Labrador Retriever's are America's most popular breed of dog, and with good reason. Friendly, loyal and great with kids, they are a wonderful addition to any family. Many lab owners also like to breed them as a hobby, often only caring for one litter per year. Taking care of newborn lab puppies is fairly easy because lab mothers are very attentive to their babies. Still, there are some things you can do to make sure the mother and puppies are comfortable.
Create a home for the puppies. Newborn lab puppies like to be cosy. They feel secure in an enclosed area such as a crate, box, or even a small toddler swimming pool. Line the home with soft towels or blankets. Place some newspapers in a corner. Lab puppies do not like to eliminate on their beds.
Create a heating source. While the puppies will snuggle with each other and their mother, lab puppies cannot regulate their own body temperature very well during the first few weeks of life. They need another heat source, which can be a heat lamp placed at a safe distance, a heating pad or hot water bottle placed in the crate, or a portable heater placed near the area. Try to keep the temperature around 26.7 degrees Cor the first two or three weeks.
Watch for crushing. During the birthing process, you will need to make sure the mother lab does not crush her puppies. Labs are big breeds and heavy. Move the newborn puppies out of the way (making sure they are staying warm) if they seem to be in danger of being crushed.
Keep the puppies clean. Lab mothers will try to lick the birth matter off the puppies. She will also lick their anal area after they feed, to stimulate elimination. If she is not doing a very good job of this, you will want to do it yourself with a warm, wet washrag. If the puppies don't eliminate right away after eating, try washing them again every hour.
Feed the puppies. At first, they will nurse from the mother exclusively. After about five weeks, you can start to give them a mush created from a high quality food mixed with warm water. Lab puppies need to be fed very often, as they are a large breed. Feed them 3/4 cup food three times per day (morning, noon and night).
Give the puppies company. One of the things that make labs so popular is that they are very social dogs. They do not like to be left alone. Make sure you socialise frequently with the puppies.
If your puppy is alone, place a stuffed animal in her crate.
Consult with a vet if you see warning signs of sickness in your puppies such as listlessness, vomiting, or rejection by the mother.