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How Long Can Newborn Puppies Go Without Nursing?



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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A lot of things can go wrong when caring for newborn puppies.

The mother dog’s instinct will kick in and she will take over the lead.

However, sometimes dogs can go into shock after giving birth because the situation is overwhelming.

This is when the pet parents need to step in and assist the mother dog.

One important piece of information that everyone should know is how long can newborn puppies go without nursing.

How Long Can Newborn Puppies Go Without Nursing?

How Long Can Newborn Puppies Go Without Nursing

Newborn puppies can usually go no longer than 3-4 hours without nursing. However, they should be nursed at least 8-12 times per day in order to ensure that they receive the necessary nutrition and hydration for proper development.

During the first two weeks of life, a puppy will need round-the-clock care and attention.

If a puppy is not able to nurse regularly during this time period, it may become dehydrated or suffer from malnutrition.

It’s important to contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your puppy’s health or nutrition.

They will be able to advise you on how frequently your puppy should be fed and the best type of food for them.

Additionally, regular checkups with your vet are essential for monitoring the overall health of your puppy.

In addition to regular nursing, puppies also need to be kept warm and dry in order to ensure proper growth and development.

A heated surface or a “nest” with blankets and towels can provide the warmth that newborn puppies need. Additionally, it’s important to keep their bedding clean by changing it regularly.

By providing all the necessary love, care, and nutrition, you can help your puppy grow into a healthy, happy adult dog!

(Related: Why Is Milk Coming Out Of Puppy’s Nose When Nursing? (Answered!)

How Long Can Newborn Puppies Go Without Nursing

How Soon Should Puppies Latch On After Birth

Ideally, puppies should begin latching onto their mother’s nipples within two to eight hours after they are born. This helps ensure that the puppies get the nutrition they need to survive and grow.

Mother dogs typically help encourage their puppies to latch on by licking them vigorously when it’s time for them to eat.

If a pup does not spontaneously start nursing at this stage, it is important that a veterinarian is consulted as soon as possible. This can be an indication of medical concerns.

In some cases, tube or bottle feeding may be necessary until the puppy figures out how to nurse properly from its mother.

It is also important that the pups receive colostrum from their mother in order for them to develop their immune systems properly.

Colostrum is the first milk produced after birth and contains antibodies that will help protect the puppies from illnesses.

This is especially important since puppies do not receive vaccinations until they are a few weeks old.

It is also important to make sure there are enough nipples available for all of the puppies in a litter to feed.

If more than one pup is trying to nurse from the same nipple, it can create competition among them and some may not get enough to eat.

Generally, adult female dogs have 8 teats (or nipples) so if a litter consists of more than 8 pups, multiple nursing sessions may need to be arranged for all of the puppies to get their share.

It is vital for puppies’ health that they begin nursing within the first hour or two after they are born.

After this critical window, it can become increasingly difficult for them to latch on and begin nursing.

(Related: How Often Should Newborn Puppies Nurse?)

How Long Can Newborn Puppies Go Without Their Mom

Newborn puppies can go no more than three hours without their mom. They depend on their mom to feed them and to keep them warm since they can’t regulate their body temperature.

Newborn puppies are fragile and cannot survive on their own. They rely entirely on their mother for warmth, nutrition, and protection.

Without her, they would be vulnerable to disease and likely die within hours. Therefore, it is essential that they remain with their mothers until at least 8 weeks of age.

During the first two weeks of life, a puppy’s needs are so great that he may not even be able to go without his mother for more than a few hours.

After this time, puppies become increasingly independent and can go without their mother for longer periods of time.

However, it is important to note that the amount of time a puppy can go without its mom should still be limited. Preferably, no more than 24 hours at a time.

During this period, the pup needs to be fed and kept warm by an appropriate substitute. If puppies are not given enough attention, they can become depressed and develop behavioral problems later in life.

Taking proper care of newborn puppies is essential for their development and health. For this reason, it is important that they remain with their mothers for as long as possible.

(See also: How Cold Is Too Cold For Newborn Puppies)

Newborn Puppies In Their First 24 Hours

Newborn puppies, in their first 24 hours of life, require a great deal of special care. Firstly, the mother should be kept as comfortable and stress-free as possible. She will naturally know how to take care of her little ones.

During this time, it’s important to monitor the puppies for signs of health problems. These include breathing difficulties, lethargy, or poor coordination. If any issues arise consult your vet right away.

It is important that you provide adequate warmth for the newborns by using an incubator or heating pad set at around 85°F (29°C).

Make sure these areas remain clean and free from drafts. Puppies must suckle frequently during this period to ensure they get enough nutrition and hydration. This is key to their survival.

If the mother is unable to provide enough milk for her litter, you may need to supplement with puppy formula.

You should also check on the puppies every couple of hours throughout the day and at least once during the night.

This will give you a chance to make sure they remain warm and dry. Also, you will have time to observe any signs of distress or illness.

In their first 24 hours puppies will have slightly increased appetite but decreased activity levels compared to later life stages.

This is perfectly normal!

During this time it’s important that you keep stressful situations at bay such as:

  • Loud noise
  • Sudden movements
  • Over-handling by young children

Make sure the puppies have a safe and comfortable place to rest and that you provide a quiet, peaceful environment.

How Long Can Newborn Puppies Go Without Nursing

How Long Can a Puppy Go Overnight Without Eating?

Newborn puppies can’t go more than three hours overnight without eating. They need to be breastfed by their mom, or bottle-fed by the pet parent.

Generally speaking, puppies between six and twelve weeks old should not go more than four to five hours without eating. This is due to their small size and rapidly growing bodies.

However, puppies over three months old can usually go up to eight hours without food. Though, it is always best to provide regular meals at least every six hours.

If you are going out of town overnight or will be unable to feed your puppy for an extended period of time, make sure they have access to plenty of fresh water during that time.

Additionally, if you know in advance that you won’t be able to feed your pup regularly while away, consider providing them with a larger meal just before leaving so they will have enough energy to last until your return.

Ask your veterinarian for more information and advice specific to your pet.

It’s important to remember that pups should not go more than twelve hours without food in any circumstance.

Doing so can lead to:

  • Digestive problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration

If you are ever uncertain about how long a puppy can go without eating, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian before leaving them alone for prolonged periods of time.

They will be able to provide personalized advice on how much and often your puppy should eat depending on their age and size.

How Long Can Newborn Puppies Go Without Nursing

What Can I Feed Newborn Puppies?

If the mother dog is out of the picture, you can feed your newborn puppies with Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) and Puppy Formula.


KMR is typically found in most pet stores. It should be mixed with warm water before giving it to the puppies.

It’s important to measure accurately and not give too much or too little as this can cause digestive issues for newborn puppies.

KMR is also fortified with essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are necessary for a puppy’s growth and development.

If you’re not comfortable using KMR for your puppies, there are powdered formulas available that are easier to mix than the liquid form.

Additionally, KMR can also be given directly from a syringe for the first few days of feeding if needed.

Always make sure to follow the instructions on the package carefully when mixing KMR or any other formula for newborn puppies.

It’s also a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before making any dietary changes for the puppies.

Puppy formula

Puppy formula is a great alternative to KMR, as it contains the same essential nutrients and minerals found in the mother’s milk.

It should be mixed with warm water prior to feeding the puppies, using an appropriate-sized bottle or syringe.

Puppy formula can also be given directly from the syringe to newborn puppies if needed.

Similar to KMR, always make sure to follow instructions on the package carefully when mixing puppy formula for your puppies.

Consult with your veterinarian before making any dietary changes.

Additionally, it’s important not to overfeed puppies since this can lead to digestive issues. Feeding too much puppy formula at one time can cause abdominal distention and vomiting in young puppies.

How Long Can Newborn Puppies Go Without Nursing

Possible Newborn Puppy Feeding Problems

  • Overfeeding: It is easy to overfeed newborn puppies since they are so small. But, overfeeding can be dangerous for the pup and lead to obesity later in life. Make sure you are only providing a measured amount at each feeding and not giving too much food.
  • Inadequate Nutrition: Puppies need a lot of nutrition to help them grow healthy and strong. If their diet does not contain all of the necessary vitamins and minerals, their development could be compromised. It’s important to provide the right puppy food with plenty of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for optimal growth.
  • Unsanitary Feeding Practices: As with any pet food bowl, a puppy’s food dish should be cleaned regularly. This way you can avoid the spread of bacteria and other germs. Always use fresh water and change it daily to ensure that your pup is drinking safe, clean water.
  • Allergies: Puppies can experience food allergies just like humans do. If you notice any signs of digestive upset or skin irritation after changing their diet, consult with your vet to determine which ingredients they are allergic to and find an appropriate substitute.
  • Too Much Milk: While milk can provide extra nutrition for puppies, too much milk can lead to diarrhea and dehydration. Limit the amount of milk you give to newborn puppies, as this will help prevent these issues from occurring.
  • Intestinal Parasites: Internal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and giardia can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and other digestive issues in newborn puppies. A vet should check your pup for parasites at least twice during their first few weeks of life to ensure they remain healthy and free from intestinal worms.
  • Refusal To Eat: If a puppy refuses to eat or appears lethargic after meals, it may indicate that something is wrong with the type of food you are providing. Make sure you are giving them a nutritious formula specifically designed for puppies. Talk to your vet if you suspect any health issues.

In Conclusion

When caring for a litter of newborn puppies, make sure that they eat every three hours.

Feeding newborn puppies on time is essential in their first weeks of life.

So, make sure that they are getting enough food so that they can grow.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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