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DOG / nutrition

How to Use Milk Replacers for Puppies

Give newborn puppies the nutrients they need

Overview

Sometimes mother dogs are unable, unwilling or unavailable to nurse their puppies. The pup can still grow up healthy though, if they’re cared for properly. Commercial milk replacers — basically puppy formula — are an important part of this care.

Bottle-feeding a puppy

If possible, the best option is to try to have puppies nurse from their mother for the first couple of days after their birth. A mother dog’s milk contains substances that help protect the health of fragile newborn puppies.

Whenever you have to make the switch to bottle-feeding, choose a milk replacer made especially for puppies. Do not feed a puppy cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or human infant formula — although puppy formulas may contain some similar ingredients.

For newborn puppies, check the milk replacer’s label to find out the appropriate serving size. Feed your puppies while they’re lying on their stomachs, to mimic the way they nurse in real life. Just as with human babies, puppies need to be burped after feeding.

Feed your growing pups several times a day, and weigh them three times a week to make sure they’re hitting their growth milestones.

From the bottle to the bowl

When it’s time for puppies to transition to drinking from a dish, you can pour the milk replacer right into the bowl.

This is also around the time you’ll start feeding them solid food. Choose puppy food, not adult dog food, and be extra careful about serving sizes. Puppies need to eat a lot at this stage, but if they eat too much, they’ll become overweight, setting them up for health problems in the future.

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