by Maria Manuel
In some of my previous articles, I mentioned why it is important to keep newborn puppies warm.
Since puppies cannot regulate their own temperature at such a young age, it is important that they are always kept warm because it can be detrimental to their overall health, their development, and their mortality.
The day after Bella gives birth, we made sure that she stayed close to her puppies because she was able to give them the warmth that they desperately needed.
As the dog's owner, you’ll be able to see your newborn puppies crawl their way up to their mom’s side, just so that they can get comfortable and obtain their needed warmth.
While some believe that it’s easy to give newborn pups warmth, this is far from the truth. When you read through this guide, you’ll have a better understanding as to why it’s difficult to provide puppies with warmth and for them to maintain it.
Why is it important to keep your newborn puppies warm?
So why is it important that these newborns stay warm? Here’s why:
One main reason, as mentioned above, is that puppies are unable to generate heat on their own, therefore, they rely on their mother and other puppies for warmth.
Benefits (The Good Stuff)
A main benefit of keeping your newborn puppies warm is that they will have higher chances of survival. It is known that puppies’ immune systems are not yet developed during the first week of life, which then means that their ability to manage their temperature has not been developed yet.
If you, as an owner, can help with ensuring they stay warm, then all you need to worry about is their actual development because you’ll know that the environment’s temperature won’t be a concern.
Puppies are known to cry a lot when they are uncomfortable, and this includes feeling cold. When puppies are kept warm, then, they will stay quiet and will not bother anyone in the household due to constant crying.
So,up to what age should puppy be kept warm?
From the time these puppies are born up to the first week, they need to be monitored closely and kept warm.
Every week, their rectal temperature increases. The age that is considered safe to end consistent monitoring is 4 weeks.
Once your puppy reaches this stage, all you need to do is to make sure that the environment surrounding your pup is good for them and will not expose them to any extreme temperature.
For your own reference, here is a table from that shows the ideal room temperature based on your pup’s age.
How can you keep them warm?
So, now we’ll get into the most important question – how do we do this?
As owners, how do we ensure that our newborn puppies are always kept warm, especially during the most crucial and critical time of their lives?
Here are some tips that you can follow.
Create a warm area to put up your puppy’s shelter
Choose a spot in your house that is already warm to ensure that you will not have a hard time making it warm.
Also, it is important to choose a spot in your house that doesn't have any vents to ensure that cold air from outside will not affect your puppies' temperature.
Keep the actual shelter warm by placing newspapers as well as towels
Several levels of newspapers will help in keeping your puppies warm and, at the same time, you can also use this to pick up any droppings or mess that your puppies will make.
Use other heating materials for help
Ideally, during the first 4 days, your puppies’ temperature should be between 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
As your puppy grows old, they can then withstand a lower temperature. To help with adding some warmth in your puppies’ area, there are materials that you should have:
Hot water bottle
If this is not available, you can improvise by using an empty mineral water bottle, a shampoo bottle, or a mouthwash bottle. Wrap a thick towel around the bottle so the puppy can't be harmed in case it comes in direct contact with it.
Manufacturers of heating pads made for people do not recommend them being used on animals. Even set on “low”, temperatures can soar to dangerously hot levels, requiring almost constant monitoring.
Pads made for animals don’t get as hot and usually have a low voltage power supply. If you only have heating pads for people, then make sure that you are alert and monitors this closely to ensure your puppies are not harmed.
If needed, make use of layers of blanket or cloth to avoid the heating pad from directly touching your puppies’ skin.
Heat lamps will warm them up, but they can be dehydrating and hard to regulate. Your puppies can easily become overheated with no way to escape so if this is what you have, make sure that you also monitor this closely, so you can remove it when necessary and so you’ll know when it becomes harmful and dangerous to your puppies.
Make sure that your puppies’ whelping box can accommodate the mom going in and out at any time
While we touched upon this point before, these puppies will always look for their mom for warmth. Their mom’s temperature helps the puppies to stay warm and if the mom has full access to the whelping box, then she can go there anytime the puppies need her to.
Keep the litter together!
If you have more than one puppy, then it is also a good idea and will certainly help if the puppies will stay close together.
These puppies staying close together will keep and enhance their collective body heat, which will surely help all of them regulate and keep the warmth.
If you are handling orphaned puppies, make sure that you have a variety of heating materials.
One good heating material to use is the heating pad. With the heating pad, you can check if the temperature is too hot for your puppy or not. If it is too hot, then you can just add blankets or levels of cloth to ensure that your puppy is still protected.
Call your vet for an emergency
If you notice that truly nothing is helping, and your puppy continues to feel cold, then it is a good idea to reach out to your family vet for further assistance.
What happens if you can’t keep your puppies warm?
While there are benefits to keeping your puppies warm, you can also imagine that there are negative effects of your puppies being cold.
Cold puppies cannot nurse or digest food. As shown in across different research studies, during the first few weeks of the newborn puppies' lives, warmth is more important to them than food. The rate of survival for cold puppies is lower compared to those puppies who cannot eat.
When a puppy is feeling cold, they will not nurse nor digest food, which then becomes dangerous for them because if they don’t nurse, aside from feeling cold, they will be hungry.
Also, if they cannot digest food, then not only is their digested system is impacted, but their body will not accept nutrients.
Cold puppies will constantly cry. Since these puppies are not comfortable, they will cry and whine until their are comfortable again, which will only occur when they’re warm.
If these puppies continue to cry, then it can impact their heart rate and the other systems in their bodies.
Cold puppies’ heart rate drops.
Cold puppies’ circulatory and respiratory system can breakdown.
A puppy’s heart rate, circulatory and respiratory system will also be impacted if the puppy is cold.
When your puppy is constantly cold and crying, it’s only natural that some of its systems will begin to shut down. Since they don’t have the stability that comes with age, this is dangerous.
In conclusion, your puppy’s overall health is greatly impacted by its ability to generate and maintain heat. In the early stages of life, however, the puppy will not be able to generate this heat and as such, will have to get it elsewhere.