Taking care of newborn puppies is time consuming, and it can be worrying, frustrating and tiring... but it can also be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Youneed to keep them warm, set up a regular feeding schedule, help them toeliminate and keep both the pups and their environment clean.
Thegood news is that if you do it all right, you can help these veryvulnerable little creatures get a head-start on life... and that`s a great feeling!
If you`ve suddenly found yourselfin the position of caring for, and feeding, newborn puppies and have noidea what to do, or where to start - take a breath, then check out the tips andadvice on this page.
They`ll get you started off on the right foot...Quick Links:
Keeping Newborn Puppies Warm & Comfortable
Very young puppies can`t regulate their own body temperature, so you need to keep them nice and warm.
Acardboard box, lined with paper towels or puppy pee pads, makes a good`nest`.
Video: Taking Care Of Newborn Puppies
Both these absorbent materials have a bit of texture which makesit easier for the puppies to move around.
Newspaper is okay ifyou have nothing else handy, but not the best choice. Replace thebedding frequently to keep the nest clean and dry.
Put the box in adraft free area in a room whose temperature is kept between 90 and 95Ffor the first week. You can lower it to the mid 80`s during the secondweek and then reduce slowly until it is around 70 - 75F by the end ofthe first month.
A whole litter of new born puppies stay warmer more easily as they tend to sleep together in a puppy pile, benefiting from each others body heat.
A single pup needs more help.
A heat pad/hot water bottle well-wrapped in towels, or a 25 wattlightbulb in a desk lamp, are quite effective. However, be sure to keepthe heated pad/bottle or heat lamp at one end of the box only. That way the puppies can crawl away from the heat if they get too warm.
It`sa bit of a juggling act, trying to keep such tiny puppies at the righttemperature! Too cold and they`ll start to `fade`, then organ failurecan set in followed by death. Too warm and they can get dehydratedand/or constipated. Too hot and they can overheat and die.
If youhave a single puppy to raise it`s even more difficult to keep him atthe right temperature.
Sometimes carrying him around next to your skinis the best option in the early days. Obviously this is time consuming,and awkward at times, but it can make a big difference to a pup.
Always monitor the puppies very carefully and check on them often to make sure that they`re not too cold or too hot.
Video: How to Care for Newborn Puppies - Caring for a Litter of Puppies #HEALTHVLOG04
Ifnecessary, you can take the puppies temperatures rectally.A newborn puppy`s temp. will usually be around 94F, and this will change slowly over the next few weeks (by the second week it will likely be somewhere between 97F - 100F, eventually leveling out at between 100F and 102F by the time the puppy is one month old.
Bottle Feeding New Born Puppies
Bottle feeding tiny puppies can seem a little scary at first, but it`s not as difficult as you might think and most puppies take to the bottle fairly quickly.
You will need to have the right milk and other paraphernalia on hand, and new born puppies are like newborn human babies, they need to eat OFTEN (probably every couple of hours to begin with).It can be exhausting at first, but it will soon become second-nature to you and it`s a very satisfying experience.
Go to my How To Bottle Feed Puppies page to learn exactly how to make sure your little ones get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong.
Tube Feeding Puppies
Newborn puppies who are very weak, or who have difficulty sucking, may need to be tube fed.
However this can be tricky and you`ll need your vet`s help to get started.
Ifyou thread the tube down into the puppy`s lungs rather than into histummy, he will die, so it`s important that you`re shown how to tube feedproperly by a veterinarian.
Although it`s an effective way tomake sure a puppy gets the right amount of milk, tube fed puppies canmiss out on the social interaction and cuddling that accompanies naturalnursing or bottle feeding.
For both the above reasons it`s best not to use this as a first-choice when you need to feed new born puppies, only as a method to be followed when all else fails.This video explains very clearly how to tube feed a puppy, but PLEASE do get some hands-on help from your own veterinarian before you try it yourself...
New Born Puppy Weight Gain & Estimates
A new born puppy who is gaining weight will look `chubby or rounded`,will feel soft and warm, and will either be eating or sleeping!
Althoughyou can usually tell if new born puppies are gaining weight just betheir appearance, it`s always nice to know that they are `on track`.
There`sa huge variation in size and weight between a tiny/toy breed pup and alarge/giant breed pup. Their puppy growth rate is also different andthere is no `one-size-fits-all` method of calculating puppy weightestimates.
However, there are some general `rules` about theamount of weight a newborn puppy should gain, and the rate of hisdevelopment.
In the first 24 hours after birth a pup may lose alittle weight, but then a healthy puppy will see a steady increase.As a `rule of thumb`, newborn puppies should double their birth weight within the first 7 to 10 days. From then until the pup is about 6 weeks old you can expect to see something in the range of 5 - 10% weight gain per day.
You can find lots of information on how to decide if yourpuppy is within the `normal` range when it comes to growth and weightgain, and even get an idea of just how big he will get, on my Puppy Weight Estimates and Puppy Weight Chart pages.
Elimination Habits Of Newborn Pups
Very young puppies can`t pee or poop without help! Their mom wouldnormally stimulate the muscles required to control these functions, bylicking her pups` anal areas.
If you`re hand raising puppies, youwill need to mimic this behavior by gently rubbing the same area with adamp cotton ball or soft, damp cloth after every feed.
Most puppiesdevelop the ability to perform these bodily functions independentlysomewhere between 3 and 4 weeks of age.
When bottle feeding newborn puppies, look for stools that are brown in color (anywhere frompale to dark shades) and semi-formed. If the stools seem very hard ordry, or are difficult to pass, feed more often and, if necessary, dilutethe formula with a bit more water than normal.
Video: How to take care of newborn puppies
If that doesn`thelp and a pup seems truly constipated, ask your vet for advice as hemay need an enema or some medication. DO NOT try to take care of it byyourself or give him over-the-counter or `human` products!
If yournew born puppies are passing stools that are green/yellow, or showsigns of blood, infection is a possibility and you need to contact yourveterinarian for advice.
Video: taking care of a new born puppy
If you find that you have new born puppies to take care of byyourself, don`t panic!
Many, many breeders and dog lovers havesuccessfully hand raised puppies, and you can do it too.
Use the above information as a general guideline to what`s required of you, but always WORK WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN, and follow his/her instructions, advice and recommendations at all times.
It`salways better to be safe than sorry when dealing with such tiny,delicate creatures as new born puppies. So, if you`re in doubt orconcerned about anything during this time, talk to your vet.
Once your puppies are weaned and getting ready to go to their new homes, be sure to get them treated for worms (pretty much all puppies have worms to begin with!), and start on their scheduled vaccinations.
It`s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of the most common dog illnesses so that you can protect your precious new pups.
Please do remember,that I don`t intend to, neither am I able to, replace your veterinarianin terms of health care advice, diagnosis or treatment of new bornpuppies!
If you would like some professional veterinary help withyour questions, contacting an online vet can be a good alternative to avet visit for non-urgent situations. Just visit my Ask A Vet Online page to find out more about this service.
Here are a few excellent books that go into great detail about whelping (birthing) puppies and how to take care of both the momma dog and the newborns themselves.
I`d recommend having one of these to hand if your dog is pregnant......