How to bottle feed a new puppy

Written by julia fuller
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Difficult circumstances may necessitate that you bottle feed your puppies. Whether the mother rejected a puppy, died while giving birth, disappeared, or her milk supply just isn't sufficient doesn't make a difference to a hungry puppy. The pup needs milk to live and grow and it needs it often. Be prepared to set your alarm clock and lose a lot of sleep during the first couple of weeks. If at all possible, allow puppies to nurse the first day after birth, or attempt to excrete milk from the mother and feed it in a bottle. This first milk produced contains colostrum and provides puppies with protective antibodies, has extremely high caloric, protein, and vitamin content. Use a commercially prepared milk replacement specifically manufactured to replace a dog's milk to bottle feed a new puppy.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Puppy
  • Tiny bottle
  • Tiny nipple
  • Puppy formula milk replacer
  • Water (purified)
  • Blanket
  • Safe box or tote

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  1. 1

    Purchase a 118ml feeding bottle with a small nipple specifically designed for a new puppy. Wash all new equipment thoroughly before use and after each use. If you have a dishwasher use it to sterilise after each use, otherwise you can soak it in just boiled water for five minutes, or add a little bleach to the water. Allow these items to air dry.

    How to bottle feed a new puppy
  2. 2

    Purchase a commercially prepared milk replacement specifically manufactured to replace a mother dog's milk. While these are available at a discount on the Internet, you will need your initial supply immediately. Check you local pet supply store for an initial supply of bottles and milk replacement.

  3. 3

    Prepare the milk replacement formula as directed on the can. Only prepare as much as you will use in a 24-hour period. Refrigerate unused portions. Adding extra water will increase the number of feedings you need to make. Adding extra formula will cause bloating, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

    How to bottle feed a new puppy
  4. 4

    Use room temperature or tepid water to prepare the milk replacement. If it has been refrigerated you will need to warm it before feeding. Using cold formula can cause vomiting and milk that is too hot can burn the puppy.

  5. 5

    Feed the puppy while on its stomach in a natural nursing position. Be careful not to overextend its head during feeding as that can cause aspiration. While you could feed puppy on a hard surface, holding your puppy will encourage bonding.

    How to bottle feed a new puppy
  6. 6

    Allow your puppy time to nurse. Like human babies, puppies enjoy suckling. Feeding too quickly can cause overfeeding, vomiting, or bloating. If your puppy will not nurse, you may need to tube feed for several days. Try to infuse the milk over 1 or 2 minutes.

  7. 7

    Clean the puppy after feeding with a damp cloth or baby wipe. Clean all over the puppy's body including any stool. Change the puppy's bedding before placing it back in the box if there is any stool in the box.

  8. 8

    Weigh the puppy daily for the first two weeks to make sure the puppy is getting enough to eat. Adjust the amount of milk replacement if the weight gain is too much or too little. After two weeks, you can weigh the puppy every 3 to 4 days. You should expect your puppy to double its weight in the first week. After that, the puppy should gain 1 to 2 grams each day for each pound of its anticipated adult weight. (For example, a Keeshond puppy that you expect will weigh 22.7 Kilogram as an adult, should gain about 50 to 100 grams each day as a puppy.)

  9. 9

    Seek veterinary intervention if your puppy is not gaining weight or has severe diarrhoea. Otherwise repeat all of these steps about every 3 to 4 hours for the first two weeks. Begin extending the time between feedings by an hour each consecutive week until the puppy is six weeks old and you switch to puppy food.

Tips and warnings

  • Dog's milk contains high amounts of fat, low amounts of lactose, and moderate amounts of protein.
  • Feeding of gruel can begin at 3 to 4 weeks of age. Just mix good-quality commercial puppy food with water.
  • Continue milk replacement until 6 weeks of age to maintain growth; however, begin reducing amounts as you increase gruel.
  • Homemade milk replacements can be nutritionally unbalanced.
  • Cows and goat milk has too high of lactose content and can cause diarrhoea.
  • Cow and goat milk are lower in caloric density then dog's milk is.

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