Puppies rely completely on their mothers for everything for the first few weeks of life, including elimination of wastes. If you find yourself caring for an orphaned pup or helping a young, inexperienced mother dog, you will have to take on this chore yourself.
During the first few weeks of life, Mama will lick the puppies to stimulate them to eliminate after each feeding. If you are caring for the pups without their mother's presence, take a soft rag soaked in warm water, and massage the genital areas after each feeding. Your vet can show you how to do this. It’s not difficult, and it's absolutely necessary.
Newborns will nurse about every two hours, and Mama should stimulate them to eliminate after every feeding. Newborns should release urine after every feeding and poop at least every other time. If a pup has not produced feces in a day, you need to take him to your vet to see if the pup is constipated. If the pup doesn't pee, see a vet to see if the pup is dehydrated. They don’t always do both, but they should do one or the other every time. If you are taking on this role, stimulate before and after feeding. As they develop and grow, the time between feedings -- and stimulation -- gradually increases.
By about 3 weeks, as the puppies start to eat a little solid food, they should also begin to eliminate wastes on their own. Some start earlier, some later. The important thing is to keep a close eye on them, and make sure they’re going on their own before you stop helping. If Mama is learning this task, watch her after each feeding to make sure everything is going as it should. By four weeks of age, puppies should be able to make their own messes.
If your puppy isn’t getting rid of his waste, this can be serious. If he’s eating, he should be peeing and pooping. Stay in close contact with your vet, and monitor the pups’ weights daily. Depending on the breed, healthy newborns will gain 5 to 10 percent of their body weight daily. The first two weeks of life are especially crucial and labor intensive for Mama, whether canine or human.
Leslie Darling has been a writer since 2003, writing regularly for "Mississippi Magazine" and "South Mississippi Living," specializing in food and wine, animals and pets, and all things Southern. She is a graduate of the University of New Orleans.