When thinking about having a new puppy, it is easy to get lost in the magical idea of the cute and cuddly friend you are bringing into your home. While having a new puppy is a very exciting and magical time, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. Newborn puppies are a lot like human babies- they need constant care and attention. If you are taking care of a newborn puppy, it can be overwhelming making sure you give it the best care. Here is a simple guide of how to care for your newborn puppy through the newborn stages.
The First Four Weeks
For the first four weeks of a puppy’s life, they can rely on their mother for milk. However, if you are taking care of a puppy without their mom then you can bottle feed or syringe feed your puppy milk. Veterinarians are able to advise the best type of milk for your puppy. You should not use cow’s milk from your fridge, there are specific milk formulas for puppies to drink. Puppies should not be drinking adult dog formulas, there are specific ones for puppies. Drinking the wrong milk could upset their stomach or deplete their nutrients. Once you know which formula to use, you should feed them every few hours for the first two weeks. Their feedings can be less frequent as they get older until they eventually wean off milk. Another crucial key part of newborn puppy care is keeping them warm. Your newborn puppy's environment should be kept at a temperature of 85-90° for the first 4 days of their life. After that the puppy’s external temperature can be reduced to 80° and by four weeks their temperature can be reduced to approximately 70°. Puppies who are with their mom and litter naturally stay warmer due to the body heat of one other. If your puppy is by themselves, a hot water bottle with a blanket around it or a heating pad is great for keeping your pup warm. Something to note the first few weeks is your puppy’s weight gain. Weight gain is a great indicator of if your puppy is consuming enough milk and being properly nourished. Puppies should double their birth weight in the first week of life. After that, it is important to monitor their weight on a weekly basis as they should still be gaining weight. The amount of weight varies per breed, but around 0.5 ounces per week for small breeds and 2.5lbs per week for larger breeds. If your puppy is not gaining weight you should bring him to the veterinarian for a check up to make sure they are healthy.
Four to Eight Weeks
When puppies reach four weeks of age, they can start to incorporate solid food into their diet. They still need it to be very soft, so start by feeding them puppy kibble mixed with formula or soaked in hot water to make it gruel. This will be easier for them to chew and digest. Another milestone at four weeks is that puppies should be able to walk, run, and try to climb. They begin to be much more mobile at this time! Between six to eight weeks is when people vaccinate their puppies. Puppies are typically vaccinated against canine distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza virus, and rabies. Other vaccines are available for specific needs your pup may have. Depending on your lifestyle, you might want to ask your veterinarian about additional vaccines to keep your pup safe. Also, as your puppy gets older you can slowly remove the milk in their solid food until it is just the puppy kibble. They should be ready for solid kibble around seven weeks of age. To decide on the best kibble for your puppy, you should consult a veterinarian as different breeds and dogs thrive off of different kibble types.
We hope this article helped you on your journey of raising a puppy! It is sure to be a rewarding and exciting time. Read here about puppy proofing your home!