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Sometimes mothers aren't able to nurse their pups, whether it's because of absence, psychological inability or a failure to produce milk. These puppies can still grow to be healthy and strong if cared for properly. Commercially available milk replacers offer an alternative that regular, store-bought cow's or goat's milk can't (do not attempt to feed a puppy regular milk!), emulating mother's milk with the added vitamins and minerals puppies need to develop.
Colostrum is the milk the mother produces during the first couple days after giving birth, and it contains substances that help protect a newly born puppy. Because of this, it's best for puppies to nurse for the first two days, if at all possible. After that, you can bottle feed puppies, following the suggested measurements on the milk replacer's container to ensure you aren't overfeeding or underfeeding. Puppies should be bottle fed on their stomachs and - just like human babies - burped after each feeding. They should be fed several times a day and weighed three times a week to make sure they're growing properly.
No matter what his size, a puppy uses much of his energy on growth. That's why puppy food is specially formulated to contain extra protein and fat to encourage muscle and skeletal development. Pound-for-pound, a puppy needs as much as two times more nutrients than an adult dog.
But it's important not to overfeed your puppy. Too much weight can predispose your puppy to orthopedic diseases later on in life. Overly fast weight gain is a particular concern with large-breed puppies. They need special large breed puppy food that's designed to optimize the growth rate, helping to reduce the risk of hip and joint disease.
As puppies develop the ability to lap, you can transition from bottle feeding to serving the milk replacer in a shallow dish. Even as your dog begins to eat solid pet food, the addition of milk replacer can help her grow, but be sure to follow all included instructions for supplementary feeding.