Bottle Feeding Puppies | Newborn Feeding Chart & Great Advice

By: Danielle Harris

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bottle feeding puppies

As a dog lover, there’s nothing more heartwarming than caring for a litter of adorable newborn puppies. But what happens when their mother is unable to nurse them or when they are orphaned? That’s where bottle feeding comes in. Bottle feeding is essential for these tiny pups, providing them with the necessary nutrition and ensuring their survival.

Not only does bottle feeding help meet their nutritional needs, but it also fosters a strong bond between you and the puppies. It allows them to associate you with comfort and nourishment, creating a deep sense of trust. However, bottle feeding newborn puppies requires careful attention and proper technique to ensure they receive the right amount of milk without any complications.

Table of Contents – Bottle Feeding Puppies

When to Use Puppy Formula for Bottle Feeding

If you find yourself in a situation where puppies are abandoned, rejected, or separated from their mother, bottle feeding becomes crucial. There are certain circumstances when the mother is unable to produce enough milk or has health issues that prevent her from nursing her puppies adequately. In such cases, using puppy formula for bottle feeding is essential to ensure the well-being and nourishment of the puppies.

Abandoned, Rejected, or Separated Puppies

Sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances or negligence, puppies may be abandoned by their mother or rejected by her. This can occur if the mother is stressed, inexperienced, or simply unable to care for her litter. In such situations, it becomes necessary to step in and provide sustenance through bottle feeding with puppy formula.

Insufficient Milk Production or Health Issues

There are instances when a mother dog may not be able to produce enough milk to meet the nutritional needs of her puppies. This could be due to various factors such as poor health conditions or inadequate milk supply. In these cases, supplementing with puppy formula ensures that the puppies receive the necessary nutrients for their growth and development.

Weak or Underweight Puppies

Puppies that are weak or underweight require additional nourishment beyond what their mother can provide. Bottle feeding them with puppy formula allows for precise control over their intake and ensures they receive adequate nutrition during this critical period of their lives. This helps them gain strength and reach a healthy weight.

Using puppy formula for bottle feeding provides numerous benefits in these situations:

  • Ensures Proper Nutrition: Puppy formulas are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of growing puppies.
  • Supports Growth and Development: The balanced composition of puppy formula aids in healthy bone formation and overall growth.
  • Bonding Opportunity: Bottle feeding creates an opportunity for human interaction and bonding with the puppies.
  • Individualized Care: Bottle feeding allows for monitoring each puppy’s intake and addressing any specific dietary needs they may have.
  • Convenience: Using puppy formula provides a convenient alternative when the mother is unable to nurse or is absent.

It is important to note that bottle feeding should be done with care and attention to detail. Following the instructions provided on the puppy formula packaging, ensuring proper hygiene, and using appropriate bottles and nipples are essential for the well-being of the puppies.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Bottle Feed Puppies

Sterilize Equipment for Each Feeding Session

Before each feeding session, it is crucial to sterilize all the equipment you will be using. This step helps ensure the cleanliness and safety of the bottle and nipple, reducing the risk of any harmful bacteria or contaminants being introduced to the puppy’s delicate system. To sterilize, simply wash the bottle and nipple with warm soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and then submerge them in boiling water for a few minutes. Allow them to cool before use.

Hold the Puppy Comfortably and Support Its Head

When bottle feeding puppies, it’s important to hold them in a comfortable position while providing proper support for their head. Cradle the pup gently in your hands or place them on a soft towel or blanket. Use one hand to support their body while using your other hand to hold the bottle securely. Make sure their head is slightly elevated as this helps prevent choking and aids in digestion.

Introduce the Bottle Nipple Slowly into Their Mouth

To initiate feeding, slowly introduce the bottle nipple into the puppy’s mouth. Allow them to naturally latch onto it and begin suckling at their own pace. Avoid forcing anything into their mouth as this may cause discomfort or lead to aspiration. If they are having trouble latching onto the nipple, you can try gently rubbing it against their lips or allowing a small amount of milk to drip onto their tongue to entice them.

Observe Their Suckling Behavior

While bottle feeding, closely observe how the puppy is suckling from the bottle. Ideally, they should be able to create a seal around the nipple with their mouth and rhythmically suckle in a steady manner. If they seem hesitant or are not latching properly, gently reposition the nipple or adjust its flow rate if possible (some bottles have different flow options). It’s essential to ensure they are receiving an adequate amount of milk without gulping or struggling excessively.

Monitor Feeding Time and Quantity

Keep track of the feeding time and the quantity of milk consumed by each puppy. Puppies have different nutritional needs based on their age, size, and breed, so it’s important to follow veterinary guidance regarding the appropriate amount to feed them. Overfeeding can lead to digestive issues, while underfeeding may result in inadequate nutrition and slower growth. Regularly consult with a veterinarian to monitor your puppies’ health and adjust their feeding schedule accordingly.

Gradually Transition to Solid Food

As puppies grow, they will gradually transition from bottle feeding to solid food. Introduce moistened puppy food around 3-4 weeks of age, gradually reducing the frequency of bottle feedings as they become more accustomed to eating from a dish. Consult with your veterinarian for guidance on the best time and method for transitioning your puppies onto solid food.

Remember, bottle feeding puppies requires patience, care, and attention. It is essential to provide them with a nurturing environment that mimics their mother’s care as closely as possible. By following these steps and seeking professional advice when needed, you can help ensure the healthy development of your adorable furry friends.

Syringe Bottle Feeding pups

Understanding Puppy Stomach Capacity and Feeding Amounts

Newborn puppies have tiny stomachs that can only hold small amounts of milk at a time. It’s important to understand their stomach capacity and feeding amounts to ensure their proper growth and development.

Tiny Stomachs Need Small Amounts

Just like human babies, newborn puppies have small stomachs that can only accommodate a limited amount of milk. Their stomach capacity is directly proportional to their body weight and age. At birth, a puppy’s stomach can hold just a few milliliters of milk. As they grow older, their stomach expands, allowing them to consume larger quantities of food.

Gradually Increase Feeding Amounts

As the puppies mature and their bodies develop, it becomes necessary to gradually increase the amount of food they receive during each feeding session. This ensures that they are getting enough nourishment without overwhelming their delicate digestive systems.

It is crucial not to overfeed the puppies as it can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea or bloating. Overfeeding can strain their tiny stomachs and cause discomfort. Following recommended guidelines for feeding amounts based on the puppy’s age and body weight is essential for their overall well-being.

When bottle-feeding puppies, it’s important to follow recommended guidelines provided by veterinarians or experienced breeders. These guidelines take into account factors such as the puppy’s age, body weight, and nutritional needs.

Typically, a general rule of thumb is to feed puppies about 12-15% of their body weight in calories per day. This should be divided into multiple smaller meals throughout the day rather than one large meal. For example, if a puppy weighs 1 pound (approximately 0.45 kilograms), they would require around 120-150 calories per day.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when determining feeding amounts:

  • Consult with your veterinarian or breeder for specific guidelines tailored to your puppy’s needs.
  • Monitor the puppies closely and adjust feeding amounts accordingly. If they appear hungry after a meal, you may need to increase the amount slightly.
  • Avoid overfeeding by ensuring that the puppies are not gaining weight too rapidly. Obesity can lead to various health issues in dogs.

Homemade Puppy Formula Recipe for Bottle Feeding: Leerburg Formula

Combine ingredients to create a homemade puppy formula

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to bottle feed puppies, it’s important to have a reliable recipe for a homemade formula. One popular option is the Leerburg formula, which combines ingredients like goat’s milk, yogurt, egg yolks, and corn syrup in specific proportions. These ingredients are easily accessible and can be mixed together to create a nutritious formula for your puppies.

Bottle Feeding puppies
Bottle Feeding Puppies

Consult with a veterinarian before using homemade formulas

While the Leerburg formula and other homemade puppy formulas can be helpful in emergency situations or when commercial milk replacers are not available, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian before relying solely on these homemade options. Homemade formulas may not provide complete nutrition for growing puppies and could potentially lead to health issues if not properly balanced.

Commercial milk replacers as safer alternatives

Commercial milk replacers are generally considered more balanced and safer options compared to homemade formulas. These specially formulated products are designed to meet the nutritional needs of growing puppies and often contain essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins necessary for their development.

Here are some key pros and cons of using commercial milk replacers:


  • Balanced nutrition: Commercial milk replacers are formulated specifically for puppies’ needs, ensuring they receive all the necessary nutrients.
  • Easy preparation: Most commercial milk replacers come in powder form that can be easily mixed with water according to package instructions.
  • Consistency: The composition of commercial milk replacers remains consistent from batch to batch, providing reliable nutrition for your puppies.


  • Cost: Commercial milk replacers can be more expensive than making your own formula at home.
  • Availability: Depending on your location or circumstances, finding specific brands or types of milk replacers may prove challenging.
  • Allergies or sensitivities: Some puppies may have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients in commercial milk replacers, so it’s important to monitor their reactions closely.

The importance of proper nutrition for growing puppies

Whether you choose to use a homemade formula or a commercial milk replacer, ensuring that your bottle-fed puppies receive proper nutrition is crucial for their growth and development. Puppies have specific dietary needs that must be met to support their overall health and well-being.

A balanced diet should include the right proportions of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. It’s essential to follow the guidance of a veterinarian who can provide recommendations based on the specific needs of your puppies.

Remember, while homemade formulas like the Leerburg formula can be helpful in certain situations, they should not replace professional advice from a veterinarian. Your vet will have the expertise to guide you on the best options for feeding and caring for your bottle-fed puppies.

Choosing the Right Milk Replacement Formula for Puppies

It’s crucial to choose the right milk replacement formula. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

Look for commercially available puppy milk replacers specifically formulated for newborns.

Commercially available puppy milk replacers are specially designed to meet the nutritional needs of young puppies. These formulas are formulated with the right balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary for their growth and development. They often contain essential ingredients like whey protein, which is easily digestible for puppies.


  • Commercially available puppy milk replacers provide a convenient and reliable option for bottle feeding.
  • These formulas ensure that your puppies receive all the necessary nutrients they need during this critical stage of their lives.


  • Some commercially available formulas may be more expensive compared to homemade alternatives.
  • It’s important to carefully read the labels and choose a reputable brand to ensure quality and safety.

Avoid using cow’s milk as it lacks essential nutrients and can cause digestive upset in puppies.

Although cow’s milk might seem like a viable option, it is not suitable for newborn puppies. Cow’s milk lacks certain essential nutrients that are vital for their growth. It can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea or bloating in puppies due to its high lactose content.


  • By avoiding cow’s milk, you reduce the risk of digestive problems in your puppies.
  • Opting for a specialized puppy milk replacer ensures that your puppies receive all the necessary nutrients they need without any potential adverse effects.


  • Using cow’s milk as a substitute can result in nutritional deficiencies and health problems in growing puppies.
  • Digestive upset caused by cow’s milk can lead to discomfort and potentially hinder their overall development.

Make sure the formula is appropriate for your puppy’s age and consult with a vet if unsure.

Puppy milk replacers come in different formulations suitable for various stages of a puppy’s development. It’s crucial to choose a formula that is appropriate for your puppy’s age and consult with a veterinarian if you’re unsure about the right choice.


  • Choosing the right formula based on your puppy’s age ensures they receive the appropriate nutrients at each stage.
  • Consulting with a vet provides expert guidance, ensuring you make an informed decision regarding the milk replacement formula.


  • Using an inappropriate formula can result in nutritional imbalances or deficiencies in puppies.
  • Without consulting a veterinarian, it can be challenging to determine which milk replacer is best suited for your specific puppy.

Transitioning from Milk Replacer to Solid Food

Transitioning puppies from milk replacer to solid food is an important milestone in their development. Around 3-4 weeks of age, it’s time to introduce moistened puppy food and gradually decrease the amount of milk replacer over a few weeks. Paying attention to the puppy’s readiness for solid food cues, such as chewing or showing interest in their mother’s food, can help determine when they are ready for this transition.

Introducing Moistened Puppy Food

At around 3-4 weeks old, puppies can begin their journey into the world of solid food. Start by moistening dry puppy food with warm water or milk replacer until it reaches a soft consistency. This will make it easier for them to eat and digest.

Gradually increase the ratio of solid food to liquid over time, allowing the puppies’ digestive systems to adjust. By doing this slowly, you can prevent any digestive issues like diarrhea that may arise from a sudden change in diet.

Observing Readiness Cues

Puppies often give us clues when they are ready for solid food. You might notice them sniffing at their mother’s or littermates’ meals, attempting to chew on objects around them, or even showing curiosity about what you’re eating! These signs indicate that they are becoming interested in exploring different textures and flavors.

When you observe these cues, it’s a good time to offer them some moistened puppy food. Place a small amount on a shallow dish or even on your finger so they can lick it off. Gradually increase the portion size as they become more comfortable with eating solid foods.

Gradual Transition Process

The transition from milk replacer to solid food should be done gradually over several weeks. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Start by mixing a small amount of moistened puppy food with milk replacer.
  2. Feed the mixture to the puppies using a shallow dish or your finger.
  3. Increase the amount of puppy food and decrease the milk replacer gradually over time.
  4. Monitor their response and adjust accordingly. If they have any digestive issues, slow down the transition process.

By following this gradual approach, you give their digestive systems time to adapt to the new diet without causing any discomfort or nutritional imbalances.

Nutritional Considerations

Solid food provides essential nutrients for a growing puppy’s development. While milk replacers are formulated to meet their nutritional needs initially, solid food offers a wider range of vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients necessary for healthy growth.

Ensure that the puppy food you choose is specifically formulated for puppies’ nutritional requirements. Look for options that contain high-quality protein sources, such as chicken or beef, and avoid those with excessive fillers or artificial additives.

Remember to provide fresh water alongside solid food to keep them adequately hydrated throughout the day.

Transitioning from milk replacer to solid food is an exciting milestone in a puppy’s life. By introducing moistened puppy food gradually and observing their readiness cues, you can ensure a smooth transition without compromising their health and well-being.

Importance of Proper Bottle Feeding

Congratulations on completing the sections before the conclusion! By now, you have gained a wealth of knowledge about bottle feeding puppies. You understand when to use puppy formula, how to bottle feed step-by-step, and even have a homemade formula recipe at your disposal. But why is proper bottle feeding so important? Well, just like human babies, puppies rely on their mother’s milk for essential nutrients and antibodies. When this isn’t possible, it becomes crucial to provide them with the right nourishment through bottle feeding.

Now that you know the significance of proper bottle feeding for puppies, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge into action! Remember, every puppy is unique and may require different amounts of milk replacement formula. Pay attention to their cues and adjust accordingly. Be patient and gentle during feedings; this bonding time is vital for their emotional well-being as well. So go ahead and give those adorable little pups the care they deserve!


Can I use regular cow’s milk instead of puppy formula?

No, cow’s milk should not be used as a substitute for puppy formula. Cow’s milk lacks the necessary nutrients and can cause digestive issues in puppies. Stick to commercially available puppy formulas or homemade alternatives specifically designed for their needs.

How often should I bottle feed newborn puppies?

Newborn puppies require frequent feedings since they have small stomachs that cannot hold much milk at once. Aim for feeding them every two hours during their first week of life. As they grow older, you can gradually increase the time between feedings.

Can I use a regular baby bottle for puppy feeding?

While using a regular baby bottle may seem convenient, it is not recommended for puppy feeding. Puppies need specialized bottles with smaller nipples designed specifically for their size and oral health.

What temperature should the milk replacement be when feeding puppies?

The ideal temperature for milk replacement when feeding puppies is around 100°F (38°C). It should be warm but not hot, similar to the temperature of their mother’s milk.

When can I start introducing solid food to puppies?

Puppies typically start showing interest in solid food around four weeks of age. You can begin introducing soft, puppy-specific food gradually, alongside their bottle feedings. Monitor their response and adjust accordingly as they transition to a solid diet.

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