Feeding Newborn Puppies

Feeding newborn puppies: it’s easy when you know how! Below is a newborn puppy care guide to caring for newborn puppies for people new to dog breeding. Detailed information on other aspects of newborn puppy care can be found here.

I like to give my puppies a ¼ tspn of natural full cream yoghurt or a commercial liquid probiotic each, the day after the birth, to ensure they have got plenty of gut flora to go on with.

There is some evidence that the dreaded “fading puppy syndrome” may be linked to lack of gut flora so why risk it! In fading puppy syndrome the pups keep drinking but they don’t gain weight at all, until they just weaken so much that they die. I once lost a whole litter myself this way, and know of other breeders who have too.

feeding newborn puppies

Thriving puppies will gain weight and rapidly become fat and glossy. They will sleep a lot (twitching during sleep is normal) and feed often.

Because of the demands of feeding newborn puppies, your bitch will develop an enormous appetite by a few days after the whelp and will need ad lib access to lots of nourishing food. When my bitches are lactating I include puppy food in their diet, and aim to wean the babies by 5 weeks of age so the bitch doesn’t lose too much weight.

Introduce food to the puppies when they are 3 ½ weeks old. I start with a high quality tinned puppy food “watered down” with milk, given three times a day. When their teeth come in at around 4 to 5 weeks I also introduce chicken necks that have been pulverized with a tenderizer and cut into little pieces.

Other breeders like to soak puppy biscuits in puppy milk formula then wiz them in a blender, gradually reducing the milk formula content until the puppies are eating straight biscuits by 7 weeks of age. Because they are a heavily processed food, I prefer not to use biscuits with my pups.

At 4 weeks start restricting the number of times the bitch can feed them to twice a day for a few days, then once a day, then not at all by 5 to 6 weeks.

To avoid digestive upsets, be sure to introduce all changes in food or feeding schedules gradually.