Let us be realistic, pet owners. We all know that bottle-feeding puppies is a very tiring job, especially at the beginning – it is almost a round-the-clock commitment. But we love our puppies, and just like any regular parent out there, we want the best for them.
I have always said that puppies are just like babies – they need attention, care and most importantly, their mother’s heat and milk. But unfortunately, there are instances where the mother dog cannot provide what her pups need. So, as pet owners, it is our responsibility to protect them, care for them and make sure that they will grow up healthy and strong.
I have a newborn puppy, what should I do?
Let’s dive into a clear scenario: You have a pup, but you do not know what to do. They start crying, you panic, so you decide to go to a pet store and start buying all the things that you think your pup needs.
That is so wrong! There are so many unnecessary things in a pet store that you do not have to buy even if the label says they are for newborn puppies.
You should always keep in mind that puppies have different needs compared to older dogs. Dogs who are old enough can do things on their own. You can dress them up, let them go outside, give them dog food and let them drink water and milk from a bowl. All of that is uncommon when it comes to newborn pups, though.
Puppies still need guidance, especially if they are orphaned, rejected or abandoned. In such situations, the little ones are very fragile and sensitive, so the whole situation can be scary for the owner. But do not panic! Panicking is the last thing you should be doing, because it might affect your decision-making and parenting skills.
As first-time pet owners, there is a big possibility that you might choose the wrong feeding method for your puppies. Bottle-feeding a newborn pup is the most common method, however, there are instances when your puppy cannot or will not nurse from a pet nursing bottle. It is fine, you do not have to worry about it, because syringe-feeding might help you to solve this problem.
One of my friends told me there are different ways to feed puppies and that sometimes it depends on their age. She told me it is advisable to feed a less than two-week-old pup through a syringe (one without the needle tip, of course), because their mouth is too small and will not adjust well to the nipple of the pet nursing bottle.
Manually feeding your puppy is the solution when they refuse to drink from a bottle or have trouble nursing from it. Pet owners nursing newborn puppies should keep in mind that picking the right syringes is really important – pick the ones clearly marked with milliliter lines. Use one syringe per day and throw the old one – do not use it again! Remember, newborn puppies can easily get sick, as they are more prone to contracting bacteria.
When should I start bottle-feeding my puppy?
Everybody will agree with me if I say syringe-feeding is more difficult and more time-consuming than bottle-feeding. But there is no need to feel frustrated, because when your pup grows old enough, you can start using pet nursing bottles.
There is a right time for everything.
Just like I have previously mentioned, it is best not to feed less than two-week-old pups through a bottle, because they are still in the adjustment period and their mouth is too small for it. Pups at this age need to eat every two or three hours, but be careful not to overfeed them, because too much milk can cause a puppy to aspirate the fluid into their lungs.
As puppies get older, the time of feeding them increases as well. When they turn three weeks old, it is more likely that they can nurse from a pet nursing bottle, and by four weeks, you should start giving them solid food. Through this transition, you can help your pup change their eating method – from drinking milk to eating dog food.
What should I consider before bottle to feed newborn puppies?
Now, things at this stage are a bit easier to control than earlier in the puppy’s life. Let us say your little furball is now ready to be bottle-fed and you start thinking about buying them lots of milk and stuff. Well, again, although your pup is old enough to use a pet nursing bottle, that does not mean you should be buying the puppy things you have been eyeing for a while.
There are key points you should consider first before transitioning from syringes to bottles. Here is what you should consider:
1. Are you aware of the needs of your newborn puppy? Confer with your veterinarian.
Puppies bring enormous joy into our lives and make us extremely happy (can’t blame you, I felt that too). However, we should keep in mind that a newborn pup is very fragile and sensitive to many things.
The one piece of advice I can give you wholeheartedly is to talk to a veterinarian – never act like “the doctor” yourself. First-time pet owners or not, it is best to consult an expert about the steps you need to follow to ensure the health and safety of your pup.
2. Is it okay to feed newborn puppies any kind of formula? Know the right formula for your newborn puppy.
Just like babies, there is a right formula for a newborn puppy. Of course, the mother dog’s milk is the best, no question on that one. However, if the mother dog cannot nurse her puppies, or worse, you are caring for an orphaned pup, the best thing you should do is to do your research and find the appropriate milk for your newborn puppies.
There are three different alternative formulas that puppies can drink: goat milk, cow milk, and pet milk. However, goat milk or a recipe based on goat milk is the best alternative for newborn pups, because other types of milk replacer such as cow milk can cause diarrhea. Other pet owners alternatively use Esbilac, a nutritionally balanced formula created especially for newborn puppies that can be used until they turn six weeks old.
Although there are different brands of milk formulas for puppies on the market, pet owners should always choose the one that most resembles what the mother dog would give the puppy.
3. Do you need to buy a regular pet nursing bottle? Choose the right bottle and bottle teat for your puppies.
There are many different styles and sizes of pet nursing bottles and nipples out there, and sometimes choosing one is pretty confusing. As pet owners (and part-time dam for our puppies), it is our responsibility to first consider the age of our puppy and only then purchase one of those cute bottles and teats.
Small bottles should work well with puppies. Meanwhile, bottle feeding teats should be about the size of your puppy’s mouth or a bit smaller. Make sure the hole is not too small or too big. The nipple should fit really well in your puppy’s mouth, so that they can suckle effectively. Most pet owners recommend Gerber bottles, because they have liners that make it possible to use the bottles without sterilizing each one of them individually.
4. Am I knowledgeable enough to take care of my puppy? Know the do’s and don’ts.
Don’t: Do not let puppies sleep anywhere they like. Prepare a blanket or a piece of clothing that can keep them warm. This is an important step, because puppies need a source of heat nearby to help them maintain a healthy body temperature.
Do: Record keeping is advisable especially if you are not the only one looking after your pet or if you have more than one puppy. It is important to note down the time you fed them and which one of your pups has already been fed. Record keeping is an effective method to avoid overfeeding or underfeeding.
Don’t: Do not let your puppies sleep without burping. Puppies are like infants; they need to burp to avoid uncomfortable air in their stomach. This is easy to do, just place a warm towel on your shoulder, put the puppies there and pat them lightly on the back.
Do: Feed your puppies right. Newborn puppies between two and three weeks old need to be fed every two to three hours every day. Never feed them by holding them on their back, as this can cause the puppies to swallow the formula into their lungs, which in turn leads to pneumonia.
5. Am I ready for round-the-clock duty
Bottle-feeding and taking care of newborn puppies can be physically and emotionally draining as it requires lots of effort, commitment and patience. Anxiety can be transferred to puppies and frustrations can lead to accidents. Just like babies, pups can also feel their guardian’s stress, which is unhealthy for them. This is why it is particularly important for you to relax and be gentle.
Don’t rush things.
If you feel too tired of carrying out your tasks as a pet owner, take a break, breath in, breath out and smile. Eat what you like and drink plenty of water — treat yourself for a job well done. Stay healthy and think positively, then return to your duty. Keep in mind that being a pet owner is just like being a parent – time-consuming, scary and very tiring. But, just like any parent, it is our responsibility to protect, love and care for our puppies. Take the time to understand your duty before making a move.