This step by step guide shows you how to bottle feed puppies properly
Orphaned, abandoned or rejected puppies (or a small/weak puppy who can't nurse) need you to give them the nutrition that will keep them alive. Bottle feeding is usually the answer.
If you're faced with a tiny puppy (or a whole litter of them) who aren't able to nurse from their momma, it can be a very scary situation.
You might be wondering how on earth you're going to keep them alive let alone thriving!
But don't panic, many (MANY) other dog owners just like you have learned to bottle feed puppies and hand-raise them successfully.
You can too, the advice and information on this page will help you get together everything you need, and show you how to make sure the pup/s get the nutrition they need.
I'd also strongly recommend that you get your own veterinarian involved too. He/she will be able to give you the benefit of their advice and professional experience which is priceless.
When you're bottle feeding puppies, it's important to use a puppy milk substitute that meets their special dietary needs.
Commercial puppy formulas that are carefully prepared to do just that can usually be bought at your veterinarians office or from large pet stores.
If your dog is pregnant, I would recommend getting some puppy milk in advance, so it's handy if you should need it. Feeding new born puppies is very similar to feeding new born human babies in that they need to nurse frequently! Every two hours during the day and probably once or twice during the night in the very beginning.
This adorable video shows a tiny French Bulldog being bottle fed...
Okay, so let's take a look at how to bottle feed puppies yourself, and the equipment that you need:
Bottle feeding can be difficult for small breed puppies, especially the weaker ones or the 'runts' can be extremely tiny and weak.
If you're in this situation with a very little puppy, you can try using an eye-dropper instead. Even the teeniest puppies are usually able to suck from these.
If they're too weak to suckle to begin with you can gently squeeze the milk into the side of their mouths at first (into the 'pocket' of the cheek, this helps to prevent the pup from choking, gagging or inhaling the milk).
You could also use a syringe to gently 'inject' milk into the side of a tiny puppy's mouth in the same way, but once the pup is strong enough to suckle change over to an eye-dropper as that works better in the long run.
As your pup grows and puts on weight you should be able to 'graduate' to a bottle of some type, even if it's one designed for wild animals, or other pets such as baby rabbits and so on.
Check out this great video which shows a very small Dachshund puppy ('Baby Girl') being dropper-fed
Sometimes a puppy is too small or weak to suckle, or simply refuses to try. In this situation you need to find another way to get the milk into him. Tube feeding is usually recommended for puppies who can't/won't nurse.
There are risks involved because an incorrectly placed tube could flood the puppy's lungs.
It's important, and very helpful, to be shown how to tube feed your puppy by an expert, usually an established breeder or your veterinarian is the best person to help you with this.
Watching an experienced person tube feed a puppy and then practicing doing it yourself under supervision is the best way to learn.
You will also need to get the right equipment. This puppy tube feeding kit has what you'll need to get started. Choose the 3.5 size for small breed puppies, either 5 .0 or 8.0 for mid-sized puppies and either 8.0 or 10.0 for large or giant breed puppies.
Sponge feeding is a safer, gentler option to tube feeding IF your pup is strong enough to suck.
For this method you use can a small cosmetic sponge cut to approximate the size of the momma dog's teat, and also cut a small hole in the opposite end of the sponge. It's a good idea to have several sponges ready cut for use so that you can wash and dry them in between feedings.
Fill a small syringe with the right amount of milk for the feeding and insert it into the hole you cut in the sponge.
Dip the other end (teat shaped) of the sponge in the milk and encourage your pup to suck on it. You may need to gently insert the sponge into his mouth and squeeze a few drops of milk out to encourage him.
Once he's sucking, slowly press the plunger on the syringe to pour milk into the sponge and keep it flowing slowly so the pup doesn't swallow air.. but slowly enough that he won't be flooded with it either.
This video shows you how to sponge feed a puppy:
Now you know HOW to bottle feed those puppies, you need the right supplies to do it with!
Some you may be able to find at your local pet store, others you will probably need to order online. If your dog is expecting a litter of puppies it's a good idea to make sure you have some of these handy ahead of time....