How to Care for Newborn Puppies | A Comprehensive Guide

By: Danielle Harris

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how many puppies do french bulldogs have

Newborn puppies, especially French Bulldogs are not an easy breed to whelp and raise.

If you’re reading this and you raise another breed that’s ok too!

Due to Csections and the nature of the French bulldog, puppies are not to be left alone with mom, especially for the first week or so. This makes proper temperature even more vital since mom won’t be with the puppies to keep them warm.

Unlike natural birth with other breeds, risk of injury or death is high when leaving mom with the babies unattended. She may be scared and confused at first, nipping or biting at puppies unaware that they’re her own.

She may not be aware of her strength when handling pups, thinking she’s being gentler than she actually is, crushing them as she tries to pick them up and move them.

She may accidentally sit on them or smother them.

Pig rails can help but I’ve had moms that think they’re chickens and will try to lay directly on top of them like they’re eggs.

During natural birth, a bond is formed with mom and puppies. Hormones flow naturally and instinct kicks in.

In a csection, mom doesnt get to experience birthing her own puppies, oxytocin is administered medically.

When they come out of surgery even though they’re awake, the drugs make them confused and weird for a few days. It takes time for that same instinct to kick in, especially if they’re a first time mom.

You will need to teach them what to do and how to care for their babies.

French Bulldog Elsa and Danielle with newborn Puppies
French Bulldog Elsa and Danielle with Puppies

Coparenting with French bulldogs is vital for whelping frenchie puppies.

A lot of breeders regardless of the breed coparent with their dogs anyway. Not only does it increase survival rate but it creates a stronger bond between you and mom. It’s a major trust builder.

So lets get into how to care for your new born pups!

Caring for newborn puppies is both an exciting and challenging responsibility. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can ensure that your puppies grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted, and happy dogs.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about newborn puppy care, from creating a comfortable environment to socialization and training.

Creating a Comfortable Environment

Temperature Regulation

Newborn puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature for the first few weeks of their lives.

To help them stay warm, it’s essential to maintain a room temperature of around 82-90°F (29-32°C).

Use a heating pad, heat lamp, or both, but make sure there’s enough space for the puppies to move away from the heat source if they get too warm.

We use an incubator.

Incubator in use

Our incubator comes with a heat lamp, programable thermostat, hygrometer to measure humidity, ports for oxygen and nebulizer/humidifier, and circulation vents.

Make sure to have your heat source running for at least 24 hours before pups are due/born to make sure the temperature is stable and controllable.

If puppies become too cold they will be unable to digest their food properly as well.

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Safe Space

It’s crucial to provide a safe and secure space for the mother and her puppies, such as a whelping box.

The box should be large enough for the mother to lie down comfortably and have low sides so she can easily get in and out. Line the box with soft bedding, like towels or blankets, that can be easily washed and replaced.

Keep it bumpy so pups can build muscle and avoid developing flat chest or swimmers syndrome.

We like to use egg carton shaped acoustic panels (with no adhesive) under blankets.

Noise Control

Moms and Newborn puppies are sensitive to loud noises, so it’s essential to keep their environment as quiet and peaceful as possible. Limit the number of visitors and avoid sudden loud noises that could startle the mother. She will be in protection mode as she focuses on raising her litter.

Stressed mothers could lead to illness and loss of milk production.

Feeding Newborn Puppies

First- Make sure mom is being fed a good high quality puppy food and has access to fresh filtered water at all times

She may not want to eat anything after the birth so feed her anything she’ll eat to get her appetite back. We’ve even had to UberEats Mcdonalds cheeseburgers.

Hydration is most important though. If she’s not hydrated she won’t produce enough milk.

Importance of Colostrum

In the first 24 hours after birth, puppies should nurse from their mother to receive colostrum. Colostrum is a nutrient-rich, antibody-packed substance produced by the mother that helps to strengthen the puppies’ immune systems.

Actual milk will come in and drop down within 3 days. This is NORMAL.

Colostrum
Golden Yellow Colostrum

Puppy Milk Replacement Formula

If the mother is unable to nurse her puppies or there are too many puppies to feed, you’ll need to provide a puppy milk replacement formula.

Be sure to use a formula specifically designed for puppies and follow the instructions on the package for proper mixing and feeding.

Check out our recipe for Leerburg formula!

Feeding Schedule

Newborn puppies need to be fed every 2 hours around the clock. As they grow older, the time between feedings can gradually increase. By 3-4 weeks, you can start introducing them to mush food while still supplementing with moms milk or replacement formula.

Making Sure the Airways are Clear

During feeding you may notice milk bubbles coming out of the nose. Do NOT remove the pup from the nipple until it is finished eating.

Removing the pup will break the seal and cause the pup to inhale the milk that was coming out of the nose. You can gently wipe the nose or use an electric aspirator to remove the milk without disturbing the pup and breaking the seal or wait until the puppy has finished eating.

When pups are finished nursing, gently clear the noses with a nasal aspirator (bulb or electric) after every feeding to remove any lingering fluids that may be inhaled.

Burp the puppies to avoid regurgitation or vomiting.

Any inhalation of fluids can cause aspiration which leads to aspiration pneumonia.

Over eating

Over eating can cause serious problems. It upsets the gut biome. Signs of over eating are pretty obvious the major one Is white poop. The puppy is taking in too much and the body is unable to process it so it just comes out.

Adjusting frequency of feeding(usually more frequent), length of feeding(shorter feedings), and adding probiotics to every feeding will usually fix the problem.

Over eating can also cause flat chest syndrome and swimmer syndrome.

Elimination Assistance

Stimulating Urination and Defecation

For the first few weeks, newborn puppies need help to eliminate waste. The mother usually licks her puppies to stimulate urination and defecation, but if she’s not doing this, you’ll need to step in. Use a warm, damp cloth, baby wipe, or cotton ball to gently massage the puppy’s genital and anal areas until they eliminate.

Proper Cleaning Techniques

After helping the puppies eliminate, make sure to clean the area with a mild baby wipe or warm water and soft cloth. This prevents infections and keeps the puppies and their environment clean.

If butts become raw you can use aquaphor or Neosporin for relief.

Monitoring Weight and Growth

Tracking Weight

When French bulldog puppies are first born they weigh anywhere from 125 grams (4.5oz) to 230 grams (8oz). During the first few days you might notice some fluctuation- both loss and gain, but by the end of the week they should only be gaining.

weight chart

Weight should double each week but you’ll notice during the first couple days after birth there’s a slight dip.

Regularly weighing your puppies is essential to ensure they are growing at a healthy rate. Keep a log of their weights, and make sure they are gaining weight daily. If a puppy isn’t gaining weight or loses weight, consult your veterinarian immediately.

If you notice any struggles to nurse, bottle, syringe, or tube feeding may be necessary.

Pups should never flop to the side or crawl in circles. They should always be able to crawl and move with ease in the upright position.

Growth Milestones

In addition to weight gain, puppies should reach certain developmental milestones as they grow.

By two weeks old, their eyes should start to open.

By 3-4 weeks ears will open and they will start to hear.

By three weeks, they should be able to stand, and by four weeks, they should be walking and starting to play.

Hygiene and Grooming

Bathing

Newborn puppies don’t require frequent baths, but you should keep them clean and dry. Spot clean them with a warm, damp cloth or baby wipes if they become soiled, and change their bedding regularly. You can also use a little squirt bottle to spot clean.

Nail Trimming

Begin trimming the puppies’ nails at 2 weeks of age to prevent them from becoming too long and causing discomfort. Use a pair of small nail clippers and trim just the tips of the nails.

Ear Cleaning

around 6 -8 weeks start cleaning the puppies’ ears gently with a warm, damp cloth, being careful not to insert anything into the ear canal. This helps to prevent ear infections and keeps them comfortable.

Teething and Chewing

Teething Process

Puppies begin teething around 3-4 weeks of age, and it continues until they’re about 6 months old. During this time, they’ll lose their baby teeth and grow their adult teeth, which can be a painful and uncomfortable process.

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Appropriate Chew Toys

Provide your puppies with appropriate chew toys to help soothe their gums and satisfy their need to chew. Make sure the toys are safe and specifically designed for teething puppies.

Weaning Puppies

Weaning Process

Weaning is the process of transitioning puppies from their mother’s milk to solid food. This typically begins around 3-4 weeks of age as the teething process begins and should be done gradually to prevent digestive issues.

Transitioning to Solid Food

Start by offering a mixture of puppy milk replacement formula or goat milk and high-quality puppy food, gradually increasing the amount of solid food while decreasing the amount of formula. By 7-8 weeks, the puppies should be eating mostly solid food.

Health Concerns and Vaccinations

Common Health Issues

Newborn puppies are susceptible to several health issues, such as parasites, infections, and congenital defects.

Monitor your puppies for signs of illness, like lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, white poops, weight loss, nasal discharge or difficulty breathing, and contact your veterinarian if you notice any concerns.

Keep an eye on their eyes- if you notice any swelling, redness, and discharge contact your veterinarian right away.

puppy eye infection
Puppy Eye Infection

Dewormer should be administered starting at 2 weeks of age. 1 dose every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age.

If you notice any foul smelling poop (worse than normal) take a stool sample to your vet to have it looked at. Coccidia and giardia are other common parasites but can wreak havoc on your pups. Bacterial infections, antibiotics from moms csection, and over eating(light yellow to white poop is the major sign) are also common irritants in young pups. All of these upset the gut biome. Antibiotics may be needed to reset the system.

Always keep a good probiotic on hand such as benebac or nurture flora. Probiotics are especially helpful during the weaning process.

Importance of Vaccinations

Vaccinations are crucial in protecting your puppies from potentially life-threatening diseases. These typically start at 6-8 weeks of age. Consult your veterinarian for a recommended vaccination schedule and make sure to follow it closely.

Socialization and Training

Socialization Period

The critical socialization period for puppies occurs between 3-14 weeks of age. During this time, it’s important to expose them to various people, touches, sounds, and environments to help them become well-adjusted and confident adults.

Crate Training

Crate training can help your puppies feel secure and aid in housebreaking. Start by introducing the crate as a safe and comfortable space, gradually increasing the time they spend inside.

Basic Commands

Begin teaching your puppies basic commands, like “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” once they are around 8 weeks old. Use positive reinforcement and reward-based training methods to make the process enjoyable for both you and the puppies.

Handling and Touch Desensitization

Getting your puppies used to being handled and touched is crucial for their comfort during grooming and veterinary visits. Gently touch and handle their paws, ears, and mouth to help them become comfortable with human contact.

Exercise and Playtime

Exercise Guidelines

Puppies need daily exercise to support their physical and mental development. Begin with short, gentle play sessions, gradually increasing the intensity and duration as they grow older.

Encouraging Play

Encourage your puppies to play with toys and interact with their siblings to help them develop important social and motor skills.

Recognizing and Addressing Separation Anxiety

Some puppies may develop separation anxiety when left alone. Gradually acclimate them to being alone for short periods, increasing the duration over time. If anxiety persists, consult a veterinarian or professional dog trainer for guidance.

When to Seek Professional Help

Signs to Watch For

If you notice any signs of illness or abnormal behavior, such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or difficulty breathing, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Choosing a Veterinarian

Select a veterinarian who is experienced with puppies, your breed, and establish a relationship early on. Regular check-ups are essential for monitoring your puppies’ health and addressing any concerns.

Conclusion and Final Tips

Caring for newborn puppies can be a rewarding experience. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to provide the best possible care for your puppies as they grow and develop into healthy, well-adjusted dogs.

Quiet puppies are happy puppies. If they constantly cry, something is wrong. Too hot, too cold, hungry, need to urinate or defecate, can’t find their littermates. More often than not it’s an easy fix!

FAQs

How often should I feed newborn puppies?

Newborn puppies should be fed every 2 hours around the clock.

When can puppies start eating solid food?

Puppies can begin transitioning to solid food around 3-4 weeks of age.

When should puppies receive their first vaccinations?

Consult your veterinarian for a recommended vaccination schedule, which typically begins around 6-8 weeks of age.

How can I help my puppies with teething discomfort?

Provide appropriate chew toys and use a cold, damp cloth to gently massage their gums.

When should I start socializing my puppies?

The critical socialization period for puppies occurs between 3-14 weeks of age.

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