It takes huge responsibility to raise a litter of puppies. While the mother shoulders most of this responsibility, there are things you can do to help her along. For starters, bringing in a comfortable and secure whelping box will keep the puppies contained, warm, and cozy.
Which brings me to the subject of helping puppies regulate and maintain their body temperatures. Did you know that puppies can’t regulate their own body temperature in their first few weeks after birth?
This becomes a problem if the mother doesn’t want to stay with her newborn puppies all day. So, you need to get a heat lamp for the puppies. But once you have it, how long do puppies need the heat lamp? Here’s a short answer followed by essential detail you should know.
How long do puppies need a heat lamp? Newborn puppies need a heat lamp up until they are about 7 weeks old. They are unable to maintain their own body temperature in the first two weeks after birth. They reach their adult body temperature by their fourth week.
But even at the age of 4 weeks they’re still not able to regulate their body temperature. By their seventh week, puppies are able to regulate their body temperature. A heat lamp can be used during this whole period if you wish.
Please note, this is my personal opinion, other people will tell you to remove the heat lamp earlier than this. But I want those puppies to be cozy and warm whilst they are young, even if I need to reduce the temperature as they get older.
Lower down the page I explain how and when you turn the heat lamp temperature down.
Why puppies need heat lamps
Most dams will stay with their newborn puppies all the time, using their body heat to keep the puppies warm. However, if your dog likes to be with you, she may choose to leave her puppies for longer periods. You’ll need to find ways of keeping the pups warm during these times and a heat lamp is useful.
So, in cases like this, puppies do need heat lamps.
Read on as I talk about puppies and their body temperatures, heat lamps and how to use them and when you can stop using them.
When can puppies regulate their own temperature?
Newborn puppies are born without the ability to manage their own body temperature. For the first 2 weeks of their lives, puppies aren’t able to maintain and regulate their own body temperatures.
Puppies reach their correct body temperature by the time they’re 4 weeks old but they’re still not able to regulate it efficiently. By the time they’re 7 weeks old, they’re more developed and able to regulate and adjust to external temperature influences.
The natural instinct of the dam is to stay close to her litter in the first couple of weeks. This is the time she’s feeding them and keeping them warm.
What is the purpose of a heat lamp?
Dog breeders help the dam along by providing a warm and safe environment for both her and the pups. Soft blankets can be used to keep the pups warm.
Keeping the room temperature constant will help to keep the puppies warm. It’s also essential to ensure there are no draughts.
A heat lamp plays a valuable role in helping puppies maintain and regulate their body temperatures.
Instead of monitoring the room temperature all the time, you can place a heat lamp over the whelping box or area where the puppies are being kept. By focusing the heat over one area you’re ensuring the puppies have constant and consistent heat until it’s time to leave the whelping box.
Using a heat lamp means you don’t have to bring in heaters or use an air conditioner to keep the room temperature at the right temperature. Plus, you’ll be saving on the electricity bill when using a heat lamp!
While Mother Nature has intended for your female dog to ensure her puppies are warm, well-fed, and thriving there will be times when you’ll have to step in and help. This is where appliances such as a heat lamp comes in handy.
How long do puppies need a heat lamp?
When mum is not around, you need to ensure the environmental temperature is keeping the puppies warm. For the first 4 days of the puppies’ life, the heat lamp can be kept so the external temperature is around 85 to 90 degrees F.
By the time the puppies are 7 to 10 days old, you can decrease the external temperature to approximately 80 degrees F.
When your puppies have reached their fourth week, you can bring the environmental temperature down to 72 degrees F.
By the time puppies have reached 7 weeks old, they should be able to regulate their own body temperatures and you can pack away the heat lamp.
At all times, you must still ensure the room is dry, free of any draughts, and well-ventilated.
When can I turn off the heat lamp?
You can ensure the puppies are getting enough warmth by staying with the dam, maintaining the room temperature, or using a heat lamp.
Installing an outdoor thermometer into the whelping box will also help you determine if the correct environmental temperature is being maintained.
But when is the right time to turn off the heat lamp permanently? You can estimate your puppies are ready to manage their own body temperatures at 7 weeks old. However, observing other indications will also tell you all is well with your pups.
The following signs will indicate if your puppies are able to regulate their own body temperature:
- When they start to sleep on their own without needing to snuggle up to their mother for extra warmth.
- If the puppies aren’t huddling up together, relying on each other get warmth.
- They’re calm and content. In other words, they’re not constantly crying for attention and trying to snuggle up with mom or their siblings.
- They’re gaining and maintaining a healthy weight expected at each milestone. You can check this by recording their weights at each stage of their lives.
Once you can see your puppies are independent, happy, and active, then you can safely turn off the heat lamp and pack away for your next litter.
What is a puppy’s ideal body temperature?
A newborn puppy’s body temperature should be between 95 to 99 degrees F. By the third week, the puppy’s temperature will be around 100 degrees F. By the time the puppies reach the fourth week, they’ll have reached the normal adult body temperature of 99.5 to 102.5 degrees F.
Another way to gauge if your puppy is regulating his own temperature is to take regular temperature checks with a thermometer from 7 weeks old.
This will help your puppy get used to being handled. Plus, having his temperature checked makes it easier for your vet to do the procedure whenever they visit for checkups.
When can puppies go into the yard?
If you’ve been keeping your puppies indoor throughout their first weeks of growing, you may be wondering when is the right time to let them outdoors into the yard?
A controlled environment is essential to help the puppies manage their body temperatures which is why keeping them in a whelping box indoors is essential.
But, once the puppies have reached 7 weeks old, they’re more than ready to be moved to a sheltered area in the backyard. At this age they’re regulating their body temperatures, they’re active, and you’re preparing them to be introduced to their new homes.
Make sure they still have a covered, warm spot to go to in the yard especially if it’s winter or the weather has turned wet. It’s also still a good idea to have a large pen to keep the puppies contained so you don’t have to stress about them wandering off too far.
Get ready for a whole lot of fun, but also stress. When your dog has puppies, you won’t be able to sleep due to the worry that they aren’t safe or warm. She will take them no doubt but being able to help just a little with a heat lamp, nesting, and more will make it so much easier for you.
It won’t be long before you can take the puppies from the whelping box and away from the heat lamp and have all that amazing time with them at this age.
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- Here’s when your puppy might stop peeing in the house
Image in header licensed via Storyblocks.com.