Homemade Milk Replacer Recipes for Puppies

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Although there are some excellent puppy formulas on the market today, we offer a few homemade milk replacer recipes for feeding orphaned puppies under any circumstances.

Breast milk is, without a doubt, irreplaceable. All the nutrients a puppy needs to grow are found in the bitch's milk in perfect balance. However, there are many circumstances in which we find it imperative to use an artificial milk substitute. Abandoned puppies, deceased or sick mothers, insufficient or toxic milk, very large litters...these are the most common reasons we may be forced to intervene in the breeding of one or more puppies.

Fortunately, there are now milk replacers on the market that are specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of puppies. This milk should always be used to feed puppies that do not have access to their mother's milk to ensure proper nutrition and growth.

However, because we must not lose sight of Murphy's Laws, we are going to come up with some emergency home formulas to get us out of trouble in case we find ourselves at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning with a hungry puppy to care for. Here are some preliminary thoughts on dog breastmilk substitutes.
Recipes for homemade puppy milk substitutes

Dog breast milk

What we need to achieve is a formula that is as close as possible to the bitch's milk from cow, goat or sheep milk. To do this, we need to know the levels of the main nutrients in the mother's milk and enrich the milk. We need to match those levels as closely as possible.

Initial considerations about milk

There is some confusion about lactose, which we would like to clarify in this article. Lactose is a sugar found in the milk of all mammals, including bitches, and is essential for proper infant nutrition.

To digest lactose during lactation, mammals produce an enzyme in the intestine called lactase, which is responsible for breaking down lactose into glucose and galactose. Production of this enzyme gradually decreases during weaning, as it is no longer biologically necessary for nutrition when milk is no longer sufficient to meet an individual's nutritional needs. This is why adults develop lactose intolerance when lactase production stops after weaning.

Having clarified this aspect, let's look at the ideal levels of the bitch's milk, which we must imitate as much as possible. One liter of this energy-rich milk provides about 1,200-1,300 kcal, 80 grams of protein, 98 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbohydrates (lactose), almost 3 grams of calcium, and just over 2 grams of phosphorus.

On the other hand, whole cow's milk, which we usually find in our refrigerators, gives us the following values per liter: 600 kcal, 31 g of protein, 35 g of fat, 47 g of carbohydrates (lactose), less than 1.5 g of calcium and less than 1 g of phosphorus. Goat's milk has slightly less lactose, and sheep's milk has significantly more fat but the same amount of lactose.

Homemade milk replacer recipes for puppies

Because of the difficulty of dividing an egg yolk, we will use this measurement as a reference for the formulas.

1. Recipe 1: Nutritious Mixture


  • Whole milk (900 ml)
  • Milk cream (80 ml) with 40% fat (or similar)
  • 1 raw egg yolk

This mixture provides about 900 calories per liter.

2. Recipe 2: Comprehensive Formula


  • Whole milk (400 ml)
  • 40 percent fat dairy cream (50 mL)
  • Butter (10 g)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Calcium caseinate (25 grams, milk protein)

This formula provides a robust 1,300 kcal per liter.

3. Recipe 3: Goat's Milk Option

Goat's milk is another viable option:

Provides 1,100 kcal per liter.

Puppy Caloric Needs

Puppy energy needs evolve quickly:

  • First week: 12-13 kcal per 100 g of body weight per day
  • Second week: 14-15 kcal per 100 g per day
  • Third week: 16-17 kcal per 100 grams per day
  • Fourth week: 18-20 kcal per 100 g per day
As we can see, the energy requirements of puppies increase rapidly within a few weeks. By the third week of life, milk is no longer sufficient to meet nutritional needs and we need to start introducing complete puppy foods.


Although puppies suckle their mothers up to 20 times a day, we can give them milk every 3 hours (8 feedings) during the first week and gradually space out the feedings until they reach 4 feedings in the third week, when we also start giving food and mineral water. In addition, we must take into account the need for scrupulous hygiene of the utensils and, if possible, sterilize them.

Attention! The milk mixture should be made cold and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24-36 hours.

We separate the necessary amount for each feeding and heat it to 37 degrees (so that it does not burn on contact with the inside of the wrist). We can use nipples, probes or syringes, avoid giving milk too quickly to avoid the risk of aspiration pneumonia, and never hold the puppy on its back.

Using the energy data of the recipes, the weight and age of the puppy, we will calculate the approximate amount of milk needed per day. The puppy must be full, but we must be careful not to fill it too much. The belly should be slightly distended, but not exaggerated. If he cries a lot and does not remain calm after eating, we must check the room temperature (always around 30ÂșC) and that the food is correct.

Before you finish, we want you to tell us about your experience. Leave a comment and tell us how you took care of your puppies in the first days of their lives.

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