Newborn Care Tips, Puppy and Kitten Care, Vet Minute
Vet Minute: Newborn Puppy Crying
August 11, 2022
Vet Minute: Newborn Puppy Crying
Last updated: April 5, 2022
What could newborn puppy crying mean, and what should you do? In this Vet Minute, Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, talks about puppy crying, what you can do, and when it’s time to involve your veterinarian.
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Shelley: What could it mean and what should you do if a newborn puppy is crying? Dr. Marty Greer Revival’s, director of veterinary services, is talking today about what to do if a newborn puppy keeps crying. First, let’s talk about what the crying could mean.
Dr. Greer: Well, just like with a kid, crying means for some reason they’re unhappy. They could be too hot. They could be too cold. They could be hungry. The surface could be wet.
There’s a lot of reasons that puppies are going to be upset. So, we want to start off with some troubleshooting.
Shelley: Now, sometimes the newborn puppy is crying after eating or while feeding. What could that indicate?
Dr. Greer: Well, before you feed, the first thing you have to do is take their temperature. Rectal temperature on a puppy should be between 96 and 99 degrees to make sure that they’re not too hot or too cold. If they’re too cold and you feed them anyway, the food is going to bubble up in their stomach and not be digested and they’re going to aspirate. So first and foremost, take their temperature, make sure they’re warm enough. Then you can address feeding
Shelley: What should you do if a puppy is crying? At what point do you need to take it to the veterinarian versus just help him out?
Dr. Greer: First, you take their temperature, then you feed. If they’re still crying, then you have to figure out, do they have to have a stool? So, you can stimulate them with a cotton ball to see if they need to urinate or have a stool. Next, you can see, do they seem gassy, do their abdomens seem distended? If that’s the case, then you can use some Simethicone drops.
So, there’s lots of things you can do at home first. After you’ve exhausted all those possibilities. it’s dry, it’s clean, it’s gone potty, it’s been fed, or it won’t eat. So maybe you’ve tube fed or bottle fed and you’re still having a fussy puppy. Then at that point, yes, you should contact your veterinarian and see what other additional help they can give you.
Shelley: So how much crying is normal and what should be expected if the newborn puppy isn’t crying? Is that concerning as well?
Dr. Greer: Now a really sick puppy may not cry because it’s so weak and so sick that it’s not doing anything, but typically those puppies are going to be cool when you take their temperature. It’s below 96 they’re going to be limp. They’re just going to be weak, sick puppies. That’s reason for concern. The other reason for concern is if a puppy cries more than 10% of the time or if it’s not staying grouped with the other littermates. So, a lot of people think that a female will push a puppy away when that puppy isn’t well. I think more likely the puppies swarm and stay as a group when they’re healthy and normal, and the puppy that isn’t well may be the one that gets left behind. So, I would be looking really hard at the puppy that’s off to the side by itself and doesn’t seem to be with the group of puppies swarming. When mom is moving, the puppies are going to be moving as well. So, they should be seeking out mom. They should be doing a rooting and reflex, trying to find mom, and trying to nurse. Puppies should nurse about 90% of the time, sleep the rest and then cry less than 10% of the time.
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 35+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019.