Shackleford Vet Nurse with puppy

How to Care for Newborn Puppies

Puppy Care Information from Your Little Rock Veterinarian

The arrival of newborn puppies is an exciting time, but also comes with a lot of responsibility. Providing proper care helps establish a loving and healthy life for your new pups. Here we review how to care for newborn puppies, including the importance of regular checks with your Little Rock veterinarian.  

Proper Nutrition for Your Newborn Puppy

In the first few weeks of life, puppies feed on their mother’s colostrum. This is why puppies are not sent to their forever homes until they are about 8 weeks old. Their mother’s “milk” has all the nutrients they need, but more importantly, provides essential antibodies that help your puppies fend off illness with a healthy immune system. 

To ensure puppies are getting enough nutrients you should weigh them regularly following a typical schedule:

  • At birth
  • After the first 12-hours
  • 24-hours
  • 48-hours
  • 3 days old
  • 5 days old
  • 1 week old

Visits to your Little Rock veterinarian – such as the great doctors at SRVC – can provide accurate weights to ensure your pups are thriving.

Comfortable Temperature

Newborn puppies should be kept in a warm area free of drafts. You can consider using a heat lamp if you find the environment is too cold and drafty. Just keep the light far enough away so the heat reaches the pups, but they can move away if they feel too warm. Monitor their temperature by touch. If they feel cold, warm them up slowly before they feed again.

Potential Health Problems

Check your pups for signs of health issues once they finish their first feeding including:

  • Suck reflex
  • Urethra and anus
  • Signs of cleft palate
  • Healthy coat

They should also have pink, moist gums. Your vet can do a thorough check and look for potential health issues.

Newborn Puppy Vaccines

As their mother’s antibodies start to lose their effect between six and eight weeks, this is the time to set up their first vaccines. During the first two months, you also want to keep your puppies away from other dogs to avoid exposure to germs or parasites.

Caring for Mom

Making sure the pup’s mom is healthy is particularly important in the first weeks as your puppies’ health depends on their mother’s health. Some important things to watch for:

Canine Mastitis

Some mothers develop canine mastitis, a bacterial infection in lactating breast glands. It is important to watch for signs of mastitis as not only is it painful and dangerous for the mother, but it can also interfere with your pups getting the proper nutrients. 

Signs of mastitis include:

  • Hot, dark, red teats
  • Painful teats
  • Mom snapping at her pups when they try to nurse

If you notice these signs, set up an appointment with your vet or take the mother to the closest Little Rock animal hospital.

Proper Feeding

The nursing dog’s nutrition is just as important as the pups, as they depend on their mom to keep them healthy. Speak to your Little Rock veterinarian about the proper diet for the mother, as it is often necessary to switch to a diet with higher fat content. As well, make sure mom has eaten within 24-hours of delivering her litter. If not, she should see the vet.

Also…don’t forget that as your puppy grows to do annual wellness visits with your Veterinarian and keep your puppy healthy throughout its life. 

Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic (SRVC)  loves serving families and their new furry friends! You can request an appointment here or call us at (501) 224-6998. 

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