Let's Talk Temperature

Managing and Monitoring Temperature for Your Puppies

We all know that temperature gets discussed with whelping and puppies a lot. Temperature drops in your bitch prior to whelping, keep the puppies at the "right" temperature, does your puppy have a fever....

Let's take an opportunity to discuss rectal body temperature and room temperature for your puppies first 2 months.

Why is My Newborn Puppy So Cold?

Something we have to really be attentive to is hypothermia, or low body temperature. During the process of drying off the puppies, whether we do it with a towel or whether Mom does it with her tongue, we need to make sure that they’re dried off effectively and that we prevent them from chillin-. But if they do become chilled, then we need to support that chilled puppy. It’s important that we warm them, but we need to warm them appropriately, not too quickly and not too harshly, so that they are coming up to a normal body temperature and we have good support for them.

A surface temperature where I keep my puppies (and what I recommend for puppies during their first week) should be about 29.5-32 degrees at the surface with room temperature being about 24-26.5. The important thing is that if you’re not certain, if you don’t have temperature evaluation, you’re not going to know. So you need thermometers. You need a thermometer at the surface where the puppies are kept and a room thermometer. Monitoring their rectal temperature is very simply done with a rectal thermometer and a tube of lubricant. And even a regular rectal thermometer that’s made for humans is small enough to fit in the tiniest two ounce puppy. So please don’t hesitate to take puppies’ temperature and to get an assessment of where you’re going with that.

We know that the body temperature is going to drop somewhat after birth simply because they’re not inside Mom. They’re not going to be at that 38.3to 39.2 degree temperature that her core temperature has been keeping them at. So we do expect a small drop, but with support, we should only see a small drop. In inadequate levels of support, we’re going to see too much of a drop and we’re going to see these puppies start to chill. I don’t want to warm them too quickly or too harshly. We want to gently warm them to an appropriate level. Get your thermometers out, know what your room temperature is, what your environmental temperature is, and know what your puppies’ rectal temperatures are. Those are very simple parameters to measure and they’re really critical in keeping puppies safe and warm.

How to Manage the Temperature in the Puppies Environment

When you’re ready to set up the whelping box place clean washable pads, whelping box pads or vet bed in the box and set it up well away from drafts like air conditioning vents, windows and doors.

Position the box half-on half-off a heating pad (rather than placing the heating inside the box.) This way the puppy can crawl off the heat source should the pad grow too hot. Cover the floor with a towel, blanket or puppy pads. If you must put the heating pad inside, make sure the puppy can’t come in direct contact with it. If he’s open-mouth panting, the box is too warm.

A litter of puppies can help you gauge their comfort level easier than a solo pup. Cold puppies will cry and they’ll collect in a pile to help keep each other warm. Hot dogs will separate and sleep apart.

I really like to use the Mini LCD Thermometer

to monitor the surface temperature in the whelping box. You can place on the bedding or on the side of the whelping box.

When monitoring the ambient/room temperature you will need a Digital Room Thermometer

Having the right tools to monitor the puppies environment makes it less likely to encounter a chilled puppy.

What to Do if a Puppy is Chilled

Despite our instinct to want to immediately feed a puppy in trouble, warmth is far more critical than food. Cold puppies can’t nurse or digest food when their rectal body temperature is below 34.5 degrees Celsius.

Their heart rates drop, and the circulatory and respiratory systems collapse. They don’t last long.

But you don’t want to warm a cold puppy too quickly because that, too, can be fatal. You have to find that happy medium between having a chilly dog and a hot dog. The safest way to warm him is old school—using your own body heat. Don’t rush it; warming him too quickly could send him into shock. Hopefully, in a couple of hours you should feel him wiggling and moving around. Take his Rectal temperature to ensure he is back up over 34.5 degrees And Then it’s safe to prepare the bottle.

There are many ways to keep your whelping box warm. We can discuss those in future post.

If you have more questions on managing and monitoring your puppies temperature and environment call The Breeders Cupboard Team @ 587-988-2406

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