How to Know if a Puppy Inhaled Milk

Canine milk replacer gives abandoned puppies strength to grow and thrive.
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Bottle-feeding is beneficial for the runt in the litter, and it's a must for orphaned nursing pups. Bottle-feeding your puppy correctly, paying careful attention to details, will keep him from inhaling milk and becoming sick. Besides happening to see him suck formula up his snout, you might know a puppy inhaled milk by looking for telltales.

Step 1

Observe your puppy’s face, especially his nostrils, for milk or milk bubbles. Stop feeding him immediately if you see either of these coming out of his nose. Lay the puppy on his stomach on your lap. Squeeze the bulb of a puppy aspirator, place the nozzle tip in one nostril, and release the bulb to suction out inhaled milk. Repeat this procedure two times in the same nostril and three times in the other nostril.

Step 2

Watch your puppy’s breathing habits as he sleeps. When a puppy inhales small amounts of milk several times, it accumulates in his lungs. This results in labored and uneven breathing habits as he tries to get more oxygen.

Step 3

Listen to your puppy’s breathing sounds. A puppy that has milk aspiration will sound severely congested from his nose and will make snuffling sounds. He may also shake his head and sniff to clear the congestion, which may add to the fluid in his lungs. Severe aspiration makes a rattling sound in his lungs.

Step 4

Pay close attention to your puppy for coughing and wheezing. Coughing and wheezing indicates a presence of fluid that he is trying to rid himself of by expelling it to make more room for oxygen in his lungs.

Step 5

Watch your puppy’s activity level. A decrease in activity indicates he isn’t feeling well and may be getting aspiration pneumonia caused by fluid in the lungs. This is a serious illness that needs immediate veterinary attention.


  • If your puppy exhibits any signs other than milk coming out of his nose just one time, take him to the vet. Bacteria can settle in his lungs, becoming fatal without antibiotic treatments.

  • Don't feed a dog of any age cow's milk. Use puppy formula only.


  • Bottle-feed a puppy in a prone position on his stomach with his head slightly elevated so he doesn’t inhale formula.

  • Poke only one hole in a new nipple with a hot needle to slow flow; this will help to keep the dog from inhaling milk. Add one additional hole if needed to allow a slow drip from the nipple when the bottle is turned upside down and gently squeezed.

Items You Will Need

  • Puppy aspirator
  • Puppy bottle with nipple