A rescue agency has a litter of newborn puppies that were found in a dumpster, dropped off to be cared for. Sadly, three of the five puppies have already passed and the remaining two puppies are in rough condition, hungry and very dirty. With no mom to clean and care for them, keeping them alive is going to be a challenge!
Momma dogs don't just feed their puppies, they clean them and stimulate them to urinate and defecate by licking them. A litter of newborn puppies should get all the care, including cleaning, that they need from their mom and do not need human intervention. However, if mom cannot clean her puppies due to illness, if mom is not present, or if a young mom is confused and does not know what to do, it may be necessary to bathe puppies that require it.
Because newborn puppies have limited ability to regulate their body temperature, bathing them can be dangerous. Usually, it is not recommended that puppies be bathed until they are at least 4 weeks old. First, determine if the newborn really needs a bath--if you can get away with not bathing a newborn that is preferable. If there is no other option, such as when the puppy was not cleaned after birth or is covered in filth, you will need to proceed carefully so as not to chill the little pup.
Newborn puppies need their mom's tender loving care and cleaning and usually, nothing else! However, if mom is not able to clean the puppy and the puppy has not been cleaned after the birth, or has become covered in feces or another noxious substance, you may need to intervene. Try to do the minimum required to clean off puppy with warm water and a cloth. Only in extreme circumstances should a more invasive bath be considered.