Taking care of newborn puppies is a full-time job. Just like a baby, the first weeks of a puppy are essential.
They tend to sleep a lot during their first weeks and they need to nurse every 3 or 4 hours. That’s pretty much all they do: sleep, eat, repeat. However, they need to be supervised to ensure their care.
Caring for newborn puppies
It’s important for you to know that puppies need to be with their mom for at least 7 weeks. Respecting these mother-puppy times is essential for their growth and development. If you separate a puppy from his mother too early, you can be putting his life at risk, since he won’t be receiving all the antibodies, enzymes, and nutrients mother’s milk provides.
Pay special attention to their crying. Newborn puppies almost never cry. So, if you hear them crying, consider it an alert: Something is wrong. Don’t panic: first, check if they are eating well and if they are warm. If everything seems to be okay, but they still cry, call your closest vet for a visit. Acting fast is essential, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Make sure they are nursing correctly. How can you tell? By closely watching them nurse, and making sure they are warm (this means they are fed).
During the first 4 weeks, don’t remove pups from the litter. I know, they are super cute, so you might feel very tempted to do so, but they need to be with their mother and the other pups the whole time. They need constant nursing and the warmth of their family. Besides, young puppies haven’t fully developed sight and hearing, so they need to have their mother close as guidance.
Vaccination is not needed until they are 6 or 7 weeks old. During these first weeks, all they need for protection is nursing.
- Keep the mother well-fed. Puppies get all their nutrients through their mother’s milk, so her nutrition must be on top of your priorities. Apart from carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids, it’s important to add extra calcium to her diet for the puppies’ bone formation. Make sure you have all her needs covered through dog vitamin supplements.
Can I leave puppies alone with their mother?
During the first 7 days, it is not advised to do so. Even though they probably won't need our help, puppies can accidentally get smothered or crushed by their mum, or in some cases, even neglected, so we must keep an eye on them. We strongly recommend you watch them closely, at least during their first week, to avoid any potential danger. After that first week, you can start going out during short periods.
Last but not least, a mother can reject their puppies. This can happen due to different reasons: she might be feeling unwell after labor, she may think one of their puppies is not strong enough to make it so he’s not worth being taken care of, or lacks maternal instinct. In these cases, you should call your vet asap so he/she can assess the mother and discuss the following steps.