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 that puppies need to grow are contained in the bitch's milk in perfect balance. However, there are many circumstances in which we may 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 that may force us to intervene in the breeding of one or more puppies.
Fortunately, there are now milk replacers on the market that are specially designed for the nutritional needs of puppies. This milk should always be chosen for feeding puppies that do not have access to their mother's, to ensure adequate nutrition and growth.
But since we must not lose sight of Murphy's laws, we are going to come up with some emergency home formulas so that we can get out of trouble in case we find ourselves at four in the morning on a Sunday morning with a hungry puppy to take care of. Here are some preliminary considerations about breast milk substitute for dogs.
Dog breast milk
What we will have to achieve is a formula that is as close as possible to the bitch's milk from cow, goat, or sheep milk. For this, we must know the values of the main nutrients in the mother's milk and enrich the milk. We have to achieve these values as far as we can.
Initial considerations on milk
There is some confusion on the subject of lactose, which we take the opportunity to clarify in this article. Lactose is a sugar found in the milk of all mammals, including bitches, and is essential for the proper nutrition of infants.
In order 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. The production of this enzyme gradually decreases during weaning as it is no longer biologically necessary for nutrition when milk is no longer sufficient to cover the nutritional needs of individuals. This is why adults develop lactose intolerance when lactase production ceases after weaning.
Having clarified this aspect, let's look at those ideal levels of bitch's milk that we need to imitate as much as possible. One liter of this energetic 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, the whole cow's milk that we can usually find in our refrigerators gives us the following values per liter: 600 kcal, 31g of protein, 35g of fat, 47g of carbohydrates (lactose), less than 1.5g of calcium and less than 1g of phosphorus. Goat's milk has slightly less lactose, and sheep's milk has considerably 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.
The first option is to mix:
- Whole milk (900 mL)
- 80 ml of milk cream with 40% fat (or similar).
- One raw egg yolk.
With this compound, we reach a little over 900 kcal/liter.
Another more complete option may be:
- Whole milk 400 mL
- 50 ml of milk cream with a 40% fat content.
- 10 g of butter
- One egg yolk.
- Calcium caseinate (milk proteins) 25 g
This formula provides 1,300 kcal/liter.
We have goat's milk:
The milk obtained has 1,100 kcal/liter.
Calorie requirements for puppies
Caloric requirements of the puppy are estimated as follows:
- First week of life: 12-13 kcal/100 g body weight/day
- Second week of life: 14-15 kcal/100 g/day
- Third week of life: 16-17 kcal/100 g/day
- Fourth week of life: 18-20 kcal/100 g/day
Attention! The milk mixture should be made cold and can be stored 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 in contact with the inside of the wrist). We can use nipples, probes, or syringes, avoid a too fast milk supply in order not to run the risk of aspiration pneumonia, and never hold the puppy on its back.
With the energetic data of the recipes, the weight, and the age of the puppy, we will calculate approximately the quantity of milk necessary per day. The puppy must be full, but we must be careful not to fill it with too much. The abdomen must be slightly distended but without exaggerating. If he cries a lot and does not stay calm after eating, we must check the room temperature (always around 30ºC) 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 have taken care of your puppies in the first days of their lives.