What To Feed Newborn Puppies Without Mother

What To Feed Newborn Puppies Without Mother

Unlike other mammals, dogs tend to be quite premature at birth. This is evident in their closed eyes and delicate state. The prematurity is even worse in large breed dogs like pitbulls. Therefore, they are nursed by their mother for the first two weeks upon birth until their eyes open and they become strong enough to start weaning. Their mother’s milk has colostrum that is rich in protein that boosts their immune system and boosts their strength. In the event that their mother is absent for one reason or another, her puppies are considered as orphans. Orphaned puppies do not benefit from the crucial heat, nutrition, humidity, social stimulation and sanitation that a mother provides. However, with proper care and constant consultation with a vet, you can still raise orphaned puppies. All you need to know is what to feed newborn puppies without mother and also beware of the challenges that they may encounter.

What Orphaned Puppies Need in Their Nutrition

Now that your puppy is orphaned it is important to provide it with nutrients similar to those found in the mother’s milk. As a matter of fact, the ideal nutrient supply for a newborn puppy should be composed of 33g crude protein, 15g of lactose and 42g fat. Let us look at sources of the nutrients:

Water/ fluid


The milk is largely composed of fluid. Thus, the importance of having plenty of water in the diet goes without saying. Puppies will require about 130 to 220 millimeters of fluid or water per one kilogram of puppy weight on a daily basis. Commercial milk replacers should me diluted with warm water to provide fluid for the delicate puppies.


Besides being rich in calories, colostrum – which is mother’s milk – is also very easy to digest for puppies. Other than that, it is dense with protein that enhances growth and fortifies the immune system. Most vets discourage pet owners from using cow milk on their as it is not easy to break down thus causing bloating or other stomach problems. The perfect protein substitute for your puppy would be commercial puppy milk due to its superiority nutrition wise.

How to Feed an Orphaned Puppy

Before you swing into action you are advised to have a logbook that will help you keep track of the feeding schedule, stool consistency, changes in weight as well as any potential problems that may come up. Newborn puppies should be weighed after two days for the first four weeks from birth. Most well fed puppies will add on up to 5% of their existing weight on a daily basis.

In order to feed an orphaned puppy appropriately, you need a pet nursing bottle. It is basically a bottle fitted with a soft nipple. The fluid flow in the nipple should be gradual to give the puppy sufficient time to swallow its content. Rapid flow could lead to death, pneumonia or aspiration. Moving on, the puppy’s head should be in a horizontal or head neutral position when being bottle-fed. The feeding schedule for orphaned puppies should be strictly maintained at four to five meals a day.

Additionally, the meals should be administered after every three hours. Commercial milk replacers have proven to be effective substitutes for the mother’s colostrum. You should warm the milk replacers to 38 degree Celsius before nursing your puppy. Plus, neonatal orphaned puppies should not be overfed. Smaller dog breed puppies should have around 15mls per meal within the first week from birth. Weaning comes in after three or four weeks depending on development of the puppy. The process of transitioning from milk replacers to solid food takes time. Ensure that you buy formulated high quality food for enhanced puppy growth.

Common Problems Experienced by Orphaned Newborn Puppies

Now that we have gone through what to feed newborn puppies without mother, let us delve into some of the common problems that newborn puppies are more likely to encounter if orphaned:

  • Hypoglycemia

You can already guess where puppies get sugar from. Their mother’s milk is a wholesome meal comprised of all nutrients that they need to grow out of their immature bodies. Sugar or glucose is not exceptional. Glucose provides energy that is particularly vital at their delicate state. Some of the symptoms of low sugar include seizures or convulsions, muscle twitching and severe depression. You can correct this by applying a few honey or sugar solution droplets on the puppy’s tongue.

Hypothermia is low body temperature in simple terms. As mentioned before, newborn puppies depend on their mothers’ radiant heat to retain their body temperature. In the absence of their mothers, they are prone to hypothermia which may be fatal to their well-being. This makes them susceptible to serious complications if the condition is not acted upon in time. One of the remedies for such a situation would be to come up with an alternative source of heat. Heat lamps, hot water bottles, heating pads and incubators are often utilized in such a scenario.

  • Dehydration

Just like heat, a puppy also gets fluids from its mother. Lack of fluid is another problem that orphaned puppies might have to deal with. Dehydration is further heightened by environments of low humidity. Lack of fluid affects digestion and also tampers with metabolism. This further culminates into dry skin and mouth.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can 4 week old puppies drink water?

At four weeks a puppy should be able to drink water with ease. After two weeks, mother dogs introduce their pups to weaning although occasional nursing is maintained. Weaning involves solid food and water. It runs for eight weeks.

What should a 5 week old puppy feeding schedule look like?

By the time your puppy gets to five weeks it should have been introduced to weaning. The feeding frequency should be reduced to about three to four times per day. Nevertheless, you should watch out for the quantity of every meal to avoid overfeeding that could culminate into diarrhea. Ensure that you get your puppy smaller yet frequent meals for easy digestion. Similarly, puppies are very active at this stage and require frequent meals to pump up their energy levels.

What should 3 week old puppy poop look like?

The poop of a three week old puppy ought to be yellowish in color and runny. This is because at this stage they mainly feed on semi-solid food. Diarrhea is a common problem too. It is often attributed to overfeeding. You should consult a vet if it gets worse.

What is the appropriate 2 week old puppy care?

To answer that, we should first look into what to feed puppies at 2 weeks. A puppy will be hooked on its mother’s milk during the first few days after birth unless otherwise. However, at two weeks, puppies should be ready to try out new foods. Bottle feeding is a perfect alternative at this point. There are specially designed for this purpose. Furthermore, I would recommend using puppy milk replacement formula. Cow milk might be nutritious but it is not good for a puppy’s digestive system. This also provides an elaborate answer for what to feed 3 week old puppies or how to take care of a 3 week old puppy without mum. You can place the puppy(s) in a well cushioned box for warmth in case their mother is not around.

Now that you know what to feed newborn puppies without mother, it should be easy to take care of your immature furry friend in the absence of its mother. Always consult a vet in case you are uncertain about anything.

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