Newborn puppies don’t need much from the owners. The dog owner should not intrude on the mother dog’s care. However, there are instances when the owner has to interfere to ensure that the little ones are healthy.
There are three possible reasons that the mother dog can’t attend to her new puppies.
- There is a separation between the mother dog and her young ones, probably because of death.
- The mother has rejected her little ones.
- The mother is not producing enough milk to sustain the needs of her babies.
When the above circumstances happen, you have to take over the overall care, and that includes bottle feeding them.
What are the Primary Needs of Newborn Puppies?
Like human newborn babies, newborn puppies have essential needs for survival. What are these primary needs?
- They need to be kept warm
- They need to be well-sanitated
- They need to eliminate waste
- They need to be socially-stimulated
- They need to be well-fed
Supposedly, it’s the mother’s milk that will suffice all the puppies’ nutritional needs. However, if the said circumstances happen, you have to supplement the puppies’ need with a commercial milk replacement.
Bottle feeding puppies with a commercial milk replacer requires guidance from a veterinarian. Remember, they have specific needs based on their breed, age, body weight, and condition. Don’t worry because vets will guide you on what puppy formula to feed and how to do it safely.
Also, never feed formula from a cow’s milk as it may cause diarrhea. Plus, most store-bought cow’s milk lacks the right amounts of phosphorus and calcium because it’s diluted. Formula from a goat’s milk is also not recommended because it does not have the right amount of fat and protein compared to a milk replacer.
Consider feeding milk replacers that have optimum levels of DHA and omega fatty acids to a puppy.
How Often to Bottle Feed Newborn Puppies?
A puppy has to be fed at least every 2 hours or as often as possible at one week of age. After a couple of weeks from birth, your pup can now tolerate 4 to 5 meals per day. Monitor the puppy’s weight, he should be able to gain 10 to 15% of weight per day. If he isn’t gaining weight, immediately bring him to the vet because a lack of weight gain in a puppy is a sign of a particular illness.
Important note to remember, feed small breed puppies with 10 to 15ml of puppy milk only to prevent diarrhea.
When the puppy is already four weeks old, he can gradually wean from milk for puppies. By this time, he can already start eating solid food. His solid food should be a mix of high-quality dry kibble for puppies and milk and warm water. It should be blended just enough to have a consistency likened to that of a gruel.
Once the puppy is at 7 to 8 weeks old, solid food should now have a texture. During that time, your pup can start eating dry kibble. As your puppy grows up, consult your veterinarian in creating a long-term feeding plan to meet his developmental needs.
When your puppy approaches the adult size and weight, you have to reduce meal times to twice a day only. However, switching from junior food to adult food should be consulted to your vet as it requires proper timing.
How to Bottle Feed?
Here are the steps and reminders when you bottle-feed newborn pups with commercial puppy milk.
Step 1: Prepare all the necessary equipment for feeding. Make sure to wash the puppy-sized bottles and sterilize them as frequently as possible before each meal. You also have to wash your hands to avoid sanitation problems that can potentially lead to infection.
You may also consider tube feeding milk for a puppy if you don’t have puppy-sized bottles. However, do not use a water bottle for feeding.
Step 2: Prepare the water by boiling it and cooling it down to 158°F, if you are using powdered formula. If you are using the liquid type, then heat it to 100°F.
Step 3: Follow the package instruction or the manufacturer’s recommendation for the reconstitution of the milk. Package instruction should also indicate the amount of food to be given. Most commercial milk replacers would require 1cc of milk formula for every one ounce of body weight at each feeding.
Step 4: Position the newborn puppy on his stomach. Do not feed the puppy by holding him on his back as it can cause pneumonia due to milk potentially getting into the lungs.
Step 5: Assist the puppy in feeding by pushing the bottle gently. Of course, allot plenty of time for swallowing to prevent choking.
Take note, a well-fed puppy is restless and should be able to sleep soundly. After each feeding, you also need to help the puppies burp and eliminate waste. A puppy does not eliminate every after feeding, but you should attempt to help to excrete waste every after feeding.
Step 6: Initiate genital stimulation on the puppy for him to eliminate when he is 1 to 2 weeks old due to his incapacity to excrete waste during that age.
Well, if the mother is around or is taking care of her young ones, it’s the mother’s instinct that does the trick by licking her puppies’ genital area to stimulate the elimination. However, due to the mother dog’s absence, then you have to do it.
Moisten a washcloth or a cotton ball with water, then gently massage the puppy’s genital area every after feeding. Your puppy should be able to urinate or defecate or both after feeding sessions.
The texture, warmth, and movement mimic a mother dog’s tongue, so stimulation shouldn’t be a problem.
What are the Best Practices for Good Hygiene?
You also need to pay attention to your puppies’ hygiene, mainly because their immune system isn’t that fully developed to fight off certain illnesses.
- If you’re sterilizing the bottles, make sure to also include the teats in between uses.
- Don’t consume milk replacer for more than 24 hours and always keep it refrigerated.
- Discard any formula milk exposed to room temperature for 1 hour.
- Once a week, gently clean the puppies with a damp cloth.
- Always wash your hands before touching them to prevent bacteria from contaminating their bodies.
How to Keep Newborn Puppies Warm
There should be continuous monitoring of the temperature of the little ones for 24 hours. Since you are now in charge of the puppies, you have to secure supplemental heating for them, so their bodies are kept warm.
During the first four days of the newborn puppies’ lives, the temperature of the whelping box has to be at 85°F to 90°F. By the seventh to tenth day, the temperature should be decreased to 80°F on a gradual basis. Finally, by the end of the fourth week, the temperature should be reduced to 72°F.
What are the Signs of Illness in Newborn Puppies
Once you’re successful in making them healthy, it’s another time to consult your veterinarian about your puppies’ preventative health plan, which includes deworming, vaccines, and physical examination. However, you have to bring the puppies immediately to the vet if they exhibit any of the following symptoms.
- Poor weight gain
- Lack of appetite
- Constant crying
- Difficulty in breathing
- Wheezing or coughing
- Swollen eyes
- Pale gums
- Nasal discharge
- Inability to excrete feces or urine
Moreover, they may be susceptible to fleas and other parasites, so you must talk to your vet about parasite control.
Taking care of newborn puppies is quite a challenge for the first few weeks because you’ll assume all responsibilities of mothering in the absence of the mother dog. What more, if you’re taking care of a lot of her young ones, that’s a tedious task.
But of course, all these things that you’re going to do for the puppies are rewarding. The sense of fulfillment you’ll feel while raising them is undeniable. Raising newborn puppies requires patience in feeding, which can establish the trust that will last for a lifetime.
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