Handrearing The Pups

In the absence of a foster mother, you will have to hand-rear the pups. While this will take time and patience, it can be done successfully.

Feeding by hand

The pups can be raised on a formula fed with a bottle. In feeding newborn pups, it is necessary to approximate the bitch's milk insofar as possible. Fortunately, a commercial formula, Esbilac, manufactured by the Borden Company, is available. It is a complete formula and just needs the addition of water. Esbilac can be purchased in most drugstores.

You'll need the following equipment for feeding the pups: baby bottles, nipples, mixing bowl, measuring cup (graduated in ounces), a baby scale and some spoons. The nipples should have the holes made larger so that the formula will ooze out.

The feeding schedule

Contrary to what you may have read or heard, the pups do not have to be fed every 2 or 3 hours. Three times a day will be adequate. And as the pups grow, you can reduce the number of formula feedings. Here is a guide to feeding the formula:

Birth to 3 weeks of age: 3 feedings per day.

3 to 5 weeks: 2 feedings per day. (With other food)

After 5 weeks: you can cut out the formula or continue to feed it.

Start each pup on 14 ounce of the Esbilac formula per feeding the first day. Increase the amount gradually, so that by the 4th or 5 th day, each pup is getting 2 ounce of the formula per feeding each day. Weigh the pups daily to keep a check on their progress. Also, keep an eye on the feces. If any of the pups has diarrhea, reduce the solid part of the formula; that is, add more water to the mix. You can reduce the solid part of the formula mix by as much as one-half. When the diarrhea is cleared up, gradually increase the solids.


Proper sanitation is important for the health of the pups. Wash your hands before mixing the formula or handling the pups. After feeding the pups, wash all bottles, nipples, pans, etc., in hot water and detergent; then rinse them in hot water. Esbilac is perishable and must be kept under refrigeration. Heat the formula to 100°F. before feeding to the pups.

Introducing solid foods

The pups—regardless of whether they are hand-fed, nursed on a foster mother or fed by their natural mother— can be given solid food when they are 2 to 3 weeks old. Start weaning them on Pablum and milk, with some finely chopped or ground beef mixed in. Introduce all new foods gradually. After 5 weeks, you can eliminate Pablum and the formula and gradually substitute a high-quality puppy meal supplemented with chopped meat and cottage cheese.

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