The best milk for pups up the age of weaning is canine milk provided by the Mom dog. As soon as they are born, the first milk (colostrum) kick-starts their immune system and it adapts as the pups grow. However, sometimes something happens and pups cannot be fed by the Mom dog. Pups need regular nourishment to survive so it is vital that you step in and help them out.
Simply feeding cow’s milk to a pup is not appropriate because it is not formulated to their needs and could trigger digestive issues. A puppy milk replacer is a much better alternative. There are several available and it is important that you pick one that will suit your pup. You vet will be able to advise but to give you a head start, here is a useful guide to the best puppy milk replacers.
The Best Puppy Milk Replacer
A puppy formula suitable for newborn puppies up to six weeks of age. It is in powdered form and you reconstitute it with water before use. It has vegetable oils as well as dried milk and cream and the formula delivers 900 kcal per kg. The protein content is a minimum of 33 per cent and the fat content is a minimum of 40 per cent.
It contains lactic acid producing bacteria such as Lactobacillus casei. The recipe is fortified with a blend of vitamins and minerals and is both easy to digest and palatable for pups.
Provides 900 kcal per kg
Minimum of 33 per cent protein content
Minimum 40 per cent fat content
Contains cultures of lactic acid producing bacteria
- Weight1.2 pounds
A complete puppy milk replacer that can also be used for pregnant and nursing dogs and dogs that are ill or convalescing. It contains a 29 per cent protein and 28 per cent fat and delivers 2 mg/kg of iodine.
This puppy formula is intended for incidental and supplemental feeding and will provide the pup with 858 kilocalories/kg. The milk replacer is in a powdered form and you make it into a milk-like consistency with warm water. There are carefully balanced vitamins and minerals and lactic acid producing bacteria including Lactobacillus fermentum.
29 per cent protein
28 per cent fat
Delivers 858 kilocalories per kg
Contains cultures of lactic acid producing bacteria
- Weight13 ounces
A milk replacer that can be used on several different species including pups. It comes in a powdered form and is reconstituted with water. It has a total protein content of 24 per cent which is made up entirely of milk proteins and the fat content is also 24 per cent.
As well as milk protein, it contains coconut oil and a carefully balanced blend of vitamins and minerals including copper, selenium and Vitamins A and E.
24 per cent protein
24 per cent fat
Can be used for many species
Carefully balanced vitamins and minerals
- BrandSav A Caf
- Weight4 pounds
This replacement powdered milk has been formulated to mimic a bitch’s milk to provide a nutritious diet for pups. The milk proteins are provided by dried whole goat milk powder to which is added soybean oil and vitamins and minerals.
Esbilac puppy formula has a protein content of 33 per cent and a fat content of 40 per cent. This goat milk for puppies will provide 900 kilocalories per kg. Esbilac puppy milk replacer can also be used for ill and convalescing animals and is both easily digestible and palatable.
33 per cent protein
40 per cent fat
Provides 900 kilocalories per kg
Digestible and palatable
- Weight5.98 pounds
A liquid puppy milk replacer sold in 11 ounce cans. It is a supplemental milk for newborn puppies to six weeks old. It can also be used for adult dogs that need highly digestible nutritional supplements such as those convalescing after surgery.
This puppy milk formula will give your pup all the vitamins and minerals they need to grow and develop properly. The caloric pattern is similar to that of a Mom dog’s milk in terms of protein, fat, and carbohydrate content. It is an easy to digest and highly palatable, ready to feed formula.
Liquid puppy milk replacer
Caloric pattern similar to canine milk
Easy to digest
- Weight1 pounds
A canine milk replacer powder for puppies that can also be used for pregnant and lactating Mom dogs. It’s reconstituted with warm water and delivers 6,000 kilocalories per kg. It is palatable to newborn pups and easily digested by them. It has a protein content of 33 per cent and 40 per cent fat.
It is suitable for all breeds and contains colostrum which is a combination of large protein antibody molecules with vitamins and electrolytes. It contains milk proteins, dried corn syrup and vitamins and minerals.
33 per cent protein content
40 per cent fat content
Delivers 6,000 kilocalories per kg
- BrandNutri-Vet Wellness
- Weight14.1 ounces
A multi-species milk replacement dried powder containing dried whey protein concentrate. The protein content is 24 per cent and the fat content is 24 per cent. It contains natural acids to help prevent stomach upsets.
This milk for dogs is easy to mix with warm water and very palatable for pups. You can use it from two days of age to weaning.
Multi-species milk replacement
24 per cent protein
24 per cent fat
Contains natural acids
- BrandManna Pro
- Weight3.5 pounds
Containing 31 per cent protein and 37 per cent fat, this puppy milk replacer will suit puppies from birth to weaning. It is enriched with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which is an essential fatty acid for a pup’s health and is found in dog’s milk.
It has been formulated to match a bitch’s milk as closely as possible and readily dissolves in water to give a milk-like consistency that pups love. It is easy to digest and suitable for pups aged from birth to two months.
Contains docosahexaenoic acid
31 per cent protein
37 per cent fat
Easy to digest
- BrandRoyal Canin
- Weight14.1 ounces
Best Puppy Milk Replacer Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Look For When Buying Puppy Milk Replacement Formulas
When you are selecting the best puppy milk replacers there are a few things to look out for.
- Age limitations
It is important that you buy a puppy milk replacer that is appropriate for the age of your pup. Some are suitable from newborn and some from a couple of days old. Most can be used up until a few weeks of age or up to weaning. If it is at all possible, your pup should be fed by the Mom dog for the first few days of their life. This is the only way that they can get the first milk (colostrum) which is newborn puppy milk that helps them to fight off infection by boosting their immune system and gives them the correct nutrients.
Pups have small stomachs and need to take on a calorie-rich milk to give them enough energy to survive. They have extremely fast metabolisms and burn off calories very quickly. Compare milk replacers by looking at the calories per kg that they can deliver.
- Protein content
Pups need a lot of protein to grow and develop so look for a high protein content. Many replacer milks will have a protein content of around 30 per cent. This is what a growing pup needs to keep them healthy.
- Fat content
Fats are another essential source of energy and natural canine milk is high in fats. Look for a fat content of around 40 per cent in a replacer milk.
Puppy milk powder must provide the pup with all the vitamins and minerals that they need to grow. Essential vitamins include Vitamins A, B12, E and D3. In terms of minerals, they need calcium, zinc, phosphorous and many more in exactly the correct proportions.
Many pups suffer from digestive problems because their gut is immature and cannot break down nutrients. Therefore, you should choose a formulation that is easy to digest and preferably contains cultures of friendly bacteria that will populate the pup’s intestines.
Why You Should Use Milk Replacers for Puppies
Puppy milk replacers are crucial for providing nutrition for pups that cannot feed from their Mom. They have saved the lives of countless puppies and their formulation is very carefully controlled. They also have a role to play in supporting adult dogs who are struggling to get the right nutrition.
There are several circumstances where a puppy milk replacer is useful.
- The pup does not have a Mom
Sadly, tragedies can happen and some pups are left without a Mom due to an accident, illness or birth complications. This is an emergency situation and the pups need immediate nutrition to save their lives. It may be possible to find a surrogate dam which is another dog that that is lactating. Getting the other dog to accept the pups can be very difficult and should only be attempted by experienced breeders and vets. A more straightforward option is hand-feeding with a puppy milk replacement.
- The Mom is struggling to feed all her pups
You may suspect that the Mom dog does not have enough milk to feed all her pups. Some may seem to be losing out and are failing to thrive. A dog milk replacer can help her out.
- The Mom dog becomes ill when nursing
If the pups have had the colostrum (the first most nutritious milk for newborns) from the Mom, you may decide to switch them onto a milk supplement for puppies to give the Mom dog a break if she has an illness.
- The pup is ill
Some pups become ill and this compromises their ability to feed or to gain nutrients from their food. They can pick up diseases and may need to be kept away from their littermates whilst they recover. Puppy milk replacer will be essential to keep them alive.
- Pregnant dogs
Pregnancy places very high demands on a Mom dog’s body. The growing pups take a lot of nutrients out of her bloodstream. Her body can become depleted in essential nutrients and eventually there may not even be enough for her pups. You want her to be in top physical condition when she whelps so that she has enough energy to get through the challenges of bringing the pups into the world and is able to nurse them. Puppy replacement milks are an easily digestible source of nutrients and micronutrients to supplement her diet. It is preferable to cow’s milk because many adult dogs are lactose intolerant.
- Nursing dogs
The very best food for pups is their Mom’s milk. The first milk is called colostrum and this provides a particular type of nourishment needed by newborns. Then the mature milk has a unique blend of nutrients that suits the metabolism of a growing pup. As an owner, you need to do all you can to support the Mom dog’s health so that she can continue to nurse her pups. This may mean that you need to supplement her diet with a replacement milk to give her some extra nourishment.
- Sick dogs
Dogs that are sick may not feel like eating or may be too weak to eat. It is important that they get some nourishment. Milk replacers are packed with nutrients and are ideal for supporting a sick dog until they can resume their normal diet. They may need a combination of milk replacer and solid food for a while. Always seek guidance from a vet on what to feed a sick dog.
- Convalescing dogs
Dogs that are recovering after surgery may struggle to eat a normal diet. You can use a milk replacer to supplement their nutritional intake but always check with a vet first.
Ingredients to Avoid in a Puppy Milk Replacer
It is important that the puppy milk replacer formulation is as natural as possible and matches canine milk as closely as possible. Therefore, artificial additives should be avoided. They are not necessary and could trigger an adverse reaction in your pup.
Fillers are also not needed as they just bulk out the product and provide little nutrition. There is also no need to have large quantities of salt or sugar.
Powder vs. Liquid Formulas
The powder and liquid formulas are usually nutritionally similar so it comes down to a matter of personal preference and what suits one owner would not suit another.
Powders take up less space and are cheaper. If you have a lot of pups to feed this may be useful. Also, they last for while one they have been opened. The disadvantage is that they can be fiddly to reconstitute and this has to be done before every feed. If you don’t do it correctly you will get clumping which could block the teat. If you are feeding a newborn pup every couple of hours, this is going to take up a lot of time.
Liquids are very convenient, you just warm them up and they are ready. However, they take up more room to store and tend to be more expensive. There could be an issue with waste if you are only feeding one pup. They will only last for a day or so once they have been opened and then they need to be discarded.
Best Puppy Milk Replacer FAQ:
Q: What nutrients does my puppy need to grow?
A: Puppies are not simply small dogs. Their rapid growth and development requires a particular combination of nutrients and micronutrients. Ideally, these would be provided by their mother’s milk. Breast milk is species specific so Canine milk has the exact formulation to best support a pup in the same way as cow’s milk is most suitable for a baby calf.
If a mother is not able to feed her pups for some reason, you need a puppy replacer that has the same calorie and nutrient profile as dog milk. Puppies have a fast metabolism and use up calories very fast so look at how many calories per kg the food can deliver. Here are some of the other nutrients that a pup needs:
Protein provides amino acids which are the building blocks of life. Without sufficient protein, a pup simply cannot grow and develop.
Pups use fat to make energy and we all know that pups need a lot of energy.
Pups also need carbohydrates to make energy to help their body work properly.
- Vitamins and minerals
These are needed in small quantities but are essential for a pup to build a healthy immune system, nervous system and for their organs to develop normally.
Pups are very vulnerable to infection and their gut is not fully developed. Normally, they would get friendly bacteria from their Mom and these would soon colonize the gut and get to work helping the pup with digestion.
Q: Can goat's milk replace dog milk to nurse puppies?
A: The expert advice is that dog milk is always the best option for pups. If that is not available, the pup needs a canine milk replacement formula.
Some owners claim that goat’s milk is a safe option and many breeders have successfully used goat’s milk as a diet supplement for pups for years. Some claim that goat’s milk is nutritionally more similar to dog’s milk than cow’s milk is and is therefore preferable as a supplement. It contains hardly any alpha-s1-casein protein, beta-lactoglobulin protein and alpha-lactalbumin protein so it is less likely to cause allergic reactions. Also, it has smaller fat globules and a higher concentration of small and medium chain fatty acids so it is easier to digest.
There is always the danger that the pups will not be able to tolerate goat’s milk and this can cause diarrhea and nutrient deficiencies. It is vital that you speak to your vet before feeding your pup goat’s milk.
Q: How to feed puppies milk replacer?
A: Of course, buying the milk replacer is not enough! Somehow, you have to get this milk inside your pup. You need to start by buying some equipment. You will need either a feeding bottle or a feeding syringe or both.
Feeding with a syringe
A syringe will probably be needed if the pup is very small or very weak. They don’t have to do anything other than swallow. You can start with a very small syringe and progress to a larger one as your pup grows. You get the milk into their mouth by pressing the plunger on the syringe. The syringe must be scrupulously clean to prevent the transfer of pathogens to the pup and you also need to wash your hands. Then you make up the milk according to the manufacturer’s instructions and prepare an amount that is suitable for your pup’s age. It is vital that the pup does not get too much or too little milk.
Hold them in a comfortable position and gently put the tip of the syringe into their mouth. Press the plunger slowly so that the pup has time to swallow without choking. Ideally, you want all of the milk to be swallowed and none to run out of their mouth, that way you will know exactly how much they have consumed. Little pups will need feeding every few hours.
Feeding with a bottle
Feeding bottles for pups come in many different shapes and sizes. The important thing is that you get the right teat. It must be small enough to fit comfortably inside the pup’s mouth and must be soft so that it mimics the Mom dog’s nipples. Here are the basic steps to feeding your pup with a bottle.
- If the teat does not already have a hole, you will have to make one. You can do this by sterilizing a medium-sized needle in a flame and using it to pierce two holes in the tip of the teat. The holes cannot be too big or they will allow the milk to flow too fast which could cause choking. In extreme cases, the milk can be aspirated into the pup’s lungs.
- If the puppy milk replacer is in the form of a powder, you will need to reconstitute it before use. Carefully follow the instructions to avoid clumping as this will block up the teat. If you notice that your pup becomes constipated, you could try adding a little more water.
- A Mom dog’s milk is served warm so you must make sure that yours is too! Obviously, if the milk is too hot it could burn your pup’s delicate mouth and that is dangerous. On the other hand, cold milk will be unpalatable. It can also chill your pup’s body because they cannot regulate their body temperature. It needs to be at 99 degrees F so placing it in a bowl of warm water will usually do the trick. Check it on your wrist before feeding it to your pup.
- Offer the bottle to your pup and let them suck. They may take a while to adjust but most will get the hang of it if you are patient.
- Record how much milk you are feeding your pup. Some are greedy and will over-feed. This is not good for their digestion or their development. Others do not take in enough milk and can fail to thrive. You need to talk to your vet immediately about this because pups that are not feeding correctly can deteriorate very rapidly.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick puppy milk replacer is suitable for pups from birth to six weeks of age. The powdered milk contains vegetable oils as well as milk proteins and delivers 900 kcal per kg. It has a protein content of 33 per cent and a fat content of 40 per cent.
There are cultures of Lactobacillus casei and the recipe is fortified with vitamins and minerals. It is both easy to digest and palatable for pups.