QUESTION: I have to hand feed a litter of newborn puppies because their Mom barely has enough milk for one puppy, let alone the whole litter. I don't want to spend the money on Milk Replacer from the Vets. What kind of milk is good for them and how do I feed them? My friend tried to feed a litter of orphan puppies one time and half of them died. Any tips on how to keep that from happening?

ANSWER: Preferably go to the Vets and purchase the proper Newborn Milk Replacer for the pups. It is formulated to give all the proper Nutrition the pups need, plus formulated to help in preventing life threatening Stomach/Intestinal upsets. NOTE: Just some causes of death when feeding newborn puppies can be: Not keeping the puppies warm enough, keeping them so overly warm they dehydrate, not helping the puppies urinate or defecate after each feeding, underfeeding, not feeding often enough, over feeding, feeding the pups TO FAST, warming the formula in a microwave, the puppies tongue being over top the feeding instrument instead of UNDER it, milk replacer to COLD or warm, or not washing and rinsing your feeding instruments correctly as soon as finished using them.

Follow the mixing and feeding directions on the container precisely. Feed newborns every 2 hours for first week, increasing times between feedings to 3 hours for the second week, then 4 hours for the third week. They will continue to need milk replacer until a minimum of 5 weeks old but hopefully, starting after 21 days old, they will be able to lap it up out of a "Shallow Dish". Do not have to much milk replacer in the shallow dish when they are just learning to drink or they may get it up their nose and into their lungs. As they consume it, you can keep adding more until they are satisfied.

Gradually also start offering them soft puppy gruel 4 times a day starting at about 18 to 20 days old. By 4 weeks of age, they should have access to a shallow dish of water and a dish of softened food at all times. Your goal is to have them on firmer food by 5 weeks of age.

Rule Of Thumb when bottle or syringe feeding is to let them have as much as they will COMFORTABLY take. Stop as soon as puppy wrinkles its lips and/or it's belly appears full and firm. NOTE: Over feeding can hurt them just as much as under feeding. By this I do not mean to skip feedings, but to not over feed during each feeding!!!

Leave them on the mother so she will clean them and stimulate them to urinate and defecate. Or you will have to stimulate them after each feeding with a wad of cotton dipped in warm water. Then dry them to keep their tender skin from becoming chapped and irritated. A drop of baby oil may be needed on their anus and skin of the abdomen after drying them. Change their bedding material often to prevent urine scalds from wet bedding.

The puppies must be kept in a warm, dry environment. A chilled puppy unless "properly" warmed and kept warm will not survive. Their digestive system simply shuts down.

Below is puppy formulas which can be made at home. They are no where near as good as milk replacer purchased from the Vet. Puppy Milk Replacer purchased from a Vet is by far the best choice to prevent Diarrhea and "Failure To Thrive" in newborn pups.

Formula #1: 1 cup homogenized milk, 3 egg Yolks, 1 tablespoon corn oil, 1 Dropper liquid Pediatric Vitamins.

Formula #2: 26.5 ounces of homogenized milk, 6.5 ounces of cream (12% fat),1 teaspoon bone meal, 1 egg Yolk, 4 grams citric acid, Liquid Vitamins to provide 2,000 I.U. Vitamin A, 500 I.U. Vitamin D.

Formula #3: Evaporated milk reconstituted to 20% solids (which is 1 part warm water to 5 parts evaporated milk), 1 teaspoon bone meal per pint.

Although an eye dropper can be used in an emergency, a proper puppy bottle (you may need to "slightly" enlarge the opening in the nipple if the puppies are too weak to suck long or hard enough) works the best. To large of hole though and the puppies will choke if the milk comes out to fast.
I prefer to use a clean 1cc syringe for small breeds, a 3cc for medium breeds or a 6cc for larger breeds. A syringe can be used IF YOU DO NOT GET MILK INTO THE PUPPIES LUNGS BY DEPRESSING THE PLUNGER TO FAST. Slow, slow, slow is a must. NOTE: By keeping the warmed milk replacer beside you, you just keep refilling the syringe until the puppy has enough. Once finished with that puppy, move on to the next one. You may have to reheat the dish of water you are using to keep your smaller container of milk replace warm in before finishing with all the puppies.

Warm the milk so when tested on your wrist, it feels slightly warm. "Keep the formula warmed during feeding" by setting it in a dish of Hot Water. Never warm any kind of milk replacer in a microwave. Keep formula in the refrigerator. Wash and rinse well all feeding supplies each time "immediately" after each feeding. Another common cause of life threatening stomach/Intestinal upset in puppies are improperly washed or rinsed feeding utensils.

The correct position for bottle nursing a puppy is to open the mouth with the tip of your finger, insert the nipple and hold at a 45 degree angle. You must prevent air from getting swallowed down into it's stomach. NOTE: "The puppies tongue MUST be under the nipple, eye dropper, syringe, etc". You must make sure of this each and every the puppy takes it into it's mouth. By feeding a puppy with it's tongue above the feeding instrument, it will get milk into it's lungs and can die from it. Their sucking reflex is very strong so in-between insertion of the feeding instrument, they may have their little tongues practically glued to the top of their mouths. Simply run your finger down their nose and lips until they release their tongue so it is back in it's proper place for more feeding.

As long as the puppy does not cry excessively, gains weight and feels firm to the touch, the diet is meeting it's nutritional requirements. Common problems are over feeding and underfeeding. Both cause diarrhea and/or failure to gain weight. If the puppy seems reasonably content with a normal stool (fairly firm, darker yellowish) everything should be fine.

YOU NEED A VET'S ADVICE IMMEDIATELY IF: Any change in the puppies stool in CONSISTENCY or COLOR which is reason to be greatly concerned. A continuously crying puppy is a distressed puppy. A puppy off by itself (away from the other ones) is in serious trouble.

NOTE: All mother dogs must have access to fresh, clean water close to the nest and fed free choice all the "Top Quality" dry dog food they can eat, 24/7.

ADDITIONAL INFO:  If no mother to provide warmth for Orphans, a source of warmth must be provided so they are kept at a constant temperature.  They must be able to get away from a source of warmth also.  Please speak to your Veterinarian about sources of artificial heat for newborns so you provide it correctly.  To hot can be worse than none at all.

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