As a companion of mankind, dogs and cats accompany their owners their whole life through, which means that the pets require special attention in the first year, the first weeks in particular, but also at high age or in sensitive life stages. Mastering these critical periods is a special challenge for all pet owners.
Two risk factors apply to puppies. Firstly, newborn dogs and cats only dispose of little energy reserves. They do not suffice to cover the extremely high energy demand the animals need for intensive growth. Simultaneously, their body temperature regulation, which is difficult owing to the animal’s large body surface area relative to its weight, requires an additional energy input. The infant animal therefore depends on the uptake of energy-rich nutrition as quickly as possible.
Secondly, other than in humans, maternal animals transfer antibodies to the unborn puppies only to a limited extent. For this reason, puppies depend on the uptake of antibodies from the colostrum as early as possible after birth, in order to attain an additional passive immunization. But even in case of “normal” development, two immunological gaps will occur in juvenile animals, one directly after birth before the uptake of colostrum, a second after several weeks when passive immunity (antibodies from the maternal animal) declines while the puppies have not yet completed building up their own immunity. Stress resulting from vaccinations, change of owners or feed composition also additionally affect the puppies and open the floodgates to pathogenic microbes. Important pathogens in this regard are: