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The Puppy Parent’s Ultimate Guide to Caring for Newborn Puppies

Whether it’s the worsening condition of the economy or just an innate preference for animals, many millennials today would adopt and care for pets rather than raise their own children. Raising dogs costs way less than child-rearing, but it isn’t that much easier, especially if you’re caring for newborn puppies.

Many aspiring dog owners may believe that rearing pups will save them from parenthood's stressful and endless troubles. However, they will need comprehensive research and practice on newborn puppy care to work during their first few weeks of dog parenthood.

Fortunately, this handy-dandy dog owner handbook can quickly answer and solve your puppy-parent problems. Let’s learn how to care for your precious little pup through several dog-caring aspects.

Working Up an Appetite: How to Feed a Newborn Puppy

Unsurprisingly, one of the most prominent questions that will pop up in a puppy owner’s mind is how to sustain their little pup. After all, food and water are where puppies get the energy to maintain their bodily functions and perform daily activities.

Before we get into puppy feeding habits and their nutritional needs, you must know there are two ways to discuss puppy nutrition: puppies with their birth mothers and orphaned pups or puppies that the mother dog cannot take care of.

Usually, puppies will receive the necessary nutrients from their mother’s milk. The dog’s milk (colostrum) is high in protein and has antibodies that shield their little ones from germs and infections. To ensure their immune system is well-developed, the newborn must drink their mother’s milk as much as possible.

If the mother cannot nurse their puppy or the pup is separated from their parent, the dog owner can feed their little furry baby with puppy milk formula as a substitute. It’s essential to note that regular cow milk will not give your puppy the necessary nutrients. Hence, it’s best to stick to puppy milk replacements.

Like newborn babies, puppies must lie on their backs during bottle-feeding to avoid choking and other similar incidents. Puppy parents must also heat the milk to approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit before feeding to prevent gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting.

How often should you feed them?

As mentioned, newborn puppies must receive their mother’s milk often to develop and strengthen their immune system properly. Therefore, owners should feed their young puppies every two to three hours

For orphaned puppies who drink formula, the feeding habits will depend on the details in the formula’s packaging. However, orphaned puppy owners are likewise recommended to feed their pups every two to four hours

Your newborn pup's recommended daily milk intake will also depend on the formula’s packaging. The table below briefly overviews puppy feeding habits during their first weeks and months.

AgeNumber of Meals
2-4 weeksevery 6-8 hours
2-3 months4 meals daily
3-6 months3 meals daily
6-12 months and onwards2 meals daily

Puppy parents are also encouraged to gently pat their little furry baby’s backs after feeding to make them burp to avoid bloating and help their digestion.

When should they transition to solid puppy food?

Like human infants, puppies must also transition from liquids to solid food. Weaning typically begins during the puppy’s third or fourth week. When your puppy starts chewing on the bottle nozzle, they’re likely ready to transition.

To help with the weaning process, you must gradually introduce solids into your little pup’s diet by adding fluids, like milk or water, to canned puppy food until it looks like soft mush. Have your puppy eat said mixture until they can handle small solid foods. Puppies may typically complete the transition by their fifth or sixth week.

What nutrients must they consume?

Newborn pups' diets must have a high-protein rate of about 20 to 30 percent. High-protein diets are essential for muscle and immune system development. 

For the following weeks, puppies must have a balanced diet to ensure they develop their bodily functions correctly and for optimal health and growth. Owners must read puppy food labels and check if these meet their pet’s nutritional needs.

Your puppy must receive the following nutritional requirements in their diet:

  • Protein: This nutrient is essential for tissue and muscle growth.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbs in your puppy’s diet will help give them energy.
  • Fats: This nutrient is crucial for your pup’s coat, brain, and eyes.
  • Vitamins and minerals: These nutrients will help balance your puppy’s diet.
  • Water: No matter what age, every dog’s diet must contain water to help maintain their bodily functions.

Sweater Weather: Keeping Young Puppies Cozy

Besides feeding their precious little ones, pet owners must also consider how to keep their puppies warm. Warmth is essential for newborn puppies for several reasons. 

First and foremost, newborns can’t regulate and maintain their own body temperature during their first two weeks. As a result, they will depend on external sources for heat. Pups also need heat to aid them during digestion. 

Newborns typically stay in the whelping box (the pen where a pregnant dog will give birth) during the first weeks of their lives. While puppies gain warmth by being close to their birth mother, placing a heat lamp or similar heat sources near the box can also heat the environment.

On the other hand, since orphaned puppies couldn’t snuggle up to their mothers for heat, owners must keep their pets in a warm box and heat the environment with blankets, bedding, and other heating sources. 

Experts recommend keeping the environmental temperature between 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit during the puppy’s first days, gradually decreasing it as the weeks pass. By the fourth week, the ideal environmental temperature is generally 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Talk that Talk: Puppy Socialization

Keeping your newborn pup around other puppies and mingling with humans are crucial for their development and well-being. By the fourth week, newborn puppies will begin interacting with the pups and humans nearby. 

Puppy owners must allow and encourage their pets to roam the environment and gain new experiences through exploration. 

Like human infants, a newborn puppy has a critical period for socialization. It happens during the primary (weeks 3-5) and secondary (weeks 6-12) socialization periods.

During these phases, the puppy must learn to communicate and interact with puppies, humans, and their environment. Puppy owners can introduce their pets to the following to ensure optimal social development:

  • Different textures
  • Outdoor environment
  • Grooming tools
  • Food and water bowls
  • Toys and other methods of play.

Poor socialization during these critical periods may lead to various impairments in your puppy. For instance, they may develop severe anxiety toward the outside world and other similar behavioral problems.

Common Issues Puppy Parents May Face

Although owners try their best to ensure their pet doesn’t encounter any additional problems during the initial months of puppy parenthood, some issues are still inevitable. Here are three of them.


Neonatal puppies cannot generate enough heat to warm their bodies. The lack of warmth may unsurprisingly trigger hypothermia. If the condition remains untreated, it can lead to the loss of the puppy’s life.

Check your furry baby’s rectal temperature to determine if they are experiencing the deadly condition. Puppies with hypothermia will typically have a low body temperature. Your pet must have a rectal temperature of at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit. So if your puppy has a temperature lower than 94 degrees, contact your veterinarian and warm up your pet promptly.

Weight loss

Another common issue in newborn puppy care is your pup’s weight. The ideal weight will depend on your pet’s breed, but newborn pups generally weigh about two and a half ounces to two and a half pounds. 

Gaining weight is typical for pups, so don’t worry too much. Young puppies may put on pounds quickly during the first months of their lives. Studies show newborn pups naturally lose weight during the first week but quickly regain the weight in the following weeks. Some breeds may gain six times their birth weight in the coming weeks.

But weight loss is what puppy parents should be wary of. Unusual weight loss may be a symptom of more severe health issues. If your puppy begins losing weight at an unnatural rate, contact your veterinarian promptly.


If you notice an unusual weight loss in your puppy, they may have internal parasites. Newborn pups may contract parasites from their birth mothers, from the food they eat, and from the environment.

Some internal parasites inhabiting puppies may affect the digestive system (roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms) or live in their bloodstream (heartworms). It’s crucial to have your newborn pup checked for parasites by the veterinarian to resolve the issue immediately.

Ready to Trek the Road of Puppy Parenthood?

Caring for neonatal puppies is a lot to take in. It’s completely understandable if most of you may feel hesitant or even decline to answer your calling to puppy parenthood after reading this article. 

Still have the itch to cuddle with an adorable puppy? Try Perfect Petzzz!

Perfect Petzzz’s life-like animal plushies can give you the experience of authentic puppy parenthood without the confusing rules of nutrition and the terrifying possibility of your pet contracting severe health issues. Our handcrafted synthetic fur plush toys will surely give you unlimited pet snuggles!

Get the ideal puppy alternative from our animal plush collection today!

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