If you’re on the search for the best puppy milk replacer, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll discuss why you may need a puppy milk replacer, and learn what is the best milk for puppies. Of course, we’re not going to leave you empty handed. We’ll also be sharing with you our top 7 best puppy milk replacer formulas that support your puppy’s growth and development during this very delicate life stage. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- What Is The Best Milk For Puppies?
- What Is A Puppy Milk Replacer?
- Why You May Need Milk Replacers For Puppies
- Why Not Just Give Puppies Cow Milk?
- Is Powder Milk Replacer Better For My Dog Than Liquid Formulas?
- What To Look For When Choosing The Best Puppy Milk Replacer Formulas
- What To Avoid When Choosing The Best Milk Replacer For Puppies
- Best Puppy Milk Replacers: Top Products We Stand By
- Best Puppy Milk Replacer: Frequently Asked Questions
- Best Puppy Milk Replacer: Final Thoughts
What Is The Best Milk For Puppies?
Just like human babies, puppies are kept on a strictly liquid diet of mother’s milk for the first weeks after they’re born. Needless to say, the best milk for newborn puppies is their mother’s milk. During those crucial first days and weeks, puppies rely on their mother’s milk for nutrition. But not only that!
Mother’s milk provides puppies with everything they need. It’s got a balanced nutrient profile, gives them energy, and also contains a ton of antibodies to support the puppies’ delicate immune systems.
In fact, newborn puppies are extremely fragile, as they haven’t developed their own immune systems just yet. For this reason, mother’s milk is crucial for them to receive all necessary antibodies that protect them from harmful viruses, bacteria, and infections.
What Is A Puppy Milk Replacer?
As the name hints, a puppy milk replacer is a nutritious powder or liquid product designed to substitute or complement mother’s milk. Think of puppy milk replacer as baby formulas for human babies. When a baby doesn’t have access to its mother’s milk, the next best choice is a specially formulated milk replacer.
As we mentioned earlier, mother’s milk provides puppies not only essential nutrients, but also antibodies for their developing immune systems. But, if mother’s milk is not available for some reason, it’s time to reach for a puppy milk replacer.
The best puppy milk replacer will do just what the mother’s milk is intended to. It’s got all the necessary nutrients that a puppy will need to properly develop and grow. Puppy milk replacers are also quite calorie-dense to keep up with the demands of a growing puppy. And since puppies do a lot of growing in the first weeks and months, it’s vital that their diet and food intake supports that.
Fortunately, we live in the day and age where there are tons of puppy milk replacers available on the market. You don’t have to look for a lactating mama dog in your neighborhood to feed your pup. Instead, you can opt for a high quality milk replacer supplement that has all the micronutrients and macronutrients a growing puppy so desperately needs during this delicate time period.
Puppy milk replacers can also be used for nursing or lactating mamas, and for sickly or elderly dogs who don’t have the same appetite as they used to. As puppy milk replacers are calorie-dense and highly nutritious, they can provide some much needed support for adults as well.
Why You May Need Milk Replacers For Puppies
Ideally, all puppies would feed on their mother’s milk until they’re weaned. However, if the mother is unavailable or their milk supply is not sufficient enough, puppies need to get their essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from another source – a puppy milk replacer.
One of the most common reasons why a puppy may need a puppy milk replacer is that their mother’s milk is unavailable. There are numerous reasons why mother’s milk may be unavailable. For instance, some mama dogs don’t have enough milk supply to feed all of their puppies, or maybe they don’t produce any milk at all. Sometimes mothers aren’t willing to nurse their puppies altogether. Or, they simply aren’t around to nurse their babies.
Additionally, some puppies just don’t eat enough when nursing. Or, they’ve been left out of the pack and don’t have access to mother’s milk as much as they should. The latter often happens when a puppy is much smaller than its littermates.
So, if for whatever reason mother’s milk is unavailable, it’s crucial that the pups still consume a similar diet that has all the essential nutrients. Puppy milk replacers are formulated to provide everything that a growing puppy needs.
In addition to that, as mother’s milk contains antibodies that support the puppies’ own immune system development, you might want to opt for a high quality puppy milk replacer that has similar benefits. Some of the best puppy milk replacers contain ingredients that act as antibodies. So, it’s not the end of the world if a puppy has to feed on formula during those first weeks.
How Long Do Puppies Need Puppy Milk?
Luckily, puppies don’t need mother’s milk for that long. Typically, puppies start eating solid puppy food around three to four weeks of age to prepare them for weaning. They’ll still continue to primarily consume mother’s milk or a puppy milk replacer. But, they’ll gradually switch to a puppy food formula. By the end of their 6th week, puppies are usually fully weaned and can now eat solid foods.
Why Not Just Give Puppies Cow Milk?
A common question that many people ask is – can I give my puppy cow’s milk? Although we certainly understand the thought process behind this, pasteurized cow’s milk is not a sufficient substitute for mother’s milk.
If we’re talking about a replacement or additional supplement for mother’s milk, the best substitute for that is a puppy milk replacer. Remember, puppy milk replacers have a balanced nutrient profile very similar to natural breast milk in mama dogs. Puppy milk replacers have a specific balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. On top of that, many puppy milk replacers also contain vitamins and minerals. Some even have ingredients that act as immunity boosters, just like mother’s milk.
Cow’s milk – especially pasteurized cow’s milk – does not have the same nutrient profile, nor does it provide the same antibodies or immunity boosting properties as a specially formulated puppy milk replacer.
What’s more, many dogs are actually lactose intolerant. It’s also not uncommon for dogs to develop food intolerances and allergies throughout their lifetime, one of the main culprits being lactose. The most common sign of lactose intolerance includes diarrhea, so that’s something to look out for.
Of course, dogs can oftentimes tolerate small amounts of store bought cow’s milk. However, you should rather give this to your pup as a treat, and not a regular meal. And, if at any point you notice your puppy struggling with pooping or feeling nauseous, it may indicate that they’re lactose intolerant.
Nonetheless, we recommend that very young puppies only feed on either their mother’s milk or a good quality puppy milk replacer that has a similar nutrient profile and texture as they’d usually get from their mama. Since their stomachs are also very sensitive, it’s not the best idea to feed them something that may upset their tummies.
Is Powder Milk Replacer Better For My Dog Than Liquid Formulas?
Powder and liquid milk replacers have a similar nutrient profile. The ultimate goal of either liquid or powder milk replacers is the same – to provide a newborn puppy all the carbs, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals it needs to grow into a healthy dog.
Now, the difference between powder and liquid formulas is that powder formulas come in a powdered form with minimal moisture, whereas liquid products are already pre-mixed.
Due to the difference in their moisture content, powder formulas have a longer shelf-life. They’re also much less likely to spoil after opening the package. In contrast, liquid puppy milk replacers can go bad fast if you don’t use them in an appropriate time frame. Additionally, there’s also the risk of feeding your puppy spoiled milk. This in turn can cause digestive issues and other health problems, especially in young and delicate puppies.
On the other hand, liquid puppy milk replacers are more convenient, as they’re already pre-mixed for you. You don’t have to measure the powder and mix it with the right amount of water beforehand. But we must say, mixing the powder with water isn’t that difficult or annoying anyway. It all comes down to your own preferences and how fast you go through a package of milk formula.
What To Look For When Choosing The Best Puppy Milk Replacer Formulas
Obviously, not all puppy milk replacers are created the same. Just like with any dog or puppy food formula, the ingredients and ratios determine the quality of the puppy milk formula. Here are some key takeaways to consider when looking for the best puppy milk replacer.
Made With Real Ingredients
The best puppy milk replacer would be formulated with real, high quality ingredients that are proven to be beneficial and nutritious for the puppies. These ingredients are carefully chosen to mimic the mother’s milk.
Inevitably, puppy milk replacers contain somewhat processed ingredients, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For instance, puppy milk formulas can include dried skimmed milk or goat’s milk, dried whey, or preserved animal and vegetable fats – all of which are processed to some degree.
Nonetheless, you’ll want to avoid products that are made entirely of unfamiliar ingredients. So, the best puppy milk replacer formulas have a blend of real ingredients that are processed as much as necessary, and as little as possible.
Has A Balanced Nutrient Profile
Equally important is that the formula has a balanced nutrient profile. The best puppy milk replacer formulas have a balanced amount of proteins, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids. Again, the nutrient profile should be very similar to mother’s milk to support the natural development of the puppies. Additionally, puppy milk replacers should also be calorie-dense to provide plenty of energy for these growing babies.
The AAFCO states that growing puppies need a minimum of 22% of protein and 8% of fat from their diets. But, keep in mind that these are the minimum requirements for growing puppies. Generally, the best puppy milk replacer formulas have around 25% to 35% of protein, and between 25% and 40% of healthy fats.
Contains Vitamins & Minerals
In addition to a balanced macronutrient profile, a growing puppy also needs a variety of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Fortunately, the best puppy milk replacer formulas on the market are fortified with all the essential vitamins and minerals that a growing puppy needs.
Some of the most common vitamins and minerals you’ll find in good quality puppy formulas include vitamins A, B, C, D, E, zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, potassium, folic acid, and so forth. You might also find formulas that contain probiotics – especially great for sensitive pups.
Furthermore, some of the best puppy formulas also include colostrum, which is also present in mother’s milk. Not only is colostrum high in protein, it also provides the much needed antibodies that support the puppies’ immune system development, and protect them from diseases.
What To Avoid When Choosing The Best Milk Replacer For Puppies
When choosing the best milk replacer for puppies, there are also some cautions to consider. Mainly, you’ll want to avoid formulas that are filled with artificial ingredients and additives. These include artificial colorants, flavors, preservatives, and so on.
Obviously, all commercial puppy milk replacers contain some food additives, such as preservatives. After all, these products need to have a long shelf life, regardless if they’re in powder or liquid form. In addition to that, to make the milk replacer palatable, it’s not uncommon for these products to also include artificial flavors.
So, try to opt for a milk replacer that has minimal additives and preservatives (they should be at the very end of the ingredient list!), and steer clear from filler ingredients that may do more harm than good.
Best Puppy Milk Replacers: Top Products We Stand By
PetAg Goat’s Milk Esbilac Liquid Milk Replacer
PetAg Goat’s Milk Esbilac Liquid Milk Supplement is specially designed for puppies with sensitive stomachs. It’s made with natural goat’s milk that closely matches the protein, fat, and carbohydrate content of mother’s milk.
The PetAG Goat’s Milk Esbilac is scientifically formulated with vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients, such as vitamins A, B, E, D, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, calcium, niacin, biotin, and much more. It’s also designed to promote bone formation and nutrient absorption to ensure that your new puppy gets all of its essential nutrients to grow into a happy and healthy dog.
- Specially formulated for sensitive stomachs.
- A convenient pre-made liquid formula.
- Due to this product coming in liquid form, it’s more prone to spoilage once opened.
The Honest Kitchen Daily Boosters Instant Goat’s Milk
The Honest Kitchen Daily Boosters Instant Goat’s Milk with Probiotics is a powder formula that’s made with real, human-grade ingredients. It has a minimum of 35% of protein along with billions of active probiotics and digestive enzymes to promote good digestion.
What we love about this puppy milk formula is that it contains no preservatives, fillers, GMOs, by-products, corn, wheat, or soy. Perfect for puppies that have allergies and food intolerances! As an added bonus, it’s made from pasture raised, free-range goat milk.
- Made with human-grade ingredients.
- Contains a ton of active probiotics and digestive enzymes.
- Made without preservatives, by-products, fillers, GMO ingredients, corn, wheat, or soy.
- Doesn’t contain other vitamins and minerals that would be beneficial for puppies.
Hartz Puppy Milk Replacer
Hartz Powdered Milk Replacer Formula is another powder milk that’s designed to support the healthy growth and development of newborn puppies. This blend is made with real milk, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids to provide an all round support for the puppies’ health.
This puppy milk replacer is precisely formulated to mimic natural mother’s milk. It contains calcium for bone development, magnesium for heart and muscle health, vitamin A for eye health, and linoleic acid for healthy skin and coat. It’s also very calorie-dense, as it has at least 31% of protein and 46% of fats.
- Made with real milk.
- Contains a ton of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids.
- Contains artificial flavor.
PetAg PetLac Powder Milk Replacer
PetAg PetLac Powder Milk Supplement is widely praised as one of the best puppy milk replacers on the market. It’s made with skimmed milk and vegetable protein to provide all the energy that a growing puppy needs.
The PetLac puppy milk replacer is fortified with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that support optimal growth and development. It also contains naturally occurring live microorganisms like prebiotics and probiotics that are super beneficial for digestive health.
- Made with live prebiotics and probiotics that aid in digestion.
- Many puppy owners praise this formula for its palatability and how easily it mixes with water.
- Contains cow’s milk and soy, which can trigger allergies and food intolerances in some puppies.
Nutri-Vet Milk Replacement For Puppies
Nutri-Vet Powder Milk Supplement is a veterinary-formulated puppy milk replacer. This formula is suitable for puppies and pregnant, nursing, ill, or elderly dogs. It’s made with whey protein concentrate along with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to support your pup’s proper growth and development.
What makes this puppy milk replacer special is that it contains Nutri-Vet’s own probiotic recipe called Opti-Gut. And as we know, probiotics are highly beneficial for puppies and their sensitive stomachs.
- A veterinary-formulated puppy milk replacer.
- Contains probiotics that support gut health and digestion.
- Nutri-Vet products come with Quality Seal from the National Animal Supplement Council.
- Some puppy owners have noted that it may be slightly harder to mix well with water.
Vets Preferred Advanced Milk Rx Supplement
Formulated by professional veterinarians, Vets Preferred Advanced Milk Rx Dog Supplement is hands-down one of the best puppy milk replacer formulas out there. Not only is it rich in proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, it also includes digestive enzymes and antibodies.
The Vets Preferred Advanced Milk Rx Supplement is enriched with colostrum, which is the key immunity boosting ingredient in natural mother’s milk. It also contains omega 3 fatty acids for healthy heart, skin, and coat, DHA for brain function, and calcium for bones and teeth.
- Contains antibodies like colostrum.
- Contains digestive enzymes for healthy digestion.
- Has a milky taste, making this formula appealing even for picky pups.
- Contains artificial flavor.
Thomas Labs Goatalac Goat Milk Replacer
Last, but not least, we have Thomas Labs Goatalac Goat Milk Replacer Powder. This powder formula is made with natural goat’s milk, and it’s enriched with a ton of vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. All of which are essential for growing puppies.
On top of that, this powder puppy milk replacer includes digestive enzymes to support the puppies’ digestion. It also includes antibodies from immunoglobulins to help establish a healthy immune system.
- Contains probiotics and digestive enzymes for good digestive health.
- Contains immunoglobulins, a.k.a antibodies for a strong immune system.
- Contains artificial flavor.
Best Puppy Milk Replacer: Frequently Asked Questions
Which Milk Is Best For A Newborn Puppy?
For a newborn puppy, mother’s milk is the best, most nutritious source of food. Mother’s milk also contains vital antibodies that support the puppies’ immune systems, and helps them fight off any harmful diseases and bacteria.
Do Puppies Need A Milk Replacer?
Most of the time, puppies do not need a milk replacer, as they usually get enough from their mother. However, there are certain situations where a puppy milk replacer is needed. For instance, when the mother is not around, if the mama don’t have enough milk supply, if they don’t produce any milk at all, or if they’re not willing to nurse their pups. Sometimes it also might be the case of a puppy just not eating enough when nursing. In any of those instances, a puppy milk replacer is necessary to support the puppies’ growth and development.
What Can You Substitute For Puppy Milk?
The best substitute for mother’s milk is a specially formulated puppy milk replacement. We cannot stress enough that store bought cow’s milk is not a suitable substitute for mother’s milk. And there’s no need to reach for that anyway. There are tons of great puppy milk replacers available on the market that have all the necessary macro- and micronutrients that puppies need. Of course, do your research so you know exactly what to look for in terms of nutrient profile, ingredients, and so on.
Which Milk Powder Is Best For Puppies?
The best puppy milk replacer powder has a balanced nutrient profile of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements. We stand behind all of the powder and liquid formulas we mentioned above in this article so be sure to check them out to find the best puppy milk replacer for your pup.
Best Puppy Milk Replacer: Final Thoughts
Trying to find the best puppy milk replacer can be quite a task. After all, you want your new puppy to grow strong, healthy, and get all of its vital micronutrients and macronutrients necessary for optimal development. We hope this guide on the best milk replacers for puppies has managed to shed some light on why and when puppies need milk replacers, and help you choose the best puppy milk replacer for your newborn pup.
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