if you've just been given the job of being a foster parent to a puppy, lucky you! The puppy should be nursing and getting his mother's milk, but if that's not possible because the mother has rejected the puppy, not lactating or just absent, it's time to step in.
The No. 1 rule when it comes to giving milk to a puppy is this: don't use cow's milk if you can avoid it. Cow's milk is meant for calves and is too full of lactose for a puppy. If you have a newborn puppy, you will need to either find an over-the-counter puppy milk replacement formula or make one yourself. Puppies given cow's milk will sometimes develop sinus problems, diarrhea or tummy aches due to lactose intolerance.
The OTHER No. 1 rule is to never, ever feed a puppy chilled formula. Puppies cannot regulate their body heat by themselves, and it is up to you to keep the ambient temperature warm.
There are several puppy milk replacement formulas on the market recommended by vets and breeders for newborn puppies. They are sold under the brand names Pet-Lac, Farnam, Just Born, GNC Pets Ultra Mega Premium Milk Replacer, Breeder's Edge, Nuturall, All Star and many others. Some are made with goats' milk, and most are available as either a powder you reconstitute with spring water or as a canned liquid formula. Choose one that has colostrum added, as it is an element found in mother's milk that helps boost the puppy's immune system.
You can make your own puppy formula. This is done in rural areas where there are no stores that carry formula, or if you simply prefer to make your own. Formulas can be ordered online, of course, but if you have a hungry puppy, you will need something to tide him over. To 10 ounces of evaporated or goat's milk, add one raw egg yolk. Mix in unflavored yogurt (avoid fat free, puppy needs all the fat and calories he can get). Add a 1/2 teaspoon of corn syrup or simple syrup made from sugar and water. Mix well, serve warm. Do not use a blender or whisk as you don't want a lot of air bubbles wreaking havoc in puppy's tummy. This formula will keep for a week in the fridge.
If you can find a can of goat's milk at your grocery store, you can use it as a substitute without adding anything to it. If the puppy is not thriving after a few days on the goat's milk, add two egg yolks, a teaspoon of corn syrup, honey or simple syrup, and two dissolved packets of unflavored gelatin. The gelatin helps to build strong bones and teeth. Keep the formula in the refrigerator. Don't be alarmed if it solidifies, when you warm it up before feeding, it will liquefy again.
If your puppy is not thriving or you have any concerns about the puppy's health, see a veterinarian right away. This is not a substitute for veterinary advice, and if your vet has preferences as to the use of formula, follow your vet's advice.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images