Newborn Puppy Care Guide


Authored by Sandy Rothra in Dogs 
Published on 10-05-2009

Newborn puppies need intensive care. Normally mother dog will provide most of the care with a little help from you. You do need to provide her with a warm and secure location to care for her newborn pups. She will also need proper food and water. Unfortunately, sometimes mother is missing, either through illness, death or simply because she refuses to care for her family. In that case be warned. You will have very little sleep for the next few weeks.

Keeping the Puppy Warm: You must provide a safe warm place for your puppy. If you are hand raising a litter with several pups, this will be easier as they cuddle together and keep each other warm. If raising only one, a box lined with newspapers is the most efficient bed. Papers can be replaced when necessary. The box protects from drafts. According to “The Puppy Dog Place, Caring For New Born Puppies,” the room or box temperature needs to be at least 90F the first week. Gradually decrease the temperature over the first four weeks to about 75F. Warm the puppy’s box with a light bulb or hot water bottle.

Feeding a Newborn Puppy: Obtain a canine milk replacement formula from your vet. Never give cows’ milk to a young puppy as it can cause diarrhea and even death. Wrap the puppy in a soft cloth and place tummy down in your lap to bottle feed. Do not turn him over on his back as that can cause choking and suffocation. He needs to eat about every two hours around the clock for the first few days. If you are hand raising a litter of several puppies, this may be a continuous job all day and all night.

Solid Food: At about four weeks, begin introducing solid puppy food, soaked in formula to soften. As teeth come in, gradually add less liquid until about eight weeks when they can eat the dry food. Provide plenty of water.

Aiding Elimination: Newborn puppies need help, usually provided by their mother. In order to mimic the mother dog’s licking, use a soft washcloth, dipped in warm water. Massage the anal and urinary areas, and watch for results. You will have to do this each time they eat for about three weeks.

Handling the Puppies: Newborn puppies need only as much handling as necessary to keep them warm and fed. At about three weeks old, hold the puppy several times a day. This helps to socialize them.

Veterinary Care: If your newborn puppy is healthy, he needs his first shots at about six weeks. However, call for help immediately if signs of trouble appear. The ASPCA website lists symptoms to signify calling for help: vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, difficult breathing, swollen eyes or eye discharge and inability to pass urine or stool among others.

Newborn puppies need intensive care just as newborn babies. If the mother dog is available, she will provide the best care possible. Otherwise, you must be prepared to spend a lot of time caring for them in the first few weeks.


  • The Puppy Dog Place
  • ASPCA.org

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