Bottle Feeding A Puppy

It doesn't happen often, but there may be times when bottle feeding a puppy is necessary. The first thing you should always do is contact your vet. Nothing we say here is designed to replace the advice of a qualified professional. We simply put this out as information you should discuss with your veterinarian.

Newborn puppies are totally dependent on their mother for the first three weeks of their lives. They need her for food, and to keep them clean help them urinate and defecate by licking. And if the mother does not have enough milk, rejects her litter, or has died, you will need to learn the procedure for bottle feeding a puppy.

We'll start with a few basic tips before getting into some more details.

  • When bottle feeding a puppy, you must give them the milk formula initially every two hours. Consult a vet for guidance on the exact amounts to feed.
  • After you have finished bottle feeding a puppy or puppies, wipe away any spilled milk and clean their anogenital region with damp cotton. This process mimics maternal licking, which stimulates them to urinate and defecate.
  • Clean the puppy’s eyes, ears, and mouth daily with cotton moistened in warm water. Even if the mother is around you can still handle them frequently, just make sure that you do not upset her.
  • To properly keep track of their weight gain, carefully weigh them daily. This will determine weak puppies and those that are not sufficiently getting enough milk.

Procedures For Bottle Feeding A Puppy

Now let's get into a few more details. When bottle feeding a puppy, start by filling the bottles with water and then put on the nipples and invert them to see if they leak. By squeezing the bottle slightly, the increased internal pressure aids in detecting leaks. If the stream of water from the hole in the nipple is less than the diameter of a straight pin, heat a needle and enlarge the hole a little.

Wash all the bottles and nipples in hot, soapy water and then sterilize them. Pour just enough formula into the bottle that will provide a single feeding and warm it to room temperature. This can be done by holding it under hot tap water and turning the bottle.

Once the milk is warmed, hold the puppy in a normal upright position and poke the nipple into his mouth. When bottle feeding a puppy try to keep the pup in what would be a natural position while nursing. Some pups will get the hang of it right away while others are less perceptive. Squeezing a little drop of milk on to the tip of the nipple before putting it into the pup's mouth may encourage some pups to start sucking on the nipple. Never squeeze milk out of the bottle while the nipple is in the puppy's mouth! This is one of the quickest ways to strangle him.

If you are having difficulty in getting the puppy to suck and swallow voluntarily, put the pup back and try another. Use a separate bottle for each pup. There are three reasons for this. First, you know exactly how much you are feeding each pup and can measure precisely how much that pup drinks. Second, if you get a disease outbreak you will reduce the chance of spreading it from puppy to puppy with an unclean nipple. Third, if you need to go back and try to get him to drink a little more, you do not need to keep close track of how much he already has eaten because the amount he still needs is what is left in his own bottle.

While the puppy is nursing he should have a bowel movement and should urinate. If either fails to occur, it usually can be provoked by a little stimulation by gently rubbing his anal area or sponging the groin and buttocks with damp cotton or a little warm water as mentioned above. Some owners place their pups on a warmed, folded, terry-cloth towel while they feed them. The roughness of the towel helps stimulate the elimination. The danger in bottle feeding is in the possibility that a puppy will suck some of the milk down his windpipe and strangle. If enough milk is sucked down, the pup will drown. Even if the amount sucked in is too little to drown the puppy, it can still injure his sensitive lungs.

When the lungs are injured, pneumonia is almost always the result. Between 12 to 24 hours after strangulation the puppy will refuse to eat, begin to experience breathing difficulty, produce bubbling and gurgling sounds as he breathes and very shortly, die. You must prevent this from happening by every means possible.

When a puppy gags or strangles and milk starts coming out of his mouth and nose, take the bottle away immediately. Place the pup between your palms, head outward, and use your fingers to hold its head and backbone in a straight line. Place the pup between your legs, at arm's length, and swing it up and down. The centrifugal force produced by this will sling the milk out of the puppy's mouth and nose and, with luck, out of the windpipe as well.

Again, we can't stress enough that you talk to your vet before attempting any of the procedures outlined above. He may have different and better advice based on your individual situation, or he may simply say to proceed with what we've written about. In either case, it is imperative that you discuss all of the above before bottle feeding a puppy on your own. Each individual situation is different, and the above article is simply designed to give you a starting point for the discussion you must have with your veterinarian.

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