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Care and Management of New Born Puppies

Though, the care and management of new born puppy is an overwhelming task for her mother. But due attention is required by the pet owners at the same time when bitch is nursing her puppy. In addition, the external need of the puppies, their feeding aids and emergency management are the utmost important events to be taken care of. Good caring and management of new born puppies can save their life and can promote the development and well being of the puppies. It can also enhance the economy and safety of the owner as well. In fact, there are many different ways of raising puppies. Among them most are intuitive and automatic.

General Management

A healthy puppy is firm, plump and vigorous at the time of whelping. For their better development, puppies must be weighed daily and should be monitored for disease conditions. Weighing of the puppies should be done daily for first 2 weeks then at least weekly.  Bathing may be required after each feeding. A puppy may lose weight in the first 24 hours (less than 10% of birth weight) but after that, the weight should increase steadily. Their weight should double in the first 7-10 days. The rate of weight gain in puppies should be around 1-2 grams/day/kg of anticipated adult weight. Failure to gain weight is often the first sign of illness in puppies. Some important management practices should be adopted such as:

  1. Umbilicus should be clean and well managed up to 2 to 3 days of birth because it falls within this period.
  2. For the development of nerves and muscles puppies should facilitate to sleep in twitched and jerky posture.
  • In normal condition puppies crawl in 7-14 days, walk at 16 days and gain normal gait at 21 days and follow each other and carry the things in his /her mouth by 4 weeks of age. At this stage support should be made to the puppies.
  1. At the time of birth puppies do not have teeth which start erupting at 2-4 weeks of age as a deciduous or baby teeth which remain up to 8 weeks of age. At this stage puppy starts biting so artificial bones and teether can be provided.
  2. The puppies’ eyes will open around 12-15 days of age while retina matures around 21 days of age. At the age of 4 weeks, puppies will be able to see clearly. Due care of eyes is required in these days.
  3. The ears of puppies open at 14-17 days of age and can hear clearly by 4 weeks of age. It is a stage to facilitate the ears development by the due care of cleaning and washing of ears.

Environmental Management

The environment in which newborn puppy is to be reared in should be set up well in advance of whelping. A whelping box should be placed in an area of the house that allows bitch and her puppies much privacy. The box should have walls tall enough to allow the mother to exit but not puppies less than four weeks of age. It should be made of a material that can be easily cleaned. Non-vertical sides are often recommended so pups do not hurt themselves or one another as they try to climb the walls of their enclosure.

For the proper care and management of new born puppies environment should be warm because cool environment causes serious illnesses or even death. For this reason they snuggle up to their mother to provide heat support. At this time the temperature of the whelping box should be maintained in the range of 85oF to 90oF for first 5 days of whelping. Such temperature may be obtained by using electric bulbs but care must be taken that the bulbs should be placed away from puppies approach. From 5th to 10th day temperature should be reduced to near 80oF which will continue to reduce till the 4th week of puppies’ life. At this stage temperature should be around 75oF. Besides temperature maintenance environment surrounding the new born puppies must be clean. For this purpose mothers must be allowed to clean the puppies and additionally daily change of beddings, use of news papers or laundered towels or blankets can be used. But they must be changed daily.

The posture of puppies indicates the warmthness of the puppies’ box.  If the puppies are scattered throughout the box and away from the heat lamp, the temperature is too warm. If they are all piled on top of each other, it may be too cold. Puppies need the extra heat, as they are unable to regulate their body temperature until several weeks old. The rectal temperature of newborn puppies is about 97°F and rises each week until about 4 weeks of age when it is a normal adult temperature of 100.5-102.5°F.

Feeding Management

The first and most important feeding food is colostrum which comes from mother just after whelping. Very soon after birth, puppies should begin suckling from the mother. Newborns have very low reserves of energy so they must obtain fresh reserves from the milk. Suckling of mother’s milk just after birth not only provides energy but also induces the immunity to the puppies. As we know that at the time of birth immune system of the puppies are not so developed which render the puppies serious health hazards.

After the puppies’ eyes have opened and the pups can stumble around, the small amounts of moistened puppy food may be offered. After that they should walk through the food and make a complete mess. Bathing may be required after each feeding. Puppies should be nursed every 2 hours or so and their nursing must continue until their stomachs appear round and they sleep quietly. In case of mother feeding bitch commonly licks the stomach and perineal area before, during and after nursing to stimulate urination and defecation. This phenomenon remains continue for 2-3 weeks. Same practice should also be done manually in case of puppies’ management without bitch. Bathing may be required after each feeding.

At about 3 weeks of age, the puppies will begin to imitate the bitch eating and drinking. So at this stage shallow water dish may be provided and at the age of   3½ weeks puppies can be provided puppy mush. Puppy mesh can be prepared by blending of dry puppy food (2 cups), liquid puppy milk replacer (12.5oz) with hot water. This water mesh may be provided 3-4 times a day. Each week, increase the amount of food; decrease the amount of the milk replacer and water up to 7 weeks of age because at 7 weeks of age puppies starts eating dry food. By the time the puppies are 6½-7 weeks of age, they should be fully weaned from the dam’s milk, eating dry food, and drinking water.

Health Management

As soon as possible puppies should be examined by Veterinarian to check for health status and birth defects. Puppies should be check for breed characteristics and if required dewclaws are removed and tails docked at 2-4 days of age. At the age of 6-7 weeks of age health check of the puppies for heart murmurs, hernias, cryptorchidism, demodectic mange, other parasites, eye disorders etc.

Deworming of puppies for roundworms and hookworms should be started at 2 weeks of age and be repeated at 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age. Vaccinations should also be started at. If puppies are at a high-risk then parvo virus vaccination should be started at 5 weeks of age.

Social Management

As soon as after the birth of new born puppies they must be make familiar about the social life. In first instance puppies of 2-3 weeks old should be exposed to the surroundings of bitch. For this purpose puppies should be allowed to leave the box to explore. They should be well supervised and have safe toys available. The box at this point should be big enough to be divided between eating, sleeping, playing and eliminating rooms. At this stage, a crate with the door removed and lined with sheepskin or a dog bed can be given to the puppies for sleeping quarters and to familiarize them with crates.

In early phase of socialization the puppies should be help to make them confident against fewer behavioural problems. The puppies should be exposed to everything possible from metal food dishes dropping, to vacuums, garage doors opening and closing, thunderstorms, sirens, garbage trucks going past, cats and other pets, etc. For normal behavioural development area surrounding the house of puppies should not be quiet during the day. These puppies need to get used to normal household noises. Puppies should be allowed to play outside the whelping box under the strict supervision so that they do not enter the box or drop toys. Everything the puppy is exposed to, will help his/her in future to become a well-socialized, unafraid adult. The puppies should be handled several times a day. They can be picked up, their teeth looked at, ears checked, toes played with nails will need a weekly trimming and have anything that may be done as an adult started slowly now. Play helps to develop the puppy’s mind as he needs to find solutions to problems he encounters. If the puppies are not in new homes by 10 weeks of age they should be separated from each other for a large part of the day and given one-on-one time with humans. They can have play times during the day but they should eat, sleep and be handled separately.

Care and Management of New Born Puppies in Emergency Cases

  1. If puppies not breathe at the time of birth then use the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) directions. In this method airway of puppy is cleared then hold their head downward to allow gravity to help drain fluid from the mouth, throat and lungs. Give two or three little puffs of air into the puppy’s mouth and nose. Do not give large breaths, as the puppy’s lungs can be easily damaged.
  2. Animal must be examined for birth defects and they should be corrected accordingly.
  3. Any puppy that is losing weight or is not consistently gaining weight needs medical attention.
  4. Continuous crying indicates a problem which must be shorted out as soon as possible.
  5. Neglecting selected babies by her mother must be taken care of for his survival.


Continuous monitoring of puppies minimizes the health risk to them. Measurement of weight, temperature and due care of these puppies leads to healthy puppies while familiarization to the environmental conditions and pets as well as exposure to societal elements makes them social and responsible.



  1. Evans, J.M. and White, K. (1997). Book of the Bitch. Howell Book House. New York.
  2. Finder Harris, B. (1993). Breeding a Litter: The Complete Book of Prenatal and Postnatal Care. Howell Book House. New York, NY.
  3. Fogle, B. (1990). The Dog’s Mind – Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior. Howell Book House. New York.
  4. Holst, P. (1985). Canine Reproduction: A Breeder’s Guide. Alpine Publications. Loveland, CO.
  5. Lee, M. (1999). Whelping and Rearing of Puppies. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Neptune City, NJ.
  6. Plunkett, S.J. (1993). Emergency Procedures for the Small Animal Veterinarian. W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia.

Rutherford, C. and Neil, D. (1999). How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With, 3rd.

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admin • April 22, 2016

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