Bottle feeding puppies should only be done if there are no other options available.
Newborn puppies thrive best on their mother’s milk.
If you have only one puppy in the litter that is struggling to gain weight, then first try allowing the pup to nurse by its self, before you rush into bottle feeding.
If the mother did not survive whelping, developed an infection in which the vet says she can not nurse, or for any other reason you have orphaned puppies, then you will need to bottle feed.
Bottle feeding puppies is an around the clock job and is a lot of hard work.
You will need puppy formula, several bottles, and many nipples. These can be obtained either from your vet, or from various pet suppliers.
The puppy formula comes either pre-mixed or in powder form.
The powder form is cheaper, but is very hard to get mixed up properly and can clog up the holes in the nipple.
I have found that buying regular 4 ounce baby bottles and using a slow-flo nipple works the best. However, every brand has a different flow rate, even though they are specified for newborns.
You'll need to purchase a few different brands and see which works the best for you. You want a slow drip when slight pressure is applied. If the formula comes out too fast, you can choke the pup or cause it to aspirate and he may develop pneumonia.
You also have the option of using pet bottles and nipples, however, the nipples do not come pre-cut with the holes already in them, so you will need to have a sharp needle in which to puncture holes with.
Some people cut a small X shape in the nipple, but I have found that sometimes that can cause the formula to come out too quickly and choke the puppies.
If I am forced to use this type, as opposed to a regular baby bottle and nipple, I prefer to just poke several holes in the nipple. This way the pup is not struggling forever to try to eat, but choking is not as much as a possibility.
Do purchase several nipples, as you will probably ruin a few trying to get them punctured correctly. I know I did!
The puppy formula must be warmed before feeding it to the pup. Remember that allowing puppies to get chilled is dangerous.
Warm the formula either in the microwave, or by sitting the bottle in a pan of warm water. Shake it up a bit and then squeeze some out onto your wrist to check for the proper temperature, which should feel slightly lukewarm.
Do not lay the pup on its back to feed! This can cause aspiration and pneumonia. Keep the newborn puppy on its belly with its head slightly raised. Almost as if the pup was just laying down and looking slightly up at you.
Until the puppy gets the hang of bottle feeding, it will seem as if he is pushing against and fighting the bottle. This is because when pups nurse naturally, they push against the mother’s teat to help express milk.
When the puppy has finished feeding, lightly pat him on his back and try to gently burp him.
It is not critical that he burps, but is good for helping him keep air out of his belly.
Newborn puppies need to be fed every 2 to 3 hours around the clock. As they gain weight and start to thrive, their feeding can be reduced to every 3 to 4 hours.
Since bottle feeding puppies takes a long time to get the whole litter fed, you will need someone else to share shifts with, if you plan on getting any sleep in the next couple of weeks!
Along with bottle feeding, there are several other things that will need to be done if you do have an orphaned puppy or litter.