As pet parents, it’s always heartwarming to see newborn furbabies to add to the family. Even so, taking care of them is another matter and has a whole new set of responsibilities.  

If you’ve just witnessed your dog give birth to a litter of puppies, then they need extra attention and care just like how human babies do. For those who are taking care of newborn puppies for the first time, here are crucial tips you need to keep in mind.

1. Give the mother and puppies a den

It’s important for the mother to have a place for herself and her puppies. It creates a safe and stress-free environment for the newborns to stay within the first few days.  

Newspapers are a must when the dog goes into labor so that the floor won’t be soiled. After giving birth, extra blankets, towels or pillows will be needed to maintain warmth to at least 32°C or 90°F then decreased gradually to 22°C or 70°F over the course of 2 weeks. If you can afford to place a heating pad, that can also help. 

Once the delivery is done, you can start removing any soiled newspapers you may have used during labor, then start cleaning the mother dog with warm water and a washcloth. Do it as gentle as possible so as not to upset her. 

2. Watch for signs of sickness  

Sometimes puppies can be rejected by their mother if they’re too weak. Rejection can mean the newborn is in poor health. If anyone in the litter is showing signs of vomiting, or excess crying, it might indicate signs of sickness. Their weight should also fall between 2.5 ounces up to 2.25 pounds, if they’re underweight, they may also need extra monitoring.  

In times like these, it’s best to call your veterinarian for assistance. That way, even if the puppy is rejected by the mother, they can still grow to be healthy and happy with appropriate medical care. 

3. Feed them often

Having the puppies close to their mother is important, especially when it comes to feeding. Their mother’s milk is important since it contains antibodies that puppies need to build their immunity. 

However, if for some reason the mother rejects her puppies or is unable to feed them, you can use a milk formula. Be sure to get the ones made for puppies so that they get the needed nutrition and feed it to them while they’re lying on their stomach. Much like feeding babies, they will need to be bottle-fed with the formula warmed to at least 370C or 1000F. Newborn pups will need to be fed every 2 to 3 hours, so be sure you have an adequate supply on hand.  

4. Potty train them

After feeding, puppies need to be potty-trained. Usually, the mother will take care of this by licking the newborns’ genitals to stimulate the needed muscles and nerves for urinating and defecating. If the puppy is orphaned, then you can use a washcloth or cotton ball soaked in warm water and stroke these areas.  

5. Get their vaccines

A newborn litter will need their first vaccinations around 6 weeks after birth. Vaccinations for new pups at this time will include Distemper virus, Parainfluenza virus and Parvovirus.   

Once they reach 8 to 12 weeks, they’ll need shots for Canine Influenza H3N2 and H3N8, Rabies and Leptospirosis. Regular physical exams won’t hurt as well, since these can help detect diseases early and treat them. 

While taking care of a newborn litter is a huge responsibility, it’s always rewarding to see these new puppies grow healthy and strong.