In an ideal world, puppies would spend the first weeks of their lives nursing happily from their mothers. However, this is not always possible and the puppies may need to be bottle-fed in order to survive. Store-bought milk replacements can be purchased from your local pet store or veterinarian, but homemade milk replacements are an acceptable substitute for hungry puppies.
Why is Bottle Feeding Necessary?
Illness is one of the most common reasons your litter may need to be bottle-fed. If the mother is unhealthy, her body will not have the resources to produce enough milk to feed her puppies. Absence of the mother is another reason to hand-feed your puppies. The dam is the sole source of nutrients for the litter, and they will eventually starve without assistance. Very large litters may also require supplemental feeding if their mother is unable to produce enough milk.
Evaporated Milk Recipe
Evaporated milk is a staple in many homemade milk replacement recipes. It’s thick consistency and high calorie content is similar to that of mother’s milk, making it a suitable base for this recipe. Pour 10 ounces of evaporated milk into a blender, and add 3 ounces of distilled water. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of light corn syrup into the milk, and add 1 cup of full fat yogurt. Blend the ingredients until combined. Don’t over-mix the milk, or it will be too thick for the puppies to drink.
Goat's Milk Recipe
Cow’s milk is not recommended for puppies, but goat’s milk is an acceptable choice for your hungry litter. Goat’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk, and allows puppies to absorb vital nutrients without digestive upset. Pour 12 ounces of fresh goat’s milk into a large plastic bottle, and add in 1 raw egg yolk and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise. Shake to mix the egg into the milk, and add 1 cup whole yogurt and 1 teaspoon corn syrup to the bottle. Put the lid on the bottle and shake vigorously to blend.
Before feeding your puppies, ask your veterinarian how much, and how often, to feed your litter. 1 cc of food for every ounce of body weight is a good estimate, but your vet will give you the most accurate amount for each puppy. Pour the milk replacement of your choice into a small animal nursing bottle, and warm it to body temperature in a pan of hot water. Test the milk on your wrist; if it feels warm but not hot, it’s ready to feed. Hold the puppy on her belly on a table or across your legs, and let her nurse at her own pace. Wipe her face clean with a towel, and rub her lower belly with a damp cotton ball to stimulate her to potty after every meal.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.