How to get a newborn puppy to latch?

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Editor of Dog Articles
Written By Editor of Dog Articles

More About Low Blood Pressure In Newborn Puppies and Saving Puppies That Won’t Nurse

In the race to save Lucky, we learned that the killer of newborn puppies that won’t nurse isn’t hunger, thirst or cold… it is the low blood sugar that sets all those bad things into motion! Low blood sugar can affect newborn puppies even when they have full access to their mom, as long as they haven’t had access to mother milk. It is important to learn about low blood sugar symptoms.

All new newborn pups have very few fat stores. When the pup doesn’t have enough fat in its mother milk, its blood sugar levels plummet. The difference of a skipped meal can be made up by adult dogs and older puppies. The immature liver of a newborn puppies can’t make enough sugar.

Without enough sugar, the puppy’s heartbeat rate and breathing slow down, they lose the ability to nurse, along with the ability digest food and to maintain their body temperature, then they fall into a coma, and eventually their breathing and heartbeat stop altogether.

What Are Low Blood Sugar Symptoms in Puppies?

If you have a puppy that won’t nurse or is not acting well, or even if you have a healthy liter of pups, it is important to be alert for any one or a combination of the following signs.

The puppy is weak.

The puppy is not doing normal growth spurts while sleeping.

The puppy is confused.

His eyes look unfocused. If you force open a newborn puppies eyes, they will be fused shut.

The puppy is shaking or trembling.

The puppy is unable to nurse, keeps falling off the nipple, or sucks a few sucks and then lets go.

The puppy is unconscious and can’t wake up.

Your puppy could die from low blood sugar without prompt attention and first aid. If you notice the warning signs early in the process, low blood sugar can be treated and reversed at home.

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The puppy will respond very quickly to treatment. Take your puppy to the vet if treatment doesn’t help the symptoms. It is time to move into aggressive treatments if that is not an option.


The real life-saver here is getting sugar into your puppy. Newborn puppies that won’t nurse or are showing advanced signs of hypoglycemia need to be given a dropper full of sugar water every 15 to 20 minutes until they are acting normal and nursing on their own.

If you have a dying puppy that is pretty far gone, it is better to give uncolored hummingbird nectar to the puppy than to make your own sugar water. The reason for this is that the hummingbird nectar is mostly dextrose which blends instantly and is closer in makeup to sugar than table sugar. You don’t have to feed a puppy that won’t respond if you give it Glucose, which is the sugar the body uses directly for energy. You just need to get the saliva in your mouth. He does not need to swallow. It will be absorbed through the puppy’s mouth and transferred into the bloodstream.

If you have a puppy that is able to swallow some formula, you can add sugar solution to it. It’s important to get the sugar into the puppy first. A puppy can’t digest formula when it is in the process of checking out from hypoglycemia.


If you have a non-responsive puppy, or if you worry the puppy is getting worse and not better with the above two treatments, it is time to get aggressive with subcutaneous fluid injections.

You will need an injection and a needle to administer the fluid. Needles small enough for a newborn puppy can be purchased from a vet. Lactated ringers, 0.9% saline, Normosol-R, and Plasmalyte are some of the most commonly used injected fluids. Over the counter eye drops should be the easiest to get your hands on.

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Some fluids may have added substances. The area between the shoulder blades is where fluids are given. You can use alcohol to clean the area. Put the needle into the skin fold. When fluids are administered, remove the needle and hold gentle pressure on the site for a couple of minutes. The Lactate Ringer must be warmed and not injected cold if you see some fluid leaking out of the needle hole. You want to inject a small amount of fluid under the skin of the puppy. He will have a bubble of fluid in his body.

If the puppy begins to show signs of hunger and regains it’s suck, offer it’s mothers nipple. If the puppy is not getting any food and is not able to stay attached, then offer a puppy formula. If the puppy isn’t swallowing, don’t force formula into it’s mouth, it could drown, choke, or develop pneumonia. If the pup isn’t sucking, you need to focus on getting it’s blood sugar up to a level where it has the energy to swallow formula. If she is swallowing sugar water or formula, be sure to rub her genitals with a warm wash rag every hour.

Suckling Puppies

Puppies should search for a nipple vigorously when woken. This is called the “rooting” reflex. Puppies vocalize in a series of squeaks and whines. When the pups are full, they go back to sleep. In the first week, this occurs every two hours. It is important that the puppies suckle often because the mother’s milk is necessary for the pups’ growth.

Newborn puppies need to be supervised to make sure the litter is well-fed at all times. Don’t rely on visual observation of the litter to check the puppies’ weight. If you notice the pups are not getting enough food, you may need to keep an eye on them. Puppies who cry a lot might be hungry and need help. The nipples closest to the hind legs produce the most milk, so make sure to place the struggling pup there during feeding.

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