When Can Puppies Regulate Their Body Temperature

puppy being kept warm by owner

Most puppies will be able to fully regulate their body temperature when they are seven weeks old. However, the developmental process will start around weeks 2-3 as the puppy develops the shiver reflex (the first reflex to regulate body temperature).

We all know just how adorable and soul-warming puppies can be. They’re truly one of life’s greatest gifts. However, if you’re a newborn puppy owner, you might not feel completely warm and fuzzy about puppies. Owning a puppy is hard work!

Taking care of newborn puppies (and puppies in general) can be exhausting and nerve-wracking. There is so much to consider, to pay attention to, and to monitor.

Body temperature is one of the many things you need to monitor regularly to ensure healthy development and growth.

Puppies’ Body Temperature Regulation

When most puppies are seven weeks old, they should be able to regulate their body temperature on their own. A newborn puppy’s internal temperature is typically 97°F, but an adult dog’s temperature ranges from 100.5 to 102.5°F.

A puppy’s internal temperature rises each week from birth to the four-week mark. By four weeks, they should have a temperature between 99.5° and 102.5°F. However, it isn’t until they are 7 weeks old that they can appropriately regulate their body temperature.

How to Know a Puppy Isn’t Regulating Body Temperature

There are a good amount of signs that your puppy isn’t regulating their body temperature on its own.

Taking Their Temperature

The best way is to take the puppy’s temperature at the seven-week mark. It’s advised to take her temperature often to ensure that the temperature is increasing gradually.

This is the most definitive way to test if a puppy is regulating their temperature appropriately, but there is another sign as well.

Proximity to Mom

Pay close attention to the puppy’s proximity to her mother, especially around the 8-9 week mark. Is she sleeping close to mom every night? Is she constantly close to her mom throughout the day?

If so, she may be clinging to mom to keep her warm. This may be a sign that she is struggling to regulate her own body temperature.

Trying to Keep Warm in Other Ways

If your puppy is somewhere between seven to nine weeks old and she is looking for warmth from anything in her path, this might be a sign of poor body temperature regulation. She may be looking for warmth from mom, but also her siblings or a heater.

If this is the case, your puppy may not be developing appropriately or may have an underlying issue.

Keeping Puppies at the Correct Temperature

Puppies aren’t easy to take care of. They require a lot of monitoring, care, and nurturing. One of the most important aspects to monitor is their temperature.

Before they can self-regulate, there are a few things you can do to keep them safe, healthy, and warm.

Cuddling with Family

Since puppies cannot regulate their own body temperatures, they must receive very particular care and nurture. They should stay close to their mother and siblings to keep warm because they get their warmth from external sources for the first few weeks of life.

Heat Lamps or Warm Room

When their mother goes outside or takes a break, make sure the puppies are together and cuddled up for both comfort and warmth.

If that’s not possible, then make sure there is a heat lamp above them. For the first few days, it’s important to keep the puppies under a heat lamp or in a room with a temperature of 85-90°F.

What to Do if Your Puppy Has a Fever

If your puppy has a low-grade fever, you can first try to put a cool and wet cloth on his ears and paws. However, don’t give it any medication unless directed by a vet.

If a puppy’s temperature is too high, which is 106°F for a dog, there is likely an underlying condition. In this case, it’s important to get to the bottom of what’s causing the fever. Take your puppy to the vet for further investigation and testing.

What to Do if Your Puppy’s Temperature Drops

There are a good amount of fluctuations in body temperature during puppyhood, especially during the first few weeks. However, if there is a drastic drop in temperature, action must be taken.

If a puppy manages to wiggle away from the warmth of his mother, siblings, or a heat lamp, this could put your puppy at risk of hypothermia.

Another reason your puppy may face hypothermia is if they have been exposed to extreme cold weather.

Check your puppy’s temperature if this occurs. If their temperature is too low, slowly warm their body temperature over the course of one hour.

Keep in mind, however, that low temperature could be a reaction to a sudden injury. Sudden injuries cause shock, which creates a drop in temperature for puppies.

Check your puppy for any injuries or pain. If you aren’t sure whether or not your puppy has an injury, take him to the vet just to be sure.

How to Keep Orphaned Puppies Warm

When puppies are orphans and don’t have a mom, they need extra attention to make sure they develop strong body temperature regulation.

Most puppies simply use their mom for the first several weeks of life, but orphans, of course, do not have that option.

Much like you would if a non-orphaned puppy’s mother left the room, you can use a heat lamp above the puppy. Regulating the room’s temperature is also a great idea.

How to Take a Puppy’s Temperature

Since puppies are so fragile, it’s important to learn how to appropriately take their temperature.

You will need to use an anal thermometer for both puppies and dogs, as any other method will be inaccurate.

  1. Lubricate the thermometer with petroleum jelly, mineral oil, or baby oil
  2. Make sure your puppy is in a relaxed and comfortable position. Give them a favorite toy or something to help distract them, if possible.
  3. Use one hand to lift the tail to see your dog’s anus. With the other hand, insert the lubricated thermometer about one inch into the puppy’s anus.
  4. Hold on to the thermometer for at least one minute. Don’t let go in order to ensure an accurate reading.
  5. Calmly talk to your puppy to reassure it throughout the process. Pet her to both restrain and comfort her.
  6. Once the thermometer is finished reading your puppy’s temperature, remove it, wipe it clean, and read the result.
  7. Disinfect the thermometer with rubbing alcohol.

Why is Body Temperature Regulation Important?

Body temperature regulation is vital for any mammal to survive. It’s imperative to maintain homeostasis and to handle different weather.

When it is too hot, puppies need to pant and release the heat in their bodies to continue normal bodily functions.

When it is too cold, puppies need to keep themselves warm and hold heat in their bodies.

Body temperature regulation is key to not let puppies (or any mammals) suffer from heat stroke or hypothermia. That is why this is so important to monitor while a puppy is growing.

It’s difficult to raise puppies, but when you do, it can be a rewarding experience so long as you keep them nice and warm. Who doesn’t want to cuddle up to puppies?

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