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Newborn Puppy Milk Do’s and Don’ts

By Cuteness Team and medically reviewed by Cathy Barnette, DVM
published: September 11, 2017 - updated: January 18, 2023 • 3 min. read
newborn puppy milk

Key Takeaways

  • It may be necessary to give a puppy milk replacement if the mother isn’t able to nurse.
  • Never give regular cow’s milk to a puppy because it can cause diarrhea and tummy aches.
  • There are special puppy milk replacement formulas sold in stores.
  • In a pinch, you can make your own DIY puppy formula with just a few simple ingredients.
  • Egg yolks and unflavored gelatin can be added to homemade puppy formula to help a puppy thrive.

There are times when a mother is unable to nurse her pup; whether she isn’t lactating, isn’t present, or has (unfortunately) rejected the puppy. Those are the times when an alternative milk supply is necessary. Luckily, there are options.

Not All Milks Are Equal

The most important consideration when giving milk to a puppy is this: don’t use pasteurized cow’s milk, especially the reduced fat variety. Giving a puppy regular cow’s milk from the grocery store can lead to sinus problems, diarrhea, or tummy aches. Instead, you’ll want to use commercial puppy milk replacement formula or make one yourself.

Another consideration to keep in mind when it comes to giving milk to a puppy is: never feed a puppy a cold or chilled formula. Puppies cannot regulate their body heat by themselves, and it is up to you to keep the ambient temperature warm for them.


On the Market

When considering puppy milk replacement formulas, vets and breeders recommend well-known brands like Breeder’s Edge, Pet-Lac, Farnam, Nuturall, Just Born, GNC Pets Ultra Mega Premium Milk Replacer, and All Star Universal Milk Replacer. Some are made with goat’s milk (which is easier for puppies to digest), and most are available as either a powder (which you reconstitute with water) or as a canned liquid formula. Pay attention to those that have colostrum added – colostrum is a natural element found in the mother’s milk that helps boost the puppy’s immune system.

Homemade Puppy Formula

You can also make your own puppy formula. While this is not as nutritionally complete as a commercial milk replacement formula, it can be used until you are able to get a higher-quality milk replacement formula. The following recipe comes from

  • To 10 ounces of goat’s milk (or canned, full-fat evaporated cow’s milk), add one raw egg yolk.
  • Mix in 1 cup plain full fat (not skim) yogurt.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of corn syrup or simple syrup made from sugar and water.

Mix well and bottle feed warm. Do not use a blender or whisk as you don’t want a lot of air bubbles wreaking havoc in the puppy’s tummy. This formula can be stored in the fridge for one week.

Jello Shots?

If the puppy is not thriving after a few days on the goat’s milk formula, add two egg yolks and two dissolved packets of unflavored gelatin. The gelatin helps to build strong bones and teeth. Keep the formula in the refrigerator. Don’t be alarmed if it solidifies. When you warm it up before feeding, it will liquefy again.

If you have any concerns at all about your puppy’s health, see a veterinarian right away. This article is NOT a substitute for veterinary advice, and you should always follow your vet’s instructions as they are specifically tailored for your pup. While you set up a consultation with the vet, enroll your new friend in puppy insurance while he’s still very young to avoid exclusions like pre-existing conditions.

This article is provided by Cuteness—the go-to destination for passionate pet parents. Cuteness has answers to all of your health, training, and behavior questions – as well as the cutest, funniest, and most inspiring pet stories from all over the world.

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By Cuteness Team

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cathy barnette
By Cathy Barnette, DVM

Cathy Barnette, DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), is a veterinarian and freelance writer based in Punta Gorda, FL. She graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, then headed to North Carolina, where she spent fifteen years working in small animal general practice. Cathy recently returned to her home state of Florida and now dedicates her working hours to creating educational content for pet owners and veterinary team members for Healthy Paws Pet Insurance LLC & the Healthy Paws Foundation. Cathy is passionate about making complex medical information accessible to pet owners, allowing them to partner with their veterinarians to make informed decisions about their pets' health. Cathy is a member of both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Medical Writers Association. In addition to her human family members, she shares her home with one dog, two cats, and a dove. Cathy Barnette on LinkedIn

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