Newborn Puppies



The stages that newborn puppies go through are extremely important in how an animal will develop into adulthood.  The first thing that the newborn puppies have to get used TO is survival!  No longer protected by the nutrients in the mother’s womb, the puppy has to nurse constantly; about every two hours day after day.  Newborn puppies gain a tremendous amount of weight in life’s early stages.   Newborn puppies nurse till about 6 weeks of age and than can start a puppy diet.  This is called weaning.  The rest of the time, like human infants, is mostly spent sleeping.


Newborn puppies are clueless about the world around them for a while.  They are born both deaf and blind.  Puppy development is rapid so that the animal can hear and see at between 12 and 14 days.  Sometimes a crust or infection forms before the eyes open.  This should be evaluated by a veterinarian.  Easy to treat for us but the eye is sensitive at such a young age so special care is warranted.  The increase in the senses allows a puppy to explore its world better.


Because of this rapid development, I recommend that all dewclaws and tail docking be done at two days of age.   Due to neurological development (pain), I refuse to do them after 3 days of age.  Removing dewclaws is crucial as many emergencies occur in the adult where the dewclaw gets caught on carpet or clothing.  The dog panics and the nail and surrounding tissue tears off.  This exposes a bleeding artery and is a medical emergency.  Save yourself headaches and get this done!


There are some general maternal issues.  Some mothers refuse to nurse newborn puppies and walk away.  Those infants have to be bottled with Esbilac® or some other milk replacer.  This can be administered via mini baby bottles bought at pet stores or in a pinch, cut a small hole in a finger of a latex glove and fill it with milk.  Whether the mother walks away or there is too much milk for too few puppies, breast infectionsBreast infections are called mastitis. Dogs have 5 pairs of breasts and the fourth and fifth pair in the groin are the ones that always produce the most milk. If the milk is not used by the puppies, bacteria take over and the breast becomes hot, swollen and very painful to touch. Compresses and even antibiotics need to be used to prevent a generalized body infection. can commence and the mother could suffer a breast “blowout” where the breast bursts open and has to be surgically put back together.


Never give cows milk to any dog; be it a newborn puppy or adult dog.  Most dogs can not digest milk sugar (lactose).  They do not produce lactase enzyme to digest it so that leads to diarrhea.  That could dehydrate newborn puppies in no time at all.


Five newborn puppies are laying end to end on a pink blanket.



If all goes well, the puppy reaches 6 weeks of age and has fattened up and ready to be put on solid or semi-solid food.  It would be tempting to just sell the puppies and let the new owners worry about the diet but I would recommend that the dogs stay with the mother for an additional two weeks and be sold at 8 weeks and up.  That extra two weeks allows for increased socialization with other siblings.  Dogs, in my opinion, turn out better going through that extra short period.  At 8 weeks, prospective buyers can pick the puppy they desire.  Litter mates are like human siblings; all are different and are individuals.  Some people want a quieter dog, some a more outgoing dog.  Well, at 8 weeks, you will SEE that trait!

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