Apart from factors like sound health, warmth, a clean environment, and socialization, puppies need food to grow up properly. In an ideal setting, feeding newborn puppies is the job of the mother. Her milk has all the nutrients they need to grow healthy and robust, and depriving them of their mother’s milk is not helpful.
However, there may be times when the mother is unavoidably absent and cannot nurse her puppies. During these periods, seeing to the needs of your puppy becomes your job. You will need to figure out what to feed newborn puppies without mother quickly so that your puppy doesn’t die.
How to Bottle Feed Newborn Puppies?
If the mother of your puppies is absent for any reason—adoption, death, or rejection—then you have to take on the role of the puppy parent to ensure your pup remains healthy and alive. A bitch that is present could be suffering from mastitis and become unable to feed her puppies. You have to pay very keen attention to your puppies and their mother to know when it is right to intervene.
The first and best way to help your pup is by bottle feeding, so you need to learn how to do it properly. The first step in feeding any puppy is getting the materials you need.
- Feeding bottles
- Puppy milk replacer
- Ingredients for a homemade recipe (they vary depending on the method you are using)
You also need to know how to make puppy milk replacement formulas and all the things that follow afterward.
Step 1: Prepare the Formula
Not all animal milk is friendly for your pooch’s tummy, so it is best to use a commercial milk replacer or a home remedy. You can check this page for help in buying milk replacers for your puppy. If you use milk replacers, mix one part of the replacer with two portions of water. Afterward, mix it or shake well until it is well mixed, then test the temperature before you feed your puppy. For homemade replacers, make the one you and your pup prefers. Also, if you are for organic feeding and want to regulate what your dog eats, you can check here for some recipes.
Some important points to note:
- Standard guidelines for feeding with milk replacers is 1cc milk replacer per ounce of body weight
- Don’t make more mix than your puppy can finish within 24 hours. They should eat fresh meals
- Put leftovers in the fridge to preserve freshness till the next feeding time
- If you are going to feed your pup the leftover from the fridge, ensure that it is warm because your puppy does not need cold meals since they cannot regulate their body temperature properly yet
- Check the puppy’s weight regularly to confirm proper growth
Step 2: Get Your Puppy in the Right Position
Most puppy parents think of puppies like human children and may want to feed them like that. It is essential to note that puppies do not lie on their backs to feed. Instead, they lay on their tummies. So, if you want to feed a puppy, the right position will be placing the puppy on its belly or carrying it in a sort of standing position.
If you try feeding your puppy like a human child on it’s back, this puts the puppy at risk for aspirating the food. When a puppy aspirates their milk, it can go into their lungs and cause pneumonia.
Step 3: Feed Your Puppy
Before you feed your puppy, you will need to have purchased a syringe or premature feeding bottle. Either of these feeding instruments could mimic the mother’s nipples and help the puppy feed better. Put the tip of the needle of the feeding bottle on your puppy’s mouth and let it nurture at its own pace. They will remove their mouth from it when they are full.
Some important points to note:
- Try not to open the mouth of the feeding bottle too much to avoid pouring excess milk into the pup’s mouth so that it doesn’t go to its airway
- If the dog doesn’t want to eat, try carefully, forcing a bit into its mouth so that it can taste the milk
- While feeding, carefully push the milk slowly and give it enough time to swallow
Step 4: Follow the Right Schedule
Puppies like human babies have little tummy space, so you will need to feed them often. While breed, size, weight, and other factors affect the number of food your puppy needs, you should always check a newborn puppy feeding chart for reference. Asking the question of how to take care of newborn puppies week by week is complicated because no two puppies are the same. However, looking at weekly changes can help you make the best decisions for your dog to remain healthy.
At birth till two weeks, everything is still hazy to them, and they need to feed often. However, bottle feeding puppies at two weeks and above do not need to be as frequent. The amount of food they get during these periods until the 8th week when they are young dogs varies based on their body weight and growth rate. Check here for more information on their growth.
If your dog needs to stay without a meal for long, the longest time it needs to stay hungry should be a maximum of eight hours. When the mother is present, newborns spend 90 percent of their time sleeping and the other 10 percent suckling on from their mothers.
Helping Newborn Puppies Burp
Newborn puppies have little stomach space, and since they are using a bottle to feed in this scenario, they have a high chance of swallowing air. When they do take a breath into their tummy, you need to help them get rid of it so that they can eat properly. Helping puppies burp is not very different from helping human babies. The significant difference is the timing—you burp human babies after eating while puppies need burping during meals.
Apart from the need to eat appropriately, and if you do not burp your dogs, it causes bloating. When your dogs are bloated, they become uncomfortable, and puppies tend to cry due to discomfort. Additionally, burping your newborn puppies helps in improving their social skills.
Hold the Puppy Right
Between the intervals of feeding your newborn puppy, you can lift the puppy to your shoulders to burp it. When you carry the puppy up, place its belly on your shoulders, and move on to the next step.
Pat the back of your puppy until you hear it release air. Once the air releases, you are sure that the process is effective. Then, you can proceed to continue feeding it.
Repeat at the End
After you complete the process of feeding your puppy, you should try burping it again. You may not hear air released all the time, but burping helps to reduce bloating. If your puppy retains air in its tummy, it will be bloated, and it can take in the breath easily while feeding.
Helping Newborn Puppies Poop
When the mother is present, the mother always helps the newborn pup urinate and defecate during the first few weeks because they can’t go on their own without help. As the puppy’s “adoptive parent,” you should assist your puppy in defecating. Puppies need help with excreting and urinating the first two weeks of their lives.
The female dog helps their baby stimulate waste release by licking their genitals. However, humans do not share similar sentiments, and luckily, damp clothing, and hands are perfectly enough for the job. Since defecation is a vital part of their lives, you can ask your vet for help to encourage your newborn pups. A vet can teach you better tricks to helping them pee and poop. They begin excreting on their own at about three weeks.
Moisten a Cotton Ball
Use warm water to moisten a cotton ball. A warm moist cotton ball mimics the mother’s tongue. This cotton ball should not be hot; it needs to be heated at body temperature.
Place the Puppy in Your Palm
Put the pup in your palm and let it rest on it’s back. This posture will help the puppy feel comfortable and provide warmth. This gesture helps your dog feel safer.
Rub the Cotton Ball on the Puppy's Genitals
Rub the puppy’s genitals with the cotton ball until it poops. While the dog may not poop after every meal, you should try helping it after each meal so that it does not get constipated.
Keep Your Puppy Warm
You can always ensure your puppy stays warm by placing a warm bottle wrapped in a towel beside them. The heated towel can mimic the feel of its mother and ease the newborn puppy into pooping freely.
When newborn puppies feed, they will need to eliminate the food to avoid bloating. If food waste does not leave their bowels, it can cause discomfort and make them cry. If your dog begins to cry, the first things to do is trying to burp it, if burping doesn’t work, then you can try helping it poop. You can look at this article for other reasons dogs cry and how to help them feel better.
Weaning Puppies to Solid Food
Step 1: Decide When it is Time to Change Diets
Most newborn puppies need to keep nursing from their moms for the first month of their lives. The case is also the same when using bottle feeding. After the first month, you can start the slow progression into dry food. The progression period should take approximately three to four weeks to get them used to eat kibble. When your pup is two months old, it should have been used to eating both dry and solid dog food.
Step 2: Set the Food Up
Make a blend of dry food (kibble) and water. You can crush a portion of the kibbles if you are feeding a puppy that is still moderately little. The water will make the kibble more friendly and inviting for your puppy to eat. During the initial week, you can make the introduction of this diet to a newborn puppy as a feeding substitute for the milk replacer in their bottle. During this period, you can put soggy kibble in the container and try feeding the puppy. After the first week, change strategy and eliminate bottle feeding. Keep it simple with just the dry food blend.
By their 4th-6th week, they should already start eating four to five times a day. You should note that small breeds are prone to hypoglycemia, so if they went to sleep hungry, waking them up to eat is your best move. If they refuse food, you can leave it out for them during their later life stages.
Step 3: Let the Newborn Puppy Get Used to their New Food and Feeding Style
You can always help your dog get used to the new food by putting it in a shallow dish for its first trial. When you put food in the bowl, put your little dog’s jaw in the food, and let the dog perceive the food. Also, allow some of it to get caught on the puppy’s jaw, and it will consequently lick its jaw. This process will urge it to eat the blend after the first tasting.
You will likewise need to begin acquainting your pup with a water dish, so it figures out how to drink the water independently at an early age. Do something very similar to the water bowl—put it in a shallow dish and delicately stick your little dog’s jaw in it.
Step 4: Introduce Solid Food
At two weeks old, when they start finding their way around and exploring, the frequency of feeding can now reduce. Later with more growth, they can start transitioning to kibble and other variety of meals. In the first few weeks of your dog’s life, you can measure their weight using a kitchen scale to determine their growth rate. A healthy puppy should gain 5% of their body weight daily.
The time between nursing reduces as they grow older until they eventually do not need the mother milk. At this time, they can safely leave the mother and even go to a new home. The switch should take about 3-4 weeks. During this period, you can start adding less water to the puppy’s food until it gets used to solid food gradually. You can also try combining some wet puppy food as well so that your puppy can get familiarized with other types of food too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Puppies are delicate creatures and feeding newborn puppies, requires effort and commitment. While this article was precise and detailed in giving you all the information about newborn puppy feeding, you may still have some things to clarify. In this light, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers.
The amount of food newborns need depends on their body weight and breed. Newborn puppies require food about 6-7 times a day with a 2-4 hours interval between meals. The newborn puppy feeding charts or the box of a meal replacer will give precise measurements of how much to feed your dog.
A healthy pup can go for five days without eating a proper meal. However, if you have a dog that regularly eats, after five hours without a meal, they will begin to fuss. Also, keeping a newborn puppy for five days without a meal is not good treatment so never actively avoid feeding a newborn puppy.
As a rule of thumb, do not wake sleeping puppies for any reason. If your dog went to sleep without a meal, you could wait for it to wake up. Consequently, if pups reject their meal, it may be a loss of appetite. If this persists, visit your vet for better help.
Newborn puppies come hungry and will latch onto the mother’s breasts for food immediately after they are born. Their hunger is helpful because they need the first milk their mother produces called the colostrum to build immunity to survive outside the womb. For the next weeks, they will newborn puppies will be feeding on their mother at intervals.
Newborn puppy feeding is a complicated procedure without its mother. However, you can do your best to help your puppy grow up as healthy as possible by following these protocols mentioned above. If you encounter any problems, you should visit your vet for help. Also, it is best to consult with your vet before using any feeding protocol for your pup at every feeding milestone.