Article Hero Image

DOG / new pets

How to Use Puppy Milk Replacements


Sometimes puppies need puppy milk replacer at the start of their life to make sure they are getting everything they need nutritionally so they can grow big and strong. Not every puppy needs a milk replacer in their diet, but it is important to know when one does. If you are wondering whether or not a puppy in your life needs a puppy milk replacer, then you should contact a veterinarian immediately. They are the best and most trusted source of information regarding your pet’s diet and what will be the best for their health. For general information about puppy milk and how to use puppy milk replacers, keep reading. 


What is Puppy Milk? 


Just like humans, puppies depend on their mom for nutrition for the first portion of their life. This can last a few weeks, but until they can eat solid puppy food, they need their mom’s milk to help meet all of their nutritional needs after they’re born


In some situations, the mom dog is not always available to provide their puppies with the milk they need to stay full and healthy. In situations like this, a puppy might need a milk replacer. Puppy milk replacers are specially formulated powders/milk that are designed to replace the milk that a puppy is not getting from their mom. They make sure a puppy is getting all of the nutrients they need in their diet so they can continue to grow and develop.


When Do Dogs Need Milk Replacers?


1. When Mom Isn’t Around

There are a lot of different reasons why a puppy’s mom isn’t present. But if the puppy is still at an age where they need milk to stay healthy and mom isn’t around, then they might need a puppy milk replacer until they can eat solid dog food


2. When Mom Won’t Feed Them 

There are also some situations where a puppy’s mom will reject her litter and refuse to feed her puppies. There is no single reason this happens, but the litter must get a milk source to stay healthy. 


3. When Puppies Are Left Out

Sometimes a litter has puppies that are smaller than others. In this situation, the larger dogs might hog the milk source, making it difficult for smaller dogs to get what they need from mom. They might need some of their diet supplemented with milk replacers to keep them growing healthy and strong.


Signs of Malnutrition in Puppies 


Knowing the signs of malnutrition in puppies is helpful for knowing whether or not a pup is getting what they need from mom’s milk. Some common signs of malnutrition include: 


1. Physical Appearance

Malnutrition can have a huge impact on a pup's physical appearance. If your puppy isn’t getting their nutritional needs met, they may have itchy/flaky skin, thin fur, weight loss and more. 


2. Inconsistent Bowel Movements

If you have a puppy that isn’t going to the bathroom or isn’t going to the bathroom consistently, this can be a sign of malnutrition. 


3. Stunted Growth

If you notice that other puppies in the litter are growing quicker or that a puppy just doesn’t seem to be growing at the right weight this can be a sign that they need a puppy milk replacer. 


If a pet parent sees any sign of malnutrition in their pup, they should bring it up with their vet immediately. 


How to Use a Puppy Milk Replacer


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 you should 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 and instructions. Follow those instructions exactly along with your vet’s guidance to make sure you are using them correctly. 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.


Transitioning Your Pup From Bottle to Bowl


When your vet gives you the go-ahead to transition your pup from puppy formula from a bottle to a dog bowl, you can put 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.


Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.