How to Clean Newborn Puppies

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Puppies often require immediate intervention during birth to survive.
Puppies often require immediate intervention during birth to survive. (Image: Santa Pugs image by wingsinmoonlight from Fotolia.com)

Most mother dogs will remove the placental sac of the newborn puppy, chew away the umbilical cord and begin to clean the puppy. On rare occasions a first time mother or a dog that has been genetically bred away from its natural instincts will not undertake this task. A few breeds are prone to this lack of maternal behavior and must be closely monitored during whelping to ensure the puppy's survival. At this point the breeder must step in immediately to clean and dry the puppy before it perishes.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean towels
  • Sterile scissors
  • Heat lamp with chain and hook
  • Betadine
  • Alcohol in pan
  • Dental floss
  • Trash bag.

Hang the heat lamp 6 feet above the whelping box with the chain and hook attached to the ceiling. Newborn puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature. When they are first born they are wet and can easily chill. A heat lamp will help to dry the puppies and keep them warm. Keep the whelping room temperature 80 degrees F. to 85 degrees F.

Grasp the newborn puppy gently and lift it from the whelping box to remove the gestational sac if the mother dog does not do it immediately upon birth. The puppy can easily perish if left in the sac too long because it will try to breathe and only inhale the fluid within the sac. Gently tear the sac away from the puppy's face. The sac is often thicker and tougher then it appears, so use your fingernails to break through. Once the sac is torn away from the puppy's face it will slip out of the sac easily. Discard the sac in a trash bag.

Clip the umbilical cord 1 inch from the puppy's abdomen. Place a drop of Betadine on the tip of the cord. If the cord bleeds excessively, promptly tie it off using dental floss.

Rub the puppy using a dry, clean towel. The towel will work to dry the puppy but the rubbing will also help stimulate the puppy to breathe. The puppy requires rubbing to take its first breath. The rubbing simulates the mother's vigorous licking. Once the puppy is relatively dry and clean place the puppy into the whelping box beside the mother by her teat. The puppy will normally start to nurse immediately. Await the next puppy and repeat the process. Place the scissors into the pan of alcohol to sterilize between puppies.

Discard the placentas into a trash bag when they are removed from the puppies. Consuming the placentas will cause the most mother dogs to experience diarrhea

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