Breeding, Puppy and Kitten Care, Vet Minute
Vet Minute: Puppy Weight Gain
May 27, 2021
Discover a simple formula that helps answer the question of how much weight should a puppy gain per day. Dr. Marty Greer, Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services offers tips on how to help a newborn puppy not gaining weight or what to do if a puppy is gaining too much weight.
How Much Weight Should Puppies Gain Each Day?
There is a really important bit of information here on newborn puppy weight gain. We use to say that puppies could lose up to 10% of their body weight in the first few days and still be safe. We now know that if they exceed more than 4% of their body weight it does puts them at increased risk. So we want to make sure that puppies don’t loose too much and start gaining pretty rapidly after birth. A typical puppy should gain 1 to 2 grams per day per pound of anticipated adult body weight using the parents body weight to calculate that. So a female may weigh more like what her mom weighs. A male puppy may weigh more like what dad weighs. So that gives you some sort of idea of what you should use as a calculation.
How to Weigh a Puppy
Some people weigh before the puppy eats. Some people like to weigh after the puppy eats. If you want to weigh both times you can make sure that the puppy has actually gotten in what they should have either during nursing or feeding with a bottle. So weighing twice at that time would work. It’s really important to use a digital scale with a stable platform on it so the puppy has a good solid weight. I recommend scales that measure both in grams and ounces. You’ll see smaller changes in grams than you will in ounces either on the upside or the downside. So a digital scale will really be helpful if you can toggle back and forth between grams and ounces.
Puppy Urine Color
You’ll also want to monitor the puppies urine color. That’s going to help us know both if the puppy is well hydrated and if it’s well fed. A dark colored urine tells us that the puppy is dehydrated. A light colored urine tells us that the puppy is getting adequate amounts of fluid. And I really emphasize that you record the weight, the rectal and the urine color of the puppies at least twice a day while you’re monitoring their early first few days.
Should I Worry if My Puppy is Underweight or Overweight?
An underweight puppy you want to make sure to increase their intake. You can bottle feed if the puppy is effectively nursing. If the puppy is not effectively nursing you can use tube feeding. Either way you can use the Breeder’s Edge Foster Care milk replacer formula as the formula to feed. And then giving mom, the mother of the puppies, the Breeder’s Edge Oxy Momma will also help to improve her lactation. Making sure she spends enough time in the box. Making sure she gets enough to eat and drink herself, those are all really important keys for good weight gain for your puppies. If a puppy is overweight you want to make sure that they are on good footing so we reduce any chances of orthopedic problems and you may need to limit the amount of time they are nursing either by limiting mom’s time in the box or by covering her with a t-shirt or some kind of a bathing suit so she can be with the puppies and show mothering behavior without actually feeding the puppies every time she is in the box.
If you have questions on an underweight puppy or need more help with how to put weight on a puppy, call a Revival Pet Care Pro at 800.786.4751.
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Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ 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. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.