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Can You Give Puppies Milk? Find Out Here

By
 Ashly 
on 
May 24, 2021

Can you give puppies milk? If you're a pet owner, you've likely wondered this at some point. After all, puppies are very similar to babies in the way they look, act and eat.

But, while it may be tempting to share a glass of milk with your puppy, it's actually not a good idea. Here's why.

Tips And Guide For Feeding Puppies:

how to bottle feed puppies properly: step by step guide

Orphaned, abandoned or rejected puppies (or a small/weak puppy who can't nurse) need you to give them the nutrition that will keep them alive. Bottle feeding is usually the answer.

If you're faced with a tiny puppy (or a whole litter of them) who aren't able to nurse from their momma, it can be a very scary situation.

You might be wondering how on earth you're going to keep them alive let alone thriving!

But don't panic, many (MANY) other dog owners just like you have learned to bottle feed puppies and hand-raise them successfully.

You can too, the advice and information on this page will help you get together everything you need, and show you how to make sure the pup/s get the nutrition they need.

How To Feed Newborn Puppy

Brand new puppies receive important protection from germs through antibodies in their mother’s milk during the first few days of nursing.

Dog moms produce a milky-textured substance called colostrum that gives puppies' bodies the ability to fight off infections. 

It is essential to let your puppy nurse as long as possible from their mother to receive this substance. If their mother dies or rejects them, you’ll need to call your veterinarian to make sure you get the supplements that puppies need to survive.

After the first few weeks, puppies that can’t nurse can be fed by you. If you’re unsure how to do it, ask your veterinarian for some tips on getting the puppy to nurse from a bottle or tube. If a puppy is having a problem taking the bottle, you should see your veterinarian immediately — they may need to be fed with a stomach tube.

You’ll need to make sure that you purchase formula made for canines. Work with the pups to ensure that they can nurse from the bottle. 

Puppies should be fed while lying on their stomach. Other positions may cause them to choke. Similar to human babies, you should warm the milk to about 100 degrees or body temperature. 

However, don’t use your microwave to heat the formula — place the bottle in a cup of warm water. If you can touch the warmed milk to your skin and feel slight warmth, the milk is warm enough. After feeding, gently pat your puppy on their back to help them burp up any air that they may have swallowed.

How To Bottle Feed Puppies

When you're bottle feeding puppies, it's important to use a puppy milk substitute that meets their special dietary needs.

Commercial puppy formulas that are carefully prepared to do just that can usually be bought at your veterinarians office or from large pet stores.

If your dog is pregnant, I would recommend getting some puppy milk in advance, so it's handy if you should need it.

Feeding new born puppies is very similar to feeding new born human babies in that they need to nurse frequently! Every two hours during the day and probably once or twice during the night in the very beginning.

Okay, so let's take a look at how to bottle feed puppies yourself, and the equipment that you need:

Momma's milk is the best food for a new born puppy. Try to encourage the mom to allow the pups to nurse for at least the first 24 hours if possible, as this is when they can receive the benefits of the colostrum (powerful anti-bodies and infection fighting pre-milk). Obviously this isn't always possible, but makes a big difference to the puppies.

Depending on the size of the breed your pups belong to, you can feed newborn puppies using:

  • A small syringe (3ml) (check out the Miracle Nipple syringe)
  • Special bottles designed for puppies or kittens
  • Baby bottles (nipples that are specially designed for premature babies often work well)
  • A sponge
  • A tube 

If there are no holes in the nipple, use a needle (held over a flame to heat and sterilize) to pierce two holes. Milk should drip out SLOWLY when the bottle is held upside down. If it runs out the pup could choke or aspirate (breath in) the milk.

  • Puppy milk replacement formula. The ready-made is easier to use, but quite a bit more expensive. If you're using the powdered version, be sure to mix it well as you don't want any lumps in it.
  • Cool formula and room temperature before feeding it to a puppy. You can test it on the inside of your wrist to make sure it's not too hot or too cold, it should feel barely warm.
  • Always feed a puppy face down on your lap or a table top, never hold it on it's back or upright, as this could cause it to choke or breath in the milk. This can lead to pneumonia and possible death.
  • Newborn puppies who are being bottle fed usually do well on 6 feedings per day. They should be able to go from 11pm until 6am as long as they are receiving 6 feeds in 24 hours. Smaller puppies may still need to be fed in the night for the first few weeks.
  • By three weeks old, 4 feeds a day is enough, and weaning can begin at around 4 weeks of age.

3.5 - 3.75 calories per ounce of body weight, every 24 hours: Puppies under a month old needs.

Example:

A 6 oz puppy would need approx 22.5 calories per day.

Most puppy milk replacers have about 1 calorie per ml, so that 22.5ml of formula can be divided between the 6 feeds.

This means a 6 oz pup needs approx. 3.75ml of milk per feed.

Of course, this is a rough estimate, some puppies need more, some less. 

As a general 'rule of thumb', it's better to feed smaller feeds more often, than larger amounts less frequently.

Weaning to Solid Food at About 3 to 4 Weeks Of feeding Puppies

At about 3 or 4 weeks, as you see your puppy begin to explore his little world, you can take the next step when it comes to feeding puppies.

Begin to introduce solid puppy food, but do not immediately stop bottle feeding. Ask your vet what brand of high-quality puppy food she recommends. Buy the best you can. Remember, what goes in, especially at this early stage, affects your puppy’s future health.

At this stage, begin feeding puppies by spooning a little of the formula you have been using over the solid food just to get the puppies started. Offer solid food four times a day in small quantities and supervise your puppy’s eating to make sure he doesn’t choke or fall into the bowl.

Discard uneaten food and put out fresh food the next time. Do not expect your puppy to immediately begin to gobble up this new food in spite of the fact that he seems to put everything else in his mouth. Puppies really love to nurse, so chewing may not appeal initially.

For reluctant puppies, you might try putting a very small bit of the new solid food in his mouth and encouraging him cheerfully. If your puppy isn’t ready, don’t force him, but wait a few more days and try again.

As you introduce solid food when feeding puppies, it is also time to introduce water. Boiled and cooled or filtered water is safest for young puppies.

Put your puppy’s water in a small, shallow bowl, not one deep enough for him to fall in, and keep it fresh. Alternately, start with a water bottle with a ball and drip spout affixed to the side of the puppy’s crate. Show him how to approach the water and have him take a few drops from your hand initially. Continue to introduce him to the water until he drinks on his own. Water is essential for non-nursing puppies.

Introducing Puppies to Solid Food at About 6 to 8 Weeks

Make sure that feeding puppies is a positive, happy event. Remember that patience with training puppies yields cooperative and trusting adult dogs. By about 6 to 8 weeks, your puppy can be weaned off the formula and onto solid food. As your puppy grows, naturally, make the portions bigger, but remember, the idea is to support healthy growth, not a chronically plump little chowhound. Regular check ups with your vet will help you to ascertain if your puppy is attaining the proper weight.

As your puppy approaches his adult weight and size, reduce feedings to twice a day and remember to ask your vet when it’s time to either change to a junior food or to move on to adult food. As your puppy reaches adult size, he will need to eat less since he is growing less. Again, encourage growth in bone and muscle not fat. Once he’s reached his adult size he can only grow out, not up.

If your puppy is overweight, see what to do if your puppy is overweight.

Kindness to your new puppy begins with nutrition and patience with feeding and builds trust for a lifetime.

Weaning your puppy to solid food should not be an overnight endeavor but should ideally take place over the course of two to three weeks.

First select the brand of puppy food you intend to feed. Puppies have high caloric and nutritional needs and so the food selected should be a high quality brand of puppy food. Talk to your veterinarian for specific recommendations but generally the best puppy foods will be a good source of protein, calcium and calories.

Whether you've just welcomed a new puppy into your home or are planning to add a new puppy to your family in the near future, it's always important to learn as much as you can about caring for your new puppy.

Fortunately, one of the most important things to learn about is the nutrition puppies need.

That's because puppies grow fast and need more nutrients than adult dogs.

While it's important to feed your puppy a high-quality puppy food that meets its nutritional needs, it's also important to supplement that food with other foods to ensure your puppy is receiving all of the nutrients it needs to grow into a healthy adult dog. 

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Ashly

Hey yaa! Im Ashly and I love pets. Growing up in a house with 2 dogs, a cat, a parrot and many furry rodents; it was natural for me to have a profound affection for them. I created GenerallyPets.com to create useful guides and articles on looking after your furry friends. The advice given on this site is our views and expertise, please consult a VET prior to testing anything. Hope my site helps you :)

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