Being a pupper is not easy.
Life is really hard when it seems like the sole purpose of your existence is to be adored and looked after. On top of that, there is an implied expectation of bringing to humans happiness in its purest form.
Newborn puppies master all of these tasks in their (albeit floppy) strides, but the most important and challenging task of all is all the growing they have to do.
There are 3 main factors which will influence a puppy’s health as a doggo. The first one is the genes. *cough* responsible breeding *cough*. The second one is the activity (too much activity can cause all sorts of skeletal development issues, especially that dreaded “D” word: Dysplasia), and the third, is nutrition.
In most cases, the mother’s milk is all the new pups need to grow and develop into happy healthy dogs, but sometimes she needs a little help. In cases when the mother is absent or is struggling to produce enough milk for her babies, humans need to step in. Enter the Puppy Formula!
Puppy Formula: What you need to know
Newborn puppies need A LOT of nutrients. Twice as much as grown dogs in fact, so it should come as no surprise then that any old substitute simply won’t do. You cannot just give a newborn pup some cow’s milk from the fridge and expect it to thrive.
5 Rules for a Newborn Puppy’s Diet
1. Do Your Homework!
Do enough research to ensure you’re making an informed decision when it comes to feeding newborn puppies. There are a lot of things that are bad for newborns. For example, don’t be that “milk is milk” person and feed them cow’s milk. It’s really difficult for them to digest and does not even come close to the level of nutritious you want to achieve.
2. Only Feed Puppies Formula When You Need To
Breast is best! “Replacement” and “substitute” do not equal the real thing. However, if the mother is overwhelmed, absent or isn’t lactating, or if it looks like one or two of the smaller pups are being bullied by the others, and never get their turn to suckle, then it may be necessary to feed the pups puppy formula.
Read up on the differences between dog’s milk and puppy formula so that you know what to look out for when reading labels and choosing a commercial brand.
3. Make Good Formula Choices
Sadly, we live in a time where a salesperson will sell you a specific formula for profit, and not because what they want most in life is for your furbaby to be getting the best possible nutrition.
The truth is, most commercial puppy formulas will not be good enough, so be sure to choose one that is as close to dog’s milk as possible in terms of nutrition and that the concentration of nutrients per serving is well balanced.
4. Serving Temperature Matters
You wouldn’t serve refrigerated breast milk to a baby, so don’t feed a newborn puppy cold formula! Or a formula that’s too hot for that matter. Warm it up and test it. Newborn puppies can’t regulate their own temperatures, so in the absence of the mom, that’s your job!
5. Keep a Log
It is difficult to find a consensus on how often a newborn puppy needs to be fed, but the sure thing is that they need to be fed several times a day.
The number of feedings might also depend on the pup’s breed and condition, so the best thing to do here would be to consult a vet or a breeder (of repute). Monitor each puppy’s weight gain by keeping a log, so that you can assess how they’re doing and whether something might be wrong.
How to Feed Puppy Formula to Your Newborn Puppy
Once you have figured out the formula, you need to think about how you’re going to get the formula into the puppy. The best way is to use a bottle.
The size of the nipple would depend on the breed and size of the puppers.
The nipple for a Golden Retriever puppy, for example, is going to be far too big for a Chihuahua. For tiny little puppy babies you might want to invest in a bottle designed specifically for feeding tiny little animal babies, or, if you’re on a budget, a syringe will do as well.
Once you have your formula (at a “just right” temperature) and bottle ready, the next very important thing to pay attention to is feeding the puppy SLOWLY. The hole in the nipple should be big enough for the thick formula to drip out, but it should do so very slowly. The same goes for feeding with a syringe.
The last thing you want is for the pupper to get a bunch of formula in its lungs! Pups can also get formula in their lungs from not suckling in the right position, so make sure they are lying on their bellies with the bottle just a little higher.
A Puppy’s Life Stages of Development
I feel that most people have an intrinsic knowledge about a puppy’s stages of adorable, of their cuteness factor, as well as whether a certain pup is or is not a good boy.
However, every responsible puppy parent should know more than that. In order to help them puppers reach their pupper potential, puppy parents should know the stages of development of a puppy, to ensure that they know what the pup needs when.
Rites of PAWsage, as it were. The phases are:
- Neonatal Period: Birth – 2 weeks
- Transitional Period: 2-4 weeks
- Socialization Period: 4-12 weeks
- Fear Period: 8-12 weeks
- Ranking Period: 3-6 months
- Adolescence: 6-18 months
Brands to Know: Esbilac, Breeder’s Edge, and more
The search for the right (read: “best”) puppy formula can be daunting for any first-timer who wants to do right by their furry wards but can’t tell kibble apart from catnip. Luckily, there is no need to reinvent puppy parenting, as there is already a list of top puppy formula contenders:
- Breeder’s Edge
- GNC Pets Ultra Mega Premium Milk Replacer
What sets these brands apart from the not very good ones, is that all three of them have added immune system support, they are easy for newborn puppies to digest, and most importantly: they are nutritionally balanced.
Brand Spotlight: Vets Preferred Advanced Milk Rx Supplement
With a lot of puppy milk supplements out there, it gets a bit overwhelming! You just want the best for your little one.
One brand that provides the essential to a newborn puppies life AND pregnant dogs AND aging dogs is Vets Preferred Advanced Milk Supplement!
VETERINARIAN-GRADE dog milk powder enriched w/ colostrum comes in a bottle of 12 oz and is not only nourishing to our pupper’s body but also easy to digest AND pretty delicious (for a dog of course).
It has your proteins, your fats, your vitamins, and your minerals. All in all, a great milk supplement for your furry friend. And if you don’t believe us, read what customers have to say.
DIY Puppy Formula: How to Make Your Own Puppy Food
You can find a lot of DIY puppy formula recipes out there. Just be sure to use a recipe that contains the nutrients your pup needs, and avoid the ones written by people who believe that if they read it on the internet, it must be true.
Here’s an example of a recipe that’s ok:
- 296ml goat milk (or a can of full-cream evaporated cow’s milk)
- 1 raw free-range egg yolk
- 1 cup full cream yoghurt
- 1\2 tsp corn syrup (do not use honey)
Note: Mix these ingredients, don’t blend or whisk the mixture because you don’t want a whole bunch of air bubbles bloating your pup’s belly.
German Shephard Puppies, Golden Retriever Puppies…and Wolf Puppies?
In an ideal world, people would not simply get the breed of dog they WANT but would get the breed of dog which would best suit them, their lifestyle, and their level of commitment.
All puppies are cute, but they grow up to be doggos with breed specific characteristics and traits.
Certain lines of German Shepherds will grow up to be superheroes and will want to guard their families or be trained to help fight crime. Chances are, Golden Retriever puppies are going to grow up with their sole purpose in life is: wanting to make humans feel happy and safe.
Breeds can have as many differences as similarities, so it’s really important to educate yourself on the pup you’re raising. An interesting starting point to learning more about your puppy is to learn about their ancestors – wolves, and just how, despite appearances, modern dog breeds differ from them entirely.
Puppy Feeding Chart
As important as it is to know that not every puppy or breed is the same, there are guidelines that make it easier for most normal cases when it comes to feeding puppies:
How to Take Care of Adorable and Cute Puppies
Taking care of cute and adorable puppies is a lot of work and takes tons of energy and commitment, but it is also incredibly rewarding.
The first few weeks are probably the most demanding, but at around 4 weeks, the puppies can start being weaned off the formula, and can start on dry food.
This process should be done gradually, by adding soaking the kibble with a blend of warm water and formula, and then decreasing the amount of formula until the pups are eating only the mushy kibble. They should be happily eating their dry (and high quality nutritious) kibble at around 7 or 8 weeks. If the mother is unable to provide her pups with milk, it is our job to make sure that they get the absolute best start in life that we can give them. We need to really pay attention to what we are replacing the mother’s milk with, and most importantly, all efforts need to be fuelled by love.
Love, love, love. Puppies need love. Love is probably the ONLY thing a puppy cannot get too much of!