Accurate record keeping is absolutely essential when raising puppies by hand. The best way to determine how much formula each puppy needs is to weigh the puppy and use a table of caloric requirements. Weigh them at birth on a scale that measures grams or ounces. Then weigh each puppy every eight hours for four days, daily for the next two weeks, then every three days until they reach 1 month of age.
During the first three weeks of life, puppies should receive 60 calories per pound (454 g) of body weight per day. All commercial milk replacer formulas provide 1 to 1.3 calories (kcals) per milliliter (ml). Since a liter is 1,000 ml, a milk replacer with a labeled caloric value of 1,000 kcals per liter provides 1 kcal per ml. One with a labeled caloric value of 1,300 kcals per liter provides 1.3 kcals per ml.
Daily requirements according to weight and age are given in the accompa- nying table. Divide the total daily requirement by the number of feedings per day to get the amount to give per feeding. This calculation must be made each day after the morning weighing.
Total Daily Calorie Requirements for New Puppies
|Age in weeks||Calories or ml per pound weight per day*||Number of feedings|
*using milk replacer that provides 1 kcal per ml
Here’s an example of how to use the table: A 1-week-old puppy weighs half a pound (227 g) at the morning weighing. He will require 30 calories that day (that is, one half of 60 calories per pound). He requires six feedings a day, so divide that 30 calories by six and find that he needs 5 ml per feeding. If, as expected, the puppy’s weight doubles in 10 days, he will weigh about 1 pound (454 g) and will require 60 ml per day, or 15 ml at each of four feedings.
Note that this chart assumes the caloric density of the milk replacer is 1 kcal per ml. If the milk replacer you use has a different density, divide the number in the middle column by that density to determine the number of ml needed per pound of body weight per day. For example, if your milk replacer is 1.3 kcals per ml, divide the number in the middle column by 1.3. Then proceed as above.
If the puppy is unable to take in the required number of milliliters per feeding, reduce the volume and increase the number of feedings to meet his daily requirements.
As long as the pup does not cry excessively, feels firm in the abdomen, gains weight, and has a light brown stool several times a day, you can be almost certain the diet is meeting his nutritional needs. Continue to increase the amount you are feeding according to the table. At 3 to 4 weeks, begin to introduce semisolid food.