Everything You Need to Know About Puppy Formula

By Chelsea Hunt-Rivera / November 13, 2017

What is Puppy Formula?

puppy formula

Puppy formula, also known as milk replacement, is similar in function to human baby formula. Puppy formula contains essential nutrients for the proper nourishment of puppies as it’s rich in proteins, omega fatty acids, and minerals such as zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, and iron proteinate. Not to mention, the vitamin content is pretty impressive as well.

In addition, puppy formula is easy for puppies to digest in comparison to dry foods or other puppy food. Many over the counter puppy formula solutions come in a powder form that you simply mix with water. Alternatively, there are many recipes that you can find online to make homemade puppy formula.

What About the Mother’s Milk?

puppy formula for newborn puppies

Although, a puppy should, ideally, get as much time suckling from their mother as possible, there are instances where puppy formula must be used to supplement to maintain healthy levels of nutrients in the puppy’s body.

The reason a mother’s milk is the best source of nutrients following the birth is because of a little thing called colostrum. Colostrum is first secreted from the mammary glands after giving birth and provides essential fat and proteins for developing healthy bones and muscles. Rich in antibodies, colostrum helps the puppy build its own immune system to fight future infections.

Even though mother milk is the best source of nutrients, there are many issues that can arise following the birth. For instance, the mother dog could have had a particularly large litter of puppies which could make feeding time more difficult.

Additionally, the smaller puppies in the litter (the runts) could have a hard time fighting for their fair share of their mother’s milk. Lastly, the mother dog could potentially fall ill after giving birth, causing her to be unfit for nursing. For these reasons, and many more, it’s a good idea to give your puppy formula for several weeks after they are born.

Choosing The Right Puppy Formula For My Newborn Puppies?

Choosing the right puppy formula can be a confusing and stressful task. Thankfully, there are a few clear things to avoid when selecting the best formula for your puppy.

Be sure to look for a puppy formula that does not have a lot of preservatives. Additionally, there is an ideal nutrient ratio that should be considered when purchasing the best puppy formula…

Nutritional Makeup

  • At least 30% quality proteins.
  • At least 40% quality fats.
  • Includes vitamins A, B12, E, and D3.

Goat milk or a goat milk based puppy formula is a good option because it more closely resembles the milk of a nursing canine mother than cow’s milk. While powdered skim milk is an acceptable ingredient in a puppy formula, never use plain cow’s milk to supplement your puppy’s food. Regular cow’s milk has an entirely different nutrient make up than canine’s milk and can cause uncomfortable complications like tummy aches, diarrhea, bloating, and sinus issues.

In addition to purchasing quality, store-bought puppy milk replacement, many dog owners make their own organic milk formula for puppies.puppy formula ingredients These recipes generally contain the following:

  • A milk substitute (goat’s milk, evaporated milk, etc.)
  • Eggs or egg protein
  • Yogurt or GI enhancers
  • Source of good fats (mayonnaise, vegetable oil, etc.)

Oftentimes, homemade recipes also call for a drop of liquid infant vitamins. This enhances the nutritional value so it will match that of a high quality, store-bought puppy milk replacer.

How Do I Give Puppy Formula To My Dog?

Although feeding your puppy formula may seem straight forward, there are some nuances that should be considered before proceeding with supplementing your puppy’s diet.

Puppies should be bottle fed until they are fully weened at about 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 weeks old. To bottle feed a puppy, prepare 2 – 4 ounces of your store bought or homemade formula. Next, pour the formula into the bottle and secure the nipple. If your bottle’s nipple does not have holes, sterilize a needle with a flame and poke two holes. Be sure that the holes are not too large as this could cause the puppy to inhale the formula.

newborn puppy drinking puppy formula

Once the formula is in a properly prepared bottle, you must heat it up. If the formula is too cold, the puppy’s internal body temperature could drop and cause complications like chilling or hypothermia.

Small puppies cannot regulate their body temperature, therefore, properly heating the bottle is essential. Heating the feeding bottle until it’s around 99 degree Fahrenheit is ideal. A good way to accomplish this is by heating a bowl of water in the microwave and then, once the bowl is removed from the microwave, placing the bottle in the water.

Puppy Formula Precautions

It’s important to not overfeed the puppy as it can cause pneumonia and diarrhea. You can judge whether or not a puppy has had enough to eat by the shape of its belly. If your pup’s belly resembles that of a pleasantly plump pear, then put the bottle away. This means they are full and should not be fed for another 2-3 hours.

Also, while feeding, you should flip your pup over on his or her tummy. Feeding a puppy in any other position could cause improper consumption and additional complications.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to burp your pup. Much like a human baby, puppies can develop colic if they ingest air along with their formula. Once you are done feeding the puppy, simply place its tummy against your shoulder and gently pat its back to eliminate any air bubbles and decrease the likelihood that your puppy will experience complications.

Puppy Formula: Bottom Line

Although we call it “puppy” formula, this nutrient rich supplement is great for dogs of all ages. Even the best grain-free dog food cannot provide all of the necessary nutrients for every dog at every stage in their life. That is why many dog owners supplement their canine companions’ food throughout their lives.

Additionally, puppy formula is actually great for pregnant and nursing mothers. While caring for their babies, mothers are under quite a lot of stress. They require more nutrients than other dogs as they have to pass it on to their puppies from their own bodies. Milk formula intended for puppies can also be great for aging dogs who might need extra nutrients to maintain healthy bones, muscles, and skin as they transition to senior status.

Additionally, hard working dogs like herders, hunters, and K9s can benefit from additional supplementation in the form of puppy milk replacer. Due to the strenuous nature of their work, these dogs often burn a lot more calories and require better nutrition to avoid bone issues and other health complications later in life. Milk formula can also help these hard working dogs maintain a healthy weight and a focused mind, despite their active lifestyles.

While the nuances and minutia of puppy formula can seem overwhelming, it’s essential for owners of pets of all ages to understand how and when to use milk formula for puppies to increase their pet’s quality of life. Hopefully, this brief overview of the ins and outs of puppy formula will allow concerned pet owners to more effectively utilize additional supplementation to improve their pets’ overall health.


About the author

Chelsea Hunt-Rivera

Chelsea Rivera is a Dedicated Pet Parent who loves to create amazing content for pet owners and is helping change pet wellness as the Head of Content for Honestpaws.com.