Helping Puppies Stay Warm and Cozy
Raising a litter of puppies requires immense responsibility, and while the mother dog takes on most of the task, there are ways you can lend a hand. One such way is by providing a comfortable and secure whelping box where the puppies can be contained, warm, and snug.
The Importance of Regulating Body Temperature
Did you know that newborn puppies are unable to regulate their own body temperature during the first few weeks after birth? This poses a problem if the mother dog doesn’t want to stay with her puppies all day. In such cases, a heat lamp becomes essential. But have you ever wondered for how long puppies need the heat lamp? Let’s delve into this journey together.
How long do newborn puppies need a heat lamp?
Newborn puppies need a heat lamp until they are approximately 7 weeks old. During the first two weeks after birth, they are incapable of maintaining their body temperature. It takes them around four weeks to reach their adult body temperature. However, even at four weeks old, they still struggle to regulate their body temperature efficiently. It is only by their seventh week that puppies can effectively adjust to external temperature influences. If you wish, you can continue using the heat lamp throughout this entire period.
Please note that this advice is based on my personal opinion. Others may suggest removing the heat lamp earlier, but I believe in keeping the puppies cozy and warm, even as they grow older, by gradually reducing the temperature.
For detailed instructions on adjusting the heat lamp temperature, please continue reading further.
Why Puppies Require Heat Lamps
Most mother dogs stay with their newborn puppies at all times, using their body heat to keep the puppies warm. However, if your dog prefers to be with you, she may occasionally leave the puppies for extended periods. During these times, it becomes necessary to find alternative methods to keep the pups warm, and that’s where heat lamps come in handy.
Read on as we explore the topic of puppies, their body temperatures, heat lamps, their usage, and when it is appropriate to stop using them.
When can puppies regulate their own temperature?
Newborn puppies lack the ability to manage their own body temperature. It takes them about two weeks to develop this capability. However, even when they reach four weeks old, they still struggle to efficiently regulate their body temperature. It is only around their seventh week that puppies become fully developed and capable of adjusting to external temperature changes. During the first few weeks, the mother dog’s natural instinct is to stay close to her litter, providing them with food and warmth.
The Role of Heat Lamps
As dog breeders, it is our responsibility to create a warm and safe environment for the mother dog and her puppies. Soft blankets and a constant room temperature will help keep the puppies warm. To achieve this, we can use a heat lamp. By focusing the heat over one area, typically the whelping box or the area where the puppies are kept, a heat lamp ensures a consistent source of warmth until the time comes for the puppies to leave the whelping box.
One of the advantages of using a heat lamp is that you don’t have to constantly monitor the room temperature or spend money on heaters or air conditioners. It’s an efficient and cost-effective way to ensure the puppies remain cozy. However, it is important to note that while mother dogs are naturally equipped to keep their puppies warm, there may be times when we, as caregivers, need to step in and provide extra assistance. This is where appliances like heat lamps come in handy.
How long do puppies need a heat lamp?
When the mother dog is not around, it is crucial to maintain an appropriate environmental temperature to keep the puppies warm. During the first four days of their lives, the heat lamp can be set to maintain an external temperature of around 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. As the puppies grow, we can gradually decrease the temperature to approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit by the time they are 7 to 10 days old. By the fourth week, the environmental temperature can be further reduced to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the puppies reach 7 weeks old, they should be capable of regulating their own body temperature, and the heat lamp can be put away.
However, it is essential to ensure that the room remains dry, free from draughts, and adequately ventilated at all times.
When can the heat lamp be turned off permanently?
To ensure the puppies receive enough warmth, you can choose to stay with the mother dog, maintain a suitable room temperature, or use a heat lamp. Installing an outdoor thermometer in the whelping box can help you monitor the environmental temperature more accurately. But when is the right time to turn off the heat lamp permanently? While puppies should be ready to manage their own body temperatures by 7 weeks old, there are other signs to look for:
- Puppies start sleeping on their own without needing to snuggle up to their mother.
- The puppies no longer huddle together for warmth.
- They appear calm and content, without constantly crying for attention or seeking warmth from their mother or littermates.
- The puppies gain and maintain a healthy weight at each milestone. It is advisable to record their weights at each stage of their lives.
Once you observe these signs and see your puppies thriving with independence, happiness, and activity, you can safely turn off the heat lamp and keep it stored away until the arrival of your next litter.
Ideal Body Temperature for Puppies
A newborn puppy’s body temperature should be between 95 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. By the third week, their temperature rises to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Once they reach the fourth week, their body temperature stabilizes within the normal adult range of 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. To get your puppy accustomed to being handled, it is beneficial to periodically use a thermometer to check their temperature from 7 weeks old onwards. This also facilitates veterinary checkups, as your puppy will already be familiar with the procedure.
When can puppies go outside?
If you have been keeping your puppies indoors during their early weeks, you might be wondering when it is appropriate to introduce them to the yard. It is crucial to maintain a controlled environment to help manage their body temperatures, which is why confining them to a whelping box indoors is fundamental. However, once the puppies reach 7 weeks old, they are ready to be moved to a sheltered area in the backyard. At this age, they are capable of regulating their own body temperatures and are active, preparing for their new homes. It is still advisable to provide them with a covered and warm spot in the yard, particularly during winter or adverse weather conditions. Additionally, having a large pen will prevent them from wandering too far.
Get ready for an exciting but sometimes stressful experience when your dog has puppies. The worry of their safety and warmth might keep you up at night. While the mother dog’s care is vital, your assistance with a heat lamp, proper nesting, and other measures will make the journey easier for both of you. Soon enough, you will be able to take the puppies away from the heat lamp and enjoy precious moments with them.