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Ideally, puppies should get their nutrition from their mother’s milk, but this is not always possible. You should always attempt to get the puppy to take their first drink from the mother’s teat.
This is because it contains many nutrients that are vital for their health and immune system development. This is known as colostrum and even if the mother only has a little, try to get your puppy to drink some.
We have rounded up the top 5 puppy milk replacements available on the market, and listed our favorite below. We have also included a buyers’ guide to ensure you know what to look for in a milk replacement.
At the end of this article, you will find an FAQ section to help with any questions you may have.
In a hurry?
Our top choice for puppy milk replacers is the Hartz Powdered Puppy Milk Replacer. At $12.97 for 12oz, it is great value for money. It can be stored at room temperature and will keep for 2 months once opened.
Best Puppy Milk Replacer – Reviews & Buying Guide
Top Pick: Hartz Powdered Puppy Milk Replacer
This is the best value for money of all our picks. It is easy to digest and contains additional probiotic bacteria.
This milk replacer is designed for newborn puppies, up to the age of 6 weeks. This does not mean that it cannot be fed to older dogs, but it is formulated to support your puppy’s growth.
The first 5 ingredients are animal and vegetable fat, dried whey protein concentrate, dried whey, sodium caseinate, and dicalcium phosphate.
There are no artificial fillers. It contains supplementation of Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, and thymine.
- Very good value for money
- 5500 calories per kilogram
- 46% fat content
- 31% protein content
- Keeps for 2 months at ambient temperatures
Second Pick: Nutri-Vet Milk Replacement Powder for Puppies
This powder comes in at $15.19 for 12oz. It is easy to digest and contains 1×1012 colony forming units per gram of probiotic bacteria. These are Bacillus subtilis and Enterococcus faecium.
The first 5 ingredients are animal and vegetable fat, dried whey protein concentrate, dried whey, dried whey product, and dicalcium phosphate.
It is very shelf-stable and can be stored in a cool dry place like a cupboard. It contains supplementation of Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, and iron.
- Relatively inexpensive
- 5450 calories per kilogram
- 33% protein content
- 40% fat content
- Unspecified shelf life
Third Pick: PetLac Milk Powder for Puppies
This is towards the pricier end at $15.98 for 10.5oz of powder. The milk replacement is easy to digest and contains lots of probiotic bacteria.
These include Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Enterococcus faecium, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Pediococcus acidilactici.
The first 5 ingredients are dried skimmed milk, vegetable oil, soy protein isolate, animal fat, and casein. This powder must be stored in a cold place but can last 3 months in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
It contains supplementation of Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D3, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, and iodine.
- 28% fat content
- 29% protein content
- 130,000 colony forming units of probiotic bacteria
- Only 858 calories per kilogram
- Must be stored in a cold place once opened
Fourth Pick: Sav-A-Caf Grade A Ultra 24 Species Milk Replacer
This is the largest quantity you can purchase, an 8 pound bag for $32.98. This milk replacement is not specifically designed for puppies but is versatile enough to use for 24 different species. There are no added probiotic bacteria in this formula.
The first 5 ingredients are dried whey protein concentrate, dried whey product, animal fat, dried skimmed milk, and dried whey. This powder must be stored in a cool, dry place but has a shelf life of 12 months.
It contains supplementation of Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Vitamin D3, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, and iodine.
- Huge 8lb bag
- 24% protein content
- 24% fat content
- No calories specified
- Not puppy specific
Final Pick: PetAg Esbilac Puppy Milk Replacer
This is the only liquid milk replacement on our list. It is not very cost effective at $9.09 for 11 oz. It is easily digestible but contains no additional probiotic bacteria. It is formulated specifically for newborn puppies up to the age of 6 weeks.
The first 5 ingredients are water, condensed skimmed milk, soybean oil, cream, and sodium caseinate. It has a very short shelf life of 72 hours once opened and must be stored in the refrigerator.
It contains supplementation of Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Vitamin D3, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, and thymine.
- Liquid replacement so it is ready to use
- Only 881 calories per kilogram
- Must be used within 72 hours
- 4.5% protein content
- 6% fat content
Best Puppy Milk Replacer Buyer’s Guide
Newborn puppies have very sensitive stomachs and their milk needs to be easy to digest. They are also very likely to suffer from allergies, so the easier the milk is on their stomach, the better it is for them.
Goat’s milk is very easy for your puppy to digest. This is because it contains less lactose than cow’s milk and is closer to canine milk.
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
There are many micronutrients that occur naturally within the mother dog’s milk. These are vital to your puppy’s health and development. If your puppy is not getting these naturally from their mother, you will need to supplement them in their milk replacement.
Vitamin A helps with your puppy’s vision and eye health. It does not only help their ocular region but also serves to improve the condition of their skin and coat, making them appear healthy and shiny.
Vitamin B12 is vital to the function of your puppy’s nervous system. It also ensures that their immune system develops properly and becomes strong. This vitamin also helps with the efficient metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins.
Vitamin E is used in the growth and development of muscles. It also serves as an antioxidant, working to protect your puppy’s immune system and protecting the cell membranes.
Vitamin D3 also works to strengthen the immune system, at low levels. It also helps to strengthen the muscles of the heart, improving cardiovascular health.
Calcium is vital for your puppy’s bone and teeth health. It also helps to ensure your dog’s blood clots correctly. It also assists with their muscle contraction and elongation.
Zinc is the second most commonly needed mineral in dog’s bodies. A deficiency can result in skin and digestion problems. It can also cause the immune system and thyroid to function incorrectly.
Iron supports enzyme function in your dog’s body. It is also used to help hemoglobin in the red blood cells transport oxygen around the body to help create energy.
Phosphorus is important for the healthy function of the kidney. This allows their bodies to flush any toxins out via the urine. It is also used to help their muscles contract.
Iodine supports the metabolism in your dog and maintains a healthy level of thyroid hormones. These are used to maintain weight, energy, and emotional state.
Amino acids and fatty acids are essential to the development of nerves, muscles, and tissues within your puppy’s body.
Your puppy is growing rapidly and needs a lot of calories to sustain themself. They have very small stomachs and cannot ingest large volumes at once. This means that anything they eat or drink needs to be calorie dense to make sure they are receiving adequate nutrition.
It is vital that you feed your puppy with a calorie-dense milk to ensure they do not get hungry. This is particularly important in the first few weeks of their life, as this is when the growth is most fast paced.
The calorie density is labeled in calories per kilogram, and a good ballpark figure is around 1460 kcal/kg.
Powder or liquid
Powder formulas are a dehydrated version of milk and only contain minimal amounts of moisture. This means that they will keep for much longer than their liquid counterparts.
This is because the lack of moisture slows the bacterial growth and so bulk purchasing is easier. They must be mixed with a liquid prior to serving, meaning that they are not quite as convenient. They are the most commonly found milk replacement.
Liquid milk replacements are pre-made to be ready to give to your pet. They go off much faster due to the high moisture content. This means that it cannot sit in the cupboard for a long time and must be used quickly to prevent upsetting your puppy’s stomach.
How old is your puppy?
Newborn puppies, between the ages of 0-8 weeks, need a very specific type of milk.
Puppy milk replacements should state the optimal age range it is designed for. Most can be used for the duration of the weaning period, but it is a good idea to check this.
Your puppy needs a lot of protein to support their growth. Ideally, the puppy milk replacer that you feed them should have a protein content of around 30%. Anywhere between 25% and 35% protein content is a good range to stay within.
This protein is used to help grow your puppy’s muscle tissue, including that of their internal organs. If your puppy is still having some of their mother’s milk and the replacement is being used as supplementation, the protein content can be towards the lower end of this range.
If this is their only nutrient source, you should look for a higher protein content.
Ideally, your puppy milk will contain anywhere between 25% and 40% fat. Different puppies will prefer different fat contents, so don’t be afraid to try a few and see what yours prefers.
Fat is used as energy in your puppy’s body. Dog milk is naturally a fatty liquid, and so the milk replacement must have a high fat content too. Again, the importance of the fat content depends on whether they have maternal milk readily available.
Good puppy milk replacements should have relatively equal quantities of fat and protein.
The delicate stomach of your puppy needs careful care. They take some time to mature enough to allow them to break down the milk efficiently.
If you choose a milk replacement with added probiotic bacteria cultures they can break down the milk more easily.
This is not essential but can help prevent your puppy from getting an upset stomach.
Your milk replacement should be made from real ingredients. Good things to include are dried whole milk, skimmed milk, dried whey, protein isolates, animal or vegetable fats, and egg products.
The milk should not contain too much sugar or salt, as this is not good for your puppy’s overall health. Try to ensure the milk has natural ingredients to prevent feeding low-grade milk to your puppy.
Shelf life and storage
It is important to pay attention to the shelf life of your puppy milk replacement. This is to ensure that you do not incur unnecessary waste. Feeding your puppy milk replacements that have expired can lead to health issues and can upset your puppy’s stomach.
Check to see whether your milk replacement needs to be stored in the refrigerator or an airtight storage container. Improper storage can lead to premature spoilage, wasted money, and wasted products.
Weak and flimsy packaging is highly indicative of poor quality. Products packaged like this are very prone to spoilage and should be avoided.
Good packaging will be sturdy and resealable so that the puppy milk replacement will stay fresher for longer.
Artificial fillers are not good for your puppy, particularly if they are very young. Their bodies are not developed enough to process these unnatural ingredients. Their immune system is also still developing and this can cause them to become ill.
Try to stick to puppy milk replacements that are made primarily from naturally occurring ingredients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why might you need to give a puppy a milk replacement?
If the puppy’s mother does not appear to have enough milk or the puppy does not have access to sufficient nutrition you should consider using a milk replacement to supplement their diet. This will ensure they get sufficient calories and nutrients to survive.
If the mother is unwilling to allow the puppies to nurse, you should also consider a puppy milk replacement. Likewise, if you find an orphaned puppy it is vital that you get some nutrition into them as soon as possible.
How do I give the puppies milk replacer?
You will need to get a feeding bottle ready that has been sterilized. Hold the sharp end of a small needle in the flame of a lighter to sterilize that too.
Make 2 small holes in the nipple of the bottle with the needle. Ensure these are not too big as this can cause your puppy to take in the milk too quickly and can lead to it aspirating the milk.
If you are using milk replacement powder, you should make it up as per the instructions on the packaging. Ensure that there are no lumps of unmixed powder as this can block the holes in the nipple or cause your puppy to choke.
If your puppy gets constipated, add more water to the formula. If they have diarrhea, add less. Add to the sterilized bottle.
Warm the milk formula by placing the bottle in a bowl of hot water. Particularly in newborn puppies, they struggle to regulate their body temperature, and feeding them cold milk can result in hypothermia.
You should try to make the milk the temperature of a warm bath – around 99 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gently allow your puppy to suck the milk out of the bottle. Try not to overfeed them, as this can lead to digestive issues. Try to feed them little and often, around every 2 to 3 hours.
What other dogs may benefit from a supplemental milk replacement?
If your dog is old or ill they are unlikely to be eating enough to get sufficient nutrition. This is a great occasion to use milk replacements to supplement their diet and prevent them from becoming ill or malnourished.
Pregnancy also puts a lot of strain on your dog, and supplementing their diet with a milk replacement helps to ensure the health of the mother and pups.
Why should you not give puppies cow’s milk?
Particularly in the early stages of life, your puppy’s stomach is not very developed and they commonly suffer from allergies.
Many dogs are lactose intolerant and cannot handle large quantities of cow’s milk without having gastrointestinal discomfort. Excessive consumption could lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
Cow’s milk is very high in fat and sugars, as it is designed to sustain the growth of a cow. This can cause your puppy to become overweight and could even lead to them developing pancreatitis if allowed it regularly.