Why Are My Newborn Puppies Crying?


Becoming a dog parent or breeder is an exciting journey filled with many rewards and challenges. Among the most critical responsibilities is the care and attention needed for newborn puppies in a litter.

During the first few weeks of life, newborn puppies are particularly vulnerable and rely entirely on their mother and the caregiver for survival. One of the common concerns you may face is the sound of your newborn puppies crying. Their vocalizations are one of the few ways they can communicate their needs. It’s normal for newborn puppies to make noises, but persistent crying can indicate they’re uncomfortable, hungry, cold, or even sick.

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Why Are My Newborn Puppies Crying?

Newborn puppies cry for various reasons, including hunger, cold, sickness, isolation, and the need to eliminate. Newborn puppies cannot regulate their body temperature, so they need to be kept warm. They are constantly nursing, so it’s essential to monitor if they are getting an adequate supply of milk.

If you notice a puppy crying frequently and not gaining weight, it is a common indicator they are hungry. If crying persists for longer periods, it may indicate a health problem, and you should consult a veterinarian.

The Language of Newborn Puppies

Understanding the language of newborn puppies is crucial in providing appropriate care for the litter and ensuring their healthy development.

The Importance of Understanding Puppy Communication

Puppies communicate their needs and discomforts primarily through their vocalizations. Their cries can signify a range of needs, from hunger to feeling cold, and understanding these signals is paramount for any responsible caregiver.

This understanding allows you to respond quickly and appropriately to their needs, contributing to a safe and comfortable environment in which they can grow and develop.

Normal and Abnormal Vocalizations

Typically, healthy puppies will make soft whimpers and grunts while they’re nursing or snuggled up with their mother and littermates. These are normal sounds and part of their initial attempts at communicating.

However, if you notice that the crying is persistent, loud, or high-pitched, it could be an indication that the puppy is uncomfortable or in distress. This type of vocalization is considered abnormal and warrants immediate attention.

It could be a sign that the puppy is cold, as newborn puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature effectively. Alternatively, it could mean that the puppy is hungry, sick, or experiencing some other form of discomfort.

Therefore, it is essential to listen carefully to the sounds your puppies are making and learn to differentiate between normal and abnormal vocalizations. The sooner you can identify a potential issue, the quicker you can address it and ensure the well-being of your newborn puppies.

Common Reasons Why Newborn Puppies Cry

Understanding the reasons behind your newborn puppies’ crying can greatly help in addressing their needs promptly and effectively.

Hunger: A Common Reason for Puppy Crying

Hunger is one of the most common reasons newborn puppies cry. It’s critical to ensure they’re properly fed, and their weight is monitored regularly to ensure healthy growth.

Regular feeding and weight monitoring

Regular feeding is key for a puppy’s growth and development. It’s crucial to monitor each puppy’s weight using a scale to ensure they are gaining weight at a healthy rate. Puppies that are not gaining weight may not be getting enough milk and may cry out of hunger.

The Importance of Colostrum in Mother’s Milk

Mother’s milk is rich in colostrum during the first few days after birth. Colostrum contains vital antibodies that help puppies ward off diseases in the early weeks of their lives. This makes nursing from the mother especially important.

Using puppy formula when necessary

In situations where the mother dog has a low milk supply or is unable to nurse, a high-quality puppy formula can be used. Bottle feeding should be done carefully to ensure that puppies do not inhale the formula. If unsure, a veterinarian consultation is recommended.

Lack of Warmth: Puppies’ Sensitivity to Cold

Newborn puppies are sensitive to cold temperatures as they cannot regulate their body temperature for the first few weeks. It’s important to keep their environment warm to prevent discomfort and potential health issues.

Puppies’ inability to regulate body temperature

Unlike adult dogs, newborn puppies cannot regulate their body temperature effectively. This makes them extremely sensitive to cold and can lead to hypothermia if not properly managed.

The importance of a warm environment and the role of a heating lamp

To keep the puppies warm, a comfortable nest temperature should be maintained, typically by using a heat lamp. This can help mimic the warmth they would naturally receive from their mother and littermates.

Discomfort: The Struggles of Growing and Developing

Growing and developing come with their unique challenges that can cause discomfort to the puppies.

Eliminating as a source of discomfort

Newborn puppies need help to eliminate. A mother dog usually stimulates her puppies to urinate and defecate by licking them. If the mother is absent or unresponsive, this responsibility falls to the caregiver.

Using a washcloth to stimulate bowel movement

A caregiver can use a warm, damp wash cloth to gently massage the puppy’s abdomen and anal area to stimulate a bowel movement. This process should be done with utmost care to avoid causing any injury.

Tummy troubles and potential health issues

Puppies can experience bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, all of which can cause considerable discomfort and lead to crying. Persistent issues may indicate a health problem and require a vet’s attention.

Health Issues: When to Seek Veterinary Consultation

If a puppy’s crying is accompanied by other signs of distress, it may be dealing with a health issue that requires medical attention.

Signs of hypoglycemia and hypothermia in puppies

Puppies suffering from hypoglycemia or hypothermia may exhibit symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, and excessive crying. If you suspect either of these conditions, it is important to consult a veterinarian promptly.

Issues with the mother’s milk production and the threat of Mastitis

Problems with the mother’s milk production can leave puppies hungry and lead to crying. In some cases, the mother may develop Mastitis, a painful bacterial infection in the mammary glands which can reduce or halt milk production.

Recognizing symptoms of sickness: lethargy, pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea

Other signs of sickness in puppies include lethargy, pale gums, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your puppy exhibits any of these symptoms, seek immediate veterinary attention.

When to seek medical attention: physical injuries and breathing difficulty

Physical injuries and difficulty breathing are serious issues that require immediate veterinary attention. Regularly monitor your puppies for any signs of distress or unusual behavior. Remember, early detection and treatment can save a puppy’s life.

The Caregiver’s Responsibility: Ensuring Your Puppies’ Comfort and Health

Taking care of newborn puppies extends beyond addressing their immediate needs. As a dog parent or breeder, you also bear the responsibility of ensuring they are comfortable and safe in their environment, and their health is continuously monitored.

Creating a Safe and Comfortable Environment for Puppies

An environment conducive to the healthy growth and development of puppies is warm, clean, and free from hazards.

The right nest temperature and the role of a heat lamp

Maintaining a suitable nest temperature is crucial in the early weeks of a puppy’s life. Heat lamps play an essential role in ensuring puppies stay warm in the absence of their mother. The temperature should be closely monitored and adjusted as needed to prevent overheating or hypothermia.

Ensuring cleanliness to prevent bacterial infections

Cleanliness is another critical aspect of creating a safe environment for puppies. Regular cleaning of the puppies’ living area can help prevent bacterial infections. Additionally, always wash your hands before handling the puppies to avoid the spread of disease.

Feeding Schedule and Bottle Feeding

Feeding newborn puppies requires careful planning and execution, whether the puppies are nursing from their mother or being bottle-fed.

Determining a Feeding Schedule for Nursing Mothers and Bottle Feed

Nursing mothers typically feed their puppies several times a day. However, if the puppies are being bottle-fed, a feeding schedule should be established based on the puppies’ age and weight. In the first week, for example, puppies may need to be fed every 2-3 hours.

Teat Suckling and The Role of Puppy Teats

Puppy teats mimic the mother’s nipples, allowing the puppy to suckle comfortably and promoting healthy feeding habits. If puppies are bottle-fed, it’s essential to ensure the puppy teats are of good quality and appropriately sized for the puppies.

Formula consultation for proper nutrition

In cases where bottle feeding is necessary, it’s critical to use a specially designed puppy formula that meets all the nutritional needs of a growing puppy. If in doubt, consult with a veterinarian to ensure the chosen formula is suitable for your puppies.

Health Monitoring and Early Detection of Illnesses

Early detection of health issues is key to ensuring puppies grow into healthy dogs. This requires vigilant monitoring of their physical state and behavior.

Regular teat inspections and watching out for abnormal color, discharge, and swelling

In nursing mothers, regular teat inspection is important to detect any signs of Mastitis or other infections. Warning signs include abnormal color, discharge, and swelling of the teats.

Keeping an eye on the puppies’ physical state: Bruising, breathing difficulty

Monitoring the puppies is also crucial. Signs like bruising, difficulty in breathing, lethargy, or excessive crying could be indicators of health issues. If any such symptoms are noticed, seeking immediate veterinary attention is advised.

What Toys Can Help Soothe Crying Newborn Puppies?

Finding the best dog toys to soothe crying newborn puppies can greatly help in keeping them calm and content. Soft plush toys, specifically designed for puppies, can provide comfort and act as a surrogate mother, mimicking their littermates. Interactive toys with soothing sounds or heartbeat rhythms can also help replicate a familiar environment, reducing their anxiety and promoting sleep.


Caring for newborn puppies is a complex but rewarding task, requiring vigilance, dedication, and a deep understanding of their needs. It’s crucial to recognize the normal behaviors and signals of distress in your puppies and react promptly to any abnormalities.

By ensuring a warm, clean environment, adhering to feeding schedules, monitoring health, and seeking veterinary consultation when necessary, you can contribute significantly to the healthy development of your puppies. Remember, a well-prepared caregiver leads to a healthy, happy litter.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if a newborn puppy is properly hydrated?

A simple test for checking puppy hydration is the skin elasticity test. Gently pinch the skin on the back of the puppy’s neck and let go. If the skin quickly returns to its normal position, the puppy is well-hydrated. If the skin holds the ‘pinched’ shape or returns to normal slowly, the puppy may be dehydrated.

Should I separate the puppies from their mother at any point?

In general, it’s best to keep newborn puppies with their mother as much as possible for the first few weeks of life. The mother dog provides necessary warmth, nourishment, and stimulation. However, if the mother is aggressive or neglectful, or if she or a puppy is ill, you might need to intervene and separate them temporarily. Always consult a veterinarian in such situations.

What are some signs that a puppy is not gaining enough weight?

Puppies should gain weight steadily every day. If you notice a puppy is not gaining or is losing weight, seems lethargic, less active, or has a lower body temperature compared to its siblings, it might be a sign that it’s not getting enough nutrition. If the puppy’s coat is dull or it appears thinner than its littermates, these could also be signs of inadequate weight gain. Always consult with a veterinarian if you’re concerned about a puppy’s growth or development.

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