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How to keep newborn puppies warm

How to keep newborn puppies warm

Puppies are born without teeth and with their eyes and ears closed. Naturally, they depend on their mother (and you) to keep them safe and healthy. One of the most important parts of caring for newborn puppies is to keep them at the proper temperature. Here's how to keep newborn puppies warm.

Keeping puppies warm is easy to do with a few steps.

Why temperature is so critical

Dogs are warm-blooded, which means they can maintain a specific body temperature. For adult dogs, normal body temperature is about 99.5°F to 102.5°F.1

Puppies can't successfully regulate body temperature during the first weeks of their life, so they need help staying safe and warm. For the first week, a puppy's body temperature may be as low as 95°F. It slowly increases to around 98°F during the next two weeks. Once the puppy reaches a month old, their body temperature levels off to the normal body temperature for adult dogs.2

If a puppy is allowed to get too cold, her digestion may be affected. She could have a hard time nursing or suffer from a compromised immune system.3 Proper warmth is important for new pups!

How to keep newborn puppies warm

When the mother dog and pups are healthy, the puppies depend on their mother to generate the additional warmth they need. This is one reason you see newborn puppies lying close to their mother. But you can help too! Provide the mother dog and the puppies with a suitable "nest" or whelping box. This is a safe, warm, and somewhat confined area that is free from drafts and distractions.

You may want to supply the whelping box with an additional heat source. This will supplement the mother dog's body heat and help keep the area warm if she must step away from the box for a short time. Heat lamps can work for this purpose or choose a heating pad with an adjustable thermostat that's safe for pets. Be sure to talk with your vet for the recommended temperature setting that's right for your pups.

When the puppies are born, begin by heating the whelping box to about 85°F to 90°F. You can slowly lower the temperature to approximately 80°F by the next week, and then to room temperature once the pups are a month old. They'll be better able to regulate their body heat by then.4 (Always follow your veterinarian's advice for the best temperatures and methods for heating the whelping box.)

Pay attention to your puppies' behavior. It can actually provide clues as to whether they're too hot or too cold. If the puppies huddle close to each other under the heat source, it may mean they're too cold and are trying to use the group's body heat to stay warm. If the puppies are scattered in different areas of the box, it could mean they're too hot. If you're concerned about a particular puppy, you can always check their body temperature with a puppy-safe thermometer, just to be on the safe side!

Providing proper warmth for newborn puppies is important. With a few simple supplies and some TLC, you can help keep newborn puppies warm.

  1. Payne, Laura. "What Is a Dog's Normal Body Temperature?" Daily Puppy, https://dogcare.dailypuppy.com/what-is-a-dogs-normal-body-temperature-12164932.html
  2. Williams, Krista. "Caring for Orphaned Puppies." VCA Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/puppy-orphaned
  3. Davidson, Autumn P. "Overview of Management of the Neonate in Small Animals." Merck Veterinary Manual, August 2015, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/management-and-nutrition/management-of-the-neonate/overview-of-management-of-the-neonate-in-small-animals
  4. Ward, Ernest. "Breeding for Dog Owners - Caring for Newborn Puppies." VCA Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/breeding-for-dog-owners-caring-for-newborn-puppies
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