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Newborn Puppy: What Are The First 24 Hours Like?

As you soak in the joy of (future) puppy cuddles, remember the challenges that lie ahead. Vet visits, tracking food intake and weights, socializing, and eventually finding forever homes for these little rascals are on the horizon.

But first things first.

To successfully navigate the first 24 hours and beyond with confidence, we want to be armed with knowledge (and a lineup of newborn pups). Welcome to the wild, wonderful world of puppy parenthood!

Those initial 24 hours are crucial for both the puppy’s well-being and the bonding process.

Essential: If your dog is about to deliver their pups, make sure you have a vet present or at least on-call and nearby.

Cute newborn puppy barely opening their eyes in front of a pink background.
Photo by plepraisaeng on Depositphotos

First 24 hours With a Newborn Puppy

The first 24 hours with a newborn puppy are a delicate period of adjustment. Just like human babies, puppies are vulnerable and require a nurturing environment to thrive.

Ideally, a dedicated space should be prepared for the mother and her litter, ensuring warmth, comfort, and minimal stress. Allow the mother to explore the designated area beforehand.

DIY tip: Check out my article on how to make a whelping box.

Immediately after birth, the bonding process is essential for the development of a secure attachment, promoting a sense of safety and trust.

Beyond that, it’s crucial to note that puppies typically start drinking their mother’s breast milk within the first few hours of their life. This early consumption of colostrum, the nutrient-rich first milk produced by the mother, is crucial for the puppies’ health and immunity.

The act of suckling not only provides vital nutrients but also establishes a strong bond between the mother and her offspring. It’s important to allow the puppies unrestricted access to their mother’s milk during this time to ensure they receive the necessary nourishment for their early growth and development.

During these early hours, monitor the puppies closely for signs of good health.

Two newborn Husky puppies lying on a blanket touching each others' noses.
Photo by lufimorgan on Depositphotos

Healthy puppies are active, have a strong suckling reflex, and exhibit a round, plump belly after nursing. However, it’s crucial to be aware that not all puppies develop at the same rate, and some may need a bit more time to catch up.

Can You Leave Newborn Puppies Alone With Their Mom Overnight?

Leaving newborn puppies alone with their mother overnight is generally safe and encouraged. Mother dogs are naturally equipped to care for their offspring, providing warmth, nourishment, and protection.

It’s crucial, however, to create a secure environment that minimizes potential dangers.

Ensure the whelping area is free of safety hazards and is maintained at an appropriate temperature, usually around 85-90°F (29.5-32°C) for the first 4 days according to Tammy Hunter, DVM and Ernest Ward, DVM via VCA Hospitals.

Use a heat lamp if necessary, but be cautious not to overheat the space.

Additionally, keep the area clean to prevent the risk of infection, as newborn puppies are more susceptible to illnesses during their early days.

While mother dogs are usually attentive and nurturing, occasional supervision is advisable, especially if you notice any signs of distress or if a puppy appears to be struggling during feeding.

In the rare case that the mother shows signs of neglect or aggressive behavior, consult with a veterinarian, veterinary behaviorist, or certified dog behaviorist for guidance.

What Not To Do

In the whirlwind of excitement that comes with a new puppy, it’s crucial to be aware of certain actions that could jeopardize the well-being of both the mother and her litter.

Firstly, avoid unnecessary handling of the newborn puppies during the first 24 hours. While it’s tempting to cuddle and interact with these adorable creatures, excessive handling can cause stress for the mother and may disrupt the bonding process.

Never attempt to separate the puppies from their mother prematurely. Puppies derive essential nutrients and antibodies from their mother’s milk during the first few weeks of life, contributing to their overall health and immunity. Premature separation can lead to nutritional deficiencies and compromise the puppies’ ability to fight off infections.

Furthermore, refrain from introducing unfamiliar scents or loud noises into the whelping area. A calm and quiet environment is crucial for the well-being of the mother and her puppies. Loud noises or strong scents can agitate the mother and cause unnecessary stress, potentially impacting the bonding process.

Lastly, if your dog went through the experience of losing a puppy, I recommend the linked article on what to do from here.

In conclusion, the first 24 hours with a newborn puppy are a critical period that demands careful attention and consideration. By providing a secure and nurturing environment, respecting the mother’s instincts, and avoiding common pitfalls, you set the stage for a healthy and positive start to your new journey with your furry family member.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.