Puppy Neo Natal Care

We are passionate about the Bulldog.  To continue our philosophy, this page is for the ‘first time’ or ‘one time litter’ breeders to ensure their new bully babies have a great head start in life.  This information is in conjunction with our trusted friend and vet nurse Kayla, who has experience in small animal neo-natal care.

Note:  The bully girl often doesn’t naturally whelp her puppies.  She may either absorb the pain (being a stoic dog) therefore she won’t naturally contract or can often ‘go to sleep’ and not progress her labour ( Overseas breeders can often have access to Oxytocin to help induce a contraction in a dog, however this drug is not available to New Zealand breeders and is only administered by vets).  Bulldog girls often go into labour between day 59 – 63 (63 days is full term).  You can take her temperature 2-3 days before her due date morning and night.  38degrees is the norm.  If the temperature drops 1 degree or more, re-check at lunch.  If it is still down 1 degree she is in labour and it is safe to engage your vet for a caesarean.

If you are still uncertain when your girl is due to have her puppies, a blood test to check progesterone is your next best check.  If her point is 5 she has up to 2 days until the pups are due, if her points are 2, she is ready to have her pups now.

Puppy Neo Natal Care


·        If you are worried about a puppy, taking a temperature (temp) is a good first step (if a puppy is too cold you shouldn’t feed it).

 ·        The normal temp of the puppies in their first week is 32c – 36.6c, the temp gets higher as the puppy gets older.

 ·        If the thermometer reads ‘Low’, then the puppy needs to be warmed up slowly over an hour – it can be dangerous to warm the puppy too quickly.  Warm them up by having them covered over and on a freshly warmed wheat bag.

 ·        If the temp is above 36.6, first check the environment isn’t to warm.  You can also check another puppy’s temp for a comparison.  Try moving the puppy to the other end of the box where the heat pad has ended.

 ·        After 30mins, re-check the temp.  If it is still high it could be caused by three different things: Infection, Inflammation or Pain.  If it has reduced back to normal – yay!

 ·        If the temp is still high – contact your vet immediately – advising the steps you have taken.


 §  The best way to tell if a puppy is dehydrated is to look at the colour of it’s’ urine (on a tissue).  It should be pale yellow (almost clear). 

 §  Another way to you can tell if a puppy is dehydrated is their mouth will feel dry and tacky, instead of wet and slippery.

 §  You may have previously used a pinch test of the skin; however research shows this is not a clear indicator in puppies (however this test is still relevant for adult dogs).

 §  If the puppy is feeding well, then take note of its faeces – if they are runny that will be causing them to be dehydrated. 

 §  If the puppy isn’t feeding well, contact your vet.

 §  If the puppies’ faeces are green, bright yellow bloody etc. – contact your vet.


 Ø  We weigh our puppies on their first day as a starting point AND the same time every day at the same stage (before feeding / before toileting) for the first 2 weeks.

 Ø  Mum dog will have milk when the pups are born.  Her milk supply increases hugely after 3-4 days.  The more the pups feed (demand) the quicker she will come into milk.

 Ø  Consult your vet for concerns about milk fever or breathing abnormalities (high breath rate or increased noise).

 Ø  The pups should gain 5-10% of bodyweight/day in the first few weeks (they may lose weight the first 2-3 days depending on mums’ milk volume.  E.g. a 250g pup should put on 12.5-25g over 24 hours.

 Ø  If you are uncertain if the mum has enough milk for her pups, toilet the pups (stimulate their pee area with a wet flannel) and weigh before a feed.  Let them feed and then weight after the feed.  If they have put on 2-3 grams, this may not be enough for them sustain their growth demands and you may need to top them up with formula.

We have had a pup develop a chest infection at day 7, her temp was 39c.  We checked all the steps above, took her to the vets and was administered antibiotics.  I weighed her before and after each feed for the first 4 hours at home.  As she was fighting an infection and her natural demand for growth as a new born pup, her weight wasn’t increasing.  I doubled her feeding sessions with her mum i.e. feeding her every hour for 3 days.  I made certain she got the best teat (second in from the back leg).  She survived to be a healthy normal pup.


 v  If you notice any colour change, note how long the puppy takes to return to a normal colour and if any event triggered the colour changes e.g. being handled, suckling, getting cold or after feeding.  If you need to take the pup to the vet, this information is very helpful to them. “Pink is good” the puppies lips, stomach and paws should be very bright pink for the first 5-7 days. Grey is bad especially the tummy area it means either the organs are shutting down or the puppy is simply to cold.


If you notice any of the puppies are breathing quickly while resting liaise with your vet (over 40 breaths/minute).

Hacking, gasping, and non-natural breathing consult help immediately.

Heart rate:

For interests sake a puppy’s heart beats very quickly at about 200bpm.


Check the umbilical wounds, if they are looking red and inflamed apply iodine tincture twice daily until the area is looking dried up. (Available at your chemist or obtain from your vets).

Keeping Puppies clean:

Puppies can have a sticky pooh that can clog the exit area.  A warm flannel does an ok job.  The best solution is always mothers’ saliva.  Help your mum by holding the pups rear end to her, she will naturally toilet the pups, clean the area and remove any debris.  She will clean the pups all over, this area needs to be ensured is cleared.

Recommended guidelines for new born pups formula feeding calculation:

Formula feeding calculation:

Body weight in grams x .22 = ml to feed per day (24 hours) divide by 10 feeds.

5.5ml 2 hourly maximum


We had 7 years of trouble free litters.  Then we had 2 litters where we had a few curve balls, we didn’t have the knowledge to pick up issues quickly or how to treat.  With our good friend Kayla we are able to identify if a puppy is struggling and how to care for them (monitoring and double feeds is a great start).  The above information is good tips to assist anyone with a litter of pups.  Enjoy your animal husbandry; it is more than rewarding when it goes well.