If you’re waiting to receive your French bulldog puppy from a breeder, you likely don’t need to know how to care for a newborn puppy.
However, if you’re whelping French Bulldog puppies for the first time, the following information is critical.
Normally, the mother is the sole source of warmth and sustenance for the new puppies. Unfortunately, there are situations where she lacks the maternal instinct.
This post is designed to help you understand what to do and how to do it. The first eight to 12 weeks are vital for healthy, happy puppies.
Birthing Risks of a French Bulldog
French bulldogs cannot get pregnant naturally because of the way they are bred.
If you have a pregnant Frenchie, chances are she was artificially inseminated. The French bulldog’s large head and broad chest means the puppies are not going to be born easily via natural birth.
The risk to the whelping mother and her puppies is very high. This is why French bulldog mothers typically require a caesarean section to safely deliver her pups.
For this purpose of this post, we’ll assume the puppies have just been born.
Although the mother naturally knows what to do, there could be times when she needs a little help. This is where you come in.
Preparing for Newborn French Bulldog Puppies
The first weeks of life for a new puppy are critical.
Sadly, difficulty whelping, congenital or genetic defects, environmental factors, and other health problems can lead to death. This is why responsible breeders usually arrange to have their dogs deliver by c-section.
Before the French bulldog puppies arrive, it’s a good idea to have some emergency supplies on hand, including:
A standard laundry basket can be used to keep puppies warm. If the mother shows any signs of aggression toward the puppies, they need to be moved away from her. A laundry basket may be a good temporary spot.
Bottle feeding may be required if a puppy doesn’t seem to be getting enough nourishment or hydration.
Normally, the mom provides plenty of milk for the newborn pups.
However, she may reject the puppies or the puppies may not all have a good sucking reflex.
New owners not familiar with newborn puppies should watch for signs that a puppy isn’t eating enough. Reasons for this may include:
- unable to suckle properly
- a large litter of puppies may make it difficult for weaker pups to get to a nipple
- the mom isn’t well and it’s producing enough milk
A weak puppy may need to be tube fed because they don’t have the strength to nurse.
Hot Water Bottle
How water bottles are useful in keeping the whelping box warm, especially when the mother is not nurturing her puppies the way she should.
Never use scalding water in a hot water bottle. It’s better to start with warm water. Wrap the hot water bottle in a towel or put it into a pillow case.
When the puppies begin using the bathroom on their own, you can place clean newspapers around the whelping box. Frequently change soiled newspaper for fresh, clean ones.
Blankets are a great way to keep puppies nice and warm and cozy. You may need to frequently change the blankets for clean ones.
Towels are useful for clean-ups and to wrap hot water bottles in.
Normal temperature for a newborn pup is between 94 and 97F. Temperatures considered normal will change in the coming weeks.
For example, during the second and third weeks, the puppies’ body temperature will range from 97 to 100F.
In the fourth week, a puppies’ temperature matches that of his adult counterpart ranging between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees F.
Use a rectal thermometer to get an accurate reading.
Lubricate the thermometer with petroleum jelly. If your puppy won’t stay still, you may need someone to cup the puppy under the belly.
Left the puppy’s tail and gently insert the thermometer about once inch into the rectum. Clean and disinfect after each use.
Use a good quality scale to get an accurate reading of your puppy’s weight. The one picture below is from Chewy and is made with a nice cradle for a puppy. It has 4 self-leveling feet and adjustable height gauge.
It’s better to have things on hand than not have them when you need them.
If you find yourself in a position where you have to hand-feed your newborn French Bulldog puppies, you may need formula. The best kind is Esbilac.
Come people choose to mix there own formula.
Maintain a Clean, Warm Whelping Box
Newborn puppies must be kept clean and warm.
Baby French bulldogs are unable to regulate their own body temperature. Although the mother provides much of the heat they need, there may be times when the new puppies need some help.
The biggest risk for newborn pups is getting chilled. On the others side of the spectrum would be allowing the puppies to overheat.
Medical Reasons Why Mom Isn’t Caring For Her Newborn Pups
Nature has a way of making sure each species on the planet survives.
With dogs, however, there are things that can get in the way of those natural triggers. When French bulldog puppies are born via C-Section, natural pheromones may not kick in.
In other words, the Frenchie mom may not develop the all-important maternal instincts.
Oxytocin is produced when a mother gives birth naturally. Without it, the mother may not show any interest in caring for hew newborn puppies.
French bulldog moms need to be given medication to trigger natural hormones.
Newborn Frenchie puppies must be kept warm at all times. Of course, the mother is the sole provider of heat, but there may times (for various reasons) when she isn’t up to the task.
This could occur if the mother develops a post-partum infection. Metritis is an inflammation and infection of the uterine lining. This can occur during the first week after whelping.
There are actually three main problems that can occur during the whelping stage including:
This condition occurs when the mom has trouble supporting the calcium demand of lactation. Smaller dog breeds are more at risk of this. If it’s going to happen, it will be within the first 3 weeks of lactation.
Signs to watch for include:
- unusual nervousness and restlessness
- no interest in the pups
- aggression toward the pups
- muscle spasms
- inability to stand
Mastitis is an inflammation and infection of the mammary glands.
While not a life-threatening condition, it may affect the amount of nutrition the pups get. The mother’s mammary glands may be red, hard, and painful.
It’s not harmful for the puppies to continue nursing through this period. The problem is when the mother discourages her puppies from feedings.
Metritis is an inflammation of the endometrium (lining) of the uterus. It is caused by a bacterial infection about a week after a dog has given birth.
7 Crucial Steps in Caring for Newborn French Bulldog Puppies
If the mother shows no interest in caring for the babies, there are some important things you’re going to have to do to keep those puppies alive and thriving.
#1. Clip the Umbilical Cord
Normally, the new mother will instinctively know that she needs to bite and break off each of the puppies’ umbilical cords. When she does that, the stump will naturally dry up and fall off in a few days.
A puppy’s umbilical cord shouldn’t be cut unless it is absolutely evident that the mother won’t do it.
NOTE: Please get veterinarian advice or assistance in this process. If done incorrectly it an harm the delicate puppies.
#2. Clear the Amniotic Sac From The Newborn Puppies
As the puppies are born, the mother will normally lick off the placenta. It’s normal and healthy for them to swallow the placenta as it helps replace lost nutrients.
She doesn’t have to eat it, but the placenta does need to be cleaned off of the puppies. Cleaning the amniotic sac from the puppies stimulates their breathing and digestive processes.
If the mother doesn’t seem to want to engage in this process, you can try to encourage her to do it.
If she won’t you will have to gently remove the sac so that the puppy can breath.
Make sure your hands and fingers are cleaned thoroughly with disinfectant or anti-bacterial soap before handling the newborn puppies.
Puppies are born with immature immune systems and can easily succumb to sickness.
Clear the Sac
To clean the sac from the puppies, gently use your thoroughly cleansed fingers to wipe it away.
Start with the head and face and work your way down.
If the puppy isn’t breathing after the sac is removed, very gently blow a light puff of air around the face. You can use soft, clean towels to gently dry the puppies once the sac has been removed.
Always be prepared to contact an emergency veterinarian clinic ASAP.
#3. Keep the Puppies Warm
Little puppies are vulnerable to dehydration, accidental suffocation, and infection. If they get a chill, the cold air compromises the little puppies immune systems. This makes them vulnerable to disease.
When the puppies are born, you can begin heating the whelping box to about 85F to 90F during the first week.
During the second week, you can reduce the temperature down to about 80F. Always monitor the heat level closely.
Use Caution With Heating Lamps
To keep newborn puppies warm, experts suggest using a heat lamp.
Heat lamps work best when placed at the corner of the whelping box. That way, puppies can move to the other side of the box if they become too hot.
If the temperature in the room is quite hot, and a heat lamp is added, it may become too warm for the little ones. Used improperly, heat lamps could burn the puppies.
Keep in mind that heat lamps can cause fires if not used properly.
Some dog owners prefer to use a heating pad. Heating pads with an electric cord may become too hot The best idea is to use a hot water bottle that is wrapped in a towel.
Watch for Signs of Over-Heating
One way to monitor whether the puppies are too hot or not is to watch their behavior.
If the puppies are huddled close to each other it means they’re not warm enough. They huddle together in an attempt to create warmth.
On the other hand, if the puppies are on the other side of the mat away from the heat source, it could be that they’re too warm.
#4. Ensure Puppies Get Mother’s Milk
Ideally, all of the puppies should begin feeding. However, in some cases, the mother may reject them. She may even become aggressive towards them. If that happens, you will need to separate her from her puppies.
If the mother is showing signs of illness, call a veterinarian for assistance.
Tube Feeding Newborn Puppies
If the newborn puppies are not latching on to the mother for whatever reason, you may need to begin tube feeding them. Tube feeding may be a little intimidating in the beginning and takes some practice.
Always seek professional/medical instruction for help. Experienced breeders may be able to assist as well.
Inexperienced tube feeding can be risky. There is a chance of place the tube into the trachea rather than into the stomach.
Tube feeding should only be necessary for a few days at most. Exceptions to this are puppies with abnormalities such as cleft palate and macroglossia. Tube feeding can be used to give oral rehydration solutions or milk substitute formula. Milk substitute formula is contraindicated in hypothermic and premature puppies (Williams, 1989; Bloomfield, 2013) as they are unable to digest milk or milk substitute. In these puppies electrolyte solutions are advised which provide hydration, electrolytes and some calories in the form of glucose without requiring digestion.The Veterinary Nurse. How to Hand Feed Newborn Puppies by Samantha Scully.
The following video shows you how to tube feed a puppy:
Bottle Feeding Newborn Puppies
Test the puppy to see if he/she has a suck reflex. To do this, gently place the tip of your clean finger into the puppy’s mouth. A healthy puppy should latch on and suck the finger. If the puppies are premature, immature, hypothermic, or hypoglycemic they may not have the suck reflex.
Puppies need to be fed every two to three hours in the first week. If you are bottle feeding, the puppy should be on his/her stomach to avoid choking. Warm the dog safe formula by placing the bottle in a cup of warm water.
Testing the temperature of the milk is the same process used for human babies. Just put a bit of milk on your wrist. It should feel slightly warm, not hot.
They need to be nursed or fed formula for 3 to 4 weeks before weaning.
#5. Ensure The Puppies Pee and Poop
Normally, the mother would stimulate this action by licking the puppies. However, if this doesn’t happen, you can use a cotton ball to wipe their genital area. This will encourage them to go on their own.
Potty training won’t start until their older. Until then, you’ll want them to have access to plenty of newspaper.
#6. Weigh the Puppies
Puppies should be weighed every day for the first two weeks. They should gain 10% of their body weight every day. If you notice unusual weight loss, consult a veterinarian asap.
AT BIRTH, French bulldog puppies should weigh approximately 0.5 to 0.625 pounds
The following graph is an approximation of a small-sized dog breed weight chart.
#7. Keep French Bulldog Puppies Clean
French bulldog puppies are prone to serious illness. Vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to death in a newborn puppy. Keep the whelping box clean with fresh blankets and remove soiled items right away.
More Posts About French Bulldogs!
We’ve hand-picked the following posts for you. You’re obviously interested in the most adorable dogs on the planet (Frenchies!) so we wanted to ensure you had easy access to all the information you need.
Check these out!
When to Feed Solid Food to French Bulldog Puppies
Weaning typically takes place at about week four. This is when their sharp little teeth come in. It’s also a good time to begin toilet training.
Weaning can begin in earnest on the 5th week. By the 6th week, they should be fully weaned.
Buy top quality puppy food for French Bulldog puppies.
Need help? No time or money to get to a veterinarian’s office? There’s no need. All you have to do is set up a free account and get instant access to veterinarians. They can answer quick questions you may have.
Those answers could mean the difference between you getting a good night’s sleep versus you worrying all night!
Just click the AskVet link below (in the image) and set up your free online account. Must be over 18.
Final Lessons and Advice
Tube feeding can be a little tricky if you’re not used to it. There are great videos out there, but the best way to get started is through one-on-one instruction with a veterinarian.
French bulldogs are adorable creatures that a little extra love and care. It can be a lot of work in the first weeks. The good news is that French bulldogs typically have small liters of 3 – 5 puppies. It’s more common for them to have 3 puppies.
As with anything, never depend on these posts for medical advice. Newborn puppies are fragile. If the mother is able to take over the care, let her. Otherwise, you may need to do all of the initial work yourself.