How To Care For Newborn Puppies

If there’s anything in the world more precious than puppies we have yet to see it :-) Let’s face it, the population of the world almost universally loves puppies. There’s nothing more soothing or enjoyable than holding, cuddling or playing with a pup. However, with the great feeling puppies bestow upon us comes a great responsibility to take great care of them. Yes, momma dogs do a great job of that, but there are times when we dog owners have to step up to the plate as interim caregivers.

Newborn puppies have very specific needs that must be attended to. This holds especially true for runts or pups who may not be getting all the TLC they need from their moms.

So in this post, we sourced some tips from so that you can have a checklist on how to care for newborn puppies and more.

How To Care For Newborn Puppies

How To Care For Newborn Puppies

How To Care For Newborn Puppies

Newborns have four major needs for the first few weeks of their lives: warmth, food, hygiene, and physical safety.

Keeping Newborn Puppies Warm

Newborns, particularly if they are very small, may have a hard time maintaining their body heat. Typically, puppies cuddle with each other or with their mother to conserve and share body heat. When one of the puppies becomes too warm, he or she will simply move away from the group to cool off.

To simulate this if you have to take over care of the pups, you will want to provide a temperature gradient so that one end of the puppies’ area is warm, the other cool. This can be done by providing a heating lamp over one end of the box. Alternatively, hot water bottles can be wrapped in blankets or towels and placed at one end of the pen.

Under no circumstances should a heating pad be used for puppies. If the pup falls asleep on a heating pad, he or she can be seriously burned, and the dog’s sharp teeth can easily puncture the protective coating over the electrical wires in both the pad and the cord, causing electrocution.

Feeding Newborn Puppies

Newborn puppies typically need to be fed every 2-3 hours. Although mother’s milk is best because of the immunity it passes from mother to pups, there are acceptable substitutes if mom is not up to the task. Puppies receive most of their immunity within twelve hours after birth, so make sure all of the puppies get to suckle at least once from the mama soon after they are born.

Human baby formula does not meet the nutritional needs of puppies and should not be used. The breeders at Leerburg Kennel recommend whisking together the following ingredients:

  • 10 oz. of goat’s milk (may substitute 10 oz. of canned evaporated milk thinned with three ounces of boiled water)
  • 1 raw egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 cup whole yogurt (not skim or fat free)
  • ½ teaspoon of karo syrup

If you are using canned evaporated milk, boil the water then let it cool. Boiling water has a temperature of 212 °F, which is way too hot for the puppies. Once the water has cooled, you will make the formula, and then heat it on the stove to about 100 degrees.

Care should be taken not to over-blend the ingredients to the point where bubbles form, as they can cause very painful gas bubbles. This formula can be kept in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

Puppies should be fed only a liquid diet for the first 4 – 5 weeks, and then gradually weaned to solid food. To begin the weaning process, feed the formula in a dish for a few days to get the puppy weaned from the bottle. Once they have the lapping thing mastered, mix a small amount of puppy kibble or raw ground beef with the formula. As the pups are able to tolerate it, increase the amount of solids and decrease the amount of formula. By 8 weeks, the pups should be totally on solid food.

Warmth and cleanliness are two components of newborn puppy care.

Hygiene for Newborn Puppies

If you’ve ever observed a mama dog with her puppies, you’ve no doubt noticed that she spends a lot of time licking them. This is not solely to remove that funky puppy smell. Licking a puppy’s belly and anus actually stimulates the dog’s intestines, preventing constipation.

If you are taking over for the mama, use a washcloth soaked in warm water to gently rub each puppy’s belly and anus a couple of times each day. If it’s warm outside, feel free to do this outdoors so the dog begins to associate being outdoors with going potty.


Just like newborn human babies, these young dogs really do need around-the-clock care. It can be a daunting job, but by breaking the basic needs down into the main areas discussed above: warmth, food, hygiene and protection, the hard work becomes a bit more manageable and easier to keep track of.  Stay on task and jot down the tips mentioned above to make sure you are providing adequate care for any pups you are responsible for.

And remember, while you’re doing all of the things we listed for you here you can throw in ample amounts of love and affection. Whether your puppy will be staying with the family or moving on to another loving household, you can help this new life to learn to bond more effectively by providing plenty of love, cuddling and affection in the earliest stages of the puppy’s life.

If you love puppies as much as we do, please help us share this information with the dog loving community by clicking SHARE above left. And be sure to leave a comment telling us about your puppy care tips and tricks.

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