If you have a bitch that has either insufficient milk to raise a large litter or no milk, you may be faced with having to bottle feed. It is always adviseable to get some bottles on standby. If you get into difficulties, and/or the puppies are not feeding and gaining weight, you should contact your vet for advice, some puppies need a little help and have to be tube fed, and this should not be attempted unless you know what you are doing.

Some general tips

Try your bottles well in advance, I have only had to bottle feed once, for one day, and went into a panic when I couldn't get any milk out. Not all teats have pre filled holes, and trying to make a suitable hole was extremely difficult. Thankfully I had these marvellous things, called the Miracle Nipple made with a pre filled hole, and designed to alleviate the chance of an animal swallowing the entire nipple or biting the nipple in half. This nipple is also designed with a kneading pad for the animals to knead with their small paws as they would naturally do while nursing on their mother. Made in the USA and available in the UK from Abnoba Pet Store.

Always boil your water before using - allow time to cool. Wind the puppies after feeding. Puppies may have some bubbles around the mouth, but milk should not come out of the mouth, nor down the nose.

When the bottle is held upside down the milk should drip out, and not flow out in a continuous stream, if a puppy gets milk in their lungs they may get pneumonia.

Calorie intake needs to be adjusted according to growth of puppies. A general rule of thumb is 1cc per oz of body weight every 2 hours.

You need accurate scales to weigh the puppies, kitchen food scales are fine, you will need to check on weight gain or loss of each puppy.

You can buy powdered puppy milk but an old recipe used by many breeders today is just as good, and most think better than any commercial powder.

  • 10 oz. of canned evaporated milk OR whole goat's milk (DO NOT USE COWS, SKIMMED OR WHOLE MILK) Whole goat's milk is by far the best to use and can be bought from Morrisons, Tesco and Asda and other large supermarket chains. Make sure you are using EITHER evaporated milk OR whole goat's milk not both, and do not use sweetened condensed milk.
  • If using evaporated milk add 3 oz of cooled boiled water
  • 1 raw egg yolk.
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt (high fat content - avoid skimmed or fat free).
  • 1/2 tsp Karo or Corn Syrup (not honey)

Place ingredients in a blender or hand whisk and blend. Be careful to not over blend and create a milk shake full of bubbles as the bubbles will then go into the puppy. Keep cool and discard leftovers after 7 days.Warm formula to body temperature (dogs are around 101 degrees).


Myra Savant Harris formula

This formula is safe for any age from the tiniest premature puppy to the most elderly dog, it can remain in the freezer for up to six months and have never met a dog who does not love it, or a puppy who didn't gain weight quickly while eating it. Because so many breeders have reported that the administration of 'liver water' appears to strengthen fading puppies, it is now included in the recipe.

The recipe

1/3 cup of strong homemade beef broth (best made with liver)
1 can evaporated goat's milk (can substitiute evaporated cow's milk - ie: Carnation), but DO NOT DILUTE
1 cup of whole fat live culture yoghurt - the higher the fat content the better
2 raw egg yolks
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise or canola oil
1 teaspoon of Karo syrup or corn syrup
1 teaspoon of baby vitamins

Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until completely mixed. Place formula into ice cup trays and freeze. When the cubes are forzen take them out of the ice cube tray and place into a heavy weight plastic bag. At each feeding, take enough cubes to make a feeding, and warm to the temperature of 95/96 degrees, luke warm.


Liver water is a good alternative to puppy stim

This is an old remedy, but seems to work wonders. Take a large piece of ox/beef liver, add a little bit of water, and boil slowly, about 5 minutes, until the blood comes out. Let cool, drain the liquid and put just 4 drops (no matter the breed) into a dropper and give to puppy.

At first you give it every 2 hours for 12 hours, then every 4 hours. Continue until you feel the puppy is thriving. Don't use any of the liver itself, it's way too rich, just the liquid.

Note it must be BEEF/OX LIVER, not lambs or pigs liver


Some recommended ready made milks include

  • Full Fat Goats Milk,
  • Winston & Porter Puppy Milk Replacer
  • Lamlac
  • Lactol
  • Royal Canin Babydog
  • Welpi

    If you are tube feeding, you can connect the tube to the syringe and use the end of the tube to remove the formula from the snack bag. If you are bottle feeding, just pour the warmed formula into the bottle. This formula has ten to twelve calories per cc and will put weight on your puppies. You will not have diarrhea or constipation with this recipe.





This is the safe amount to feed your puppies if tube feeding. When you tube feed - you do this for the puppy to survive and not to get chunky monkey puppy. You do this minimum level so the puppy doesn’t drown or starve. This is the chart I have put together myself using 8-10 online charts and worked out the average. All were within a couple of ml of each other over a 24hr period. When tube feeding I 100% advise using liver water - be it what you’ve made or what you’ve bought. - Courtesy Carole Blackburn-Harvey