A Puppy’s Life: The First 24 Hours

A new litter of puppies is one of the cutest things to witness. For those who have never seen a dog give birth or see a newborn puppy, the experience is magical.

But what do newborn puppies look like? How do they act? Let’s learn more about a puppy’s first 24 hours of life.

The First Day of Life

A puppy’s first day starts with their birth. The mother will hold her puppies for about 9 weeks total. During that time, her puppies are preparing to enter into the world. A few days before the puppies arrive, the mother will usually exhibit nesting behavior. They’ll look for a dark corner that is relatively quiet. Ideally, you should provide the mother with a clean cardboard box with a few towels or blankets so she can be comfortable.

Labor can take from 12 to 24 hours. It’s good for the mother that active labor only lasts about an hour or two. During active labor, the mother will usually birth a puppy then its placenta. Then she’ll birth another pup and its placenta. This continues until she’s birthed her whole litter.

A puppy’s weight at birth is entirely dependent on the breed of dog they are. Small breeds can weigh just a few ounces at birth, and the largest puppies can weigh up to a pound and a half. Each puppy in the litter should steadily gain weight over the next few days at about the same rate.

A Puppy’s First Experiences

When most people think of puppies, they imagine a happy pack of pups playing and falling over each other. That’s not quite what you get when a puppy is first born. Puppies are born with their ears and eyes closed. Their first sights won’t come until later, and they likely cannot hear much at all either. The only thing they’ll be doing is looking for mom. A newborn puppy needs to eat, so they too have a natural rooting response. They also cannot regulate their own body temperature, so they’ll be looking for their mom’s milk and warm belly.

Newborn puppies sleep about 22 hours a day, so they’re really not going to be experiencing much. They also cannot walk. They will try crawling around just a bit however they won’t move far from mother at all. When not sleeping, a newborn will be eating. They will eat from their mother’s teat about every 2 hours.

A Puppy’s First Night

A puppy’s first night will likely change depending on how hands-on their owner wants to be and how involved the mother will be. Most dogs are exhausted after giving birth. A pet parent’s job will be to make sure the needs of their dog are being met. After birth, the mother likely won’t want to leave her pups. The owner should take your new mom out to go potty and get some fresh air. Doing this also gives a chance for the new mom’s space to be cleaned. Puppies are fun, but they’re basically little babies. You can imagine the mess they can make, so their area should be cleaned as often as possible.

The first night with pups won’t really be a night. For a puppy’s first week or so, it’s a constant cycle of sleeping, eating, and going potty. If you’re taking care of a new mom, you can look forward to that. Just like a new human mom can look forward to not getting a good night rest, a new dog mom will get the same treatment. At least they can rely on their pet parents to make them comfortable and clean.

If you are a new pet parent to a new mom, here are some things you can do to help take care of her pups and make her comfortable:

  • Provide a warm and dim area. – Most new moms enjoy recovering in a bit of a darker area. It’s natural for a new mom to feel exposed. Putting her in a bright area can raise her stress. Warmth is important too because pups have a hard time controlling their body temperature.
  • Regularly massage and clean the new puppies when needed. – This is basically what a new mom would be doing anyway. She is going to feed her pups and make sure they are groomed. As long as the new mom gives you her blessing, you can try doing the same as well. This is also a great step in early socialization for a very young puppy.
  • Keep an eye on the mom. – A healthy mom is going to give her puppies everything they need for the first few weeks of life. As long as mom has her basic needs taken care of, you won’t really have to worry much about your new puppies.

The first day of life for a puppy is oddly not that exciting. They can’t walk, they can’t see or hear. There’s not very much for them to do. Seeing them snuggled up with their mother is a wonderful sight though.

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