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The best milk for puppies is mother’s milk. But if they don’t have access to that milk for some reason, there are a variety of good quality milk replacers for puppies on the market that you can use to fill this nutritional gap.
In this article, we’ll take you through the five best puppy milk replacers that you can buy today from Amazon or Chewy.
We will also take you through exactly what to look at and consider when choosing the right milk replacement formula for your puppy.
We’ll briefly talk about when puppies need milk and how to give it to them, as well as share more detailed guides on how to feed and care for newborn puppies.
Alert! Never give puppies store-bought dairy milk. Those products are high in lactose, and the digestive systems of puppies can’t handle this. It can cause serious diarrhea, which can have consequences for your puppy’s health.
Product Quick Links – Best Puppy Milk Replacement
5 Best Milk Replacers For Puppies
Thomas Labs offers the top milk replacer on the market for both puppies and kittens. It’s made from goat’s milk like the majority of milk replacers and contains all the nutrients that your young dog needs to grow and thrive.
- Puppies and kittens
- Powdered goat’s milk
- Contains digestive enzymes and immunoglobulins
- 20% protein & 20% fat
- 84.9 calories per tablespoon
Containing 20% protein and 20% fat, this replacer will give your puppy plenty of energy to grow. It also contains a good amount of essential calcium, with between 0.5 and 0.95% guaranteed.
It also contains digestive enzymes and immunoglobulins to make sure your puppy can easily get the most out of this food and start building their immune system from day one. It is easy to use–just mix a 1:3 ratio with water to prepare the formula.
What we like most: This formula strikes the right balance between cost and quality. It’s not the cheapest on the market, but it’s still affordable and there is no compromising on quality.
What we like least: We prefer a formula that is designed specifically for puppies, rather than cats and dogs, so we can be sure that everything in the formula is specifically designed for their health and nutrition.
If you are looking for a high-quality formula from a trusted brand that won’t break the bank, then Thomas Labs has come up with a great option.
If you are looking for a highly concentrated formula for larger puppies or puppies that are reluctant to nurse, then this powered option from PetAG is an excellent choice. It’s protein-dense and can be given to puppies and sick older dogs too.
- Designed for puppies
- Powdered goat’s milk
- 33% protein & 40% fat
- 31.6 calories per tablespoon
This replacer is also made from goat’s milk, reinforced with a vitamin pack designed specifically for puppies. When mixed at a 1:2 ratio, it delivers 31.6 calories per tablespoon, but with 33% protein and 40% fat to stimulate growth.
What we like most: That this formula is high in both protein and fat, which is what growing puppies need, and there isn’t a lot of filler that is unnecessary for developing dogs.
What we like least: This is probably the most expensive puppy formula on the market.
If you have a big puppy, or a puppy that is really struggling to get formula down, this formula can give them a boost since every drop is highly concentrated with just what they need.
This formula is not designed just for puppies, but also for lactating mothers and aging dogs that need a nutritional boost. It’s a versatile formula that is high in protein and ticks a lot of boxes.
- Designed for puppies, lactating dogs, and aging dogs
- Powdered milk
- 33% protein & 40% fat
- 90 calories per tablespoon
This replacer is made from protein powders rather than powdered milk, which is why it can deliver such a strong formula.
The dried whey gives 33% protein and 40% fat so that your dog has all the energy their body needs to transform. It’s reinforced with a very comprehensive vitamin pack ensuring that your dog gets all the nutrients it needs.
What we like most: That this formula is so comprehensive in terms of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that dogs need to thrive.
What we like least: The formula doesn’t have a pure milk base, which means it is less natural than some of the alternatives.
If you want a formula that’s ideal for both mother and baby, and which promises to boost growth fast in struggling pups, then this powerful option should be on your list.
If you need an affordable formula that is still good quality and will ensure your puppy’s health, this option from Hartz is a good one. Half the price of some of the other replacers on this list, it still delivers just what your puppy needs.
- Designed for puppies
- Powdered milk
- 31% protein & 46% fat
- 12 calories per teaspoon
This formula is based on animal fats and whey protein powders to deliver a powerful recipe that is high in protein and fat.
While 46% fat might seem high, it gives puppies the energy they need to grow, explore the world around them, and maintain their body temperature.
This milk replacer mixes easily with room temperature water, so it’s easier to prepare than some of the formulas that require heating.
What we like most: That this formula is affordable and can be mixed directly with room temperature water for feeding on demand.
What we like least: The formula is made from protein powders and fats rather than milk powder as the primary ingredient.
Those looking for an affordable but quality option will like this formula, and will also appreciate that no heating is required to prepare it.
If you prefer a liquid formula that is ready to go with no preparation, then PetAg has you covered with this liquid milk replacer for puppies based on goat’s milk.
- Designed for puppies
- Liquid goat’s milk
- 4.5% protein & 6% fat
- 13.2 calories per tablespoon
This formula is made from whole goat’s milk powder, reinforced with a nutrient pack designed specifically for puppies. It is incredibly convenient if you don’t really have the means to prepare a formula from a powder.
What we like most: That this formula is based on whole goat’s milk and is incredibly easy to use.
What we like least: This is probably the most expensive way to buy milk replacer for your dog.
If you can’t be dealing with powders and just want a formula that you can give to your puppy directly, PetAg has you covered.
Puppy Milk Replacer Buying Guide
When you are looking for a milk replacer for your puppy, you want something as close to mother’s milk as possible and that contains lots of protein and fat, and the nutrients that your puppy needs to thrive. Below are the key things to consider.
Basis Of The Formula
You will find that formula for puppies is either based on powdered milk, usually goat’s milk, or protein powders.
These will be whey or casein protein, which are also derived from milk, but the extra processing in extracting these powders means they are more concentrated in protein but a bit further from the mother’s milk that a puppy would normally drink.
If the formula is based on protein powder, it will probably have added fats and oils to boost the fat content. This is by no means a bad thing, but make sure the fat comes from natural sources and is preserved with natural preservatives.
Protein And Fat Content
The principal nutrients that your puppy’s formula should be delivering is protein and fat, as this is what growing puppies need most.
Any good formula should contain at least 20% protein and 20% fat. You can get formulas that contain almost twice as much, and these are more likely to be based on protein powders or have protein powders added.
More than 40% protein can be a red flag that the formula does not contain what it claims.
When you look at the ingredients list for a formula, you will see a long list of vitamins, minerals, and other things. It’s hard to know how much of each there is, which are most important, and so forth.
If you’re buying from a reputable brand, you don’t need to worry too much about the details. But if you are concerned, the main things to look out for are the following.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Powdered vs Liquid
You will see there are both powdered and liquid options on the market, but don’t be fooled–they are the same thing. The liquid formula is made from the same powdered milk, not fresh milk.
Basically, the liquid form is just a more expensive version of the powdered form, and really only represents value if you are unable to mix the formula yourself for some reason.
Bringing home a new puppy? Check out our New Puppy Checklist.
When & How To Use Milk Replacer
Puppies should be getting all of their nutrients from mother’s milk until they are 3-4 weeks of age. The mother will usually pull away and stop wanting to feed them not long after this, as their baby teeth start to grow in and their feeding becomes painful for her.
Nevertheless, most puppies still have mother’s milk as part of their diet until 7-8 weeks. After this, they should be able to get all the nutrients they need from solid food.
But what if they don’t have access to mother’s milk during these first important months?
They may have been separated from their mother; their mother may be unable to produce enough milk for her litter; the puppy may be unable to latch on, or the mother may have rejected this particular pup.
It is not unusual for a mother to reject one of her puppies. She’s got a lot of mouths to feed and if there doesn’t seem to be enough milk to go around, she might reject one to give the rest a better chance of survival.
Whatever the reason, puppies need nourishment from mother’s milk or a milk replacer until they are about eight weeks old. This probably means bottle feeding a puppy with milk replacement.
This is not dissimilar to bottle-feeding a human baby. You need to prepare the formula following the instructions correctly, and make sure that it’s at room temperature before you give it to your puppy.
You can use a baby’s bottle, but you might also need to use a dripper or other alternative if they’re having trouble latching on.
You should cradle your puppy, but with their stomach down and their head up, the same position they lie in when feeding off their mother.
You can read our complete guide to how to bottle feed your puppy here.
What kind of milk can you give to puppies?
You should always give your puppy a milk replacement formula rather than store bought dairy milk as the lactose in cow’s milk can seriously upset your puppy’s stomach, leading to diarrhea and dehydration, two things that aren’t great for puppies during these important formative weeks.
How much milk replacer should you give a puppy?
As a general rule, puppies under four weeks old need about 2 tablespoons of milk replacer per 4 ounces of body weight every 3-4 hours.
How long should a puppy drink milk replacer?
Puppies should be getting their nutrition exclusively from milk until they are about 3-4 weeks old. From this time, you can start introducing solid foods into their diet.
But it is a good idea to continue to reinforce their diet with milk until they are 7-8 weeks old and fully accustomed to eating solid foods.
Do puppies cry when they’re hungry?
Yes, young puppies will often cry when they are hungry or when they’re too full and need to defecate. If they are crying regularly, and you know they’re eating, try massaging their stomach to ease any constipation.
How many hours can a puppy go without eating?
Puppies don’t have fat reserves, so they need to eat regularly. They should go a maximum of 12 hours without feeding, usually at night as you are teaching them to sleep through.
Smaller breeds tend to need to eat more often than larger dogs as they can be prone to hypoglycemia.
Puppies need access to mother’s milk until they are about eight weeks old if they want to grow strong and thrive throughout the rest of their lives. But what if they don’t have access to mother’s milk?
Fortunately, there is a range of good quality milk replacers on the market that you can use to give them the nutrients they need.
Our top recommended milk replacer for puppies is Thomas Labs Goatalac Goat Milk Replacer Powder, but in this article, you will find a variety of recommendations to suit different dogs and different budgets.
Do you have any advice for nursing young pups?
Share them with the community in the comments section below.
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Top Picks For Our Puppies
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We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs – Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
- BEST DOG CHEW
We Like: Natural Farm Bully Sticks – All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats – We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer’s Dog – A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer’s Dog.
Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.