When mother beagles give birth to litters of puppies, the tiny, adorable things weigh just a few ounces each. Properly caring for newborn beagles means understanding everything from litter dynamics to individual health and development.
Whelping Newborn Beagles
When a mother beagle is preparing to give birth, have a number of items handy to assist in the whelping -- a thermometer, cotton balls, lots of towels, a small warming box, a heating pad, bedding and a big garbage bag, for starters. Once the mother begins to give birth, have a small box ready, complete with a heating pad set on low, with several layers of towels. Once one newborn beagle is birthed, allow it to nurse, but move it to small box, if mom allows, once the mother's contractions begin again, to reduce the amount of confusion or disarray. Clean each one as you do -- the mother will typically have already cleaned them right after birth. When all the beagles have been delivered, replace them with mom and allow them to nurse. Keep in mind that newborn beagles are born with no teeth, no hearing, closed eyes and no ability to walk. You'll keep them close to mom and limit your interaction for a while unless she rejects them.
Complications During Whelping
Owners and breeders usually don't have to do much when a healthy mother beagle whelps, or delivers, a litter of pups; the mother often cares for the newborn beagles just fine on her own. However, problems can arise that make it necessary for an owner to get involved. Sometimes the mother can become confused or frightened when she sees her puppies, and she'll abandon them, for instance. A mother beagle can whelp too many puppies in a single litter, causing her to be unable to nurse them all. In such a case, an owner must feed neglected puppies. Other potential problems include deaths of puppies, death of the mother beagle, mastitis and a low milk supply.
Care at Birth
A mother beagle will usually keep her newborn puppies warm and fed. Sometimes, though, an owner will have to help. A heating pad set on medium and placed under the blanket nestling the puppies will help keep the beagles' body temperature warm, but a portion of the nesting area must be left room-temperature -- about 75 degrees -- so the pups can cool off. Weigh each puppy at birth and make a record; monitoring each beagle's weight and growth is crucial.
Feeding Malnourished Puppies
In those cases when a pup isn't receiving enough milk, you'll step in with canine milk replacement. Fill a baby bottle with the recommended amount of dog-specific milk replacer. Hold the puppy in a horizontal position -- this is the natural position for a puppy to nurse and will help prevent choking -- then gently insert the bottle nipple into the puppy's mouth, wiggling it some to release a few drops of milk. The puppy will suck on the bottle, taking in milk replacer. The puppy will need a set amount of milk replacer every two hours, even throughout the night. This is crucial to the puppy's health and survival. When the puppy is around 4 weeks of age, you can begin to transition from nursing to eating moistened and then solid dry food.
Engagement with Mother and Siblings
Once puppies reach the age of 4 weeks -- after the time their hearing, vision and ability to walk have emerged -- the beagles' playful, curious personalities begin to really shine through. Now is the time to allow them to play with one another. During play, beagle puppies learn defenses and boundaries. You can foster beagles' natural love of exploration by expanding the whelping box or creating an extra space, a play room, for the young litter. Once the beagle puppies reach the age of 8 weeks, you can separate them from their mother.
Jennifer Kimrey earned her bachelor's degree in English writing and rhetoric from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. She's a regular contributor to the "Houston Chronicle" and her work has appeared on Opposing Views Cultures, The Austin American-Statesman, The Red Vault, The Western Vault and various other websites and publications.