Bottle Feeding Puppies

Almost everyone looks to the birth of a litter of puppies with anticipation, excitement and joy. However, problems do occur and it is best to be prepared for bottle feeding puppies before the need should arise. 

Most of the time nature and the new mother are able to take care of things, but if the mother dies, refuses to care of the puppies or has an inadequate milk supply then the puppies will have to be raised by hand. If at all possible, the puppies should be allowed to nurse within the first twelve hours of life. This is when the mother’s antibodies are passed on to the puppies through the milk. After twelve hours the puppies’ stomachs are unable to absorb the antibodies.

Things to Know Before You Begin

A healthy puppy is warm and constantly moving; if the puppy is still and cool then he is most likely chilled and should not be fed until he is re-warmed. The puppy should be warmed slowly by holding him close to the body, being careful not to allow the puppy to become smothered by clothing or overheated. Once the puppy becomes warm and active again, feeding can resume.

Bottles and nipples that are used for feeding should be sterilized by boiling between uses. If feeding more than one puppy, use a separate bottle for each so that the amount consumed can be monitored and bacteria are not transferred from one puppy to another. Wash your hands before preparing formula and bottles, and before handling each puppy.

The final point that should be remembered is to always feed the puppy while he is lying on his stomach. This is his natural nursing position and prevents formula from entering the lungs, leading to pneumonia.

The Bottle Feeding Process

When bottle-feeding puppies you can choose either a commercial formula or a homemade formula. Use a two to four ounce infant or puppy nursing bottle. The hole in the nipple should be sized so that only a few drops of milk should flow out when the bottle is shaken.

Feed the formula at slightly above room temperature 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit, never feed cold formula as it can cause the puppy to become chilled.

Formula Recipe

Formula should be fed at the rate of 1cc per ounce of body weight every three hours. Refrigerate any remaining formula between uses. Throw out any unused formula after seven days. The following formula provides 11 calories per cc. The mixture will be slightly thick.

  • 10 ounces of canned evaporated milk or canned goats’ milk
  • 3 ounces of water sterilized
  • 1 raw egg yolk (no white)
  • 1 cup of whole yogurt (no low fat or non fat)
  • ½ teaspoon of Corn Syrup (no honey)

Things to Do After Bottle Feeding Puppies

After the puppies have been fed they must be burped. Burping is accomplished by placing the puppy on your shoulder with the head in an upright position and gently patting the puppy’s back until he expels air. Be cautious not to pat the puppy too hard.

The next task to be accomplished is encouraging the puppy to eliminate. Puppies are unable to eliminate by themselves until about the age of three weeks; mother dogs do this by licking the genital and anal areas of the puppy until he eliminates. Soft cotton or a soft cloth dipped in warm water and softly rubbed around the groin, genitals, and anal area of the puppy will encourage elimination.

By following these tips you should have the greatest chances of success with bottle-feeding puppies. If the puppies show any signs of illness consult your veterinarian.