Feeding Newborn Puppies: Everything You Need to Know

puppy drinking from bottle

There are very few things in life that bring as much unadulterated joy as looking after a newborn puppy does. Whether you’re doing it by choice or out of compulsion, caring for cute little pups is a life-altering experience. Watching them grow and learn to fend for themselves is nothing short of raising a child.

Nevertheless, if you’re a new dog parent, you’re likely going to face a plethora of challenges along the way. To begin with, you might struggle to provide your pup with proper nutrition for their overall growth and development. Needless to say, providing newborn pups with the right food is a huge responsibility.

What Should Puppies Eat?

First things first – mother’s milk is the ideal food for newborn puppies. It has just the right amount of essential nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins, as well as calories necessary for their physical development.

However, depending on how you brought the pup home, you may not have easy access to the dam’s milk. To begin with, many dams often don’t produce enough milk to feed the entire litter. In such cases, the weaker pups tend to get pushed away by the stronger ones and are, therefore, deprived of proper nourishment.

In some cases, the mother might reject her litter or refuse to feed them due to pain and discomfort. Also, she could be absent during the initial phase of a pup’s life due to various reasons.

Worse still, there’s a possibility that the dam might die while giving birth to her litter. Needless to say, looking after an orphaned pup can be excruciatingly difficult. In such a scenario, you’ll have to find a suitable alternative to the dam’s milk that’ll provide your puppy with the right nourishment.

Is Regular Milk a Good Choice?

When fetching the dam’s milk isn’t a feasible option, it’s only natural that you’ll start looking for various puppy milk substitutes. If you search for online advice, you’ll likely find options, such as:

  • Cow milk
  • Goat milk
  • Nut-based milk (such as almond milk)

However, these alternatives can’t compensate for the lack of the dam’s milk from your puppy’s diet. To begin with, these types of milk don’t contain the right amount of vital nutrients that are necessary for your pup’s health.

Also, regular intake of cow and goat milk could cause symptoms of lactose intolerance, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomachache
  • Gas

Likewise, drinking lots of almond milk, which has a higher fat content, can lead to obesity in pups. Also, both cow milk and almond milk are going to be difficult to digest for your puppy. That’s why, as a ground-rule, you shouldn’t feed regular milk (meant for human consumption) to newborn puppies.

What’s the Right Puppy Milk Replacement Option?

In the absence of the dam’s milk, the best option is to feed store-bought puppy milk replacement formula to your pup. These milk replacers are usually formulated keeping the nourishment needs of newborn pups in mind.

Apart from your local supermarket and vet clinic, you can easily find a wide variety of nutrient-rich puppy milk replacer on online stores, such as PetCareRx.com. Make sure you carefully check the list of ingredients and read the instructions.

Prepare the formula according to the directions mentioned in the package. Most pet food brands also mention the suggested quantity based on your pup’s age and weight. However, it’s recommended that you consult an experienced vet or canine nutritionist for a better idea of how much and how often you should feed your pup.

Homemade Puppy Milk Replacement Formula

Store-bought milk replacer should be the first choice for feeding your newborn pup. However, there might be days when you’ve run out of your regular supply of milk replacer and don’t have the time to run to the nearest pet store. Of course, you still can’t and shouldn’t leave your pup hungry.

It always recommended that you keep a few cans of regular evaporated milk in your refrigerator for such emergencies. This is because the nutrient profile of evaporated milk closely mimics that of a dog’s milk.

To begin with, the fat and protein content of whole evaporated milk is twice as high as that of regular cow’s milk. Also, it contains higher amounts of minerals, such as calcium, zinc, and magnesium. This, in turn, makes it suitable for preparing homemade puppy milk replacer.

So, how can you prepare puppy milk replacement formula using evaporated milk? You just need the following ingredients:

  • 10 ounces of evaporated milk
  • 3 ounces of distilled or drinking water
  • 1 cup of plain or full-fat yogurt

Add these ingredients to a blender jar along with ½ tsp of corn syrup and one raw egg yolk. Blend the mixture until everything is just combined. And voila! Your homemade puppy food is ready.

How to Feed Your Pup?

The best way to feed a newborn puppy is to use a bottle or syringe. Make the pup lie down on their stomach and slowly feed them. Also, don’t forget to make them burp by rubbing their back after every meal.

If you’re new to the world of dog parenting, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced vet for the right quantity and method of feeding your pup.

Do you have any other feeding tips for new dog parents? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.

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