How much to feed newborn puppies?

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Editor of Dog Articles
Written By Editor of Dog Articles


It can be fatal to chill in newborn puppies. Puppies lose more body heat than adult dogs. The puppies need their mother’s heat to maintain their body temperature. In place of a mother, various methods of providing heat, like incubators, heat lamps or hot water bottles can be used.

If a puppy’s temperature drops below 34.4 °C, their condition is critical. Immediate action is necessary to provide the warmth the puppy needs to survive. A healthy newborn can usually survive chilling if warmed slowly.

The puppy should be kept in a warm environment for the first four days. Puppies will huddle together to provide additional warmth, so the temperature can be slightly lower if you care for a large litter.

Too rapid warming of a puppy may cause death.


A lack of liquid intake or exposure to dry air can result in dehydration. Puppies that are chilled may experience dehydration as their digestion is impacted by being cold.

There are two signs of dehydration, the loss of elasticity in the skin and dry and sticky gum in the mouth.

A damp towel or cotton wool can be put near the puppy in their bedding to keep the air moist. A mother licking her puppies creates a humid environment. Her breast area is moist while she is with her puppies.

What should I feed my orphaned puppy?

A commercial milk replacer should be used until the puppies are three weeks old. The puppies are ready to start eating food.

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The milk replacer should be warmed to 35-33C since newborns may not have enough heat to maintain their body temperature. The milk replacer should be the same temperature as the skin on your forearm. The milk replacer can be fed at room temperature as the puppies grow older.

Milk formula can be fed either by bottle or tube feeding. If your puppies aren’t taking well to a bottle, it’s a good idea to discuss tube feeding with your local vet.

Milk replacers have instructions on their labels. The puppy’s weight needs to be obtained in ounces or grams. Kitchen scales or postal scales can be used for this purpose. If the milk replacement is of high quality, four meals will suffice for feeding a puppy. If the puppy is small or weak, six or more feedings may be necessary.

As soon as the puppy’s eyes open at 14-16 days, the process can begin. Place the milk replacer in a flat dish and either dip the puppy’s nose into it or put it in its mouth with your finger. The puppy can start to eat food from the dish in three weeks. A gruel can be made with canned or dry puppy food and a milk replacer. The puppy will not consume much if the mixture is too thick. The amount of milk replacer can be gradually decreased as the consumption of food increases. The puppy should be able to eat solid food by four weeks old.

General puppy care

The puppy’s genital area must be stimulated after feeding to pass urine and faeces. This can be done with a moist cloth or cotton wool. This cleaning should continue during the first two weeks. If this procedure is not followed, the puppy may become constipated.

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Puppies should be treated for worms from two to three weeks of age. Fortnightly worming should be done before the first vaccinations. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about future worming programs.

Puppies are usually given the first vaccine at six to eight weeks of age. If your puppy did not nurse from its mother during the first two to three days after birth, there may be no protective immunity passed on to it. Your doctor may advise you to have earlier or more frequent vaccinations to complete the program.

Contact your local Greencross Vets for more information.

Supplying colostrum

Colostrum is a type of milk that protects the puppy during the first few weeks of life. Puppies with inadequate colostrum are less likely to survive. Colostrum only works if taken in the first 12 hours after birth. After this time, the puppy’s stomach and intestine change so that they digest the antibodies rather than allowing them to be absorbed intact. After the first 12 hours, the mother stops producing colostrums and starts producing normal milk.

If you can, try to get colostrum into each puppy in its first 12 hours after birth. If this is not possible, a veterinary surgeon can inject the puppy with the serum.

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