Bottle Feeding Puppies

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When you're bottle feeding puppies, there are a few simple tips you need to keep in mind to minimize the time and effort it takes to get through a feed. Bottle feeding puppies is a delicate process - if you try to rush it the puppies can end up inhaling fluid into their lungs, which leads to pneumonia and a quick death, so be careful and take your time.

The Bottle

The bottle should have clear measurement markings on the side so that you know how much you are feeding the puppies. You have to be very precise with how much you feed newborns.

It's best to use a bottle that can withstand boiling water as you'll need to sterilize it between feeds to make sure you don't end up feeding harmful bacteria to your puppies.

Make sure the hole in the nipple is the right size. When you hold the bottle upside down the liquid should drip out slowly. If it runs out, the whole is too big and this could lead to the puppy inhaling fluid. If the hole isn't big enough use a sterilized pin to poke more holes in it.


Everything you use for feeding should be sterilized between feeds. This can be done with boiling water. You will need to boil the water you use to make the puppy formula as well, so boil it 5-10 minutes in advance of feeding to give it time to cool down before you prepare the formula.

Sterilization is especially important if your puppies did not feed from their mother in the first 24 hours of life. This is when the puppies ingest the vital colostrum from the mother, which gives them their natural immunity to disease. In this case you will have to make sure you buy artificial "first age milk" formula that boosts the puppies' immunity.

Puppy Formula

Milk replacement formula for puppies comes in a powder form or a liquid form. The powder is mixed with water before being fed to the puppies. Puppy formula costs between 6-15 US dollars for a 12 ounce (340g) tub. Puppy formula should come with instructions for how to prepare it. It should also include a scale of how much formula to give your puppy per gram of body weight. You'll need a good set of scales to measure the pup's progress and growth and calculate the amount to increase the feed by as it grows. You can source formula from your vet or buy it online.

Bottle feeding a Jack Russell puppy.

Feeding Newborn Puppies From The Bottle

Bottle feeding puppies should be done every 2 hours. Be careful not to tip the bottle up too much - if the formula flows too fast the puppy will inhale. Keep the bottle slightly tipped and allow the puppy to drink at its own pace, no matter how long it takes. Some pups will drink a little and then take a rest. Encourage the puppy to drink but don't force it. Hold it around the body and keep control of the head until it gets used to the nipple, as puppies will tend to wiggle their heads around a lot, especially while their eyes are still closed.

The formula should be slightly warm (but not hot) when it is fed to the puppies to simulate dog milk. If a puppy isn't drinking it may be because the formula is too cold, so try heating it a little. If the puppy still refuses to drink, consult your vet.

Cleaning Up

For the first 2 to 3 weeks of their lives, puppies will need helping going to the toilet. Normally the mother does this by licking them. After every feeding, rub a cotton ball moistened with warm water ov the genitals and anus of the puppies to stimulate urination and defecation.

Making a newborn puppy urinate.

There's a lot more to learn about raising puppies than bottle-feeding. Return to the Newborn Puppies section to learn more about weaning, tube feeding and worming your puppies, or use the question box provided below to ask a real veterinarian a question online.

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