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.
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.
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.
The ideal ambient temperature for puppies
The ideal ambient temperature for newborn puppies is 85-90°F (29-32°C). After seven to ten days, this can be reduced to 80°F (26.7°C). Finally, 72°F (22.2°C) after about four weeks or so. At six weeks, puppies should be able to regulate their own body temperatures.
If the puppies are in a very cold environment, you may want to keep the heat lamp on.
What size heat lamp should you use for puppies?
The most popular heat lamps for puppies are 60-watts, 100-watts, and 150-watts. A 60-watt bulb can reach temperatures of 200°F (93°C) against its own surface, with the heat dispersing rapidly the further away you move from the bulb.
The distance between the puppies and the lamp also depends on the ambient temperature and whether the area is enclosed.
The lamp’s ideal size (or power) depends entirely on the size of the area you want to heat and the ambient temperature. In other words, if your puppies are indoors in a relatively temperature-controlled environment, then a 60-watt bulb may be more than enough.
If your puppies are in a more open area, or an area more vulnerable to the cold, then you need to look at investing in a 100 or a 150-watt bulb.
Once installed, you will hang the lamp and test the temperature using a thermostat and check that it reads the correct temperature using the above chart. If it is hotter than this, the lamp will need to be raised. If it’s cooler than this, then you can lower the lamp.
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 kind of heat lamp should I use for newborn puppies?
Is heater good for newborn puppies?