pet's diet, choosing a good quality food designed for their young age is essential. A good diet guarantees optimal development.
Note: remember that your puppy will grow very quickly – much faster than a human baby. For the anecdote: if the human baby grew to like the Dachshund, it would weigh 70 kg at the age of 6 months!
To contribute to the growth of the dog, as fast as it is, it is essential to offer him a balanced diet of quality.
What Food For Your Baby Dog?
The diet of your small pet has a large influence on its health once the animal reaches adulthood. This is why knowing the best puppy food and what it should contain is essential.
Be aware that the baby dog needs twice as much caloric intake as the adult dog. It is growing, and this extra calorie intake allows the development of new tissues and neural connections and helps the brain to integrate a large volume of new information.
Once you have identified the food, make sure that its composition provides the caloric intake necessary for this stage of your pet's development.
What İs The İdeal Composition For A Puppy?
Puppy food should contain the following nutrients:
What level of protein? Proteins are essential for the puppy because they contribute to the development of muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, and hair. That is why the dog needs a high level of protein from a very young age, at which these parts of his body are formed or developed gradually. In addition, cell growth and reproduction cannot take place without it, and proteins are also essential for the immune system. The key to puppy food, therefore, lies in a sufficient protein intake for the excellent growth of the puppy. But beware: some are better than others. You should also know that proteins that are not easily digestible for the puppy will not be effective.
Which fatty acids? Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is an essential fatty acid that contributes to the development of the puppy's brain. Therefore, its intake in the baby dog's diet is recommended. Note that fish oil is an excellent natural source of DHA.
What vitamins and minerals? Vitamins and minerals are essential in a puppy's diet. Each vitamin plays a different role, and it is helpful to check their presence in the food you offer your pet. Minerals, for their part, play a fundamental role in many metabolic processes – formation of bones and cartilage, maintenance of acid-base balance, functioning of muscles and nerves, and production of hormones.
Which antioxidants? Natural antioxidants are essential for promoting good immunity in puppies. A good diet includes natural antioxidants, such as tocopherol – whose action is similar to vitamin E.
Does the puppy need a calcium supplement?
For a long time, it was thought that the puppy should be supplemented with calcium. However, we now know that an excess of calcium during dog growth can cause disorders in the framework, joints, and posture.
Not all puppies grow at the same rate. Small-breed puppies grow and develop much faster than large-breed puppies. For example, a Great Dane will reach its adult size between 18 and 24 months, while the Chihuahua will be at its adult size from around six months. You must therefore choose a puppy food specially designed concerning the specific characteristics of your dog. Also, feed your dog this special puppy food throughout its growth period.
Until six months, divide the recommended daily ratio into three minimum portions distributed throughout the day. At a young age, the puppy's digestive system is still fragile. It cannot absorb significant quantities at once.
Note: a puppy that overeats can be subject to diarrhea or vomiting.
Within six months, you can switch to 2 meals a day. Keep a close eye on your puppy's diet daily. Large breed dogs, if they overeat, grow too quickly: they risk developing osteoarthritis. It is essential to control the growth rate of your baby dog properly.
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