Welcoming a new addition of puppies to the family is very exciting, as a fur parent the best thing you can do for your mother dog and newborn puppies is to watch closely, the mother dog will provide all the care the puppies needs to grow up well socialize and healthy but as a responsible owner you also need to know how to properly care for newborn puppies, you also need to prepare essential things they need to survive (especially if the mother is separated to her puppies or she cannot produce enough milk for her litters), and the growth chart of the puppies to know if they are developing late or enough for their age, monitor their health to help and assist the mother dog if needed.
For the first few weeks of puppy’s life, their primary activities are eating, keeping warm and developing social skills all of this will provide by the mother dog but incase the mother dog is not available or rejecting her puppies you should step up to make sure the puppy can grow up and live healthy.
Continue reading to know how to properly care for the newborn puppies, the essential things you need to have for them, and their growth chart to monitor their development and health.
Essential Things You Need for Newborn Puppies
Below are the essential things you need to prepare and have for the mother and the incoming newborn puppies:
- Whelping box
- Heat lamp
- Bulb syringe
- A baby scale in ounces
- Canine milk replacement
- Canine bottle feeder
- A phone number of your trusted veterinarian in case of emergency
How to Care a Newborn Puppies?
The care for newborn puppies will be provided by their mother but in some cases, if the mother has been separated or not available to care for her pups, if the mother is rejecting her puppies, or the mother cannot take care of all her puppies (possible if she has lots of litters) you should fill up to make sure the puppies can live and grow up healthy.
The following are the guidelines that you need to follow to make the newborn puppies live and grow healthy:
1. Provide a Clean Environment
Newborn puppies will spend their first few weeks of life in the whelping box (it should have easy access to come out and come in by the mother but still contained the puppies, it also needs to have enough space for the mother to lie down and stretch out comfortably without crushing the puppies) where they are born, it should be always clean to make sure the puppies won’t get any decease caused by the germs or bacteria.
The mother dog will help the puppies to their bathroom and she will clean up it after but if she has lots of puppies to take care she might need your help to keep up the cleaning, you also need to change their beddings at least every day or every other day to eliminate any unwanted smells and to make sure it has no ants or mosquito that might bite the puppies.
Remember clean environment will play an important part in maintaining your newborn puppy’s good health.
2. Nursing the Mother and the Puppies
The mother dog will do all the job in nursing her newborn puppies, from feeding, helping to go to the bathroom (by licking), and giving warmth, for the mother to fulfill this all responsibility by herself you must keep the mother in her best condition.
According to the AKC, nursing uses up a lot of the mother’s dog energy so her daily caloric requirements will be higher than normal. To ensure both mother and puppies receive adequate nutrition throughout the nursing stage, the mother should be fed several servings of quality dog food (preferably puppy food) throughout the day. Your veterinarian can recommend the type and amount of food to feed your nursing mother she/he will also prescribe you some vitamins for your nursing dog.
Sometimes the mother dog needs help nursing her puppies especially if she is a first-time mom and she has a lot of pups to take care of, or if the puppies are separated from their mother you must do all of the nursing to make sure the puppies will survive and grow healthy.
In case of the mother dog needs help to take care of the puppies or the mother dog is not around the following is the important things you need to know and do to nurse the puppies:
How to Bottle-feeding Newborn Puppies?
If the mother is not around or the mother dog can’t feed all the puppies you should help by bottle feeding the puppies. In bottle feeding newborn puppies first, you must look for a canine milk replacement that is suitable for newborn puppies (ask your vet for advice what is the best brand and how much to feed to your puppies) and look for the right newborn puppy bottle feeder, second, if you have no experience in feeding newborn puppies ask your veterinarian for guidance.
The puppies must be fed every couple of hours (normally every 2-3 hours), the canine milk replacement formula must be prepared directed on the package and use the guidelines suggesting how much to give the puppy. Don’t feed your puppy other milk like goat or cow’s milk because it has not enough nutrients like calories, calcium, or phosphorus that a growing puppy needs.
Use a canine bottle feeder or syringe in feeding the puppy, make sure to slowly offering milk while the puppy is on his stomach. Don’t feed your puppy on his/her back or he/she could get milk in his/her lungs. After each feeding put the puppy on your shoulder and slowly rubbing his/her back until he/she releases the air (burp), make sure to handle the puppy very carefully.
How to Help the Newborn Puppies Go to the Bathroom?
The newborn puppies can’t go to the bathroom on their own the mother dog will help them by licking them, which stimulates them to urinate and defecate. If the mother won’t lick the puppy or the puppy is orphaned you should help the puppy by dipping a washcloth or cotton ball in warm water, then gently massaging their bottoms after feeding.
It’s very important that you do this because puppies can’t do this without help until they are about 3 or 4 weeks old.
How to Keep Newborn Puppies Warm?
Keeping a newborn puppy warm is one of the most important things to make puppies survive. The temperature a puppy needs will depend on their age, the newborn puppy age 0 to 7 days old needs 85º to 90ºF, the 8 to 14 days old needs 80º to 85ºF, the 15 to 21 days old needs 75º to 80ºF, and the 22 to 28 days old needs 70º to 75ºF.
Newborn puppies can’t regulate their own body temperatures they need and will snuggle up with their mother and each other siblings to keep their warmth but in some cases, it’s not enough, to keep them warmth keep them stay in a warm room, don’t use an air conditioning unit if they are staying in your room with aircon, it’s also best to use a heat lamp during their first month of their life to make sure they can get enough warmth they need.
Depending of the age of the puppy the rectal temperature should be:
- One week old – 95º to 99ºF (35º to 37.2ºC)
- Two to three weeks old – 97º to 100ºF (36.1º to 37.8ºC)
- Four weeks old and after – 100º to 102ºF (37.8º to 38.9ºC)
The temperature of a newborn puppy should never drop below 94ºF. Below 94ºF the puppy’s body functions will begin to fail and its life is at risk.
When using a heat lamp make sure to place it high enough above the box (commonly whelping box where they are staying for the next few weeks) to prevent any risk of burning the mother and her puppies, it also needs to be placed in one corner of the box so that the puppies have the option to crawl in another corner where its cooler when it becomes too hot. Make sure to monitor the temperature of the box to not overheat or cold the puppies. You can slowly reduce the heat little by little until it reaches 75 degrees by the end of their fourth week.
3. Provide a Regular Vet Checkup
Newborn puppies are very prone to get diseases and infection, they are also vulnerable to fleas and other parasites so proper care is very needed. Your veterinarian will schedule your puppies’ preventative health plan to make sure they are protected. However, you should call your vet immediately if a puppy exhibits any of the following symptoms:
- Lack of appetite (not eating or latching)
- Inability to pass urine or stool
- Poor weight gain (his/her weight is not enough for her age)
- Nasal discharge
- Difficult breathing
- Painful abdomen
- Constant crying
- Pale gums
- Swollen eyes or has eye discharge
Although they got antibodies from the first 24 hours of milk (called colostrum) of their mother that will help protect them from illness in the early weeks, these antibodies wear off around six to eight weeks, in this time they will need to receive their first round of vaccinations to protect them.
You should also monitor your puppies and watch for signs of infection or poor health. If you notice any unusual things like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, not eating/latching, or not growing up/developing to their age contact your vet and bring him/her immediately to address the problem properly.
Note: When handling the puppy make sure your hands are clean (wash your hand thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap) to reduce the risk of getting them sick from any bacteria that might be lying in wait on your hands.
4. Practice Socialization
For the first three weeks of life of the puppies, they will just stay in their whelping box and always be with their mother and siblings, this time is very important for them to build a strong bond with his/her mother and siblings. When they reach four weeks old this is the time they will explore, in this age they will start to walk and explore outside their box, you will also start seeing them playing with each other.
At age of four weeks, you can also start them introducing to other pets in the house just make sure all of them are vaccinated and it’s updated, puppies are very prone to get health problems (especially if they did not get their first vaccine).
A four weeks old puppies will start most of the new things to learn you have to make sure and take extra care of them so they will grow up healthy and well socialized.
Note: It is recommended to ask your veterinarian for proper advice on how to take care of your newborn puppies, each puppy has unique needs especially if the puppy has its own health issue.
Newborn Puppy Growth Chart
All breed dogs around the world pass through the same puppy development stages, as a fur parent it is very important to monitor your newborn puppy’s development to make sure they are not left behind from the others, remember that development includes important milestones such as growing body, ears, and eyes opening, learning to walk, and starting to eat solid food.
Puppy Growth Stages Week By Week
The puppies stay and grow inside their mother’s womb for about 63 days (9 weeks) but like in humans it varies depending on your dog breed and litter size. In the womb, they will start to develop, from embryogenesis then after that, the puppy distinct organs have begun to form in week 5 of dog pregnancy, and at week 6 more distinct organs and tissues will form including claws, at week 7 their bones aren’t fully solidified but have begun to take shape, at this time the puppies have developed hair, but the coat has yet to develop fully, at week 8 the puppies’ skeletons have solidified, and at the last week (9) the puppies are ready to be delivered.
After delivery, the puppies need so much care and nursing from their mother to grow up healthy and well developed. The following are the development stage from week 1 to 9 months old of the puppies after they delivered.
🐶1 week old puppy
The newborn puppy is fully furred with claws but his/her eyes and ears closed so he/she will no be able to see or hear. The front feet of the puppy is strong and durable enough so he can pull himself/herself towards his/her mother before he can walk.
A one-week-old puppy spends most of his/her time sleeping and suckling, he/she will cry to let him/her mother know that he/she is uncomfortable.
The development stages transition is very quick and at the end of the first week, he/she will double his/her birth weight.
Note: A 1-week old puppy cant regulate their own body temperature, they need their mother’s heat and littermate to provide heat to their body. An artificial heat like heat lamp will also help to provide enough heat to their body (see “How to Keep Newborn Puppies Warm?” above)
🐶2 week old puppy
The 2-week old puppy’s eyes will begin to open but probably can’t see very much yet, his/her forelegs are getting much stronger, and his/her body weight will grow faster adding as much as up to 5-10%.
🐶3 week old puppy
This stage of development is very exciting because 3 week old puppies will start now to exhibit their personalities for the first time. Their ears will be completely open and puppies start play growling and interacting with each other, at this stage growling, socialization, and wagging tails are often developed.
Also, during the end of the third week, a puppy will also be able to stand and sit for the first time.
The puppy can now regulate his/her body temperature more effectively and will start to cut his first teeth in preparation for weaning. The front teeth, canines, and incisors are cut first.
Toward the end of the 3rd week he/she may have his/her first tiny taste of puppy food.
🐶4 week old puppy
The 4-week old puppies will now become more active and play vigorously with each other, they will also start to attempt to climb out of their sleeping box to roam around the area and do their bathroom business.
The puppies mother will now start to have her own relaxing time away from her puppies and she will slowly stop cleaning after them, this time you have all the responsibility of cleaning after puppies🤭
The puppy will begin to naturally cut his/her back teeth and will get most of his nourishment from the puppy food, as he begins to wean.
🐶5 week old puppy
A 5-week old puppies can now really run and play like a real little dog, they will start developing their bark playing so they will be now noisy, the mother will usually teach the puppies not to bite too hard.
For most puppies around this age, their joy is to play with their brothers and sister with toys.
🐶6 week old puppy
By the end of the sixth week, most puppies are fully weaned and eating5-6 little meals (puppy food) each day. They may still suckle from their mother, but it isn’t necessary at this age and the mother may be reluctant to continue feeding at this age.
From now on, a small breed puppy may gain around 5 ounces a week in weight, whereas a large breed puppy puts on a massive 21/2lbs.
🐶7 week old puppy
At this age, puppies will show the beginnings of fearfulness they will start to jump or become startled when hearing an unfamiliar sound or see an unfamiliar sight.
The 7-week old puppy will still be learning how to bite when she plays with her mother and at this age, proper socialization must be establishing.
🐶8 week old puppy
This age is the perfect time to send the puppies to their forever home and family but if you decided the puppy to stay with you be ready to have an amazing, wonderful, playful, and lovable addition to your family.
Now let’s see the development of your puppy month by month starting from three months up to nine months and watch them to developed from puppyhood to doghood. 🤗
🐶3 months old puppy
A 3-month-old puppy is a perfect age to begin potty training, biting training, and established socialization, this is the development stage where a puppy can easily train.
This is also the time to reduce feeding him/her to 4-3 times a day.
🐶4 months old puppy
You start reducing the meals of 3 months old puppy to 3 meals a day but you the portion got larger so always watch the puppies if they get a stomach ache. The proper amount of food you should be feed to your puppy will depend on their age and size.
A 4 months old puppy will start to look like a miniature version of their adult selves. A medium to large puppies will reach about half their adult height by the end of the month.
🐶5 months old puppy
You can start to take your 5-month-old puppy on a short walk around your neighborhood, this is also a great begin practicing recall time to heavily reinforce good behavior each time he/she comes to you when called.
It is still a time that your puppy enjoys chewing and biting it is because of his/her baby teeth, you can give him/her some dog toys or frozen Kong toys to keep him/her preoccupied and to make sure your furniture will be safe.
🐶6 months old puppy
Small breed develops more quickly than larger breed, at 6 months toy and small dogs will have almost completed their growth while the larger breed will have reached about ⅔ of his/her adult weight, the other larger brees like Saint Bernard, Newfoundland, Great Dane, and etc. should ideally have reached about half of their adult weight at this age.
Some female dogs may experience their first heat during this month, expert doesn’t advise breeding your female dog at this age even though they are in heat because at this age they are not fully developed.
Keep training your puppy at this age and don’t forget to continue practicing recall to enforce positive behavior. During training rewards him/her each time he/she comes when called.
🐶7 months old puppy
The 7-month-old puppy will look quite grown up, the small breed puppy may now be more or less mature.
At this age, walking is very important for them to improve socialization and to train them to do their business, don’t forget to still continue training them to have the best behavior you want them to learn.
🐶8 months old puppy
At this age make sure you practice good outdoor management on walks to maintain the good recall you have built and work hard on thoroughly proofing all his/her obedience skills.
This is also an age where they have bountiful of sex hormones in his/her system.
🐶9 months old puppy
This a time your puppy enters dog hood, all the training for the past months will be useful in this age onwards, make sure to provide the best guidance and health care to your puppy/dog to make them live longer and stay with you for a long long time.
Puppy Growth Chart by Breed Size
How Much Should a Newborn Puppy Weigh?
The average birth weight for puppies depends on their breed, the small breed develops more quickly and reaches maturity at an earlier age than the larger breeds.
For the first weeks of a puppy’s life, its body weight may double or even triple, it is normal and cosidered healthy if they gain 10 to 15% of birth weight daily.
Note: The puppy who doesn’t gain adequate weight during this early period may not survive to contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice your puppy is being left behind in the development by its siblings.